Retro games: threat or menace? Just joking, of course. We love a good retro game as much as anyone, and it turns out that you can play quite a few of them on your mobile device. Perhaps not as many as you used to be able to, but that’s a story for another day. I’ve decided to make a list of ten of the best retro games you can play on your mobile device. I’ve opted not to include remakes unless they are by and large identical to the original game, and I’m going to try to pick games that are at least a couple of decades old to avoid the debate over where the retro line should fall. Do note that these are simply my favorites, so if you have any that you feel should be on this list please comment below and help others find them. Oh, and the list is in no particular order. With all that said, let’s get on with it!
Sonic The Hedgehog 2 Classic, Free
Yes, this is a remake, but it’s imitating the original to a high enough degree that I’m going to allow it to pass. Plus, how could I not make a spot for the most famous hedgehog in the world? There are a few classic Sonic games available on mobile, and they’re all worth playing. I picked Sonic the Hedgehog 2 because it seems to be the crowd-pleaser of the available titles. It’s a great way to enjoy this hit from the 16-bit era, with all kinds of cool extras and a stunning presentation.
DoDonPachi Blissful Death, $2.99
DoDonPachi Blissful Death, sometimes known as DaiOuJou or simply DOJ, is one of the finest arcade shoot-em-ups of all-time. The mobile port is an incredible achievement, and I’m including it on this list not only because of how good it is but also because it and other Cave shoot-em-up ports were actually the reason I jumped into smartphone gaming back in the day. Nostalgia points count double! But seriously, this is a great game ported with care, and it deserves a place in the collection of any mobile shoot-em-up fan.
BIG TOURNAMENT GOLF ACA NEOGEO, $3.99
Better known under its original title of NEO Turf Masters, this NEOGEO golfing game is a rare vintage sports game that still holds much of its appeal. It’s a wildly fun take on the sport with easy-to-understand controls and a winning presentation. This is part of Hamster’s ACA NEOGEO line of mobile ports, with tons of extra features and options that let you play the game the way you want. It suits mobile gaming… to a tee. No, I will not apologize.
Streets of Rage 2 Classic, Free
One of the best beat-em-ups of all-time. It may be overshadowed these days by the presence of its shiny new installment, but this classic brawler still has two fists full of fun for anyone looking for a fight. You can try it for free, pay to permanently unlock it, and make use of all the cool features like controller support and rewind. However you play it, just make sure you give it a go.
Ys Chronicles 1, $4.99
The Ys Chronicles games are remakes, to be sure, but they are more than twenty years old so I am comfortable calling them retro. You can take this recommendation as one for both this game and its sequel, because they really are two parts of one game. Play as Adol Christin in his very first adventure, bumping and bashing your way to find out the secret behind the Books of Ys. These games are exciting, fun, and adapt rather well to touch controls. Plus, you really can’t beat those soundtracks.
Another World – 20th, $3.99
Some of you may know this one as Out of This World, but however you know it, we can likely agree that it’s a pioneering classic in cinematic adventure games. You play as a scientist who is warped to an alien planet under bizarre circumstances and needs to figure out how to survive. It can be a bit tricky to figure out what to do, but the magic of the modern age is that you can look things up if you get stuck. Plus, it’s fun to see those death animations at least once.
DOOM may not be the grand-daddy of the first-person shooter genre, but it’s certainly the game that told the world the genre was here to stay. The mobile version of DOOM has seen a couple of different incarnations over the years, and I’d be lying if I said this was my favorite of the bunch, but it’s a solid version with decent touch controls, controller support, and plenty of content to enjoy via its many add-ons. Rip and tear to your heart’s content!
Castlevania: SotN, $2.99
I still can’t get over what a great deal this is. A few measly bucks gets you one of the best games of the 32-bit era. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night is as magical an experience as it always was, with fantastic music, tons of secrets, and very satisfying gameplay. Explore the castle, regain Alucard’s powers, and take down the evil behind the sudden reappearance of Castlevania. Just keep in mind that there is often more than meets the eye when it comes to the forces of darkness.
Day of the Tentacle Remastered, $4.99
Point and click-style adventure games and mobile gaming go together perfectly, and Day of the Tentacle is a fantastic classic of the genre to have in your pocket. Take control of three very unusual heroes as they try to stop a mutated purple tentacle from taking over the planet. If you enjoy this one, be sure to check out Full Throttle and Grim Fandango Remastered from the same developer. They got remastered for a reason!
Crazy Taxi Classic, Free
Is Crazy Taxi fun to play on mobile? Yeah yeah yeah yeah YEAH! One of SEGA’s extremely rare non-Genesis/Mega Drive classics to make it to mobile, Crazy Taxi brings you all the Offspring/Bad Religion-fueled stunt driving of the arcade and Dreamcast hit in a handy portable form. It’s a great mobile experience because you can play it as long or as little as you have time to give it. It’s just too bad it doesn’t have the old store brands. I want the priest to tell me to take him to KFC again! Well, I suppose a taxi by any other name smells just as sweat. Sweaty. Taxis are stinky. That’s the joke.
I know what you’re thinking: Shaun, where are the RPGs? Surely Ys isn’t the only one worth mentioning? It’s true that there are a bunch of great retro RPGs on mobile like Chrono Trigger, Lunar: Silver Star Story Touch, and Phantasy Star IV. But you’ll find those on another list I did before, so I decided to leave them out of consideration for this one to make room for other games. If you know any great retro games on mobile that I missed, make sure to comment below and share the love. Until next time, thanks for reading!