Retro Games App Roundup – Part One

Alex Walls
January 29, 2013

Smartphone gaming is a big industry these days.

With video games releases outselling blockbuster movies, there’s already a large market looking to their phones for accessible, easy gaming. Not to mention the entirely new audience smart phones have introduced to the joys of video gaming, namely shooting aliens, outwitting monkeys and falling head first into spike pits.
And while many of the games available for smart phones have focussed on a series of levels of fruit slicing or pig slinging, retro games are making their way to the market. Many of those originals we remember fondly, alongside the addiction to finishing one more level, the guilt at that exam we ‘forgot’ to study for and the satisfaction at a well-placed grenade lobbed into a den of zombies, are available on mobiles and while they certainly have nostalgia value, just how to they measure up to a different platform and a different age?

We took a look at twelve of the best retro games that are now available on mobile and how they play on a new platform ‘ is the trip down memory lane worth your time, effort and money on mobile?


GAME: Snake ’97€¨

Developer: WMIT

۬Platform: iOS (tested), other versions available on Android, and Windows Phone



Snake '97_3

As retro games go, this is a pretty spot-on recreation of the original.

Creator W.L. Middelkoop’s faithful homage to the 1997 classic Snake, which was once found pre-programmed onto the old Nokia ‘brick’ feature phones, is just that. The controls are more responsive because the buttons aren’t jammed with debris, or just plain broken, but the sounds are as tinny and annoying and the snake as badly rendered. The idea remains the same ‘ make the snake as long as possible by eating food ‘ and avoiding your own tail. Easier said than done.

Like the original, the game offers various ‘levels’ (speed), links to the Wiki page, as well as international high scores. The levels with obstacles do appear to be missing from this iteration.


IT Benefit۬Android (TESTED), other versions available on iOS, Windows Phone.



Mine Sweeper_2

It’s faithful, but boy is it still annoying.

Minesweeper involves clicking on grey squares to try and isolate mines, which reveals numbers ‘ these supposedly give clues telling you how many mines are nearby.   I remember Minesweeper as the squishy apple at the bottom of the barrel of games – nobody wanted to play it, but if there was nothing else left€¦

It remains a game for those with more patience than anything else, but works well with a touch screen.

The Windows Phone version is visually updated, but personally I prefer the eight-bit graphics of the iPhone and Android versions for nostalgic reasons. The flags to place on suspected mines and detonation options are still there, as is the sad face when you inevitably screw up.

Missile Command۬


iOS and Android via Atari’s Greatest Hits (free trial)



Missile Command_3

Missile Command is probably what many Americans feared during the Cold War – cities defended from nukes by Surface to Air Missiles.

Perhaps not accompanied by trippy music and a random plane crossing the sky between the nukes (they just let anyone fly these days), but you get the idea.

A 70s corner store classic, Missile Command keeps it simple, with a scrolling control for aim, and three buttons to shoot at the flaming death in the form of coloured lines in the sky. It’s a retro game and fun to remember all those 10p lost in pursuit of an undamaged sky line but after you’ve torched your cities a few times over, the game loses appeal and the music never had any.

Pong ۬Atari

iOS and Android – in Atari Bundle




For a game that consists of little more than bouncing a ball off paddles, Pong can give you a run for your money and that black and white scoreboard is surprisingly smug for monochrome.

The old game stands up to the test of time ‘ it’s fun, the sounds are enjoyable and you can adjust difficulty settings if you like being beaten.

While there was an annoying glitch where the ball kept regenerating across the bottom of the screen, and the other paddle refused to do anything about it, requiring some geometry to work out how to bounce it up, and while the bundle comes with an irritating pop up ad whenever you load a game, lose a game or scratch your nose, it’s an enjoyable retro game to play, even if it does cost a token a time.

Star Control II: Ur Quan Masters۬





Ur Quan Masters_5

Oh, my sweet gaming gods. Some genius ported this game over from its old DOS platform and lo, Star Control II was born again on Android.

This is one of the things to love about Android ‘ more old school developers seem committed to the system, probably due to the open ethos touted by Google.

A cross over between an adventure game and a shooter that involves saving the galaxy from the Ur Quan aliens ‘ the game play is as good as I remember.

The plot is fantastic and star ship battles remain annoyingly difficult (see nostalgia moments below).   However, the game starts off slow with few tips so bear with it. While the graphics match the original, it is best played on a tablet ‘ it’s too fiddly on a smaller screen. Highly recommended, particularly since it’s free.


1.   Space battles in Star Control II: the ship handles like a pregnant hippopotamus and at times you completely lose sight of it while desperately trying to work out what’s an alien ship and what’s an asteroid. Ah, memories.

2.   Being insulted by the Ur Quan, and the witty retorts available in dialogue options, particularly when reassuring allies: “Ah, I totally blew those aliens up! Yup, definitely gone for good€¦so if you could load my ship with all your supplies, I’ll be going now€¦quickly.”

3.   Shouting about probability at Minesweeper ‘ those numbers mean nothing! It could be one of several options! We never covered this in Calc class!

4.   Stubbornly waiting for the other Pong paddle to move, in an endless game of chicken (“I’m sorry Dave, I’m afraid I can’t do that.”)

5.   The Command and Conquer references inherent in Surface to Air Missiles

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