Classic arcade game deaths

A compilation of classic arcade deaths, arranged to an 8-bit-style cover of "Mad World".

The music is a cover of Mad World, by Tears for Fears. You can buy the original here. Here's an MP3 of the remix used in the video]


    1. You, mister, are my idol, for life!

      Seriously, this is a great way to reuse images of the past! I love VJing philosophy, so I love this (even if it is not live video editing… :P).

  1. Wow. That brought back a lot of frustrating childhood memories, but a few pleasant ones as well. I loved getting killed in “Paperboy,” for some sick reason, and can still feel the jerking of the stick in the arcade version of “Afterburner.” Nothing like plowing a fiery trail into the ocean after being shot down.

  2. It wasn’t till I got to the part where it says “And the dreams where I’ve been dying are the best I’ve ever had” that I realised why you chose this…

  3. brings a tear of joy to an old gamer’s eye. pitfall harry getting eaten by an alligator would’ve been a nice addition, but i’m so thrilled to see my other favorite games in attendance… this is just wonderful. wonderful.

  4. Nice! The graveyard game @ 1:09 – used to love it but am totally blanking on the name. Help?!

    The sequel needs Pitfall Harry and Frogger.

  5. Someone has MAME I think! Like it but wish you didn’t have the cutaways in it though I suspect you were trying to build a sense of period for the vid. Also wish you had the names of the games at the bottom to help those of us with shaky memories.

  6. This is too funny as I just recently started to use M.A.M.E.
    I always liked Phoenix when you were hit and the word explosion was part of the graphic.
    My own favorite that I would request is Robotron. That had a nice sunburst of an explosion.

  7. I hoped to see at least one of the death scenes from “Dragon’s Lair” in here somewhere; that game had dozens of awesome ways to die.

  8. Nice, although it would have been nice to see somebody falling to their death in Warrior. But as a vector game those must be hard to find.

  9. I must be old, as the only ones I recognized were in the first half-minute. Once games achieved 3D graphics and complex storylines, they lost me.

    But I still play Tetris. Go figure.

  10. I had the sound turned down to watch this at work, and only heard a few of the bleeps and blips. Hearing the whole song makes this much better.

  11. Ah Missile Command in Woolwich Arsenal station in the early 80s while skipping lectures at Woolwich polytechnic.

    Miserable days. Really unhappy memories trying to escape a very dark bit of my life spending money I couldn’t afford on a machine.

    Possibly a bit dark for this thread.


  12. I feel truly moved by this, which must mean its been a long week, and I’ve downed a drink or 3.
    Gonna watch it again.

  13. Absolutely one of the most creative mashups I’ve seen in 2011. Fantastic work–thanks for that.

  14. Les petits morts des jeux videos. And yes, I know what petits morts means.

    The soundtrack had the ring of countless thousands of quarters flowing out of my pockets over a decade or so of obsession.

    Thanks for this. It’s beautiful.

  15. What is the name of the game at 1:22, with the guy in blue armor/shield fighting the girl in red armor/shield?

    I played that game when I was a kid, but haven’t remembered it for decades.

  16. Loved it. Beautiful version of the song; it made the whole thing very poignant. I too wished to see Robotron, though! My favorite arcade game of all time.

  17. If you have a list of all the games in this video, I would love to see it. I recognize many of them, but can not remember the names.

    I did notice Black Tiger, though. My all time favorite; I used to complete it on one quarter when I was a poor, high school student. Ah, the memories.

  18. The game at 1:18am is Golden Axe (don’t know which version).

    I want to know the game at 1:22, with the man in blue fighting the woman in red. I played that a lot as a youth, but haven’t thought it in probably 15 years. Anyone know?

  19. Empire City: 1931! Yay! I mastered that one in MAME. Remember playing the original eons ago in some dingy arcade in NYC. Great video.

  20. 1:52, if you’re talking about the blue guy getting hit with some kind of energy ball, that’s Magician Lord. I remember seeing it in Babbages, it was a launch title for the 3DO, which was $600 bucks retail.

  21. The gladiator game is actually called Gladiator (also Great Gurianos). It had a great fighting system, very simple and elegant

  22. I recognized a lot of games. The memories of gaming feel more real to me than some of my other memories.

  23. I imagine even making a video explicitly about video game death scenes it was hard to make yourself just sit there and let the little rocket / ninja / goblin / fireball do its dirty work.

    I know when I was watching my inner child was going, “NO TO THE LEFT TO THE LEFT GET OUT OF THE WAY GOGOGOGOGO”

  24. I would also love to know the name of the game at 1:22, I’ve actually been passively searching for it (for years!), played it for a month straight when I was a kid. You kinda whack your opponents armor off until you can stab their exposed parts. Genius! Kudos to whoever comes up with the name.

  25. What’s the one at 1:56 with the character in the red shirt getting killed by guys in hoods? Looks so familiar I’m sure I played it but can’t remember the name.

  26. Holy shit that was awesome! Also, dost mine eyes perceive Rush N’ Attack in there?! Freakin’ awesome.

  27. sorry… just realize that isn’t an arcade game at all. my bad. got a little too excited and jumped the gun.

  28. mmmmhhh, retro gaming…

    *wipes drool*

    I recognized more games than I thought, highlights include Barbarian, Arkanoid/Break Out, Moto GP (I think), the car racing thing, missile attack and many more…

    This isn’t strictly OnT, but since boing boing hooked me on nethack, which in turn led me to more retro gaming and I don’t have anyone else to share this with… I got my hands on WinUAE, a free Amiga Emulator and a few program disks from the old times. I’ve been reliving my youth since and discovered that many games hold up *very* well! I finally finished Rings of Medusa, replayed Nuclear War and started dabbling in Deuteros again.

