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Old school games haven't lost their touch as iPhone apps

by Magdelyn Skacan

Do you find yourself longing for days past spent in an arcade? Or maybe you're craving some 80s nostalgia in the form of an Atari console game.

Many of those games -- from Centipede to Ms. Pac-Man -- are available for the iPhone or iPod touch. But is nostalgia alone a reason to download these games? Of course! On the iPhone, you never have to worry about running out of tokens. 

Here's a look at the top classic games that have re-emerged as iPhone apps.

From the arcade

Namco's lovable Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man (Both $5.99) are both true to their arcade counterparts. They look and feel just like back in the day.

Both games offer three options for controls: the D-pad, accelerometer and swipe method. The D-pad, or directional pad, is the classic control most gamers are familiar with, using the standard up, down, left, right controls. The accelerometer method allows you to tilt the iPhone in the direction you want the character to go. The swipe method allows you to drag your finger anywhere on the screen in the direction you wish to steer Pac-Man/Ms. Pac-Man.  My preferred method was the swipe, the most responsive of the three. 

Q*Bert ($1.99), another 80s arcade fave, has been updated with three game modes and a choice between two game controls. While this game is fun, the border takes up far too much real estate and definitely takes away from game play. 

If battling bitmap martians is more your thing, try Alien Attack (99 cents). Alien Attack takes a hands-on approach to defeating your enemies by tilting and tapping to wage your attack on the invading horde. While the game is fun and simple, the options are buried in a hard-to-find location: the iPhone settings menu. It would have been nice to have a note from the developer telling you how to find them.

Centipede ($4.99) is the classic shooter game with a simple premise: destroy the insects before they destroy you. There are three fun game modes, game play is longer (generally 15-20 minutes), and you can take turns playing with someone else. My favorite game mode is ultra.

Galaga Remix ($2.99) is the updated approach to the 1981 shooter game while Space Invaders Infinity Gene ($4.99) is another shooter with a modern feel. What sets Space Invaders apart is the evolution of your ship's weapons and movement as you advance in the game. While some may be fans of these updated versions, I prefer the old arcade style.

Classic console games

The sound and graphics in Sega's Sonic the Hedgehog ($5.99) are true to the original and the controls are easy to use. The only thing I didn't like was when you run out of lives, you have to start at the beginning again. While this is accurate to the original, being able to save your progress should be a feature. I got very frustrated having to play the same levels over and over again once I ran out of lives. EA's version of Tetris ($4.99) brings me back to the days of playing on the Game Boy. The graphics in this color version are vibrant and the animation is smooth, but the lack of the original music is slightly disappointing. There are two additional novelty modes in addition to the original mode -- Marathon and Magic mode -- but neither of them add any additional appeal to the app. Tetris is one of my all-time favorite games, so for me it was a must have.

To summarize, out of the more than 2,200 arcade games available at the iTunes App Store, the ones discussed in this article will provide the best bang for your buck. They include: Sonic the Hedgehog, Galaga REMIX, Alien Attack, TETRIS®, Centipede, PAC-MAN, Space Invaders Infinity Gene, Q*Bert Deluxe