The 12 most iconic weapons in video game history

These are weapons we can't forget.


Dennis Scimeca

Internet Culture

Published Sep 1, 2015   Updated May 28, 2021, 1:34 am CDT

What makes a weapon in a video game iconic is not how powerful it is, but how much emotion we attach to it.

Guns and swords and bombs are a dime a dozen in video games. For almost 40 years we’ve wielded all sorts of implements of destruction, from the little laser cannon in Space Invaders to the superweapons in modern games. That includes, in the case of Call of Duty 2: Modern Warfare, an actual nuclear missile.

The weapons we remember, however, are important because they have character. They symbolize something about the spirit of the game. That’s why the images refuse to die in the annals of game culture, and why we see the same, beloved weapons iterated again and again in popular franchises. Without those weapons, the games just wouldn’t feel right. 

Keeping this list tight wasn’t easy. The Golden Gun in GoldenEye 007 for the Nintendo 64 is well-known, but generational. The Mega Buster from Mega Man is remembered fondly enough to make replicas collectible, but it’s also part of an entire robot. And what about Samus Aran’s armor, from Metroid? Doesn’t that constitute a weapon?

We settled on weapons that you could, hypothetically, just hand to another person, the way they’ve been handed down between generations of video game fans so they’re still recognized and relevant today. 

To help with this project, we decided to create a cartoon character (we’re calling her Dottie) to take each deadly weapon for a spin, because what’s more fun than an adorable bunny rabbit wielding razor-sharp blades and mega guns? 

(Click here to see the infographic larger.)

Max Fleishman

Illustration and infographic by Max Fleishman

Share this article
*First Published: Sep 1, 2015, 11:00 am CDT