Top 20 best retro and retro-inspired games for Android phones and tablets
A magical trip down memory lane
We have compiled a list of the best Android retro games. It contains both freemium and paid Android games. Although emulation is a viable option on Android where you can just grab emulator apps such as N64 or SNES, along with a ROM of your favourite retro game. There is still a wide variety of Android games on Google Play that seek to recreate the “Renaissance” of the retro age expressed through the release of retro-inspired games, or direct ports from arcade consoles.
- For fans of gacha, we recommend you hop over to our best gacha games for Android
- Also, an updated list of free mobile games you can play in 2023
- For iOS users, do check out our best retro and retro-inspired games for iPad and iPhone (iOS)
Retro gaming refers to titles from the 1980s to the late 1990s. It was an age when video gaming experienced its first boom. It is the era of great beginnings as it marks the birth of many beloved franchises such as Doom, Sonic, Pokemon, Tetris and many more. They were characterized by 8-bit graphics and retro music that shaped the childhoods of many. The most impactful part is the older console the games ran on, such as SNES, and Nintendo 64 and also good old arcade games such as Street Fighter and Metal Slug.
Original article by Anderson Han, updated by Artur Novichenko.
Crazy Taxi Classic
One of the most iconic arcade retro games developed by Hitmaker, now ported over and available on your smartphone. Buckle up as you play as a taxi driver with the primary goal of ferrying passengers around downtown. Here, players can either be a law-abiding driver, or be a reckless madman to pull off daredevil stunts with the prospect of earning extra tips as a bonus. On the surface, the gameplay and goal of making as much money as possible seem simple. However, the learning curve is steep as you have to master the controls of your car and make as much as money possible within a short period of time. Sega Crazy Taxi will scale its difficulty with your expertise, so there’s always room to improve.
Despite the occasional ads, they are not too intrusive and don’t ruin the gameplay experience.Download Crazy Taxi Classic (free)
ESWAT City Under Siege Classic
A Robocop-themed 2D platformer where players traverse through the cityscape in a story mode and defeat hordes of enemies. Play as Duke Orda, a police officer maintaining law and order in the streets of Liberty City. The game also increases in difficulty as it progresses. Initially, you play as the human. However, in the latter half you get to suit up in power armor and go ham with a sizeable arsenal of weapons, such as plasma rifle and rockets.
Just like the previous entry, this one is also cluttered with ads which can be helpful when the going gets tough. You get to view an ad to rewind time and undo any damage incurred to your character. Generally they won’t be much of an issue as they aren’t intrusive.Download ESWAT City Under Siege Classic (free)
Tomb of the Mask
This is a Pac-Man inspired retro style, endless-runner where players take control of a yellow tomb raider as you guide him across the never-ending vertical labyrinth. You will collect stars, pellets and coins while avoiding deadly traps and moving hazards. It’s worth noting that the stage visuals bear a heavy resemblance to the classic Pac-Man. Upgrade your characters with extra skills or to change your appearance, you can use the coins to change your default tomb raider into something more interesting.Download Tomb of the Mask (free)
Dragon Quest I
Considered one of the forefathers of the modern JRPG scene, featuring the distinguished art style of Akira Toriyama who graced our media world with the iconic Dragon Ball series. Experience a straightforward fantasy plot where you take control of the chosen one, embarking on a journey to slay the big baddie Dragonlord and save the princess of Alefgard Kingdom. Throughout your adventure, you get to interact with many NPCs, roam the beautiful overworld, fight monsters to gain experience points as well as a myriad of resources to progress through to the next stage.
We have also curated a premium list of RPG games for Android, please check out our Best Android RPGsDownload Dragon Quest I ($2.99)
Metal Slug X
I remember drenching in sweat every time after an intensive Metal Slug session at my local arcade. Developed by SNK, this run and gun platform shooter is renowned for its whacky character sprite animations as well as its detailed background. In spite of its overall theme centered around war, it adopts a comical style in every aspect while still managing to flesh out the personality of each character, whether that’s humans or machines.
Metal Slug X is simply a slight "remake" of Metal Slug 2 with some minor changes. You get to play as Marco, Fio, Eri or Tarma in their quest to put a stop to the Rebel Army’s plan for world domination. Along the way, you get to fight many of the Rebel Army’s state-of-the-art war machines, including an amphibious battleship, an excavation machine with a Godzilla motif, a Leichter Panzerspahwagen (Iron Nokana) and so much more. The gameplay is as hectic as it gets, you have to dodge bullets, bombs and shells that fly around from every direction imaginable. Acquire weapon power ups (such as the iconic heavy machine gun) or use vehicles to blitz through stages.
