Top 30 best retro and retro-inspired games for iPad and iPhone (iOS)
Looking to play some retro games on your iPhone?
September 22, 2022: Updated the best retro games for iOS list - 4 games swapped.
Whether a game is inspired by an older game, a remake of an older game allowing it to be playable on newer devices or a straight port of a classic onto new technology, retro games have a strong community behind them. They also retain the fun and character that they had around when they previously launched, and serve as a great reminder of how technology was previously.
When it comes to the number of retro games out there, so many classics have been revamped for iOS and so many new games have come out of the ashes of older games, inspiring generation after generation of games for us to play now.
We’ve compiled some of the best iOS retro games and retro-inspired game on iPad and iPhone to bring some nostalgia to your mobile gaming life.Original Article by Jupiter Hadley, latest update by Pocket Gamer Staff.
Doom is a household name - a retro game held above many others. On Doom’s 25th anniversary, Bethesda bundled up the 1993 version of Doom to include the Thy Flesh Consumed expansion, and placed it on iOS. This first-person shooter is challenging, fast-paced, and truly a classic of the genre.
If you’ve not tried Doom before, now’s really your chance.
Sonic The Hedgehog 2
Bringing this blue hedgehog to your phone, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 looks exactly like the original Sonic games, featuring the same protagonist, enemies, and environments you might have previously seen in its other games. There is additional content in the form of leaderboards, Time-Attack mode and Boss-Attack mode - which adds extra depth and worth to the mobile version.
Crazy Platez is a food delivery game that takes inspiration from Crazy Taxi but provides it’s own twists along the way. Driving around a map of a Rochester, you will find yourself picking up and delivering garbage plates - a Rochester delicacy - instead of people. Much like Crazy Taxi, you will have a timer that’s counting down but you will gain more time when you do successfully deliver a plate. It's quite a funny update on a retro classic.
Crazy Taxi Classic
We continue the list of best retro games for iPhone with this masterpiece from Sega. Crazy Taxi is the famous car arcade game about the most reckless taxi driver in San Francisco. You need to be a real taxi and give a ride to passengers while playing unusual mini-games in between.
Retro Racing is a modern remake by the original programmer of the racing game Nitro, taking all of the concepts of Nitro and bringing it to modern technology. Racing around the track is as simple as tapping the controls on the screen, grabbing power-ups and drifting as you move, hoping to make it to the end of the finish line first.
Retro Racing is minimalist in the way that it’s made, with a steep learning curve that can be rewarding once you have the movements and timings down!
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
San Andreas is one of Rockstar Games' most ambitious and action-packed titles. In this game, the player has access to a whole state with three huge cities, a desert, mountains, and forests.
In this game, it is interesting even just to ride around the world. And you can also participate in the story campaign, which lasts more than a dozen hours, work as an ambulance driver or a fireman, change hairstyles, get tattoos, go to the gym, meet girls, and take part in gang fights.
Sid Meier's Pirates!
Sid Meier’s Pirates is an iOS port of a remake of a game by the same name on Commodore 64. The remake changed the view of the game, adding 3D graphics, which the mobile version kept instead of the previous top-down point of view. You can take on the role of a looting pirate, fighting on ships in the 7 seas!
Final Fantasy Dimensions
Final Fantasy Dimensions re-visits the 2D look that Final Fantasy use to have, bringing you into a very nostalgic version of the Final Fantasy world. This game is meant to take the best of all Final Fantasy games and bring them together to a new game, which contains a battling system, the ability to grow and change your character, and a story that will probably feel very familiar. Final Fantasy Dimensions is meant to feel fresh, along with feeling quite retro, so it's an interesting addition!
Super Scrapped Robot
Looking like a game straight off of the GameBoy, Super Scrapped Robot is a twin-stick shooter that has you trying to keep a previously discarded robot alive, in a world full of enemies. The levels in this game are generated upon load, giving you a bit of variety in each run, as you get new weapons and face off against strange enemies!
Manny Calavera is a Department of Death agent who sells newly arrived souls tickets to the underworld. Due to the actions of some actions, he has to go on a four-year journey in the company of several colorful characters.
Such is the plot of Grim Fandango, a quest known for its impeccable design and dark humor. In 1998, the game was nicely rated by critics and players. And 17 years later, a version for mobile devices was released with high-resolution textures, improved lighting, and a re-recorded orchestral soundtrack.
Did you know you can play Pac-Man on your phone? I didn’t. Updated with more mazes and a better UI, Pac-Man seems to have regular updates while keeping its original look and feel as a simplistic game where you play a wheel of cheese trying to eat pills and fruit, while avoiding ghosts. Along with the classic mode, there are daily challenges and online tournaments added to the game!
Another game inspired by the GameBoy era, 2-bit Cowboy is a Castlevania and Metroid inspired game where you can shoot down the town, ride horses or minecarts, and track down people who are WANTED dead or alive! There is a lot to do in this world, from drinking at salons and gambling in casinos to collecting rewards for the quests you’ve completed.
Double Dragon is known as the game that started the golden age of beat-em up styled games in the late 80s, providing a challenging, street fighting game with co-op gameplay. The iOS version of the game does include new features only on mobile devices, including new characters, combo attacks and updated graphics!
TheVideoKid is an 80s inspired game dripping with references and nostalgia. Playing a version of Paper Boy - you find yourself skateboarding down a busy road, throwing cassette tapes at mailboxes while avoiding characters from older movies and TV shows, grabbing power-ups and avoiding traffic. It’s a simple game, but quite well done.
