The iPhone has provided a breath of fresh air for the video-game industry, becoming a force in portable gaming with unique tilt- and touch-screen controls, among many other virtues. But for a device that's so new, it sure does seem to love the classics.
Thanks to companies such as Namco and Capcom (and many others), the App Store has become home to many arcade classics, from Pong to Frogger to more recent hits, such as Street Fighter. For anyone who wants to relive some classic arcade gaming iPhone-style, read on.
Galaga Remix ($2.99)
Released all the way back in 1981, Namco's Galaga has remained relevant to younger gamers as part of the Namco Museum collections and its re-release on console download services. The game came to iOS devices in the form of Galaga Remix, an ingenious idea that offers the original as well as an improved sequel. The remix version has boss battles, new power-ups and a more-modern display, all while keeping the same basic gameplay that makes the original arcade title so great. While all that stuff is great, most of you are probably more interested in the original. It's controlled with left- and right-movement buttons and an action button to shoot, and is a perfectly fine representation of the nearly 30-year old game. While I'm a big proponent of 99-cent games, the fact that you get two games in one app makes this app well worth it, and this is as good as arcade gaming gets on the iPhone.
Street Fighter IV ($9.99)
One of the more-hyped game releases of 2010, Capcom's Street Fighter IV, has lived up to that hype by almost all accounts. The app offers 10 characters (two were added in the most recent update – E. Honda and C. Viper), seven environments, a boot camp mode and customizable controls. What sets the game apart from the many fighters we've seen for the iPhone, though, are its in-depth move sets that make this much more than a mindless button masher. Graphically, this is one of the few arcade remakes that excels visually, with both the backgrounds and fighter details standing out. There's even a multiplayer mode, though it only works via Bluetooth and not Wi-Fi or on first-generation iPhone and Touch devices. That's the closest thing to a negative there is with Street Fighter IV, a fabulous iOS fighter, regardless of whether you remember the arcade game or not.
The second of three Namco releases on this list, Pac-Man is simply one of the most iconic video games ever. It's been on just about every console imaginable, and the iPhone is no different, with a $4.99 version that recently added Game Center support. The app makes a concerted effort to stay true to its arcade origins, with the familiar single joystick controller and original graphics. That's not the only Pac-Man option available, though, with Ms. Pac-Man ($4.99) likewise bringing the arcade classic to your phone, and Pac-Man Remix ($2.99), a newer take on the game that unfortunately doesn't include the original like Galaga Remix. That's a lot of Pac-Man, but it's safe to say if you want more of the fruit-eating, ghost-avoiding hero in your life, you can always stick with the classic.
EA's Tetris may be the most successful of all games on this list, at least when it comes to the iPhone. It's also one of the few games that makes the fewest references to its origins; while the classic mode is included it has an updated look and touch-screen controls. There are also five other modes, and while they might not be true to the original arcade game, they do provide hours and hours of gameplay. The most notable of them is probably the “Magic Crayon” move, which makes use of the iPhone’s touch screen by having you draw your desired tetrimino. For those of you who don't want to pay $3 to have Tetris on your iPhone, the game does have a history of going on sale for 99 cents, and probably will do so again.
Time Crisis 2nd Strike ($9.99)
The first-person shooter, Time Crisis, was not only a hit in arcades, but on PlayStation consoles. Namco's Time Crisis 2nd Strike is based on the PS3 game Time Crisis 4, and features a ten-stage episode mode with cut-scenes and plenty of action. Additionally, there is a Time Attack mode and a Score Assault mode, in which you are awarded varying points for different types of kills (head shot, body shot, etc.). There are multiple weapons as well, such as a grenade launcher and a machine gun, though there aren't many. Likewise, the graphics fit the Time Crisis series, but are far from elite. Still, this feels a lot like the arcade classic, and that's the most important feature of all. It might come with a hefty price tag, but Time Crisis 2nd Strike does a good-enough job of recreating the original on your iPhone, and will be appreciated by those who have pleasant memories of the game.