The Best All-Time Classic Retro Games All Nostalgia-Seekers Must Have on their iPhone

Jan 15, 2017

Nostalgia is one of the more bittersweet feelings any human being can experience. It reminds us of our mortality, of how fleeting our lives are and how little time we have on this plane of existence. It also takes us back to cherished moments of our lives, recalling memories and feelings we love to live through repeatedly. The older we get, the sweeter these memories become, which is why retro will never go out of style, whether we’re talking about fashion, industrial design, or console games. Those belonging to Generation Y have had their share of old school games during their childhood, meaning they are especially devoted to retro games, though the lovable classics we’re about to introduce have the potential to swoon the heart of the younger generation. Buckle up, we’re about to travel in time!

Street Fighter II Collection

Street Fighter II Collection molds the three founding fathers of one-on-one fighting games – Street Fighter II: The World Warrior, Street Fighter II: Champion Edition, and Street Fighter II: Hyper Fighting – into one uber-nostalgic beat-‘em-up bonanza, bringing back all the brutally strong characters and varied fighting environments you have seen hundreds of times on your best friend’s TV screen, and also the lethal kicks and punches, special skill combos, and finishing moves you have mastered way back when. Street Fighter II Collection comes with a price tag of $3.99, but according to experienced reviewers, it goes on sale every year around Christmas, so be on the lookout for discounts!

Final Fantasy

Final Fantasy, released in Japan in 1987, was ground zero for the most successful and most popular RPG game series of all time. In this instant classic boasting adorable 2D graphics, the goal is to guide the Warriors of Light on their quest of restoring the once-glorious luster of the four elemental crystals, defeating all sorts of monsters in the process. Varied gameplay is ensured by the aforementioned assortment of 2D beasts, a sprawling world full of amazing vehicles, multiple character classes, and a pair of bonus dungeons, the Soul of Chaos and the Labyrinth of Time. Talking of time, Final Fantasy effortlessly stood the test of time, and remains perfectly playable to this day. It is, of course, not free, as Final Fantasy cuts into your budget for $7.99.

Day of the Tentacle Remastered

Released by LucasArts in 1993 as the sequel to the genre-creating and era-defining masterpiece entitled Maniac Mansion, Day of the Tentacle will remain forever engraved into the minds of those who have ever played with it. Day of the Tentacle is set 20 years after Maniac Mansion, and drops you into the time-travel laden struggle against a mutated purple tentacle about to take over the world – which only you can prevent from happening. The remastered edition of the point-and-click cult classic comes equipped with brand new hand-drawn artwork, remastered audio, and allows you to toggle between vintage and remastered modes, and even gives you the chance to mix and match graphics, audio, and the user interface any way you like. Day of the Tentacle Remastered costs $4.99, but the sweet nostalgia it evokes is absolutely priceless.


The character Horn is a young blacksmith’s apprentice who must defeat giant monsters who are villagers transformed by a horrible curse. Using a melee combat system similar to Infinity Blade, but with major gameplay enhancements like using a crossbow and puzzle-solving, the developers with the Phosphor Games team were truly pensive during Horn’s development. Horn combines an imaginative narrative with top-of-the-line graphics, proving that mobile games with endearing stories can be beautiful despite the limitations of iOS devices. Horn appeals to gamers young and old, and is a great title that will enlighten you as to just what your smartphone or tablet is capable of handling.

Rayman Jungle Run

Apple named Rayman Jungle Run from Ubisoft the 2012 game of the year, and for good reason. Based on the utterly brilliant Rayman: Origins (a console-based platformer to rival even Mario), this auto-scrolling runner manages to keep all the creativity and bizarre charm of its predecessor, but with bite-sized levels and half of the controls removed! Seriously though, Ubisoft stripped ‘Origins’ down to its core for this simple game, but it’s just as fun and the visuals are just as jaw-droppingly crisp and vibrant as ever. It’s a bit more challenging than other runners, but do not skip this one.

