The Best Retro-Style iPad Games

Go Old School With These Great Games

It's easy to miss the good old days of gaming, but it's not always easy to actually play the games from the good old days. A few stand the test of time, but too often, they are short-lived trips down memory lane. That's where retro games really shine. They can give that classic look and feel mixed with the best parts of modern gaming. And retro games are really in vogue in the mobile gaming space, so there are a lot of quality games ranging from side scrolling action to RPG number crunching.

Looking for good ports of classic games?  Check out the best arcade games on the iPad.


While this list isn't in any particular order, it is easy to start with Slayin. Very much a homage to the arcade games of the 80s and early 90s, Slayin is like a mashup of Joust and Golden Axe with the frantic pace of a Temple Run. It even has some RPG elements to it, as you can upgrade your equipment to help with the slaying. If you want to relive the fun of the 80s arcade with a retro graphics style, this is it.

Mage Gauntlet

If you love console RPGs like the Legend of Zelda, you can't go wrong with Mage Gauntlet. It's a fast paced action RPG with an old school NES style to it that creates a charming -- and challenging -- adventure. The game can be brutal at times, and you'll find that retreating and regrouping is sometimes the best option, but who wants something simple? The game includes a master mode, which unlocks after you beat the normal game and lets you run through with overwhelming enemy numbers and new stuff to find. Mage Gauntlet is one of the best RPGS available on the iPad.

Punch Quest

Punch Quest is one of those rare games that mixes and matches ideas from multiple genres and puts them together in a way that enhances the fun rather than distracts from it. Taking bits from side scrollers and endless runners and depicted in a retro style, Punch Quest is easily one of the best action games on the iPad.

Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery

Many of the games on this list are a hybrid of ideas, mixing retro in with modern, taking an old idea and adding new ideas, but Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery may be the first game that somehow takes a retro graphic style and adds an almost modern element to it. A truly unique experience, Sword & Sworcery is one of the best adventure games on the iPad, mixing challenging puzzles together with a very different type of combat system. If you love games that make you think, and you love the retro style, download this game.

Random Heroes 2

Developed by Ravenous Games, Random Heroes 2 has one of the best pedigrees of any game on this list. These are the same people that brought us the League of Evil, which would also make the best retro games list if I didn't already have one of their games occupying a top spot. Similar to League of Evil, Random Heroes 2 is a platformer, but it adds a little action to the mix. You'll find yourself armed with weapons and taking down aliens in this one.

Knights of Pen & Paper

There's not quite anything like Knights of Pen & Paper on the App Store, and that's saying a lot considering it is one of over a million apps available to download. As you might expect, you control a party of adventures who go on quests, gain levels, get new equipment, etc. But you also control the game master, and you can specify what sort of challenges await your party. Sound odd? In many ways, this is a game that simulates sitting around with friends playing a role-playing game, which oddly adds to the fun.

Avadon: The Black Fortress

If you look back on the days of Ultima and Might and Magic as the "good old days", you are going to love Avadon. Another game that makes my top role-playing list, this one is on the list more because of its retro game play than its retro graphics, though the graphics will certainly remind you of those good old days. The game features four different classes, turn-based combat and a story with 40 hours of gameplay.


The very name of this game is retro. If your idea of good times is days spent shoving quarters into an arcade game in hopes of ridding the galaxy of the alien menace (and I'm looking at you, Galaxian!), then you'll want to chill to a game of Chillaxian. While the game definitely takes its concept from the arcade classic, there are new twists here that make it a unique game in its own right, and helps it to stand the test of time. But what isn't at all new are the very retro-grade graphics, which is part of the charm.

Geometry Wars: Touch

Geometry Wars was one of the top games when the iPad made its debut, and it still stands as one of the top retro games on the tablet. The game plays out like Asteroids on steroids, with fast-flying projectiles and fast-paced action. The game won numerous awards across multiple platforms, and because it was from the days before in-app purchases, you won't be bugged to buy this, that or the other while you play it. If you want to check out a similar concept for free, you can download Pew Pew, which is also very fun.

Retro Racing

Remember those old top-down racing games at the arcade? Retro Racing successfully recreates the goofy fun involved in racing around tracks, spinning into different cars and avoiding obstacles. Power ups provide better tires, improved acceleration and nitros boosts, and you have to finish in the top three to advance to the next track. The game features good controls, but might be a little short with only twelve tracks.

Only One

Only One offers king-of-the-mountain style coupled with retro-style graphics and a heaping spoonful of fun that is only spoiled by the slightly-too-frequent begs for money. Freemium games have a bad rep, and for good reason. The worst of them create games that either cost an amount of money that is totally out of proportion with the quality of the game itself. Of course, some games like Temple Run get it right, with a formula that offers in-app purchases but doesn't force them on you. Count Only One as somewhere in the middle -- enough begging to bug you, but not enough to completely turn you off. Let's hope they tone it down in future updates, as this one certainly has an addictive factor to it.

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