Whether you like it or not, smartphones and other mobile devices are now very much a part of the video game industry. Their ease of access and the simplicity of the games made them a favorite among casual players – people that generally play video games solely for casual enjoyment. The unprecedented rise of mobile gaming has even threatened to topple handheld consoles from their perch as the kings of on-the-go entertainment. (Only “threatened” because the Nintendp 3DS is still holding the flag, despite the no-show of the PlayStation Vita.) However, one of the perks of having Android- or iOS-operated devices is being able to play classic games from older generations. Because, really, no one is that willing enough to buy an old gaming system from a collector’s shop just to play a game or two. There have now been numerous console and PC games ported to mobiles, but these 11 games stands out among the rest.
1. Chrono Trigger
Let’s start off this list with the game that’s universally hailed as the greatest game of all time, regardless of gaming platform or genre. Chrono Trigger is not just a game developed by your ordinary team of developers – it’s a product of a “dream team” that consisted of Hironobu Sakaguchi, the creator of the Final Fantasy series; Akira Toriyama, a manga artist popularly known for his work on Dragon Ball; Yuji Horii, the creator of the Dragon Quest series; and renowned composers Yasunori Mitsuda and Nobuo Uematsu double-teaming to create the game’s music. The biggest strength of Chrono Trigger is its story, which involves a band of heroes traveling in time to stop the destruction of the world. The story takes you from the prehistoric era to the Dark Ages and all the way to a post-apocalyptic era. Chrono Trigger offers a lot of replay value, thanks to the numerous endings that you can achieve.
2. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
A lot of video games based on George Lucas’ Star Wars universe have been released already, but Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic stands above them all as the best. Contrary to most Star Wars games which feature a more action-oriented gameplay, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, or simply KotOR, is a role-playing game similar to most online titles of the same genre. You start off by choosing your character out of a selection of generic character classes. By leveling your character, you gain points which you can allot to your character’s skills. Arguably, the most prominent feature of Star Wars: KotOR is its choice-based system, which determines if players will be aligned with either the Jedi (the good guys) or the Sith (the bad guys). Dialogs in the game gives players varied options on how to respond which, in turn, affects the path they will eventually take. If you’re a Star Wars fan and now fed up with the Jedi always getting the spotlight, Star Wars: KotOR is your best chance to live the life of a villain.
3. Final Fantasy VI
Overshadowed by its infinitely more popular successor, Final Fantasy VI is arguably the best entry in the long-running role-playing game series. It features numerous playable characters that you can choose to journey with in a steampunk-themed world, each of them possessing different skills that allow you to mix-and-match depending on your battle strategy. Similar to Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy VI boasts a well-developed story, led by an infamous sadistic villain, Kefka, who actually manages to achieve his evil plans. The game is one of the few titles that feature two versions of the same world map, which marks the two halves of the story. Although the game uses the classic turn-based battle system, the presence of magical creatures called ‘Espers’ gives you the chance to customize each character’s stat growth. Furthermore, there are tons of weapons and accessories in the game to give you even more options to tailor your characters to your specific needs.
4. Tomb Raider
The Tomb Raider series was recently rebooted, with the latest game Rise of the Tomb Raider receiving rave reviews upon release. The series has come a long way, but the core gameplay mechanics are still pretty much set in stone. If the latest game in the series is simply “too modern” for your own taste, then why not go back in time and experience the first installment in the series? Tomb Raider marks the debut of the most well-known female protagonist in the history of games: Lara Croft. The gameplay focuses on solving puzzles, platforming, and collecting artifacts by raiding tombs (hence the game title), although the game’s cover art might trick you into believing that it involves a lot of gunfights. Yes, you can utilize Lara’s firearms, but mostly on dangerous animals and rarely on humans in the game. Tomb Raider may not pack the visual spectacle of Rise of the Tomb Raider, but it’s nevertheless action-packed.
5. Mega Man X
Aside from the Mega Man Legends and Mega Man Battle Network spin-off games, the Mega Man series is deeply rooted in the platformer genre. It features the titular blue bomber braving his way through levels filled with traps and unfriendly enemies. The main games featured a rather draggy gameplay, not to mention notorious difficulty, especially for beginners. That changed with the introduction of Mega Man X, the first of a new sub-series. It features a significantly more fast-paced gameplay system that requires you to have quick reflexes. Latter games in the series also allowed you to use a different character, Zero, instead of the usual blue bomber. But despite the change in pace, Mega Man X still boasts the familiar gameplay mechanics of its predecessors, which is methodologically going through each level, finishing the level’s boss, and gaining a new weapon that has an advantage over another level’s boss. Additionally, Mega Man X allows you to collect armor upgrades, which are hidden in different levels.
6. Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy
In case you’re not familiar with Grand Theft Auto, it’s a series of action-adventure games that is marked by the amount of freedom given to players in navigating the game’s open-world and the amount of mature content prevalent in the games. You are given pretty much free reign in approaching the different missions handed to you in-game. And in fact, you can simply ignore them and focus your efforts on other things instead – like randomly beating up people on the game’s streets or getting involved in a police chase. The series really took off with the release of Grand Theft Auto III, the first game that featured 3D graphics, and has been a mainstay in the gaming scene ever since. Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy for the iOS gives you the perfect chance to get acquainted with the series. The bundle includes Grand Theft Auto III, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.
Lost in the fanfare surrounding the Tekken, Street Fighter, and Mortal Kombat fighting games is the SoulCalibur series, which similarly originated from the arcades. Entering as the second game in the series, the confusingly-titled SoulCalibur offers two gameplay mechanics not present in most fighting games. First is the ability to freely move your character around the map without restriction – as in your character will actually move in the direction of your directional pad input (or joystick). And the second is being more forgiving when it comes to button inputs in chaining moves in quick succession. SoulCalibur allows you to input button presses for a specific move while your character is still executing the current move. This works in favor for mobile devices, because touchscreens are not exactly made for fighting games, so the easier way of punishing your opponents is very much welcome. Also, one of the game’s highlights is the characters’ heavy use of weapons, unlike most games in the genre that simply rely on unarmed combat.
8. Final Fantasy Tactics: War of the Lions
Considered as one of the best strategy games of all time, Final Fantasy Tactics: War of the Lions is a haven for grinders and perfectionists. The game features a turn-based battle system played out in a grid map, with each side taking, uh, turns giving orders to each unit in the battlefield. The bread-and-butter of the game is the complicated job system, which gives you a large amount of customizability for each character you create. The depth of the system is enough to cause you to spend countless hours poring over small details. When you’re not busy with that, Final Fantasy Tactics: War of the Lions offers one of the most gripping storylines to ever grace a video game, one that’s full of betrayal and conflict. Don’t be fooled by the game’s outdated 2D graphics, though – they’re the last thing you need to be worried about in the game.
9. Metal Slug 3
The Metal Slug series is a set of run-and-gun video games in which the gameplay generally revolves around continuously spraying bullets at an endless stream of incoming enemies until you reach the boss fight at the end. You collect and use different weapons in each level (not infinitely, of course), similar to the classic game Contra. There are also prisoners-of-war (POWs) scattered throughout each level and rescuing them will give you bonuses, like a weapon upgrade. The highlights of the series are the titular “Metal Slugs”, vehicles that your character can mount for more offensive and defensive capabilities. Aside from the usual vehicles from its predecessors, Metal Slug 3 introduced numerous new ones for more diversity, which makes it one of the most complete games in the series. Unnoticed by many, the Metal Slug series also has one of the best 2D sprite animations in the business, although the games’ fast-paced gameplay deprives you of the chance to fully appreciate them.
10. Final Fantasy VII
Although it’s not the best the series has to offer, Final Fantasy VII is without a doubt the most popular Final Fantasy installment. The game can be credited for popularizing the role-playing game genre in the western world and helped the genre as a whole to reach new heights. Final Fantasy VII focuses on the equally popular spiky-haired protagonist Cloud Strife as he embarks on a journey to hunt down his silver-haired former comrade, Sephiroth. Of course, what begins as a personal journey ends up with a save-the-world scenario together with a bunch of now-easily recognizable characters. Aside from the deep Materia system, the game also boasts a large number of side-quests and mini-games for you to waste hours on. The game is currently in line for a heavily anticipated remake, and what better way to prepare for it than to tickle your nostalgia with this port.
Okay, Transistor isn’t exactly an old game – heck, it’s even released for the PS4 and PC. But the way the game turned out it might as well be considered an instant classic. Besides, being released originally for only two platforms didn’t exactly make it easily accessible, especially to smartphone-equipped casual players. Transistor features an action role-playing gameplay, played out in a visually stunning world rendered in classic 2D-like art. It follows the adventures of a female protagonist, Red, who, after an initial encounter with a mysterious group, finds herself wielding a badass-looking great sword: the Transistor. Battles in the game are real-time and viewed from an isometric perspective, which gives you the opportunity to further gawk at the game’s visuals. Transistor (the game, not the sword) also boasts a great soundtrack to complete the overall amazing experience.
As mobile technology continues to grow, expect games from more recent generations to be ported, too, like PS3 or Nintendo Wii games. If you think playing these classic games isn’t the same as the original simply because of the touchscreen input, you can alternatively purchase a separate controller – unless you’re gaming on the Nvidia Shield. And speaking of the Nvidia Shield, you can play another classic game exclusive on the system: Valve’s Portal. To put it simply, Portal is a physics-based puzzle-solving game wherein you’re equipped with a “portal gun”. You can check it out, too, if only to get a good laugh from the game’s hilarious antagonist.