Spend fewer quarters on these cool ‘80s arcade games for Android

by Larry Sullivan

I grew up in the 1980s and spent a ton of time and quarters at the arcade. This was our main form of gaming entertainment, since personal computers were not mainstream. It’s really neat to see some of the games getting ported to Android and other mobile devices. There are a lot of these classic arcade titles on Android. Maybe I will do another post or two on them, but for now here are the ones I have played and loved.

Missile Command in Atari’s Greatest Hits (Free)

I have reviewed this Atari app before, but thought it was worth mentioning again. Atari’s Greatest Hits is free to download, and you have the option to acquire individual games for $0.99 or all of them for $9.99 through in-app purchases. Some of the games you can purchase are Asteroids, Centipede, Pong, and Super Breakout. It is the ultimate source of retro gaming.

You do get Missile Command for free with the app. In the game you have three bases and a number of cities you need to protect from falling missiles. You’re armed with a limited number of missiles, so you need to aim well. This was one of the first games I remember that utilized a trackball, and the app allows you customize the controls, including a trackball! The app also lets you pick the number of cities you start with and when you get a bonus. I am still pulled in by the game’s sounds, graphics and toughness.

Frogger ($0.99)

Frogger is a fun and simple game. You are a frog and need to cross busy streets and rivers as fast as you can. Of course there are cars and trucks in your way. When you hit the river you need to hop across on passing turtles or logs. If you hit the water you are dead, which is odd. I guess this particular frog is allergic to being amphibious.

This version of the game is pretty good. There are three modes you can play: Regular, New Game or the Phantom Mode where you play against your high score. You can change the controls to either tap or slide; I found slide worked best. The game also has OpenFeint support for global high scores. There is a free version, which is ad-supported.

Ms. PAC-MAN by Namco ($3.99)

When people think of video games in the 1980s, most will immediately think of Pac-Man. For those who do not know, the goal for Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man is to go around the board and eat pellets. When all are cleared then you go to the next level. Now the ghosts are roaming the board looking to devour you, so you need to either eat (after ingesting a power pellet) or avoid them entirely.

This is a great port of the game, and the graphics and the sounds are just like I remember. To control Ms. Pac-Man, you simply swipe on the screen in the direction you want to go. There is a virtual joystick on the bottom of the screen, too. The game has three difficulty settings, leaderboards, 25 in-game achievements and a total of 256 levels. There is a free version of the game which is ad-supported and does not have as many levels or achievements.

Galaxy Unknown ($0.99)

Galaga was one of my favorite space shooters and this app, Galaxy Unknown, is a pretty stellar version of it. The objective of Galaga is to destroy the oncoming aliens with your starfighter, which can only move left or right on the bottom of the screen and shoot vertically. So, you need to get skilled at dodging and hitting the aliens as they appear. My advice back then is the same today...stay out of the corners!

In terms of game options, you can turn the sound, music and vibrations on and off. But the two things I liked most were the controls and auto-fire. You can set up either tilt or touch controls to move the ship and can toggle auto-fire. I wish I had auto-fire when I was playing years ago. Both of these add to the enjoyment and challenge to the game. There is a free version of the app that is surprise, surprise, ad-supported.

TETRIS ($2.99)

Another mega hit in the ‘80s was the puzzle game Tetris and EA Games’s version is well done. The objective of the game is to manipulate falling blocks by moving and rotating them to create a horizontal line of ten blocks without gaps. When you complete a line it is removed and you earn points. Your game ends when the screen is filled to the top with mismatched blocks. As you get to higher levels, the game moves faster, thus making it harder to clear the screen.

This version has a lot of neat options to it. There are two main modes: Marathon, where you play until you cannot any longer and Magic, where you need to complete certain objectives to advance. With both modes there is an in-game leaderboard, so you can see how well you have done. In the options area, you can turn the tutorial, ghost PC, and sparkles on and off, depending on how much help you want. Also, there is a free version of the game.

If you are looking for some '80s retro gaming action, these apps should do the trick. Any particular ones you enjoy?

Download the Appolicious Android app