Rayman Jungle Run – New Update trailer Android [UK]

Rayman’s journey in the jungle continues with 20 entirely new levels… FOR FREE! Dodge cannon balls and jump your way through falling rocks in the new Pirate Ship section for more exhilarating action! Rush faster than ever in the Boss Plant chapter to escape a giant “flower” that doesn’t smell too good.

LetterPress – Word Game

Move over, Words With Friends. Developed by atebits, Letterpress is an inventive multiplayer word game that mixes the strategies of Boggle and Chess. The virtual board of this game is covered in red and blue tiles, each representing you or your opponent. The objective is pretty basic: change as many tiles as possible to match your color while spelling words. Games end when tiles run out. It helps to both have a high letter count and know when to play defensively, blocking off letters by placing your tiles around them. LetterPress supports asynchronous multiplayer, through Game Center, so you can face off against as many players as you desire from all over the world at the same time.

Punch Quest

Punch Quest is an impressive side-scrolling, endless running game where the main objective is to meet monstrous obstacles head-on with a barrage of uppercuts and jabs. Enemies include feeble skeletons, shield-wielding orcs, fire-breathing imps, and spellcasting wraiths. During the game your fully-customizable protagonist collects coins called “punchos” for buying skills, super moves, boosts, and upgrades. There are even bonus levels where your warrior rides a dinosaur that shoots lasers out of its mouth or a transforms into a cartwheeling gnome!

The Room

With The Room, Fireproof Games delivered one of the most intriguing puzzle game. Mind-bending puzzles, a surreal atmosphere, and delectable 3D graphics in stunning quality make The Room a necessary app for every gamer. The game works ostensibly as a mystery that you solve, using a single finger control scheme, through puzzles contained within ornate boxes. The Room was designed to be a pick up and play game, and although it is rated 9+ for Infrequent Horror/Fear Themes, it is the sort of game you can play with your family if they’re cool enough and can handle the suspense!

Triple Town

Another puzzler that mixes genres, Triple Town will at first remind you of match-three titles like Bejeweled. The game screen is set up like a grid and you need to tap different spaces to place objects. Get three objects together in a group and they disappear, adding points to your score and creating a new object. But all the objects you place actually are building a town on the game screen, and every time you create a new object with a group, you can use a group of that new object to make an even better object. The result is an exercise in planning and puzzle-solving: making grass groups creates a bush, a bush group creates a tree, a tree group creates a house, and so on.

Jetpack Joyride

Jetpack Joyride is an endless running game that reset the bar for the entire subgenre. The one-touch game slaps a jetpack on your back and has you dodging things in your path by flying up and down on the screen but with coins to grab and objectives to meet. Jetpack Joyride is filled with some very funny and fun-to-use power-ups and is addictive in all the best ways. This is a hard one to put down.

World of Goo

Another port from the PC sphere, World of Goo reworks its mouse-based puzzle gameplay for touchscreen controls, and it works great. The game is all about building structures with gooey little characters, allowing you to create bridges, towers and other buildings. The goal is to make your structures reach a pipe at some remote point in the level to suck up any extra goo balls – hit the minimum quota and you win the level. World of Goo has a delightful art style and a haunting bit of story going on in the background, but it’s really about well-designed puzzle levels and tight controls that make it a blast to play.

World of Goo – Official Trailer #2

Second trailer for World of Goo View count reset! Mirror video here: Soundtrack here:

Scribblenauts Remix

Scribblenauts is another great puzzle game. Whenever you need an object to help you solve a puzzle – like getting a character from one place to another, or meeting some other objective given to you by the game – you can actually create it in the game by typing a word. The game will then create the thing you typed. You can create things like ladders and boats, or even other characters as suits the needs of your puzzle. Scribblenauts is a game that lets you be creative all the way through, and encourages you to come up with your own ways of solving its puzzles.

Infinity Blade III

The sequel to what was probably the best iOS games of 2010, Infinity Blade III takes everything that was great about the original and adds to it. The one-on-one sword-fighting gameplay that made the original so fun has been amped-up with better touch controls and new weapons that require different strategies. The whole game has been lengthened beyond the original, with more world to explore and a fleshed-out story to go with it.

