Codex Gamicus
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Business[]

  • The US arcade game market's revenues increase to $8.2 billion in 1981[1] (equivalent to $21.3 billion in 2021).

Notable Releases[]

Arcade Games[]

  • February: Namco releases New Rally-X, which is (as the name suggests) the sequel to Rally-X.
  • February: Konami releases Scramble, the first side-scrolling shooter with forced scrolling and multiple distinct levels,[2] and an early example of multi-core processing, using two Z80 microprocessors and two AY-3-8910 sound chips.[3]
  • February: Williams Electronics release Defender, a challenging shoot-em-up space game with control configuration of five buttons and a joystick.
  • May: Atari releases Asteroids Deluxe, which was the sequel to Asteroids.
  • June: Konami releases Frogger, a popular arcade action game. It also uses multi-core processing, with two Z80 microprocessors and an AY-3-8910 sound chip.[4]
  • July: Namco releases the arcade game Warp & Warp.
  • July: Nintendo releases Donkey Kong, which was one of the first platform games. It was also the game that introduced Mario (named simply "Jumpman" at the time) to the video game world, and one of the first video games to have a fleshed out storyline.[5]
  • November: Namco releases Bosconian, introducing a free-roaming style of gameplay where the player's ship freely moves across open space that scrolls in all directions and a radar that tracks player & enemy positions on the map.[6]
  • December: Sega releases Eliminator, a space combat multi-directional shooter notable for being the only four-player vector game created.[7] It featured a colour vector display as well as both cooperative and competitive multiplayer.[8]
  • Polybius, an urban legend game, is said to have been released in 1981.

Computer Games[]

  • President Elect, a commercially published political simulation game, was released by Strategic Simulations.

References[]

Video game releases[]

