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Key Points:

  • The Atari as a console was made for party games.
  • Atari games were created and developed by many different companies.
  • This platform is the quintessential nostalgic icon of video game history.

When it comes to video games, it doesn’t get any better than the Atari. For a time in the late 70s and early 80s, these little boxes were all the rage. Kids, teens, and adults would gather around the television for hours to play games like Pac-Man and Pong.

The Atari party games are legendary and well-loved. Every gamer has played at least one or two of them, and we can remember many hours filled with laughs, shouting, and competition. Most of them are easy to pick up and play, but they require a certain level of gaming skill to truly complete.

In this article, we’ll highlight what we feel are the best Atari games you can play at a party or with your friends. They’re great fun, and we hope you enjoy them as much as we did.

The History of Party Games on the Atari

There were a lot of party games on the Atari, and many of them were created by several different companies. Initially, Atari made party games like Cops N’ Robbers and Combat, but Activision soon joined them with Pitfall and Imagic with Demon Attack.

Later, in 1984, Tengen came on the scene with these party games: Backgammon, BlackJack, Bowling, Golf, and Hangman. The following year, Gamestar came out with their own party games called: Asteroids Frenzy, Breakout, Combat 2, and Super Breakout.

In 1989, Atari decided to compete with Activision by releasing the 7800 consoles, which brought a few new party games to the table. The 7800 had a library of over 70 games and was popular for a time until it was phased out in 1992 and replaced by Atari’s last console: The Jaguar.

The Best Atari Party Games of All Time

Even though there are so many to choose from, these games are the absolute best. They are the classics, the first ones people think of when talking about their favorite party games. It’s no wonder that each one has turned into an icon of nostalgic gaming.  

So, without further ado, here is the definitive list of Atari party games.

9. Surround

SURROUND CX2641 VINTAGE ATARI 2600 GAME CARTRIDGE!
  • Surround is an Action game, developed and published by Atari, Inc., which was released in 1978.
PlatformAtari 2600
GenreAction, General
DeveloperAtari, Inc.
PublisherSears
Release Date1978

The premise of this game is really quite simple – two 2D plane opponents are guided to either side of the screen by the use of the controller. The goal is to stay in the loop as long as possible without hitting the edge. On the highest setting, the loop moves so fast that it becomes impossible for one player to move in both directions.

Surround is a popular game for two people, head to head. The remaining player wins when an opponent gets knocked out of the loop. This is why it is essential to try and keep them in the center of the screen as much as possible.  

This game is great for a party because it is simple to learn but also quite easy for the players to play against each other. The game’s popularity remains through the fact that it can be played by anyone who knows how to use the Atari controller.

Surround is a fun and energetic game, making it on the list of best Atari party games.

8. Boxing

PlatformAtari 2600
GenreSports, Individual, Combat, Boxing / Martial Arts
DeveloperActivision
PublisherActivision
Release Date1980

Boxing made the list of best Atari party games because of its simplicity. The goal is to punch your opponent until you achieve 100 points.

What makes it difficult is that there is a smaller window of time in which to strike than one might think. The player must be fast and accurate in his button mashing, or else he will lose the match by taking too many hits himself.

Boxing is a great Atari game for a party. All you need to do is set up two players and an opponent. You can also set a time limit, which makes the game quite challenging.

The fact that it is simple yet challenging made it a hit in the U.S., where it was one of the best-selling Atari cartridges.

This is the ninth-best Atari party game of all time because it is full of fast-paced action, and it is easy to pick up. It also has a lot of replay value, which makes it quite a good investment.

The best part about boxing is that it is a party game, so you can literally have a full round of action with your friends.

7. Fishing Derby

PlatformAtari 2600
GenreSports, Individual, Nature, Fishing
DeveloperActivision
PublisherActivision
Release Date1980

There is no question that fishing Derby is among the best Atari party game you can play at a party. As opposed to other games like Surround, the main objective here is to accrue as many points as possible. As an added bonus, this classic game has a tournament that involves several players.

Like Boxing, Fishing Derby lends itself especially well to multiplayer gaming because it requires everyone to pay meticulous attention in order for everyone to advance at the same time. This classic Atari game is a good choice for parties because it has great replay value and involves so many different players.

You and your friend are fishing in the same pond, so you sit next to each other and move your lines. You have to catch as many fish as possible while avoiding a huge shark nearby and ready to eat you and any fish you catch. In multiplayer fishing games, the way the sharks move and where the fish are placed make for some exciting action.

