There’s no shortage of great modern games, but sometimes you need something to stoke the fires of nostalgia. Unfortunately, many old games have not been recreated for smartphones, the reasons for which are vast and, at times, baffling. You can download an emulator and ROMs, of course, but quality is spotty. While some games aren’t (legally) available on your phone, others are, and we’ve compiled them into this handy list.
Who doesn’t love Pac-man? This classic hit has been officially brought to Android (and iOS) in multiple iterations, some emulating the classic arcade game, others sporting more modern graphics and gameplay. If you’re looking for the simple classic, Bandai Namco has you covered with its PAC-MAN app. Prefer 3D graphics? Bandai also has PAC-MAN Kart Rally up on Google Play.
Many people have fond memories of playing Space Invaders, and thanks to a thinly-veiled clone called ‘Space Intruders,’ anyone can relive this classic game on their Android handset. ‘Space Intruders’ isn’t identical to the original arcade game in that the spaceship shoots automatically; this is necessary for playing on a touchscreen, though, otherwise your fingers would be in the way.
Note: yes, the trailer above is for the PlayStation, but the game is the same regardless.
If you didn’t manage to catch this title when it was offered for free on PlayStation Plus, here’s your second-best chance to get the classic game at a very low price. Grim Fandango Remastered is available on the Google Play Store for $4.99, giving fans access to the hit game, but with updated graphics, a re-recorded music score, dynamic lighting, and more.
Also on iOS!
While Nintendo continues to drag its feet about bringing its classic games to mobile, SEGA has jumped directly on that bandwagon, releasing one of its most beloved titles on Google Play for a measly $3: Sonic the Hedgehog 2. Yes, even the familiar Seeeegaaaaa! intro audio is included. Can’t get enough Sonic? SEGA also has a Sonic Dash Android game. Grab the iOS version here.
We’re taking a bit of liberty with the ‘classic’ definition in this case, since the title itself — Castle of Illusion — is a classic, but the version on the Google Play Store is a remake that looks nothing like the iteration you may have played on the Game Gear. Castle of Illusion has gone through multiple remakes, first being developed in 1990 by SEGA for the Genesis, then again in 1998 for the Sega Saturn, then once again in 2013 for the PC, PlayStation, and Xbox. That latter remake introduced the title with 2.5D gameplay, the same you’ll find on the Android version of the game. Though cheaper than the version on Steam, the Android version is still a bit pricey at $4.99. The iOS version is the same price.
The enhanced version of Baldur’s Gate, originally released in 1998, is now available to download on the Google Play Store. This version of the game has been enhanced for tablets specifically, though you could also play it on your phone if you’d like. The game is a 60-hour epic, according to its developer, and the mobile app includes all of the expansions, too. Both it and the iOS version are $9.99.
Dragon’s Lair, the game from the early 80s, have arrived on Android (as well as the second game, Dragon’s Lair II), bringing the valiant knight Dirk the Daring to smartphones and tablets. The game may not be much by modern standards, but it holds a fond place in many players’ hearts. Both this and the iOS version are $4.99.
The SEGA classic Crazy Taxi is available on the Google Play Store with all of its original music, classic graphics, and overall remastered gameplay to make the title suitable for mobile gaming. The game is free with ads, but those who have purchased Crazy Taxi Classic will be able to download an ad-free version of the game. This app is also free on iTunes.
For those who grew up in the 90s, the Google Play Store holds a small treat: a remastered version of the DuckTales game, updating the original 8-bit game with better graphics and new support. Players can use a Bluetooth controller in their mission to save Huey, Dewey, and Louie. This game costs $4.99 on both Google Play and on iTunes.
Atari took the easy route and packed a bunch of its games from the 70s and 80s into a single app, though the app itself is a bit deceptive — it is free to download, but only one game is free to play. You’ll have to pay to get access to the full catalog, but the $9.99 price tag is small beans compared to the massive 99 game library it’ll give you access to. The same goes for the iOS version.
That’s right, the original Tomb Raider games are available on the Google Play Store thanks to Square Enix. You can download a bunch of other titles from Square Enix, too, so be sure to check out its page. Most of the games, including the two Tomb Raider games, are priced at $0.99 USD. Find them for iOS here.
Tetris, thanks to its enduring popularity amongst all age groups, is one of the games that lives on in a modern style from a major publisher — Electronic Arts, in this case. The puzzle game is the same as the one you may have played decades ago, but it comes with a modern veneer of bright, colorful graphics. Of course, you can find it for iOS, too.
It really doesn’t get any more classic or simple than Pong. While this exact version isn’t available on iTunes, there are many iOS alternatives.
If you loved the classic game Centipede, you’ll find the cloned version ‘Robotipede’ to be an excellent rendition of the game. Unlike many clones, this game is high-quality and extremely similar to the original. If you’re looking for this on iTunes, you’ll have to hit up the Atari’s Greatest Hits app.
If you loved the original Q*bert game, you’ll likely enjoy this rebooted version on Android. Q*bert Rebooted brings with it both the classic 2D version of the original 1980s game, as well as a new, more modern 3D version that, the developer says, is still ‘faithful to the original concept.’ This version of the game also boasts three new enemies, more than 30 new levels, and more. Also on iOS!
Perhaps this game isn’t old enough to be considered a retro classic, but it has been just under a decade since the first game was released and the title has many fans. Though you can’t play that original game on Android (yet), you can play one that is similar enough called Run Sackboy! Run!. If you’ve played any of the previous console games, you’ll know exactly what to expect, as this mobile version of the game is very similar in design and function. The same goes for the iOS version.
Some of best retro games are still missing from mobile and no doubt some of them won’t ever make their way onto the platform. If you’re determined to play them on your phone, you can download an emulator and the appropriate ROMs. For the ones above, though, you at times get remastered quality and also small tweaks that make the games suitable for playing on a touchscreen. Did we miss your favorite? Drop us a link!