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Nostalgic mobile games: The best classic arcade games for your phone

mobile games

Way before smack-talking your Call of Duty opponent that lives across the world from the comfort of your bedroom was a thing, there were arcades. Believe it or not, you actually had to go somewhere in order to get your video game fix. While arcades have gone the way of the dodo, some of the incredibly simple games you’d have found there have endured. For years, home consoles offered their own versions or ‘ports’ of the classics. Now, however, our cell phones are many times more powerful than any arcade game machine so running these as mobile games is a breeze. By simplifying the controls to work with buttonless smartphones, those genius developers have given us the gift of the arcade game in the palm of our hand. Of course, where supported, you can up the ante with one of these great mobile gaming controllers. Here are some of the best games from your (or your parents’) childhood that you can play on your Android or iOS device.


This stone-cold classic needs no introduction. There’s just something about a big chompy head and seeing ghost bullies turn tail and run every time you eat a power pellet. There are a few different versions of the game for mobile devices, but the original Pac-Man is the one you want.

Android | iPhone


Ultra-realistic sports simulations are great for huge sports fans, but the average person will often prefer something easier and instantly entertaining. Well, for that you’ll need to look no further than the well-loved arcade game NBA Jam. Play with today’s stars or classic players from the original 1993 version. What makes this game great is how absolutely ridiculous it is. Fly through the air defying gravity, mercilessly elbow your opponents to the floor with nary a foul call – realistic it ain’t but it sure is a good time. And you’ll quickly discover the joy of hearing announcer Tim Kitzrow yell, “He’s on fire!”

Android | iPhone

Street Fighter IV Championship Edition

Before you say anything, we know. Street Fighter II was undoubtedly the crown jewel of the series and would be our preferred choice as well. Unfortunately, that game is no longer available in either app store. To be fair, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better alternative. While Street Fighter III disappointed many, IV was specifically developed to feel more like the franchise’s revolutionary second installment. With simplified on-screen controls, it’s never been easier to hadouken your opponents till the cows come home.

Android | iPhone

Sonic The Hedgehog Classic

Oh, Sega. They may have bungled their console business with a number of unfortunate decisions (Sega Saturn, anyone?) but they definitely made some damn fine games. And few are more loved than Sonic The Hedgehog. Planned as their answer to Nintendo’s Mario, the game spawned a long-running franchise, animated TV series and an upcoming Hollywood film that’s been postponed for character redesign after the way-too-human-looking titular character terrified audiences that saw the trailer. Which is why we say, let’s keep our Sonic classic. Warning for Sonic newbies – this one’s addictive. 

Android | iPhone

Metal Slug 3

It’s honestly sort of difficult to explain the allure of Metal Slug 3. Squat, funny-looking little characters travel through a world where there’s, more often than not, way too much going on at once. For some reason though, what sounds like it should be a hot mess is one of the greatest run-and-gun shooters of all time. News of MS3’s debut as a mobile game was met with a ton of excitement, and it’s turned out to be extremely faithful to the NEO GEO original. One of our favorite features is the ability to get a friend’s help through the Bluetooth powered two-player mode. 

Android | iPhone

Crazy Taxi Classic

If you’re under the impression Grand Theft Auto created the idea of driving psychotically through a city, you have clearly never had the pleasure of playing Crazy Taxi. Another Sega classic, the goal is simple – get your passenger to her destination in the least amount of time. Whatever that consists of is fair game (look out, pedestrians). Simple high-speed gameplay and a soundtrack featuring the likes of The Offspring and Bad Religion will hopefully get your blood pumping just like it did to gamers way back in Y2K.

Android | iPhone

Apple Arcade

There’s no way we can talk about mobile arcade games without mentioning Apple’s new game subscription service Apple Arcade. For $4.99, you’ll get access to over 100 mobile games online. And from all reports, the games are excellent. Apple went to gaming’s most respected developers, and the results might be some of the best mobile games of 2019. We’ve already done a rundown of great mobile games for a game night beamed to your TV or VR headsets. Apple Arcade is a great addition to that list. While you won’t find arcade classics, there are imaginative reimaginings like an updated Frogger that takes place in a Toy Story-like world. And as you can see above, Sonic is back in his own kart-racing title. You’ll be able to play your titles on iPhone, iPad, Mac and Apple TV. Sorry, Android.