The 5 Best Retro-Inspired Games in Apple Arcade (2021)

5 retro-inspired games on Apple Arcade are just as epic as you'd hoped!
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I'm a sucker for retro and retro-inspired gaming, probably because of the warm, fuzzy, nostalgic excitement it gives me. Retro-inspired games take me to a time when my big brother used to build blanket forts and we would play Nintendo, and I was really awful at it, but he still let me play anyway. We ate push pops and Ramen, and played "Super Mario Bros." and I discovered a love for Yoshi, Mrs. Packman, Kirby, and Princess Peach.

Times were simple and sweet and tons of fun. Over the years, I've played many retro or retro-inspired PC and console games, but as a mobile gamer, I prefer to take my gaming with me everywhere (You never know when you are going to need it, right?), so I play more retro mobile games than anything these days, other than Sneaky Sasquatch of course.

On Apple Arcade, there are dozens of retro and retro-inspired games that are meant for your mobile enjoyment, and I've burned through them so you can try only the best of the best. Here are the top 5 best retro-inspired games on Apple Arcade! Try one of them or all of them, and take a trip down nostalgia lane. These retro mobile games won't disappoint.

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Gameplay

Pac-Man Party Royale is a modern-day, but retro-inspired, action maze arcade game with battle royale and party options. Players can create Pac-Man parties, battle it out, join other parties, or "quickplay," if they would rather play alone. Either way, Pac-Man Party Royale is a high-energy, colorful, 3D version of its original, and an fun way to connect with friends. If you are a fan of retro-inspired games, like battle royale games like Fortnite, or enjoyed Pan-Man 99, this game is sure to get and keep your attention. It did mine!

Original gameplay,

The original Pac-Man, an action maze arcade game, was created in 1980 (almost exactly 41 years ago this month) and took the world by storm with its big-eyed, colorful little ghosts and hungry Pac-Man. If you played Pac-Man in the '80s or '90s, you loved it, and it became a nostalgic part of your upbringing. As a huge Pac-Man and Mrs. Pac-Man fan, I cannot say enough wonderful things about the original game, its simple but bright and cheery graphics, and the overall gameplay. "Pac-Man" ate his pellets, and the ghosts, and players of all ages just couldn't get enough; apparently, we still can't, because Apple Aracade's Pac-Man Party Royale is one of the most downloaded games on Apple Arcade.

Cons

Timing is extremely important and a bit frustrating in this game. It can be frustrating when you swipe on time but Pac-Man doesn't get there on time. You really have to be a step or two ahead of every movement.

Developed by

BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Inc.

Platform(s)

  • iPhone and iPod- iOS 13.0 or later
  • iPad- iPadOS 13.0 or later
  • Apple TV- tvOS 13.0 or later

Gameplay

Frogger in Toy Town, since it is developed by the same, original developers, is so true to the original Frogger, it would be hard not to give kudos. This version of the original Frogger is the original game with tons of cool features, exponentially better graphics, a cute storyline, and challenging obstacles. Though I know there are a lot of purists out there who don't love revamps like this one, because of how different it is from the original, the original is the foundation of this game in a way that honors Frogger. Frogger in Toy Town is the original game, but brought into the 21st century.

Frogger in Toy Town still has the classic, get across the road without getting hit, gameplay. However, in Frogger in Toy Town, there are more options than the original game, of course. Players can play "story mode" or "endurance" depending on their skill level and interests in the game. The game poses real obstacles that are genuinely challenging, cute baby frogs to collect, and a seemingly endless supply of beans to collect. Any gamers who enjoyed the original game can surely appreciate what Frogger in Toy Town brings to the table. It will certainly be a game I come back to.

Original gameplay

The original Frogger, an arcade action game known for its cute frog and challenging hazards, was created in 1981 by Konami. We all know about Frogger, right? Busy roads and the cute, green guy that is just trying to get to the other side without getting ran over? Frogger is a classic, uncomplicated arcade game that most '80s and '90s babies grew up playing at arcades and at home. It was, and still is, considered one of the great, classic games of all time, so naturally, Apple Arcades, version of Frogger would end up on this list.

Cons

The controls can be slightly awkward at first for gamers who aren't used to these types of games. I think the controls are a bit rigid. The gameplay can be improved by connecting a controller.

Developed by

Konami

Platform(s)

  • iPhone and iPod- iOS 13.0 or later
  • iPad- iPadOS 13.0 or later
  • Apple TV- tvOS 13.0 or later

Gameplay

I will openly admit, I am not great at kart racing games like Sonic Racing. I'm the girl on the team that is constantly bumping other teammate's cars and hitting the guard rails. I don't know what that says about my real-life driving abilities, but I'm sure there's some kind of distinction. Regardless of my driving skills in the gaming world, Sonic is my pal. Sonic has always been my pal. Sonic will always be my pal. I grew up learning video games with my big brother on Sonic The Hedgehog and all the Sonic games. I always loved Tails, even though many players find him annoying.

Sonic is so nostalgic for me, so much a throwback to my childhood, to Laffy Taffy at 8:00 pm bedtimes, that I knew he had to make it on this list. This game stays 100% true to the Sonic series, and, as far as racing games go, it's a lot of fun. There are tons of boosters, scenic courses, and many playable characters. Each character comes with their own specific boosters that are relevant to the character and their driver specifications. Players can even play as Eggman, complete with egg boosters. I mean, how throwback is that? This retro-style game is an ode to a beloved classic. Here's to getting better at racing games so I can really enjoy Sonic Racing the way it's meant to be.