Metal Slug X also has a high replay value as players can try to perfectly complete each stage, rescue all POWS, and explore the stage for hidden goodies to get the highest score possible. However, one drawback to this game would be the controls, they can be janky at times, which can be detrimental to the experience.Download Metal Slug X ($2.99)
Final Fantasy: Brave Exvius
Coming sixth on this list is Final Fantasy Brave Exvius, developed by Gumi and operating since 2014. It is a spin-off of the Final Fantasy core series. Its charming presentation features a classic 8-bit retro style for both the characters and attack animations to relive the nostalgic days of Final Fantasy 1. You assemble a team of five (including beloved mascots such as Tifa Lockheart and Cloud) and lead them through dungeons and fights against mobs. Players can customize their team by mixing and matching different characters, each boasting a unique set of skills triggered with simple controls.
A remarkable feature is exploring the overworld freely. You get to explore towns to unlock quests as well as treasures, or seek an adrenaline-inducing exploration adventure deep in the many dungeons around the world map. This also means that grinding is inevitable, a common trend with gacha games that involve repeating the same stage a bazillion times to get the desired loot or simply to level up your characters. To improve it. FFBE comes with many handy quality-of-life features such as Auto Battle and Repeat to skip the repetitive chunk of the game.
Do note that this is a gacha game and contains micro-transactions where premium currency is purchased with real-life money to perform summons using the built-in gashapon system. Most of the FFBE characters are acquired through this method. However, rest assured that it is heralded as one of the more F2P friendlier gacha games out there.Download Final Fantasy: Brave Exvius (free)
This retro-styled game hits home hard for those who crave the good old action of Rally Bike, a 1988 retro arcade game. You play as a rider and your goal is to survive as long as possible on the road by navigating through the busy street filled with vehicles. You get bonus points for narrowly dodging oncoming vehicles. It doesn’t stop there as the longer you survive, the faster you go, which demands faster reflexes. Feeling confident? You can choose to press on the screen and make your rider step on the gas pedal and accelerate.
The lack of many complex upgrade systems made Racing Moto extremely easy to pick up for all ages. It’s ideal to play with friends and family on a hot sunny day to compete for the most miles driven.Download Racing Moto (free)
For fans of the classic Harvest Moon saga, this magical title is the brainchild of indie developer Eric Barone. Every aspect of it is a love letter to the classic Harvest Moon series (now known as Story of Seasons). This retro game for Android presents you with a gateway to a fantastical world that doubles as a farming simulator. You get to farm a multitude of crops, mine minerals, interact with the lovely NPCs of Pelican Town, woo bachelors/bachelorettes, explore the overworld with attention-to-detail qualities and changes based on seasons and slay monsters that spawn naturally in dungeons.
Stardew Valley is also a collector’s dream as there are many collectibles, such as sceptres and artifacts to find. Be the very best farmer and make your late grandpa proud! It also has a multiplayer feature built-in to connect people. Partner up with friends and family to run a successful farm.Download Stardew Valley ($4.99)
Bullet Hell Monday
A brilliant Android retro game combining the vibrant elements of the classic Touhou series and fixed shooter classics. It is a bullet hell shooter where players control a neon-coloured fighter plane similar to Pacific Wings (also known as 1941) to go through stages while dodging incoming projectiles and enemy crafts. The core gameplay is simple since the player only needs to dodge incoming projectiles from enemies and defeat the boss. But this is where the Touhou element comes in to ramp up the difficulty and players need to dodge bullets that crowd the screen. To further reel you in, the game boasts a multitude of banger songs for you to enjoy, although they are nowhere near the epic scale of Zun’s Touhou.
If you feel like training your reflexes with some bullet hell with a simple plane shoot 'em up, then this is the right one for you.
For fans of the bullet hell genre, please feel free to check out our enticing list of Best bullet hell games for AndroidDownload Bullet Hell Monday (free)
Mini Day Z
Do you love the thrill of surviving in a zombie apocalypse but want to do it in a retro style? Then look no further than Mini DayZ. It is a retro-style zombie survival game where you travel from world to world, exploring abandoned towns and even military outposts, loot for lethal gears to ward off the infected, scavenge for consumables, fight against bandits, grow crops for an unlimited food supply, craft new gears and base build. To add more realism, status conditions such as health, hunger and thirst meters are included. This retro Android game also comes with a lot of survival metrics to look for. What’s more? In the newer version, you get to team up with friends and survive as long as you can.Download Mini Day Z (free)
Sonic The Hedgehog
The original Sonic The Hedgehog game was released on the Sega Mega Drive console back in 1991. Until now, the iconic super-fast hedgehog character appears in new games from Sega. Everyone who owned a Sega remembers the sweet sound of collecting gold rings and the sad effect of losing them. Recall that Sonic The Hedgehog is a fast and dynamic platform game where the main character Sonic the Hedgehog fights the evil Doctor Eggman.
