What Are the Best iOS Retro Games?

What Are the Best iOS Retro Games?

Want to re-experience some of your childhood classics? The App Store may have what you're looking for.

When video games started evolving into cooler forms, did we ever imagine we'd look back on our old games one day and realize "Wow, I miss those?"

Either way, retro games are big business now, and you can find plenty of your old childhood favorites on the App Store. Sometimes those memories are straight ports, and sometimes they're remastered to make them more "up to date" with modern games (though good developers know how to change a classic game's outward appearance without disturbing its little pixelated heart).

If you've been aching to re-live a few games that came out in the year 2000 or before, try some of these excellent iOS adaptations of retro classics.

Sonic the Hedgehog ($2.99)

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Sonic the Hedgehog 2 ($2.99)

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Sonic CD Remastered ($2.99)

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The initial iOS ports of Sonic the Hedgehog and Sonic the Hedgehog 2 were a slippery mess until they were reworked by Australian game developer Christian" The Taxman" Whitehead and Stealth. The new versions run on an entirely new engine and feature much-improved controls, widescreen support (which makes it easier to see and avoid enemies), and graphics that blaze by at 60 FPS.

The reworked port of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is worth a special mention because it adds content that was cut from the original Genesis release: Wood Zone and Hidden Palace Zone. Sonic hasn't been faring so well on console lately, but he's looking sleek and shiny on mobile, believe it or not.

Dragon Quest I ($2.99)

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Dragon Quest II ($4.99)

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Dragon Quest III ($9.99)

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The Dragon Quest games are the kings of console JRPGs, at least in Japan. If you're a fan of the genre's history, you owe it to yourself to play through the first three Dragon Quest games, which cover the epic Loto / Erdrick Saga. You'll get to meet the Dragon Lord and witness the genesis of some of gaming's most iconic monsters, including the beloved Slime.

Dragon Quest I and II are a bit clunky by today's standards, but the scope and open-ended nature of Dragon Quest III is still impressive. Get out there and show Baramos what it means to mess around with a destined hero.

The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition ($9.99)

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Die-hard fans of Guybrush Threepwood's humorous quest to become a pirate might miss the original pixel-based graphics that were a staple of the Monkey Island games (and '90s adventure games in general), but the remastered visuals in The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition punch things up while maintaining a retro air.

More importantly, all the point-and-click puzzle-solving that made the Monkey Island series a legend in the first place is intact. That's more than enough reason to set sail.

Secret of Mana ($7.99)

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Secret of Mana is typically mentioned in the same breath as A Link to the Past when people bring up excellent '90s action RPGs. While the iOS port of this SNES classic doesn't feature the option to save the world alongside two other players, the single-player AI has been massively improved over the original game. The graphics and sound quality have likewise received a boost. Even the translation has been spiffed up to eliminate spelling and grammatical errors.

That said, beware listening to the music in the dwarves' town for too long. It still induces madness.

Crazy Taxi ($4.99)

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Hey hey heeeeey!! No human being alive in the '90s could resist the pull of a Crazy Taxi arcade cabinet (or its Dreamcast iteration, which this mobile port is based on). Nowadays you'd be lucky to find a machine with a working accelerator and a steering wheel that's not spackled with petrified gobs of chewed-up gum. But thanks to the App Store, you can now carry a souped-up taxicab in your pocket.

Though it's been remastered for mobile, this version of Crazy Taxi is still all about getting people where they need to go in record time, even if some patio furniture has to take a short flight. Oh, and the original soundtrack is present in this port, which means The Offspring and Bad Religion serenade you as you drive. Put the pedal to the metal, but not before you put on your loudest shirt.

Ys Chronicles 1 ($4.99)

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The Ys games (that's pronounced "ease") are solid action RPGs that never had a chance to gain a significant audience in North America. But the globalization of the world and the growing dominance of digital game downloads means you've run out of excuses. It's time to familiarize yourself with the red-haired hero Adol Christian and his demon-slaying destiny.

Ys Chronicles 1 is a good place to start. It's a mobile adaptation of a 2000 PSP remake of the very first game, titled Ancient Ys Vanished Omen (whew). Give it a try and get a feel for what Sega Master System and TurboGrafx-16 owners were crowing about back on the schoolyard all those years ago.

Baldur's Gate ($9.99)

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Baldur's Gate II: Enhanced Edition ($9.99)

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Baldur's Gate (1998) and Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn (2000) were critically acclaimed upon their release. Both games are still remembered very fondly amongst western RPG enthusiasts for their complex but engaging stories based on the Forgotten Realms universe, as well as gameplay content that stretches on for hours (even if you don't realize it).

Both enhanced editions of Baldur's Gate have likewise received high praise for bringing the games into the modern era while preserving the heart of what made them awesome in the first place. Even the multiplayer modes are intact.

Chrono Trigger ($9.99)

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If the Dragon Quest games are the kings of console JRPGs, then Chrono Trigger is the genre's high emperor. Its graphics, soundtrack, and multiple endings were mind-blowing on the SNES back in 1995, and they're not exactly yawn-inducing in the here and now, either.

The iOS version of the game includes much of the bonus content that was included in its 2011 Nintendo DS re-release. That means new bosses, new endings, and a few attempts to link the game's story with Chrono Cross's -- with varying degrees of success.

Want more recommendations for great iOS games? Check out our main guide, which links to many more lists covering the best iOS games by genre.

Nadia Oxford

Staff Writer

Nadia has been writing about games for so long, only the wind and the rain (or the digital facsimiles thereof) remember her true name. She's written for Nerve, About.com, Gamepro, IGN, 1UP, PlayStation Official Magazine, and other sites and magazines that sling words about video games. She co-hosts the Axe of the Blood God podcast, where she mostly screams about Dragon Quest.

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