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Smartphone gaming roundup: Retro

Just because your iPhone or Android handset is some sort of super powerful gaming powerhouse doesn’t mean you need cutting edge applications to get some mobile fun.

The glory days of 2D side-scrolling and fiendishly hard cartridge-based games are now long gone. Thankfully, you can relive your 16bit console days via the glories of the App Store and Android Marketplace, usually for no more than 59p.

Trouble is, there are too many gaming greats to choose from. Making the decision between the eye-bleeding colour binge that is R-Type or the psychedelic madness of Earthworm Jim isn’t exactly easy. My advice is to buy both, but then I am a bit of a geek.

Thanks to my excessive app-spending, I am however in some sort of a position to advice on retro gaming best. Below is the five purchases that any smartphone cannot live without.

5. R-Type

This game is literally mental. It is ridiculously tough and capable of spewing out such a vast and vivid colour spectrum that five minutes play is usually enough to make you feel sick. It is however a masterpiece of addictiveness. Essentially you blast just about everything that comes across the 2D side-scrolling screen with a never ending upgradeable stream of bullets. Enemies include blobs, lumps of goo and a sort of goblin/dragon thing.

4.  Streets of Rage

Streets of Rage involves a group of somewhat violent friends parading through the streets of various locales and proceeding to engage in illegal street fights. All of the playable characters appear to be able to jump around twice their own height and issue kicks that enable them to fly twenty feet. Streets of Rage suffers slightly from the lack of a tangible gaming controller but remains an absolute masterpiece of retro-cool.

3.  Monkey Island 2 Special Edition

Most retro games are simple pick up and play affairs, providing instant entertainment over short journeys. Monkey Island however is slightly different. An absolute classic puzzler crammed full of snappy writing and engaging characters. It is perfectly suited to the iPhone and iPad and will keep you occupied for weeks on end.

2. Sonic the Hedgehog 2

Many may consider Sonic the Hedgehog 1 the original and therefore the best. That may well be the case, but those were during the days when the precise jumping and ring collecting of Sonic’s first adventure were made easier thanks to a controller. A smartphone screen however is not the best way to interact with the speedy blue hedgehog. Thus we have Sonic the Hedgehog 2, a much easier version of the original. Number 2 was all about breakneck speed interspersed with the odd jump. More a rollercoaster ride of a game, it is a perfect one to spend ten minutes playing inbetween tube stops.

1. Earthworm Jim

Of all the games that I ever owned on my Sega, Earthworm Jim was the one that I played the most. A hilariously bizarre adventure of a space-suit clad earthworm, the game sees you shooting and jumping through various environments in order to put an end to a nine lived cat. The game runs very smooth on just about every smartphone and its colourful cartoon-like characters look great on phones like the iPhone 4. For those who have never come across this game, be prepared, it is extremely weird. A standout level would be one which involves bungee jumping Jim against a dangling blob of snot and attempting to snap his snot-string so he falls to his death.


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