It’s great that there are so many brand new games hitting the iPhone and iPad every day, but for old-school gamers, the return of countless favorite franchises is even better. With this week’s release of Final Fantasy Tactics, we thought it was a good time to share the best classic games that have been given a new lease on life in the App Store. Also check out numbers 20 – 11 here, and be sure to let us know what your list would include in the comments section below.
#10: Commodore 64
Commodore 64 is well-made collection of retro games, featuring a wide selection of titles that kept people very happy on their computers in the 1980s. Classics like like Space Taxi, Boulder Dash II, Stormlord, and Samurai Warrior all appear here. Some of the games come with the original purchase of the app, while others are available as in-app purchases for a buck or two apiece. If you remember gaming on a Commodore 64 back in the day, this is collection is a must have.
#9: Wolfenstein 3D
Before Doom, before Quake, before Rage, iD Software made their mark in the world of first-person shooters with Wolfenstein 3D, a game about mowing down Nazi scum. This was one of the first games where you looked down the barrel of a gun and mercilessly pumped bullets into bad guys, but that doesn’t mean it has lost its edge over time. Even in a world with Halo Reach and Black Ops, Wolfenstein 3D holds up surprisingly well.
R-Type was as close to bullet-hell as games got before the term “bullet-hell” existed. In it, you pilot a spaceship and take out a universe’s worth of aliens with the help of some majorly powered-up weapons. With silky-smooth animation, great controls, and a high level of challenge, R-Type is a perfect example of why the space shooter genre has always been popular.
#7: Streets of Rage 2
When it came to beat-‘em-ups, Streets of Rage 2 was the cream of the crop when it was released in 1992. Whether you like to use your bare fists, knives, or lead pipes, this game has you pummel tough guys until they fall down, flicker, and disappear. The graphics still look great, and the violence is just as fun as it’s ever been. Not even Sega’s shoddy emulator can keep you from having fun with this one.
#6: ChuChu Rocket
Since it came out for the Dreamcast in 1999, Chu Chu Rocket isn’t quite as retro as a lot of the games on this list, but it’s old enough to fit the bill, and it’s a heck of a lot of fun. Your job in this colorful puzzler is to direct robotic mouse-like creatures into spaceships before they’re devoured by mechanical cats. You do this by placing arrows on the screen to tell the creatures which way to turn. The levels are well designed, and there’s almost a never-ending supply of content in this port. Pick this one up if you feel like flexing your brain muscle.
One of the most prominent point-and-click adventure games in the history of the medium, Myst brought gamers to an intriguing, immersive world and left them on their own to figure out what to do. The result is a thinking person’s adventure that works great on the iPhone’s touchscreen.
#4: Doom Classic
Doom was one of those games that kids loved and parents hated. In it, you run around hellish levels full of poison pits and pentagrams, while fragging imps to puddles of slime and cacodemons to piles of intestines. This is Id software’s first game after Wolfenstein 3D, and it builds on what made that game awesome in every way. Best of all, the fun holds up smashingly in this iPhone port. Just don’t let your mom see you playing.
#3: Final Fantasy III
Final Fantasy III on iOS is a port of the 2006 Nintendo DS remake, with gorgeous new graphics splashed on the same lengthy story and enjoyable gameplay. This is one of the Final Fantasies that didn’t make it to the US when it was originally released in Japan, so many gamers– even RPG fans– haven’t ever played this one. With so much care put into this port, it’s well worth a download even at a premium (for-iPhone) game price.
#2: The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition
This edition of the hilarious classic adventure game constitutes a full makeover of the original, with all new graphics, orchestral music, and new voice overs performed by the original cast. But if all that newness is too much for your retro self, you can switch back to the original art at any time. All the new dressing wouldn’t mean a thing if the core game was a dud, but The Secret of Monkey Island is a deserving classic in every way. The writing is as ridiculous as it is hilarious, and the story is as memorable as ever. This is a game that will appeal to just about everyone.
#1: Capcom Arcade
Capcom Arcade is the king of retro apps. It contains 12 retro arcade games, most of which are genuine classics (even if three of them are variations on Street Fighter II). It’s got Ghosts ‘n Goblins, 1942, Street Fighter II, Final Fight, Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo, and more. Best of all, it’s a freemium game, and you get three tokens each day for free. Additional tokens can be bought for cheap, or if you like a game you can buy it for a buck or three, or unlock the whole set for a big discount.
Unlike many of the other retro game collections on the App Store, the games in Capcom Arcade have aged gracefully and have been ported to the iPhone with smart touchscreen controls. Capcom Arcade is a superior collection of terrific old-school games, presented in a thoughtful and highly usable way. There’s no reason not to download this one.