Back to the Future: The iPhone Sparks a Resurgence in Classic Games

Thu, Jan 21, 2010

Casual, Features, iPhone

Over the last year, the number of retro and classic console and arcade games on the iPhone has dramatically increased, often providing these much-beloved chestnuts with a new lease on life (and great success for their publishers). Classic characters such as Sonic the Hedgehog, Earthworm Jim, Guybrush Threepwood and Dirk the Daring are back in full force, with more characters set to make a comeback on the horizon.

How have these once-antiquated characters found new relevancy on a new medium? Beyond the obvious nostalgia factor, it all boils down to gameplay, fun, and interesting game design. The most popular games from the 80s and 90s still resonate with gamers today. In the “golden era” of 16- and 32-bit graphics, game designers couldn’t rely on whiz-bang visuals, environmental physics and detailed rendering to impress gamers. Games were distilled down to their simplest elements: pick-up-and-play ease, addictive fun and compelling gameplay.

Venerable games publisher Sega has recognized the importance of the iPhone to classic games, and is bringing back some of their most successful and celebrated games to the platform. The upcoming Sega Genesis Ultimate Collection, which will enable gamers to purchase classic Sega Genesis titles (such as Sonic the Hedgehog, Golden Axe, Shining Force and more) presents a new opportunity for gamers to relive their favorite gaming experiences, and introduces such franchises to those who may be too young to have ever played them.  Sega is not alone.  A quick Web search on “retro iPhone games” provides hundreds of options for the classic gaming enthusiast, including arcade superstars Pac-Man and Space Invaders.  For those looking for the console classics, Touch Arcade has provided a handy list that includes personal favorites Ghosts ‘n’ Goblins and the PC mega-hit Myst.

Furthermore, developers inspired by classic games are bringing new titles to the market that have familiar influences. The upcoming Slug Wars from Republic of Fun draws its inspiration from the Worms series (originally released on the Amiga in the early 80s). iPhone publisher Super Happy Fun Fun’s Mark Pierce, the original designer of 90s arcade hit Klax, incorporated similar game principles on the match-three puzzler Star*Burst.

With a plethora of opportunities for both classic gamers and new gamers alike, the iPhone has resurrected old franchises, as well as inspired new ones.  These “snackable nuggets of classic delight” can be devoured by consumers young and old, truly making the platform a gaming haven that anyone can enjoy.

This article was originally posted by Wendy Beasley on the TriplePoint blog.

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