ta_logo_whiteOne of the most surprising things about the App Store is just how big a draw it has been for us old timey gamers like Blake and myself. Being in our mid 30's, we remember the days when processor megahertz were measured in the single digits and having most of these games on your home computer would have been amazing, much less on your a mobile device.

That's not to say you have to be over 30 to appreciate these titles. Anyone who has been gaming at all in the past 10 years is sure to find something that appeals to them.

Unfortunately, there have been some disappointments along the way, but here's a list of some good retro ports that we've run across in 2009.

The Oregon Trail - This isn't quite the same game you'll remember playing in grade school, but it's close enough. The core gameplay was preserved, while enhancing the graphics and making the gameplay a bit more accessible. (Article, App Store)

Dragon's Lair - Don Bluth's Classic 1983 laserdisc game that you may have drooled over as a child... but now it won't cost you $.50/play. Some of the Dragon's Lair experts have noted some subtle differences between it and the arcade version, but it's good enough for us mere mortals. (Review, App Store)

Space Ace - Don Bluth's followup to Dragon's Lair, play as Space Ace trying to rescue Kimberly and save Earth. An excellent adaption of the original laser disc game. (App Store)

Cobra Command - Another 1980s laser-disc classic, but this time you play as a pilot of a helicopter taking out terrorists. This one's been remastered with restored video, new sound effects and unlockables. (Review, App Store)

Commodore 64 - Manomio's fully licensed Commodore 64 emulator with licensed and legal game downloads. They are working hard to add new titles, but Bruce Lee and Laser Squad come free with the emulator. (App Store)

Archon Classic - EA's classic Archon: The Light and Dark was one of the big home computer hits of the '80s. It's chess-like, turn-based strategy meets arcade shooter action. It has been well ported to the iPhone, even if it's a bit easier than the original. (Review, App Store)

Ghosts'n Goblins Gold Knights - This isn't actually a port of any particular version, but instead an iPhone specific version of the game. It plays a bit easier, but does give the Ghosts 'n Goblins vibe if you can get used to the on-screen d-pad controls. (Review, App Store)

Pinball Fantasies - A classic Amiga pinball game with the 4 original tables. Amiga owning pinball fanatics were in love with this game. (App Store)

Myst - Published first in 1993, Myst was said to have accelerated the adoption of CD-Roms. This immersive graphical adventure really adapts itself well to the iPhone's interface. (Review, App Store)

Earthworm Jim - A remastered port of the 1994 classic platformer. Controls are as good as can be expected with on-screen d-pads. (Review, App Store)

Wolfenstein 3D Classic - Grandfather of first-person shooters. Great control system for the iPhone and packed with all the original levels and more. (App Store)

Doom Classic - id Software's classic first person shooter. The one that really started it all. It's been brought to the iPhone with care, and we still hope for Doom II and other maps to come soon. (Review, App Store)

Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition - The classic remade with new graphics, voice acting and music. The ability to switch back and forth between old and new graphics is an added bonus. (Review, App Store)

Note we highlighted some of the best games that happen also to be retro ports in our 2009 Game Roundup including Beneath a Steel Sky, Sword of Fargoal, and Rogue Touch.

  • http://www.thegamelessplayed.com Dominic White

    Not sure if it's a 2009 release, but there's also a really, really good port of classic PC shmup Tyrian available for the iPhone as well. Runs perfectly smoothly, has 3GS enhancements, and updated a while back to use (as one of the several options) the Space Invaders: Infinity Gene relative-to-touch movement scheme.

    It looks and sounds really good on this little thing. Hard to believe that it used to push a huge whirring desktop PC to its limits back in the day.

    • http://www.wolf3dmaps.com thewiirocks

      Tyrain fails for one simple reason: Rather than obtaining a proper license and releasing the entire game as one bundle, they utilized a work around involving open source and free distribution of the assets. Such that you have to download the assets when you start the game up.

      This sort of thing tends to leave a bad taste in one's mouth and disqualifies Tyrain from any real rewards.

      Wolf3D on the other hand... it is kick-ass to see it mentioned on these charts. It often seems like everyone forgot it after Doom came out. :)

      • http://www.thegamelessplayed.com Dominic White

        So, it's disqualified because, in spite of it being an amazing port, playing great, even supporting multiple hardware configurations, it's because it requires a one-off two minute download on first start?