    For those interested here is a link to one of my youtube-playlists. Its filled with amiga longplays (video captures of play-throughs) in varying length of 10min to 4h (!). Highlights include Speedball 2, North and South, Defender of the crown, lemmings, international Karate + and more. For the record, this is a personal collection playlist, none of the videos in it are mine. hope you enjoy a trip to the past :-)

  29. I know, 2nd comment and all, but does anyone else remember the booth version of afterburner? I remember being a young kid on family holiday in Spain and spending most of my allowance on Afterburner in a conveniently placed arcade near the beach. It was the coolest thing – you sat in a cockpit thingy, complete with button loaded joystick and rocking cabin. the movement angle couldnt have been that impressive really at the time, but in my mind I remember being viciously rocked around. Best time ever.

    1. Oh hell yeah! If memory serves me there was the upright version with the shaking joystick, the booth version that would rock you around a bit, and then there was the full on simulator version on stilts that you had to climb into. My memory fails me, but I seem to recall playing the latter edition on a family trip that took us through this little Appalachian tourist town in a pass (Virginia, I think?) and one of the arcades there had it. Or I was having a cotton candy and taffy induced hallucination.

  30. The only thing that really wows me about the video is the quality of so much of the footage. Crystal Castles clear!

  31. Really quite nice that. Weirdly moving too, there’s a sort of melancholy about all that pixel death.

  32. Do vector drawn games really give off that psychedelic halo effect or is that an artifact? I’ve never seen one up close.

  33. Can someone please tell me the game that appears at the 1:15 mark? It’s driving me crazy!!

  34. Awesome, love the chiptune ‘Mad World”. If anyone here recognized most of these, felt some nostalgia fueled warm fuzzies, and don’t yet have MAME….*gives withering stare*

  35. Is it possible to get your version of the song? I bought the other one, not realizing it was the original and not yours.

  36. What a nice metaphor, so soothingly presented, for the upsetting truth that eventually, you and everything you care about will go down the toilet.

    1. Glad I’m not the only one who noticed the Narc video 1:20 is not the player dying.

      Also, Narc had some the best ultra-violence pre-MK days. Launch a rocket into a crowd of enemies and there’s nothing but burning limbs flying everywhere.

  37. does anyone remember the game at 1:28 in the video? it reminds me of soemthing and i have to check it out!

  38. Narc, the game at 1:20, shows an enemy get killed, not the player. The 2nd level has crazy junkies that throw loaded heroin needles at you. 1988 quarter killer.

  39. I recognise some of those games from having played them back in the ’80s & ’90s, but there are others I just don’t recognise, is there a list somewhere?

  40. whats tha name of the game at 1:14? the sniper one.
    I used to play it a lot as a kid at the arcade.
    I’ve been searching that game for years with no success.

    Thanks a lot!!

  41. Okay, what is the name of the game at 1:56? The one with the secret agent and the guys in hoods? I used to love that game. Haven’t thought about it in years…

  42. The greatest death was from Chris Crawford’s Diplomacy (Chris was the founder of CGDC)- which was: Congratulations you have destroyed the Earth.

    Nothing like a little guilt to end your game.

  43. can anyone tell me what is at 2:16? the list of games here: says only “Jeux Sans Frontieres (Games Without Frontiers, Peter Gabriel)” but of course, i don’t recall peter gabriel ever entering into the arcade game programming profession, so that seems an obvious inaccuracy.

    1. (list maintainer here) I didn’t recognize it either, so I just picked it up from youtube comments.

      Thanks for correction, it is now marked as uncertain in the list.

  44. How about the game at 1:49 with the spaceship? Loved it as a kid, but can’t remember the name.

  45. the one at 1:11 (right after ghost and goblins) that has the arial view w/ ghosts, anyone know the name?

  46. I need the name of the game at 1:30, but in fact I’m also interested in the list of all games showed in this vid. :)

  47. Yeah, nice… Flashback had several worthy 16-bit deaths, from a simple and understated fall from height to full-motion-video evaporation in plasma! Also check out Jurassic Park on Genesis, you could be devoured by T-Rex.

  48. Watching this made me realize how many video games I’ve completely forgotten about playing.

  49. I signed up for an account here just because of this video. I was blown away by the concept, presentation, and music. This is an awesome piece of art. I love the original version of Mad World, but the classic 8-bit sound is unexpected and amazing.

  50. The Star Wars arcade one isn’t a death, it’s a win of the level by blowing up the Death Star!

  51. The game @ 0:52 is wrong on the list, it’s clearly not Raiden II or Xevious. I remember playing this game at the arcades back when I was little but since I was very young I can’t remember for anything what game it was.

    Can anyone help?

  52. This is awesome. From Pong on through the years, this is my childhood as seen through the lens of wasted quarters…

  53. awesome, awesome, awesome! I had to watch it back to back twice, just to double check the games and the lush track.
    Brought a wave of nostalgia that I rarely experience! What was the footage used from 00.36 in for about 2-3 secs..
    Wracking my brains and if anyone can help, please do!

  54. this is like a “bail out” skate video, where you think someone’s juust about to land the trick instead smashing their nose against steel railing. Fascinating and painful

  55. Excelent – thanx for warm feeling I got when seeing this !!!
    Damn when did we get so old ? ;)

  56. what is the name of the game in 1:45 until 1:49?? with that gladiator and that monster?? it looks familiar…

  57. No one will see this comment, but I gotta point out that the music here is not a remix, not at all. It’s an electronic cover of the song. A remix uses actual samples or tracks from the original song, usually the vocals.

  58. Still loving this, months on – must have watched it a hundred times by now. Very Koyanisqaatsi-esque. Well done!

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