Tiny Wings

Simplicity made Tiny Wings a huge hit when it first showed up in the App Store. It has just one control: touch the screen to make the bird you control dive downward, release to make him rise. The goal is to try to get as far as possible by retaining the pudgy bird’s momentum. He can’t fly, so you get him extra height by timing your dives so that the bird goes down the slopes of hills and ramps off the upward side of the next hill. Timing is critical, and the better you get at diving and releasing, the further your bird will go and the higher your score will eventually be. There’s not much more to it than earning achievements and trying to dominate the leaderboards, but even so, Tiny Wings is pretty to look at and deceptively simple to play. The game also throws a lot of little challenges at you that go toward upgrading your score multiplayer, all of which will have you thinking differently about how to play the game.

Nimble Quest

Nimble Quest, developed by Nimblebit, is another throwback mobile game combining fantasy role-playing and the arcade classic Snake. Instead of a rectangular snake consuming squares and circles, you steer a “conga line of heroes,” all of which boast specialized abilities and attacks. The better you do slashing bad guys, the more heroes you unlock. Collecting blue and green gems enables you to purchase power-ups. There is an in-app purchasing system, but it isn’t necessary to enjoy the game. Nimble Quest’s gameplay can be a bit grinding yet remains pleasant. The game is set up with with service Everyplay, so you can share video replays of your most impressive Nimble Quest sessions via Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and email.

Injustice: Gods Among Us

The major appeal in Warner Brothers’s fighting game is getting to pit famed DC Comics heroes and villains against each other. You start off with The Flash and less popular characters (Lex Luthor, Cyborg, Nightwing), and can select up to three for your fighting squad. Characters level up with the victories and eventually you unlock Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and Green Lantern. Injustice: Gods Among Us uses fantastic touch and swipe controls for attacks and special moves, a combat control scheme first introduced in the popular Infinity Blade series. While it’s another game suffering from in-app purchase syndrome, you’ll marvel at the game’s brilliant graphics.

Into the Dead

With Into the Dead, PikPok Games delivered one of the most visually memorable and intense first person running games available as a mobile app. You’re dropped into a field and must run away from packs of the undead. The developers smartly offer four different control schemes from the get-go to make players as comfortable as they can be as the dodge snarling corpses and inanimate obstacles. At first, you’re equipped only with your faceless character’s shallow breathing, but you can pick up weapons during your endless escape. As a freemium game, you can purchase coins right away and ‘fast unlock’ all the weapons. If you don’t feel like dropping your next paycheck on a mobile game, play through and complete missions to unlock items. The horror elements here aren’t for younger kids, as the last sounds you hear at a run’s end are screams and the zombie munching on your character.

Into the Dead Trailer for Android

In a world overrun with the Dead, you have survived… but for how long? Into the Dead throws you into the gruesome world of the zombie apocalypse where there are no second chances. Do what you have to stay alive, keep moving as fast as you can, and protect yourself by any means necessary.

Unblock Me

There are a few games very similar to Unblock Me, though the Kiragames’ release seems to be the most popular of all. In this iPhone app, you rearrange blocks with the goal of freeing up the red block and sliding it off the board. It’s one of the smarter and more challenging puzzle games you will find, and the app includes four difficulty levels and 15,000 puzzles.

Doodle Jump

A game in which you bounce an alien named Doodler off trampolines and shoot bad guys with balls from your nose can be summed up in one word – cute. And that’s definitely enhanced by the game’s graphics, which look like they were created by an 8-year-old with a crayon. Cute may not be what you want from your iPhone games, but Doodle Jump is also one of the most charming games you will play on any system. It doesn’t matter if you like cute aliens or noses that double as guns, you will love this game.

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Balint Kodaj

Copywriter, poet, lyricist, journalist, social media and online marketing specialist, translator. Lives in Budapest, Hungary, but a Clevelander at heart. Established in 1987.

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