The theme is quite fun, and the action is fast-paced but not entirely frantic. This makes it a good in-between type of game; you could play this one after a game that is more taxing to the brain or right before something else entirely.

This game is not one that you will play forever, but it’s definitely fun for an hour or so. It has a great classic feel to it and isn’t too hard for adults to play. There are also tournaments available, which is always a plus when playing with friends.

6. Armor Ambush

atari
Armor Ambush is a video game for the Atari 2600, produced by M Network.

©openretro.org – License

PlatformAtari 2600
GenreAction, Shooter, Shoot-‘Em-Up, Top-Down
DeveloperMattel
PublisherM Network
Release Date1982

Another great classic, Armor Ambush, is a great party game to play with a group. It requires two players who can work with each other and is full of fast-paced action. The player sitting on the left has the ball – he must get past the opponents and take it over for himself without being hit by the opponents.

In this party game, you take control of a tank and participate in combat with an opposition tank by shooting at it until it is destroyed. Moving through various surroundings with two tanks, switching between them as needed, each with its own arrangement of strategic points and “clever plan” zones

This game requires a little more concentration than Boxing or Surround, but that makes it so much fun. There are no turns here, so there’s a lot of action, and it’s great fun. With two tanks, you have the option of either playing with a friend alone or with a friend and another person.

It’s also quite easy to set up. This is another classic party game people often overlook because of the fact that it’s so old. And for a good reason, this game is fantastic in every way. It’s long-lasting, gives you a lot of fun, and can be played with different people.

5. Indy 500

Indy 500
  • Indy 500 is a Racing game, developed and published by Atari, Inc., which was released in 1977.
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PlatformAtari 2600
GenreRacing, Arcade, Automobile
DeveloperAtari, Inc.
PublisherAtari, Inc.
Release Date1977

Indy 500 is a classic party game that is all about skill. This game is a race car driving party game and also features an avoidance technique. You are in the middle of a huge race, and you need to get yourself in a position where you can be in first place for as long as possible.

This is an older Atari game, but it’s still one of the best party games ever made. In this game, you have to block your opponent’s path to the goal, grab the prize right as they’re about to get it and finish faster than them.

The point of this game is to be the first to finish as fast as possible, so you have to look out for other cars trying to steal your prize. Besides the fact that it’s fun, there are also tournaments available, which is always a plus when playing with friends.

As the name implies, the goal for this game is to avoid crashing into another car. You have to use your driving skills and avoid crashing into the other cars, which is much more challenging than people realize.

It’s simple and a very fun party game, but it’s hard work. Even if you’re playing with a friend, it’s not the type of game where you can goof off. You have to pay attention and be quick. It’s a great game for people who are good at multitasking.

4. Combat

Sale
Combat
  • Combat is an Action game, developed and published by Atari, Inc., which was released in 1977.
PlatformAtari 2600
GenreAction, Shooter, Shoot-‘Em-Up, Top-Down
DeveloperAtari, Inc.
PublisherAtari, Inc.
Release Date1977

Atari was very successful with their games, and Combat is one of the best of the lot. With 27 different ways to “whoop it up,” you and a friend can fight using war tanks, helicopters, jet planes, and fighters in places like mazes, between the clouds, and in a desert. You also have a lot of ways to change the game, such as making it invisible, controlling the bullets, and getting rid of the borders.

This is a fun game that lets you shoot at people. This can be a lot of fun, but it’s also really competitive. It’s a great way to express yourself and your anger. This is a game that’s all about skill, quick reflexes, and the ability to multitask. Players compete in computerized doubles tennis matches with colourful characters who have their own individual personalities and traits.

This game is one of the most realistic games ever made for the Atari 2600, and it’s an easy favourite among Atari party games. It’s also extremely easy to play and a lot of fun with a friend. It’s a good old game that is a lot of fun for people of all ages.

3. Asteroids

PlatformAtari 2600, Arcade game
GenreShoot ’em up, Space combat, Twin-stick shooter
DeveloperAtari, Inc., Atari
PublisherAtari, Inc., Atari, Atari Corporation, Activision, Sega, Taito
Initial Release DateNovember 1979

A classic maze shooting game, Asteroids is a one or two-player game requiring reflexes, strategy and the ability to use a trackball. The aim is to blast asteroids that are left over from an exploded planet. You have full control of your spaceship and must avoid the oncoming horde of rocks.

