One of the unexpected benefits of the last few console generations is that remasters of titles like Jordan Mechner’s 1989 classic, Prince of Persia, and surreal masterpiece, Another World (1991), have propelled retrogaming back into the mainstream consciousness, alongside big budget titles like Fallout 4 and Doom.
Games don’t grow old anymore–-you can count on an HD-remaster of something released in the last few years before you get to the end of this sentence–-and, while frequent re-releases do keep old favorites alive for the next generation, the phenomenon is nevertheless a bit of a cash grab; did we really need a HD-remaster of Skyrim after five years? Or of State of Decay after two? Probably not.
But let’s forget about modern titles for a few minutes and look into the ways you can keep playing the games from your childhood, or new ones inspired by them, on distinctly grown-up devices.
Retro on the PC
The PC is the home of everything, from farming simulators to modern first-person shooters. It should come as no surprise then that games with a strong retro element, such as Hotline Miami, VVVVVV, Minecraft, and twitch-based nightmare Super Hexagon, have a large following on the PC as well as on the mobile devices–pixel art, chiptunes and all.
It’s not just nostalgia; the minimal but addictive gameplay offered by a game like Limbo or Space Invaders has no expiry date. Retro-styled games also have a low cost of entry for developers and artists–The Last of Us was made by hundreds of people, whereas bizarre indie title Super Meat Boy was designed by two–meaning that just about anybody can get involved.
The list of classic games available to play on smartphones is huge: Ms Pac Man, Ghosts ‘n’ Goblins, Frogger, Dig Dug, and Q*Bert to name just a few. The mobile platform also continues a trend begun by the ZX Spectrum and the Atari 2600 in providing a vehicle for classic casino games like poker, roulette, and blackjack.
Casino game providers have a wide range of games available on mobile, but some go even further than that in their efforts to provide a great experience for mobile players. For instance, casino operator Mr Spin allows players to make a bingo deposit by phone bill, and has a wide range of slot machines available to play on mobile, many of which come with their own incentives to download and try, such as a £5 new player bonus and no wagering requirements on free bets.
“Another World 2” (CC BY 2.0) by Ian D
The smartwatch stands alone in the gaming world–it’s not really built for games–but a few brave developers have already hewn classics from its glance-based functionality. Unlike the PC games above, smartwatch titles lean more towards retro themes through necessity rather than choice but that doesn’t make them any less entertaining.
PaperCraft is a good example. Based on the classic game of Asteroids, the entire premise of PaperCraft is to shoot everything that moves with your spaceship, which is just a colored triangle; it is simplicity taken to its logical extreme. There’s also Tamagotchi Classic on the Apple Watch, a ’90s “digital pet” game in which you have to care for some kind of odd-looking creature until it inevitably dies of neglect.
So, there you have it; three ways to play retro, or retro-styled, games on modern devices.