New games that emulate old ones are nothing new. Heck, some might argue that such self-reflection is the life blood of the games industry. But in the past few weeks, we’ve seen an alarming number of retro-inspired titles hitting the App Store. We’ve picked through that pile to find the top six that we feel might be worthy of a closer look.
Flick Rocket (iPhone, iPad) – Old school space invasion meets new school touch controls in Flick Rocket. Brought to you by Binary Square, the same folks behind the sublime (and equally pixelated) puzzle game Kerplinkus, Flick Rocket puts players in control of a missile base at the bottom of the screen as it fights off a well-ordered alien invasion from above. By flicking in different directions, players can control the aim of the missile as it leaves the base. Think Space Invaders meets Missile Command, and you’ll start to get a clearer picture of what Flick Rocket is all about.
8-bit vs 16-bit (iPhone) – Defending yourself from an alien invasion is definitely an old school concept, but it’s the visuals rather than the gameplay that have landed 8-bit vs 16-bit on this list. Players will be able to, on the fly, switch the game’s look from an 8-bit aesthetic to a 16-bit one – all with the simple tap of a button. Speaking of tapping, this game relies on the rather new school tradition of touch screen tap gameplay, as pressing your finger on the little invaders is the only way to save the planet in 8 vs 16.
Warblade HD (iPad, Mac) – If it walks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck – it’s probably a duck. Never has this old adage been more true that with Warblade. The game looks and plays just like Galaga, and the developer makes no secret of where his inspiration came from. In fact, Warblade HD is a remake of his earlier (and no doubt unlicensed) Amiga game Deluxe Galaga. If you’re a fan of the original Namco classic, Warblade HD may very well be worth your time.
Deflex (iPhone) – Less shooter and more pong, Jeff Minter’s latest release is every bit as noveau-retro as any other game on this list. It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise though. Whether we’re talking Space Giraffe or Minotron: 2112, Minter’s games are always crazy psychedelic rethinkings of old school arcade standards. This time you’ll be guiding a ball to its target by bouncing it off and around a variety of obstacles. Trippy to the last bite, Minter’s games aren’t going to be for everyone – but those who love them love them alot.
Deadlock: Online (iPhone, iPad) – What if you took the twin-stick shooting action of arcade classics like Smash TV and Robotron 2084 and updated it for the iPhone? Well then you’d be just one of about 1000 twin stick shooters on the App Store. We get it, this is an old school genre that’s been beaten to death on touch screen devices so far, and if you had a nickel for every one that’s been released on the App Store you’d be too busy spending them all to waste your time reading this. But what if you took that retro-arcade inspired gameplay and mashed it up with some PC first-person shooter essentials like online team deathmatches and capture the flag modes? Then you’ve got something fresh and addictive – and did we mention free?
SuperRope (iPhone, iPad) – Like twin stick shooters, endless survival games are a dime a dozen on the App Store. And endless survival games about endlessly climbing upwards? Even more so. But as much as SuperRope may have all the trappings of a modern iOS timewaster, I can’t help but shake a certain feeling that I get every time I play it: SuperRope plays like a fast-paced re-imagining of Donkey Kong Junior to me. Swap out a little monkey for a little pig, and you have all of the same vine-jumping elements of Nintendo’s arcade classic – except now that little critter can’t help but keep climbing upwards, and instead of vicious crocodiles coming down, it’s the top of the rope coming up you have to worry about.