Everything You Need To Know About 'Stranger Things' Season 2's Arcade Game Obsession


Any nerdy 1980s kid worth his or her salt spent plenty of hours at the arcade (this was before any game systems besides Atari, after all), and the kids of Stranger Things are no exception. True to form, the video games of Stranger Things Season 2 are definitely ones that you’ll recognize from your own childhood — they may even bring you back to a simpler time. In Season 2, the kids pile all of their change together (or, in Mike’s case, steal it from a sister), and they head down to the local game center to get the top score in in whatever the hot game of the moment is.

In the first episode of the season, Will, Lucas, Dustin, and Mike are crushing the high score game at the arcade, only to find out that a mysterious figure named MADMAX has taken the top spot on Dragon’s Lair with an inordinately high number of points. Once they meet Max, they realize their rival is a girl, and boy, do they want to know her video-game-winning secrets. I think it’s just because she’s nimbler than Dustin that her fingers move faster and better in order to slay the dragon (yay!) and save the princess (ugh!) in Dragon’s Lair. Whatever it is, they want to know.

What I wanted to know, though, is how accurate the video games in Stranger Things Season 2 are to the actual video games in October of 1984. Let’s take a walk down memory lane and look at the games featured in the Hawkins arcade in Season 2.

Dragon’s Lair

Released in June 1983, Dragon’s Lair follows Dirk the Daring (which is a little too close to Dirk Diggler from Boogie Nights, in my view) as he attempts to rescue Princess Daphne from Mordroc and Singe. He’s the only knight left, and, spoiler alert, he becomes heir to the throne when he saves Daphne. It’s a feminist nightmare, but it’s the 1980s, and people didn’t think of that sort of thing. The graphics were advanced for the time, but if you gave a kid that game today, they’d laugh at you and put their virtual reality headset on.

Dig Dug

The premise of Dig Dug is simple — dig holes in the dirt and kill monsters as they come at you. It’s simple, but it sure is effective. It was released in 1982 by Namco, and compared to other games where you have to battle things and save damsels, it seems a little simplistic. But, hey — to each his gaming own.


One of the world’s most famous video games, Pac-Man was released by Namco in 1980. It chronicles a little yellow circle as he eats other little circles and bits of fruit (gotta have that vitamin C) and avoids ghosts that want to kill him. It’s basic, but it’s still one of the most satisfying games out there. There’s a reason it’s a classic.

Ms. Pac-Man

For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction, and I guess that Ms. Pac-Man was the reaction to Pac-Man’s popularity. It was introduced in 1982, and it’s basically, give or take some new mazes and levels, the same game as regular Pac-Man. The biggest difference is that the yellow protagonist in this game is female and wearing a pink bow to denote as such.

Millennials love anything that has to do with nostalgia, so including the games that older millennials (and younger ones, as long as they had an older sibling as a gateway gaming plater) used to love is a great move by Stranger Things. It makes the show relatable and intriguing, because who among us hasn’t been disappointed when our high score gets blown out of the water by a mystery user? As with everything else on the show, the video games perfectly fit into the lore of Stranger Things.