        That's all kinds of dumb.

      • http://www.wolf3dmaps.com thewiirocks

        No, it's disqualified for being a barely legal hack. And it shows in its implementation. Very few people are going to take a direct port very seriously when it lacks the blessing of the copyright holder or original creator.

  • http://www.thegamelessplayed.com Dominic White

    Not sure if it's a 2009 release, but there's also a really, really good port of classic PC shmup Tyrian available for the iPhone as well. Runs perfectly smoothly, has 3GS enhancements, and updated a while back to use (as one of the several options) the Space Invaders: Infinity Gene relative-to-touch movement scheme.

    It looks and sounds really good on this little thing. Hard to believe that it used to push a huge whirring desktop PC to its limits back in the day.

    • http://www.wolf3dmaps.com thewiirocks

      Tyrain fails for one simple reason: Rather than obtaining a proper license and releasing the entire game as one bundle, they utilized a work around involving open source and free distribution of the assets. Such that you have to download the assets when you start the game up.

      This sort of thing tends to leave a bad taste in one's mouth and disqualifies Tyrain from any real rewards.

      Wolf3D on the other hand... it is kick-ass to see it mentioned on these charts. It often seems like everyone forgot it after Doom came out. :)

      • http://www.thegamelessplayed.com Dominic White

        So, it's disqualified because, in spite of it being an amazing port, playing great, even supporting multiple hardware configurations, it's because it requires a one-off two minute download on first start?

        That's all kinds of dumb.

      • http://www.wolf3dmaps.com thewiirocks

        No, it's disqualified for being a barely legal hack. And it shows in its implementation. Very few people are going to take a direct port very seriously when it lacks the blessing of the copyright holder or original creator.

  • fearless

    Duke Nukem 3D not retro enough?

    • http://www.thegamelessplayed.com Dominic White

      Retro enough, yeah, but also a REALLY BAD PORT. The controls are just diabolical, even after the essential update.

      Improvised dental surgery is less painful than playing Duke on the iPhone. I paid $1 for it when they were doing a post-patch apology sale, and I still feel a bit ripped off.

      • fearless

        I guess you have a good point. :(

    • MrMuesli

      I suspect that falls into the "Unfortunately, there have been some disappointments along the way" category. Some others I enjoyed:
      Centipede
      Pole Position
      Vector Tanks

      • MrMuesli

        Hmm, maybe these aren't ports...oh well. Still worth mentioning: )

  • fearless

    Duke Nukem 3D not retro enough?

    • http://www.thegamelessplayed.com Dominic White

      Retro enough, yeah, but also a REALLY BAD PORT. The controls are just diabolical, even after the essential update.

      Improvised dental surgery is less painful than playing Duke on the iPhone. I paid $1 for it when they were doing a post-patch apology sale, and I still feel a bit ripped off.

      • fearless

        I guess you have a good point. :(

    • MrMuesli

      I suspect that falls into the "Unfortunately, there have been some disappointments along the way" category. Some others I enjoyed:
      Centipede
      Pole Position
      Vector Tanks

      • MrMuesli

        Hmm, maybe these aren't ports...oh well. Still worth mentioning: )

  • Michael

    The retro games in the app store are a real attraction for me. They bing back really good memories. If you liked the above mentioned games, here are a few others you might like...
    - Paperboy
    - Streets of Rage
    - Dance Dance Revolution
    - Sonic
    - Golden Axe
    - Columns Deluxe
    - Time Crisis
    - Nescaline (NES Emulator)

    I hope more ports arrive in the app store.

    • Dreadroot

      mmmm.... too bad nescaline was pulled, I really wanted it!!!

      • Michael

        I purchased it like 3days ago. They obviously weren't quick enough.

    • Chad

      DDR isn't retro. It's like Final Fantasy. They will make sequels till the end of time. And this isn't even the first version of DDR, it's just a iPhone version.

      • Michael

        Whoop. Still a good one on my list :)

  • Michael

    The retro games in the app store are a real attraction for me. They bing back really good memories. If you liked the above mentioned games, here are a few others you might like...
    - Paperboy
    - Streets of Rage
    - Dance Dance Revolution
    - Sonic
    - Golden Axe
    - Columns Deluxe
    - Time Crisis
    - Nescaline (NES Emulator)

    I hope more ports arrive in the app store.

