Despite all the technological advancements that have taken place during the lifespan of mobile gaming, the fondness players continue to have for retro-style games never ceases to amaze me. As iPhones continue to push out loads of onscreen polygons, sprawling 3D worlds, and high definition graphics, there will always be a place for charming pixel art and 8-bit tunes in my book. These two games are fun, original creations that take inspiration from video game heritage, and are worth a look for retro nuts and newer gamers alike.
Max Vector β A new horizontal shmup from developer POLYGAMe, Max Vector harkens back to the days of 8-bit gaming in a number of ways. The graphics are bright, colorful, and blocky in a good way. The soundtrack is by the epic band 8-Bit Weapon, and fans of Cubed Rally Racer should recognize the song from the first stage of the game. Max Vector nails the look and feel of gaming in the 80's, right down to the simple play mechanics. Touch controls the movement of your ship, with a single onscreen button for firing. There's no auto-fire, so expect some serious (virtual) button mashing while playing.
Like many games from the early era of gaming, Max Vector is a difficult game. Memorization of enemy patterns and figuring out the trick to dealing with the huge bosses in the game are keys to success. It's hard, but fun, and keeps you coming back for more. Max Vector is also noteworthy for being one of the few games made with GameSalad that I'm able to tolerate. I say tolerate because the game is not without it's issues. The most glaring is that Max Vector will only currently run on 3rd generation devices and higher. Pretty shameful for such a simple game, but the dev is working to optimize for older devices in future updates. Also, the game is devoid of any kinds of frills or options. What you see is what you get, but it's a fun ride and Max Vector is certainly worth checking out.
Amor: The Unicorn Keep β Built on an incredibly humorous premise, Amor is a puzzle platformer from developer RadBits with fantastic pixel art, great presentation, and challenging content. Long before unicorns were the magical fantasy creatures we all know and love today, they were stone cold evil and bent on world domination. After imprisoning all the fluffy cute rabbits of the world in the King Unicorn's castle, it's your job to rescue them along with any other prisoners being held captive in each of the 60 rooms of the keep. The room designs are reminiscent of the classic Bubble Bobble, and gameplay is slightly similar although much slower paced.
Amor can be controlled with either tilt or directional arrows, and a jump and attack button. He can shoot arrows to stun enemies or to stick into walls and be used to bounce to higher destinations. When close to a stunned enemy, his sword is used to finish the job. Bonus items can be collected on the way, and each level has it's own set of trophies and a letter grade to be earned upon completion. A global high score leaderboard keeps track of the best players in the game, and every level can be replayed once beaten to try and earn a better grade. The game has a great difficulty progression that will really test your platform jumping skills, as well as you mental skill in finding the best way to conquer each level. A bug in the release version of Amor could cause save progress to be lost which made the game hard to recommend, but that has since been fixed in an update and Amor: The Unicorn Keep is a solid choice for retro-styled puzzle platforming goodness.