The best way to dispose of each asteroid is to shoot it, so it breaks up into smaller pieces. How you go about doing this depends on your skill level. Sometimes you can get in close and blast them up with your laser or sit back and shoot at a distance. With the extra bonus of 3D, “ping” sound effects, and retro-looking vector graphics, this is definitely a 70s classic that should be in your collection.

Asteroids is an action-adventure video game with a side-scrolling perspective, originally developed for the Atari VCS computer and later home ports for several other platforms, including the Atari 2600 console.

There are two basic forms of gameplay in Asteroids: one is the action mode, where players blast at asteroids that fly towards them from the left or right and then proceed to destroy them; and another is the adventure mode, in which players earn points by destroying asteroids while avoiding other hazards such as rocks and meteors.

2. Space Invaders

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PlatformAtari 2600, Atari 5200, Atari 8-bit
GenreShoot ’em up
DeveloperTaito
PublisherAtari, Inc.
Initial Release Date1978

Although the gameplay of Space Invaders is fairly simple and easy to learn, the game is so addictive that it can be played for hours and hours. The difficulty comes from being constantly attacked by alien invaders and having to be fast enough to shoot them.

In this game, you have an unlimited supply of shots and bombs, but if you run out of ammo or bombs, then it’s game over. The game has been made into a number of sequels – one of which is the famous shooter, Galaxian. Space Invaders remains one of the best party games ever and one that you should definitely try out at least once in your lifetime.

Space Invaders is a science-fiction arcade game developed and released by Taito Corporation in 1978. The player controls a spaceship and must defend Earth against waves of alien invaders.

Invaders come in two varieties: large and small. Large aliens come in mass and must be shot down without missing more than three times, though they can be picked off with a single hit at medium range.

Small aliens are fast and harder to hit accurately but have half the health of their larger counterparts. This is definitely one of the best party games ever made. The concept is so simple yet so engaging that you’ll find that you will always enjoy it.

1. Warlords

PlatformAtari 2600
GenreAction, Arcade
DeveloperAtari, Inc.
PublisherAtari, Inc.
Release Date1981

Warlords is the highest-rated Atari game on this site, so it’s a little strange that it’s number one. That said, its easy to see why. It’s a great party game and a lot of fun for single players – it has plenty of action and adventure mixed in with the basic gameplay strategy.

Atari released Warlords in 1981 for the Atari 2600 video game console. The game is a strategic action game in which players assume the roles of Generals that command an army. There are two types of soldiers: Infantry and Archer. Infantry soldiers can defeat the Archer soldiers by fighting hand-to-hand, but Archers can kill Infantry by attacking from a distance.

The game contains a strategic mode where an army marches across a map to capture territories from the enemy army and an attack mode where opposing armies fight each other directly on a battlefield. In the strategic mode, the player can muster different types of soldiers and equip them with weapons at the Warlords camp. The more territories a player captures, the more powerful his or her army becomes.

Up Next

Looking for some more lists about the best of the best games? See below!

Last update on 2023-01-30 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The Absolute Best Atari Party Games of All Time FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What are the best Atari game tournaments?

The best Atari game tournaments are undoubtedly the Evolution Championship Series (or EVO for short) in Las Vegas. This is a yearly event that takes place in July of each year. It is the biggest and most prestigious fighting game tournament in the world.

What are the most popular Atari games?

The most popular Atari games are Asteroids, Pitfall, Warlords, and Space Invaders. All of these can be played on the Atari.

What was the best Atari game of all time?

The best Atari game of all time is Pac-Man. It was released in 1980 and quickly became one of the most popular and best-selling arcade games of all time.

What is an Atari party game?

An Atari party game is a video game that is best played within a social setting. These are games that are best played with friends or other people in the same room. They are often passed around to different players and feature ‘party play’ options, where everybody can get involved in the action.

What is the best multiplayer Atari game?

The best Atari multiplayer game is Asteroids. It’s an easy-to-pick-up-and-play action game that’s perfect for playing with friends or in a social setting.

What was Atari's best-selling game?

Atari’s best-selling video game was Pac-Man, which sold an incredible 350,000 arcade machines worldwide. It is thought that more than 10 billion quarters were fed into arcade machines worldwide during the game’s lifetime.

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