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.
#20: Atari’s Greatest Hits
This app might only have a few stand-out gems and a whole lot of filler, but the classics on it will always have a special place in our hearts. From Asteroids and Centipede to Missile Command and Yar’s Revenge, these games helped launch the entire industry. Better yet, the app is compatible with the iCade, a mini-arcade cabinet that– if you can afford it– makes playing these classics even more fun.
#19: Karate Champ
Lots of retro games are incredibly basic and offer very little depth. Not so with Karate Champ, an arcade fighting game from 1984. This one-on-one brawler gives you two arcade sticks at the bottom of the screen and has you combine various directional inputs to perform different moves. With a little practice, you’ll be sweeping legs and punching faces with the best of them. It’s no Street Fighter IV, but Street Fighter might not be around if Karate Champ hadn’t paved the way.
#18: Prince of Persia Retro
This platformer originally came out for the Apple II in 1989 and quickly became a hit. Eventually it would spawn a series of critically-acclaimed games for a number of different platforms– and even a major motion picture– but it all started with this basic platformer. The game uses traditional tropes like sword fighting and deadly traps, but the setting, smooth animation, and ever-present danger make the game fun to go back to. But don’t think it’s a walk in the park– compared to modern games, the original Prince of Persia is very tough.
#17: Dragon’s Lair
In their heyday, Dragon’s Lair and its sequel were the best looking games out there. With Disney-quality animation by Don Bluth, Dragon’s Lair caught the eye of anyone walking by in the arcade. Unfortunately, the insane difficulty of the game ensured that almost no one could finish it without feeding a fortune’s worth of quarters into the machine. But now on the iPhone, the entire game is yours for just a few quarters, and you can finally find out how the story ends.
#16: Double Dragon
Double Dragon for the arcade was one of the best beat-‘em-ups out there, and this iPhone version does justice to the original. Like so many games to come after it, you use your fists and feet to deliver beat-downs to a seemingly never-ending supply of muscle-bound thugs. The controls on the iPhone work very well, and the graphics have been given an appealing face-lift since it came out in 1987. What’s not to love?
#15: BrainDead 13
Another gorgeous cartoon game that you play using quick-time events, BrainDead 13 tells the memorable story of a computer repairman sent to a castle and hunted by psycho named Fritz, who has hooks instead of hands. Many gory deaths are sure to befall your hero before you reach the end, but the challenge is well worth taking on. Put this one next to Dragon’s Lair on your home screen, because this is another game whose looks were ahead of its time.
#14: Sonic the Hedgehog 2
The emulator Sega uses to port their Genesis games over to iOS gets a lot of well-deserved flack, but even the somewhat stiff controls can’t hold back one of the best platformers ever made. Tails joins Sonic this go-round, and they speed through enormous levels that were smartly designed to keep them running’¦ at least until they dead-end into an enemy or spike wall. Pick this one up either to relive the joys of your childhood, or to find out why Sonic has become a household name.
What’s better than teaming up with your friends to fight crime? How about playing as the X-Men and duking it out against sentinels and supervillains? This classic beat-‘em up allows you to connect with up to three friends locally to play simultaneous co-op. The game may be a little on the short side, but for fans of comics and arcade games in the ’90s, this X-Men port is about as good as it gets.
#12: Marathon 1
Before Bungie started the Halo franchise, popularizing the first-person shooter genre on consoles, they developed a FPS for Macs in 1994. The graphics may not hold up, but the gameplay is still fun, even if it’s incredibly difficult. This iPad-only port not only gives you the full game, but it gives it to you free of charge. So if you have an iPad, there’s no reason not to download Marathon and take a trip down memory lane.
#11: 7th Guest
7th Guest tells the tale of Henry Stauf, a crazy old doll-maker, who invites guests to spend the night in his mansion. What they don’t know is that they may not live through the night. This PC classic was one of the first games to come out on CD-ROM, and it filled the extra disk space with an enormous mansion and lots of full-motion video with over-the-top acting. 7th Guest remains one of the spookiest adventure games available, with a wide variety of challenging puzzles. It’s one for the ages.