Name Release Date Category Region(s) Platform(s)
005 December 1, 1981 Video Game North America Arcade
Alpine Ski 1981 Video Game Undefined Undefined
Amidar 1981 Video Game North America Arcade, Atari 2600
Armored Car 1981 Video Game Undefined Undefined
Astro Blaster 1981 Video Game Undefined Undefined
Astro Fantasia March, 1981 Video Game Undefined Undefined
Astrocade BASIC January 1, 1981 Video Game North America Bally Astrocade
Astrosmash 1981 Video Game North America Atari 2600
Battle of Atlantis 1981 Video Game Undefined Undefined
Battle Trek 1981 Video Game North America TRS-80
Black Hole 1981 Video Game Undefined Undefined
Blast Droids 1981 Video Game North America Bally Astrocade
Blockout!/Breakdown! 1981 Video Game Europe Magnavox Odyssey 2
Borderline 1981 Video Game Undefined Undefined
Bosconian November 20, 1981 Video Game Japan Arcade
Boxing October 21, 1981 Video Game North America Intellivision
Bridge (1981) 1981 Video Game Undefined Undefined
Castle Wolfenstein 1981 Video Game Undefined Undefined
Checkers (1981) 1981 Video Game North America Atari 2600
Colony 7 1981 Video Game Undefined Undefined
Conquest of the World 1981 Video Game Undefined Undefined
Cosmic Avenger 1981 Video Game North America Arcade
Crazy Kong 1981 Video Game Undefined Undefined
Defender February, 1981 Video Game North America Arcade
Defender II 1981 Video Game North America Arcade
Donkey Kong July 9, 1981 Video Game Japan Arcade
Donkey Kong July 31, 1981 Video Game North America Arcade
DONKEY.BAS 1981 Video Game Undefined Undefined
Fairchild Channel F Videocart 22 1981 Video Game North America Fairchild Channel F
Fairchild Channel F Videocart 26 1981 Video Game North America Fairchild Channel F
Fairchild Channel F Videocart-20 1981 Video Game North America Fairchild Channel F
Fairchild Channel F Videocart-21 1981 Video Game North America Fairchild Channel F
Fairchild Channel F Videocart-23 1981 Video Game North America Fairchild Channel F
Fairchild Channel F Videocart-24 1981 Video Game North America Fairchild Channel F
Fairchild Channel F Videocart-25 1981 Video Game North America Fairchild Channel F
Fantasy 1981 Video Game North America Arcade
Freeway (1981) 1981 Video Game North America Atari 2600
Frisky Tom 1981 Video Game International Arcade
Frogger 1981 Video Game North America Arcade
Galaga September, 1981 Video Game Japan Arcade
Galaga December, 1981 Video Game North America Arcade
Gun Fight 1981 Video Game North America Atari 8-bit
Hangly-Man 1981 Video Game Undefined Undefined
Haunted House (1981) 1981 Video Game Undefined Undefined
Haunted House (1982) February, 1981 Video Game Undefined Undefined
Hockey!/Soccer! 1981 Video Game Europe Magnavox Odyssey 2
Ice Hockey (1981) 1981 Video Game Undefined Undefined
Jump Bug 1981 Video Game Undefined Undefined
K.C. Munchkin 1981 Video Game Undefined Undefined
Kaboom! 1981 Video Game North America Atari 2600
Keyboard Creations 1981 Video Game North America Magnavox Odyssey 2
Kick 1981 Video Game Undefined Undefined
Lady Bug 1981 Video Game North America Arcade
Laser Blast 1981 Video Game Undefined Undefined
Lock 'n' Chase June 19, 1981 Video Game International Arcade
Manhole 1981 LCD Game North America Game & Watch
Missile Command 1981 Video Game North America Atari 2600
Monkeyshines 1981 Video Game North America Magnavox Odyssey 2
Mouse Trap 1981 Video Game North America Arcade
Ms. Pac-Man 1981 Video Game North America Arcade
Music Maker 1981 Video Game Undefined Undefined
Musician 1981 Video Game Europe Magnavox Odyssey 2
New Rally-X February, 1981 Video Game Japan Arcade
New Rally-X 1981 Video Game North America Arcade
Pac-Man 1981 Video Game North America Bally Astrocade
Pachinko 1981 Video Game Europe Magnavox Odyssey 2
PBA Bowling July 31, 1981 Video Game North America Intellivision
Pele's Soccer 1981 Video Game Undefined Undefined
Pleiads 1981 Video Game North America Arcade
Polaris 1981 Video Game Undefined Undefined
Pulsar 1981 Video Game Undefined Undefined
Qix October, 1981 Video Game North America Arcade
Reversi May 11, 1981 Video Game North America Intellivision
Robby Roto 1981 Video Game Undefined Undefined
Round-Up November, 1981 Video Game Undefined Undefined
Route-16 1981 Video Game International Arcade
Royal Dealer 1981 Video Game Undefined Undefined
Scramble 1981 Video Game Europe Arcade
Scramble 1981 Video Game Japan Arcade
Scramble 1981 Video Game North America Arcade
Secret of the Pharaohs 1981 Video Game Europe Magnavox Odyssey 2
Sengoku Ninja Tai 1981 Video Game Undefined Undefined
Shark Attack 1981 Video Game Undefined Undefined
Skeet Shoot 1981 Video Game Undefined Undefined
Sky Skipper 1981 Video Game Japan Arcade
Smithereens 1981 Video Game Undefined Undefined
Snafu October 15, 1981 Video Game North America Intellivision
Solar Fox 1981 Video Game North America Arcade
Solar Quest 1981 Video Game North America Arcade
Space Armada October 15, 1981 Video Game North America Intellivision
Space Cavern 1981 Video Game North America Atari 2600
Space Dungeon 1981 Video Game Undefined Undefined
Space Fortress 1981 Video Game Undefined Undefined
Space Fury June 17, 1981 Video Game North America Arcade, ColecoVision
Space Hawk April 19, 1981 Video Game North America Intellivision
Space Invaders 1981 Video Game North America Bally Astrocade
Spacechase 1981 Video Game Undefined Undefined
Spiders 1981 Video Game North America Arcade
Stampede 1981 Video Game North America Atari 2600
Star Strike December 22, 1981 Video Game North America Intellivision
Star Trek 1981 Video Game North America MS-DOS
Star Trek 3.5 1981 Video Game North America Atari 800
Steeplechase (1981) 1981 Video Game North America Atari 2600
Stellar Track 1981 Video Game North America Atari 2600
Strategy X 1981 Video Game Undefined Undefined
Super Breakout 1981 Video Game North America Atari 2600
Super Cobra June 22, 1981 Video Game North America Arcade
Syracuse 1981 Video Game Europe Magnavox Odyssey 2
Tari Trek 1981 Video Game North America Atari 800
Tempest August, 1981 Video Game Undefined Undefined
Tennis (Atari 2600) 1981 Video Game Undefined Undefined
The Quest for the Rings 1981 Video Game North America Magnavox Odyssey 2
Thief (1981) 1981 Video Game Undefined Undefined
Triple Action October 15, 1981 Video Game North America Intellivision
Turbo 1981 Video Game North America Arcade
Turtles 1981 Video Game North America Arcade
UFO 1981 Video Game Europe Magnavox Odyssey²
Utopia (1981) June 3, 1981 Video Game North America Intellivision
Vanguard 1981 Video Game Europe Arcade
Vanguard July, 1981 Video Game Japan Arcade
Vanguard October, 1981 Video Game North America Arcade
Venture 1981 Video Game North America Arcade
Video Hustler 1981 Video Game Undefined Undefined
Video Life 1981 Video Game Undefined Undefined
Video Pinball 1981 Video Game North America Atari 2600
War of Nerves 1981 Video Game Undefined Undefined
Warlords 1981 Video Game North America Atari 2600
Warp & Warp July, 1981 Video Game Japan Arcade
Wizard of Wor 1981 Video Game North America Atari 2600, Bally Astrocade
Wizardry: Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord December 31, 1981 Video Game North America Apple II
Yars' Revenge 1981 Video Game North America Atari 2600
Zarzon December 31, 1981 Video Game United States Arcade
Zarzon 1981 Video Game Undefined Undefined

Hardware releases[]

Name Release Date Category Region(s)
PC-8801 December, 1981 PC Japan
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