    • Dreadroot

      mmmm.... too bad nescaline was pulled, I really wanted it!!!

      • Michael

        I purchased it like 3days ago. They obviously weren't quick enough.

    • Chad

      DDR isn't retro. It's like Final Fantasy. They will make sequels till the end of time. And this isn't even the first version of DDR, it's just a iPhone version.

      • Michael

        Whoop. Still a good one on my list :)

  • http://www.analogretro.com Rob

    A retro gaming list for 2009 without Star Rangers on the list? It brings you back to the origins of 3D space shooters. Outstanding reviews - great gameplay - why have you overlooked this game?

    • http://www.jindofox.com jindofox

      Great roundup, but I agree that Star Rangers isn't getting nearly enough love on this site.

  • http://www.analogretro.com Rob

    A retro gaming list for 2009 without Star Rangers on the list? It brings you back to the origins of 3D space shooters. Outstanding reviews - great gameplay - why have you overlooked this game?

    • http://www.jindofox.com jindofox

      Great roundup, but I agree that Star Rangers isn't getting nearly enough love on this site.

  • Kevin

    Dunno when it was released for iPhone, but if you're reading this article, you'll also want to know about Frotz, a z-code interpreter for iPhone. It plays all the infocom titles plus modern interactive fiction.

  • Kevin

    Dunno when it was released for iPhone, but if you're reading this article, you'll also want to know about Frotz, a z-code interpreter for iPhone. It plays all the infocom titles plus modern interactive fiction.

  • Jim

    Ports of Call and Guru Meditation are both list-worthy.

  • Jim

    Ports of Call and Guru Meditation are both list-worthy.

  • oliath

    "Wolfenstein 3D Classic – Grandfather of first-person shooters. Great control system for the iPhone"

    I'm sorry.... WHAT?

    Either they completely fixed this game up or i am imagining the utter fiasco that this game's control system was on launch and the countless angry threads and appstore reviews about them.

    • Raoupp

      What? It's a brilliant port!

    • MrMuesli

      Wasn't it Doom Classic that had teething problems with the controls, not Wolfenstein?

    • Chad

      Wolf3D controls were perfect. You clearly got a sack of crack for Christmas.

    • Toast

      You sure you're not thinking about Duke Nukem?

  • oliath

    "Wolfenstein 3D Classic – Grandfather of first-person shooters. Great control system for the iPhone"

    I'm sorry.... WHAT?

    Either they completely fixed this game up or i am imagining the utter fiasco that this game's control system was on launch and the countless angry threads and appstore reviews about them.

    • Raoupp

      What? It's a brilliant port!

    • MrMuesli

      Wasn't it Doom Classic that had teething problems with the controls, not Wolfenstein?

    • Chad

      Wolf3D controls were perfect. You clearly got a sack of crack for Christmas.

    • Toast

      You sure you're not thinking about Duke Nukem?

  • Marco

    O_o.... Where's Triazzle? Best puzzle game of 90s.... ^_^

  • Marco

    O_o.... Where's Triazzle? Best puzzle game of 90s.... ^_^

  • Elsic1975a

    All that I need now is Ultima IV, Snooper Troopers, and Where the Hell is Carmen Sandiego? :)

  • Elsic1975a

    All that I need now is Ultima IV, Snooper Troopers, and Where the Hell is Carmen Sandiego? :)

  • http://www.tweakdigital.com/ jeremy wilker

    Now if only we could get a few more, like some of the Psygnosis and Bitmap Brothers games... Speedball! And maybe Blood Money, Rainbow Islands, Faery Tale Adventure...

  • http://www.tweakdigital.com/ jeremy wilker

    Now if only we could get a few more, like some of the Psygnosis and Bitmap Brothers games... Speedball! And maybe Blood Money, Rainbow Islands, Faery Tale Adventure...

  • Michael

    I heard that "Toejam & Earl" is coming to Xbox 360. I wonder if a port will ever be made for the iphone users.

  • Michael

    I heard that "Toejam & Earl" is coming to Xbox 360. I wonder if a port will ever be made for the iphone users.

  • Tom Tailor

    Earthworm Jim still doesn't work on the iPod Touch 3G!

  • Tom Tailor

    Earthworm Jim still doesn't work on the iPod Touch 3G!