Kick Ass Commandos
In a huge bullet frenzy of destruction, Kick Ass Commandos is a top down shooter where you can use machine guns, flamethrowers, rocket launchers and more to destroy enemy bases - and well, basically everything you see. Everyone has been turned into mindless zombies, so there is no real reason to not kill everyone apart from your team.
Grid Rush is a simple looking mystery, with no controls or tutorial, where you are looking to just figure out what to do while looking at a screen of blinking colors and numbers, trying to spell out a word as the screen changes. The retro look is quite old-school in style, so it fits in well with this list, but offers something quite different as it’s a word-based puzzler.
Inspired by arcade, homebrew titles that had a British twist, Toast Time sees you firing toast out of your toaster body and enemies on the screen, trying to control your knock-backed movement as you whizz through the air yourself. This game is full of challenge, power-ups, and even bosses - as well as features a pixelated look.
Mortal Kombat Mobile
Mortal Kombat is a game basically everyone remembers. You can create a team of Mortal Kombat warriors, and use them to fight against others in 3 by 3 battles or in multiplayer faction wars, where you can play against other players' entire teams. There are tons of characters from the older games, as well as new characters that you can discover and master. It's a mix of old and a mix of new, but a really fun game to play - especially when it comes to mastering epic knockouts!
In case you decide to try it out, we are suggesting to take a look at the Mortal Kombat tier list of characters, as it will give you a better insight into who you should choose.
I remember playing McPixel on my first mobile phone, as a kid. It’s a point and click game full of wacky humor where you will probably die more times than you expect, as it’s trial and error if you click the right place and end up advancing the story. With that said, there is something simply hilarious about the different paths you can go down in this random game!
Super Hexagon is a game that you’ll end up playing from muscle memory, trying to move a triangle through a small gap that’s slowly moving down the screen, then adjusting for the next gap, and continuing as the world changes around you. It’s a really addictive game that you’ll end up playing for quite some time, getting just a little further as you go.
Organ Trail: Director's Cut
Organ Trail, inspired by Oregon Trail, adds a new twist to this survival game: zombies. This zombie survival game has you trying to travel west in a wagon of four people, gathering supplies and fighting off the undead. Members of your group will end up dying along the way and you’ll need to continue moving forward anyway.
The brave knight Dirk must save the princess, who is kept by the evil dragon in his castle. This is not an easy task, and there are many obstacles in the way of the hero. He will have to fight magicians, jump on collapsing platforms and dodge falling stones.
Dragon's Lair is an interactive cartoon in which you need to press the movement or attack buttons at the right time. The game is very complex but incredibly beautiful: expressive colorful animation is reminiscent of Disney works.
Streets of Rage 2
This side-scrolling classic from the SEGA era has made its way onto mobile, following Axel, Blaze, Skate and Max to get revenge for the kidnapping of Adam Hunter. You can fight your way through the streets, taking out enemies as you past, and finally defeating Mr. X’s crime syndicate.
For the fans of sports titles, we have a solid one for you. Retro Bowl puts you in the shoes of the NFL manager that had just taken a team of half-witted players and he needs to set them on to the winner's path. You know, like some of those cheesy movies. You'll have to sort out the finances, fine your players whenever they cause a drunken accident and maintain a good relationship with fans, as well as the owner of the club.
That's not all, you'll have to play the games yourself, and although the controls may seem simple, gameplay will hook you up right from the start. On the offensive, you'll lead the team, while the defence actions are automatic, and you can only impact them by having a good setup of defensive players.
Chrono Trigger is a retro game, however, the mobile version of the game has been updated to work better on mobile devices and include some small changes to the game, while still giving you that retro feel and nostalgia if you have played the previous version. This is an RPG game, made by the developers of Final Fantasy, where you travel through different time periods, to take on an epic quest as time unravels.
Connect some bubbles so that they pop in Bust-A-Move, a classic game where you just tap to throw out bubbles and then if you connect enough of them, they will pop. I am sure you’ve seen this game in some form or another, as it’s a classic genre that has been adapted again and again. If you sit on your phone, Bust-A-Move works great.
In the classic RPG Baldur's Gate, the player has to save the world by controlling a group of several heroes. The game is deep and thoughtful: you can talk to almost every NPC you meet in it, and the actions of the characters affect the results of the quests and even the ending.
There is also an extensive role-playing system, an excellent scenario, several companions, and unique combat. Understanding Baldur's Gate systems takes time, but the game can make you play it for more than a dozen hours.
You can also play Tetris on your phone - and I am sure you’ve played some form of Tetris before. It’s nearly impossible to not have. The mobile version of this game benefits from different control options and online leaderboards, if you want to take on the challenge of pros.
Pacific Wings is essentially a re-titled game called 1941, which allows you to play as a fighter pilot - moving your plan around the screen, shooting down enemies as you go. There isn't any difference between this mobile adaptation and the original game - the graphics even look nearly identical. You can easily move your plane around by using your finger, and can find power-ups as you make it further. There have been loads of newer games, following the same format, but Pacific Wings feels like a replicate of 1941, exactly.
Snake '97: retro phone classic
If you had one of the old Nokia phones, you are in for a flash from the past. Everyone knows the classic game of Snake, but if you'd like to play this game - for whatever reason - on your smartphone, you can find it! This version of Snake comes with the look of an old phone - giving you a digital phone screen to interact with, in order to control your snake. It's a simple game, but quite quirky in it's visuals.