12 Classic games you can revive on your smartphone

(Image credit: Oddworld Inhabitants)

Sometimes the gold leaf-inlaid memories of gaming childhood should be left alone. Do you, like us, have nostalgia about renting Shaq Fu and Clayfighter on SNES from Blockbuster? Don’t get within 50 feet of those cartridges. However, there are plenty of oldie classics worth revisiting. And you can do the job right from your phone: no fiddling about with SCART leads needed. Here are 12 classic games you should give another look on mobile. 

1. Baldur’s Gate II: Enhanced Edition 

(Image credit: Beamdog)

Back in the 90s isometric titles were the kings of RPG land. We could argue all day about which was the best, but for now let’s settle on Baldur’s Gate II, an epic adventure that can last as long as Skyrim if you dig into side quests. 

Beamdog made this classic feel more modern with an updated interface and higher-res visuals. Only try this one if you have a big-screen phone, or preferably a tablet, mind. Other isometric classics given such treatment include Planescape: Torment, the original Balder’s Gate and Icewind Dale.  

2. Broken Sword: Director’s Cut  

(Image credit: Revolution Software)

A few years ago you could play enhanced editions of all-time classic point ’n’ click games The Secret of Monkey Island and Monkey Island 2: Le Chuck’s Revenge on mobile. However, they were pulled. It’s a crying shame. 

You can still play Broken Sword and Broken Sword 2, though. They’re a pair of brilliant mysteries that work surprisingly well on the small screen. Revolution Software also tweaked the graphics and interface for these Director’s Cut editions, which are also available on PC and consoles.  

3. Sonic the Hedgehog Classic 

(Image credit: SEGA)

Sega may have lost the console war, but the humble pie it has eaten for the past two decades means we get loads of its classic IP games on mobile. There’s no Super Mario World for your phone (not legally, anyway). 

Sonic the Hedgehog is, obviously, top of the list. Virtually D-pad controls don’t have the nostalgia of a Mega Drive gamepad, but when you can play the game for free (£1.99 for ad-free), we can’t complain too much. The sequel and Sonic CD are also available.

4. Streets of Rage Classic 

(Image credit: SEGA)

Want more 16-bit flashbacks? Streets of Rage is another Mega Drive smash you can revisit on your phone. It looks just it did in 1991, albeit without the fuzzy scanlines of a knackered old CRT monster-size TV. However, you can now rewind time because, let’s be honest, most of us aren’t as hardcore as we used to be in the 90s. Others 90s oldies to revisit include Altered Beast, Golden Axe and Gunstar Heroes. 

5. R-Type

(Image credit: SEGA)

DotEmu has done more for mobile retro gaming than just about any other publisher. R-Type is just one example in its diverse range of resurrections. It was released in the late 80s in the arcade, but in the 30 years since has been ported to a huge array of platforms. And unlike some older game types, the horizontal shooter is actually a good fit for touchscreen mobile control.

Other DotEmu games worth a look include point ’n’ click adventure Sanitarium, platformer Another World and Double Dragon. Were told you they were diverse. 

6. Metal Slug

(Image credit: SNK)

Almost no arcade games have aged as well as Metal Slug. It’s a side-scrolling action platformer that's heavy on the action, light on the platforming and filled with big visuals that are full of character, great sound effects and engaging level design make Metal Slug one game from the past worth replaying. Its nostalgia doesn’t melt in a cloud of “oh dear, this isn’t much fun anymore” regret. Metal Slug is worth playing even if you didn’t play it years ago. 

7. Chrono Trigger 

(Image credit: Square Enix)

OK, so this is one of the most expensive retro games you’ll find on mobile at $9.99 / £9.99. However, that is couple of quid / dollars less than you’ll pay on Steam ($14.99 / £11.99). And Chrono Trigger is one of the best 16-bit adventure RPGs of all time. A great story, time travel, fun combat and memorable characters: what more do you want?

8. Rayman Classic

(Image credit: Ubisoft)

This original PlayStation title is a reminder of how easy we have it these days. Most mainstream games are easy, but a few levels in the platforming brutality of Rayman is a wake-up call. Games used to be hard, mostly because otherwise you’d finish them in about two hours. The graphics are just as charming as ever, though.

9. Ghosts ’n’ Goblins

(Image credit: Capcom)

One of the original ultra-hard games, which was called difficult even back in the 80s, is Ghosts ’n’ Goblins. Lose your lives, and you will, and it’s back to the start. Thankfully, Capcom has added a “casual” mode that takes some of the sting out of that unforgiving retro style. If you remember this series from the SNES days rather than the NES or arcade, you may want to try Ghouls ’n’ Ghosts instead. It was the sequel.

10. Final Fantasy 7

(Image credit: Square Enix)

What’s your favourite Final Fantasy game? This used to be a one-question personality test for gamers. Lots would, and still do, choose Final Fantasy 7. It was the first of the 3D Final Fantasy games. We’re just glad we don’t have to deal with the three disc the PSX version came on. Don’t think 7 rules? You can also get Final Fantasy 9, Final Fantasy 4, Final Fantasy 5, Final Fantasy 3, Final Fantasy 2 and the original on mobile too. No love for Final Fantasy 8 yet though. 

11. Pac-Man

(Image credit: Bandai Namco)

Some retro games get fiddled with a bit too much in the transition to mobile. We’re looking at you, Tetris. However, Bandi Namco’s Pac-Man has a Classic mode that retains the look and sounds of the arcade original version. Pac-Man in the arcades made a right old racket. There are also loads of extra mazes not in the older versions when you get tired of the arcade original too. 

12. Oddworld: New ’N’ Tasty

(Image credit: Oddworld INhabitants)

When a developer totally overhauls an old game you’re often left wishing there was more of the original’s spirit left in there. Oddworld: New ’N’ Tasty is a remake of Abe’s Oddysee, one of the more memorable PSX games. The graphics and controls have been completely overhauled but, amazingly, the character and feel of the game is completely in-tact. And that’s doubly important here because the environmental atmosphere of Abe’s Oddysee was perhaps the best of any late 90’s platformer. 

Freelance Tech Writer

Andrew is a technology journalist with over 10 years of experience. Specializing particularly in mobile and audio tech, Andrew has written for numerous sites and publications, including Stuff, Wired, TrustedReviews, TechRadar, T3, and Wareable.