The game has become a classic, most likely because of its fast gameplay and memorable characters. The original Sonic The Hedgehog has been re-released on Android and iOS mobile platforms and now deserves its place in the list of best Android retro games.Download Sonic The Hedgehog (free)
Not so long ago, the original Pac-Man game, released on slot machines, turned a whopping 35 years old. This makes this game the oldest representative of the classic retro games in this article. The gameplay of Pac-Man is probably already known to everyone: you need to control the characters, whose main task is to eat all the bonuses on the playing field and not get caught by ghosts. And since it is very popular, Bandai Namco has published the original game for Android.
Also, the Japanese studio regularly releases new games from the Pac-Man series. A striking example of this is the recent Pac-Man 256, which was created based on the famous bug from level 256 of the original game. This arcade game is available on Android as well.Download Pac-Man (free)
The brutal race Carmageddon has also become a classic and has been re-released on Android. As cruel as it sounds, the original Carmageddon is still one of the best games to kill passers-by and ram cars of rivals.
Despite the completely outdated graphics, this race has ageless gameplay that is well suited for touch screens. Recall that Carmageddon was released on PC in 1997. Then this game set a new trend of cruelty and drive in the game industry.Download Carmageddon (free)
Fans of old hardcore RPGs are not in vain buying mobile devices running Android, because this platform is home to the classic games of the Baldur's Gate series. These party-based RPGs are still leading the way in their genre - few other games have managed to achieve this level of sophistication.
Literary dialogue and story are one of the strengths of Baldur's Gate, re-released on Android. Many modern gamers are unlikely to be able to quickly integrate into the gameplay of these old RPGs, but over time, all the nuances can be understood.Download Baldur's Gate ($9.99)
Worms 2: Armageddon
Everyone played at least one of the parts of the famous Worms. And if you have not played, then it's just the right time, because there is still no analog of the classic Worms 2: Armageddon. Here, small warms destroy each other with the most interesting methods: firearms, explosives, bats, and even air bombing. Truly fun game Worms 2: Armageddon is a multiplayer game where allies must help each other. Classic 2D worms have completely different gameplay and atmosphere compared to Worms 4: Mayhem, where the developers moved to 3D. The classic battle worms are available on Android and iOS.Download Worms 2: Armageddon ($5.49)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge
TMNT Shredder's Revenge is a fantastic action game about famous ninja turtles. It is an '80s-inspired beat 'em up, where you have to face a lot of bosses, such as the Triceraton, Baxter Stockman, and even Shredder himself. You will have to complete 16 levels, find many secrets, and destroy the enemies. You can play it with your friends in co-op mode and enjoy this old-school gameplay together.
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
The port is well done. Even on older devices, the game works great, provides a beautiful picture, and is conveniently controlled on the phone. Controls, as in the case of the mobile Vice City, are flexible. You can use the drawn buttons, a joystick, or interrupt with well-known swipes. You can even change the location of the icons on the screen. The game will not annoy you with random stutters, glitches, or freezes. By the way, support for controllers is also present here.Download Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas ($6.99)
Max Payne Mobile
The original Max Payne was released in 2001 and set the bar for third-person shooters. The second part made by the Remedy studio received an original and interesting plot, an atmosphere in the style of noir films, a unique plot in the form of comics, as well as good shooter gameplay with the ability to slow down time.
Max Payne is not the most mobile-friendly game. It’s quite possible to refresh memories with it, but it’s unlikely to finish it completely. The known difficulty of the original Max Payne caused problems even on PC. Max Payne Mobile is available on iOS and Android.Download Max Payne Mobile ($2.99)
It is a port of the popular 1997 PlayStation game. The game is a great port of the original classic with some modern additions. They include full compatibility with game controllers, as well as on-screen controls, various achievements, support for six languages, and a new continue feature. The game is similar to the classic Castlevania. This is an arcade platformer with elements of slash and horror.
Castlevania has simple but, at the same time, old-school cool graphics as well as an incredible soundtrack. If you are looking for a retro-style horror arcade platformer, you should definitely try this game!Download Castlevania: SotN ($2.99)
Old School RuneScape
British studio Jagex has relaunched the browser-based MMORPG RuneScape. The project was twice listed in the Guinness Book of Records. First nomination as MMORPG with the largest number of software updates. The second as the most popular free MMORPG in the world.
The original version was released in 2001 when the gaming world was not yet fully familiar with the MMORPG genre. For all time, about 260 million users have played RuneScape. Thanks to modern technologies, RuneScape was able to be transferred to mobile smartphones and tablets. The mobile version does not impress with graphics, but it impresses with a huge set of gameplay features.Download Old School RuneScape (free)