Simple Games That Retained Popularity Over Time


All throughout the history of gaming, there have been countless examples of the simplest creations having incredible longevity. One could argue that it is a self-fulfilling prophecy, e.g. the games are long-lived because they were the first around, kind of like cave paintings for the gaming world.

Yet, it isn’t always the case that the simplest games came around first. Sometimes it’s about catching lightning in a bottle, something that you should bear in mind when entering the coding competition for JS13kGames. Here are some of the best simple games from history for some inspiration:


Often cited as the earliest arcade game, Pong was released by Atari in 1972. Effectively, it’s a computerised version of table tennis, but it’s a bit more fun than it sounds. Such was Pong’s cultural legacy, it’s part of the Smithsonian’s permanent collection.

Donkey Kong

Arguably more influential than even the great Mario in terms of being a literal game-changer for the gaming industry. Mario, AKA, Jumpman, was obviously involved too, but Donkey Kong did a lot of the leg work when it came to bringing video games to the masses.


How many hours of students’ time did Microsoft waste with its definitive version of solitaire? Almost every 90s kid, certainly those lucky enough to have a PC, would have spent hours playing the infuriating card game to avoid studying.


Puck-man, as it was originally known in Japan, is clearly one of the most recognisable and iconic games on the planet. Forget the different versions and sequels. The original is by a considerable distance the best.

Puzzle Bobble

Like Pacman, this one had different names depending on where you grew up: Bust a Move in the States, Puzzle Bobble. Objective: Destroy balloons with a gun. Simple perfection.



Blackjack is insanely popular online, one of the most played games at Canada site. Part of the allure for players is its simplicity and brevity, but also the fact it is one of the few casino games where strategy really counts towards success.


Imagine the pitch for Tetirs: “We want make a game where players will put falling bricks into lines.” Doesn’t sound too exciting, but boy does it work a treat. It’s one of the most popular – and profitable – video games in history, and it is the very definition of the word ‘timeless’.

Space Invaders

Another from the great Atari 2600 and countless arcades of our youth, Space Invaders isn’t going to charm anyone with its (admittedly dated) graphics, but it is incredibly fun to play. The original arcade machines sell for thousands. They are, after all, antiques.


Snake has been around since the 1970s in some form or another, but there is but one definitive version – the Nokia one. It actually appeared on several Nokia phones, but most famously on the 3310. The phone has cult status in terms of its durability, and you could play Snake for hours without making a dent in that formidable batter life.