  • http://www.2d-x.com Jeffrey L. Wilson

    This is a pretty good round up for us grumpy old gamers. I'd also like to add that Strikers 1945 Plus is a pretty righteous title, but it suffers (as with many iPhone games) from hit it or miss touch controls.

    Does anyone know if there are any aftermarket controllers that can remedy this?

  • http://www.2d-x.com Jeffrey L. Wilson

    This is a pretty good round up for us grumpy old gamers. I'd also like to add that Strikers 1945 Plus is a pretty righteous title, but it suffers (as with many iPhone games) from hit it or miss touch controls.

    Does anyone know if there are any aftermarket controllers that can remedy this?

  • http://twitter.com/Fujibayashi Fujibayashi

    I'm very close to 40... and yes this year has been nothing short of a BLESSING for people like me! Can't stop playing Dragon's Lair, Cobra Command, Star Rangers, and the ultimate surprise addiction, PACMAN Championship Edition! C64 is *okay*, but there aren't any/enough US Activision releases for it (Masters of the Lamp / Web Dimension / Hacker anyone?). Maybe there will be more cooperation with the 3rd party people with C64 sometime next year... BEACH HEAD (c64)? Leader Board? Summer/Winter/California games? Would so love to see them all!
    I ramble, but thanks for the article! Retrogaming in and of itself was what led me to an iPhone.

  • http://twitter.com/Fujibayashi Fujibayashi

    I'm very close to 40... and yes this year has been nothing short of a BLESSING for people like me! Can't stop playing Dragon's Lair, Cobra Command, Star Rangers, and the ultimate surprise addiction, PACMAN Championship Edition! C64 is *okay*, but there aren't any/enough US Activision releases for it (Masters of the Lamp / Web Dimension / Hacker anyone?). Maybe there will be more cooperation with the 3rd party people with C64 sometime next year... BEACH HEAD (c64)? Leader Board? Summer/Winter/California games? Would so love to see them all!
    I ramble, but thanks for the article! Retrogaming in and of itself was what led me to an iPhone.

  • http://revolutionaryconcepts.net revolutionaryconcepts

    Someone should really dust off one of the classic arcade fighting games! Maybe of the non-button mashing variety? Hmm that could work. Gee I hope someone does that ;)

  • http://revolutionaryconcepts.net revolutionaryconcepts

    Someone should really dust off one of the classic arcade fighting games! Maybe of the non-button mashing variety? Hmm that could work. Gee I hope someone does that ;)

  • Chad

    Oregon trail isn't just an easier version of the game with updated graphics. They really changed a lot like adding dozens of minigames and more things to consider while travelling.

  • Chad

    Oregon trail isn't just an easier version of the game with updated graphics. They really changed a lot like adding dozens of minigames and more things to consider while travelling.

  • Ravenblack

    I wouldn't hold my breath for a Bethesda game for this device. I'll buy it for sure if they do bring Elder Scrolls rpg for it but I'm just skeptical. They said the same thing about developing a game for psp and it never happened.

  • Ravenblack

    I wouldn't hold my breath for a Bethesda game for this device. I'll buy it for sure if they do bring Elder Scrolls rpg for it but I'm just skeptical. They said the same thing about developing a game for psp and it never happened.

  • http://www.iphone-everything.com iPhone-Everything.com

    I love the iphone. Though I hope the android doesnt come out of nowhere and steal most of what the iPhone has already accomplished. Nothings impossible. Just massively improbable.

  • http://www.iphone-everything.com iPhone-Everything.com

    I love the iphone. Though I hope the android doesnt come out of nowhere and steal most of what the iPhone has already accomplished. Nothings impossible. Just massively improbable.

  • http://www.itlgames.com itlgames

    I have developed a classic isometric platformer game, I have been a fan of those type of games since I was a kid, names like Head Over Heels, Batman (Ocean), Knight Lore, Fairlight, ... were my favourites games on my ZX Spectrum.

    You can watch a video here:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s4e8yN5mN4M

    Thanks.

  • http://www.itlgames.com itlgames

    I have developed a classic isometric platformer game, I have been a fan of those type of games since I was a kid, names like Head Over Heels, Batman (Ocean), Knight Lore, Fairlight, ... were my favourites games on my ZX Spectrum.

    You can watch a video here:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s4e8yN5mN4M

    Thanks.