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February: Namco releases , which is (as the name suggests) the sequel to New Rally-X .
Rally-X February: Konami releases , the first side-scrolling shooter with forced scrolling and multiple distinct levels, Scramble and an early example of  multi-core processing, using two Z80 microprocessors and two AY-3-8910 sound chips.
 February: Williams Electronics release , a challenging shoot-em-up space game with control configuration of five buttons and a joystick.
Defender May: Atari releases , which was the sequel to Asteroids Deluxe .
Asteroids June: Konami releases , a popular arcade Frogger action game. It also uses multi-core processing, with two Z80 microprocessors and an AY-3-8910 sound chip.
 July: Namco releases the arcade game .
Warp & Warp July: Nintendo releases , which was one of the first Donkey Kong 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.
 November: Namco releases , introducing a Bosconian 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.
 December: Sega releases , a space combat Eliminator multi-directional shooter notable for being the only four-player vector game created. It featured a colour  vector display as well as both cooperative and competitive multiplayer.
 , an Polybius urban legend game, is said to have been released in 1981.
Game Genres: Shmups, Professor Jim Whitehead, January 29, 2007, Accessed June 17, 2008
at Scramble Museum of the Game
at Frogger Museum of the Game
at 1981 in video gaming Allgame via the Wayback Machine
Mark J. P. Wolf (2008), , The video game explosion: a history from PONG to Playstation and beyond ABC-CLIO, p. 69, ISBN 0-313-33868-X , http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=XiM0ntMybNwC&pg=PA69&lpg=PA69 , retrieved 2011-03-28 ↑
at Eliminator Museum of the Game