The arcade will always be the spiritual home of gaming. A place of 50 pence coins, spilt Slush Puppies and smoking grannies playing on one-armed bandits, they were once a gaming institution. Sadly the arcade is now but entirely gone, replaced by inexpensive home consoles and powerful smartphones.
Thankfully you can recreate much of the fun of the arcade, minus the smell, from the comfort of your mobile phone. The app store is littered with arcade classics and these are the best of them.
Namco Arcade is a selection of arcade titles from Namco from back in’t day which number eight or nine or so and include PAC-LAND, PAC-MAN, Galaga, Rolling Thunder, Xevious, The Tower of Druaga, Phozon, and Motos. Frankly, most of these aren’t actually much fun to play - contrary to rose-tinted memory, PAC-LAND is rubbish - but there are a couple of crackers which make this free app worth downloading.
The trick is that you get 10 free credits a day but after that it costs $0.99 per hit unless you buy them in stacks. The best advice is probably to play the game in moderation and have something else on the side to keep you going. As for the crackers, frankly, spy-shooter Rolling Thunder is genius and mercilessly hard and the other one that’s tough to put down is, of course, Galaga, and the app is worth it for these two alone. Read more
Pinball Arcade isn’t just a game - it’s a mission. That mission is to create exact digital replicas of the greatest pinball machines of all time, featuring those made by Bally, Williams, Stern and Gottlieb, down to the bumper, flipper, sound effect and pixel. The app starts you off with three or four of these old-school machines to enjoy and gives a brief history and tutorial on each one so that you know not only why each is significant in pinball history but also how to play them like a pro.
The controls are simple enough. Swipe down on the lever to pull it back and release and then it’s a matter of tapping the left or right-hand side of the screen to activate the relevant flippers. Tapping at the top corners will nudge. Even if you’re no pinball aficionado, it’s something you’ll enjoy. Read more
Although this game has been around a while, we're featuring it because it's recently had a revamp to make the most of the iPhone 4's display. Spirit involves controlling a, erm, spirit within a grid-type arena with the task of expelling a variety of meanies to another dimension. There are no guns or shooting in the game, Spirit's only defence being the ability to create holes in the fabric of the grid which suck the enemy out of existence. On completion you're transported to another grid where you'll face a new round of baddies - tougher and more numerous than before.
There are three different game modes: Classic, Extreme and Pulse. The first two are pretty self-explanatory, however with Pulse you can't create your own holes - instead you need to use various pulse markers floating around the arena which will create them for you. The more enemies downed in a single go, the more multipliers are created, which you can pick up in order to score big. The step-up between levels is just about right, and one particular nice touch is the seemingly random element to the levels, the enemies found on each being different every time you play. Read More
Classic arcade shooter R-Type is back and this time it's on the iPhone/iPod touch. Be prepared to suck your commute time dry as you try, once again, to steer your little ship from left to right destroying everything in your path in the process. For those who remember wasting a whole summer, autumn, winter and spring playing this game, you'll be amazed at how quickly you'll be able to jump back in. And how quickly the memories come flooding back.
Of course, there are new elements to the game, three different control mechanisms, and the addition of online and offline leader boards to show your prowess. There are also three difficulty levels, allowing for either an endless supply of continues or none at all. As for those control mechanisms, there is a virtual D-Pad, a tilt and touch option, and the one that you'll be using most, just touch. Read More
Based on the classic Airfix model sets of days gone by, this cool iPhone appt app sees miniature fighters fly about an indoor 3D environment. Once you have the app downloaded you are confronted with a choice of different aircraft in which to take flight. This is followed by a series of missions across the game's varied indoor environments. A personal favourite (as we are a bit boring) is the First World War aircraft, although there are plenty of more modern planes to choose from as well as some special science-fiction offerings.
The missions themselves involve things such as dogfighting, attacking ground targets and generally flying about and avoiding being blown up. Gameplay isn't particularly taxing, nor are graphics pushing the boat out, but it is definitely fun being able to fly aircraft familiar from you childhood. Retina display support is a nice bonus, especially given that the aircraft are modelled on classic Airfix kits and rendered pretty nicely in 3D. We definitely suggest giving Airfix Dogfight a quick download, even if it is just the free version. Read More
You're a space ship from Earth sent to stop a horde of aliens moving left across the screen and then right across the screen, moving down one line at a time as they do so on their way to destroy mankind. Sound familiar? Good, because that's really the fun of what Radiant is all about. It's a joining of Asteroids and Space Invaders brought ever so slightly closer to the modern day with the introduction of cash to collect, weapons to buy with it and a little dose of ironic humour with the use of cut-scene communication to tell the story of the game.
While the plot part of things is totally superfluous, the added fire power is lots and lots of fun.There are more than100 levels, 10 boss fights, online leader boards and all sorts of bits and pieces to unlock. It might not be a risky idea but it's certainly a solid download. Read More
Age of Zombies Anniversary
Sometimes you want nothing more from an app than for it to occupy time. The joys of smartphones mean we can fill lengthy train journeys with incessant email checking, random web browsing or in our case, eradicating swathes of zombies.
Age of Zombies Anniversary is just the right balance between mindless blasting and edge-of-seat fun. You play Barry Steakfried, a man bent on destroying zombies from history. Professor Brains has sent his undead back through time and you have no choice but to go back and put and end to their undead ways. The result is an app that spans different time periods, with changing music, zombies and weaponry.
Street Fighter IV
Forget grabbing this on the 3DS. You can pick up virtually the same game in two dimensions for the iPhone for just £2.99. For a meagre three pounds you get access to one of the best arcade-style fighting games ever made.
The lack of a physical controller does make the game fairly hard, but the touch input is so well done that it really is difficult to notice, unless you are going for complex combos. All the classic characters are there, as are the modes. You can even use the app to share fighter music as ringtones with friends.
Think of this like Namco Arcade, except with games put together by Capcom. Great stuff really as they were the other kings of the arcade back in the days when everyone thought they were in Tron. For the meagre price of, well, free, you get Street Fighter, Street Fighter II, Street Fighter II Turbo, Final Fight, Ghouls and Ghosts and a load more.
We do tell a lie though, as the app isn't technically free. To download it is, but each game needs to be operated by coins. You can buy a pack of ten as an in-app purchase or purchase a game machine itself. It used to be that you got three free tokens a day to play with, but this has now gone. Still, despite the stinginess, it's a great little arcade app with decent controls to boot.
Price: Free (req in app purchases)
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