Original gameplay

Sonic has been around, since 1991, almost as long as I've been alive, which I have mixed feelings about. Isn't he getting a little old for racing (You're never too old for racing)? Sonic The Hedgehog was Sonic's first appearance back when Sega Genesis was the popular thing to have. The original Sonic The Hedgehog was so well-done, the sound of coins so pleasing to the ear, and the gameplay so fun, that it's really hard to beat. Some original games have no equal, and I have to admit, there is something about the first few Sonic The Hedgehog games released by Sega, that any newer games released are bound to be held to higher scrutiny. It's a good thing that Sonic Racing stayed true to the original.

Cons

For someone who is not at racing games, I found the controls to be extra sensitive. Maybe, for a more experienced racer, this wouldn't be an issue, but definitely impacted gameplay for me.

Developed by

Sega

Platform(s)

  • iPhone and iPod- iOS 13.0 or later
  • iPad- iPadOS 13.0 or later
  • Apple TV- tvOS 13.0 or later

Gameplay

Pinball Wizard has earned its spot as both the least retro and one of the most retro games on this list. The game has come a long way from the original Pinball, including monsters and bad guys and a cute little wizard in wizard gear. This is a game that, for retro-gaming purists, might not be their go-to game in Apple Arcade, but the roots of Pinball Wizard stay true to the original arcade version of the game while adding new features like a fantasy-based storyline, squishy monsters, growling bad guys, a castle that you work your way through, and upgradable skills. Instead of hitting a ball, players are hitting a wizard complete with a wizarding hat and beard (who sounds a lot like a Minion yelling as he gets hit by monsters).

Pinball Wizard might have had a major revamp in graphics and features, but the main aspect of gameplay, using the paddles to get the ball, or wizard in this case, through the obstacle course. There are still ramps, flippers, paths, and bumpers like the arcade versions of Pinball players grew up playing. I find this modern, creative adaptation of Pinball to be pretty adorable and amusing enough to have me staying up two hours later than my bedtime usually allows. This game is so good, I would almost say it could have been included in my list of the 5 best games on Apple Arcade, but I think Pinball Wizard belongs here with its retro and retro-inspired friends.

Original gameplay

Many players know this arcade game from spending our Friday nights in arcades back in the '70s, '80, or '90s. While there are still active arcades, they are less frequent than they used to be since gaming is mostly done in the home or on mobile. However, Pinball goes back much further than that. Pinball actually gained its fame back in The Great Depression (the 1930s), though it was invented in 19th century England, and is still going strong. The original game was coin-operated and extremely controversial. At the time, Pinball didn't include the paddles (known also as flippers) it is known for today and was much more simplistic, but the game's origins started during the troublesome time of The Great Depression and continues to bring people joy in 2021 and on Apple Arcade.

Cons

As a retro game, it's been adapted pretty heavily, even if it does stay true to its origins. Gameplay, however, I can't find a complaint or con for, and I tend to prefer this revamped version of the original game. The creativity brought to the game makes it that much more enjoyable.

Developed by

Frosty Pop

Platform(s)

  • iPhone and iPod- iOS 13.0 or later
  • iPad- iPadOS 13.0 or later
  • Apple TV- tvOS 13.0 or later

Gameplay

As soon as I saw the new version of The Oregon Trail on Apple Arcade, the nostalgia kicked in, and I knew I had to play. Apple Arcade's The Oregon Trail isn't The Oregon Trail 2.0, it's more like The Oregon Trail 4.0. The graphics have come a long, I mean very long, way since the '70s, and the gameplay includes many new features that didn't come with the original game while staying true to the original game's text-based strategy gameplay. This version of The Oregon Trail includes tons of diverse characters with complicated personalities and strengths, more information on pioneer life, a more in-depth survival strategy, and a respectful representation of indigenous people(s).

Gameloft really stepped The Oregon Trail game up several notches, earning its number one spot as the best retro game on Apple Arcade.

Original gameplay

The original The Oregon Trail is the text-based strategy and action game most '70s, '80s, and '90s babies played at school, on big, beige computers. Before the time of lightweight laptops and mobile gaming, The Oregon Trail was the game we all loved to play during class. It was a joy, a whole glass dedicated to playing a game? It didn't even matter that players tended to get dysentery and not make it through the first few minutes of the trail. Did anyone actually make it through the trail?

MECC developed The Oregon Trail in the early '70s with the intention of it being educational, and they did meet the goal (I think?). To be honest, the game didn't illuminate us kids on the real-life struggles of The Oregon Trail, but it was fun to play. Those of us subjected to hours of gameplay in our formative years, now think of The Oregon Trail with fond nostalgia, though all I can remember learning from the game was that the pioneering days were perilous.

Cons

There is no undo button, not that I expected one. However, it would be nice to be able to undo character selection. The hunting feature within the game is also a little wonky. It takes a few tries to get good at it, which means wasted bullets.

Developed by

Gameloft

Platform(s)

  • iPhone and iPod- iOS 13.0 or later
  • iPad- iPadOS 13.0 or later
  • Apple TV- tvOS 13.0 or later
  • Mac- MacOS 10.16 or later
Easter Eggs aren't just for April.
Tayler Tayler (63)
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Since video games first began capturing our attention during the 1958s, creators and developers have been pouring their hearts, imaginations, and time into the creation process.