Category Archives: mobile gaming

The 12 Video Games of Christmas: Galaga 30th Collection

Title screen for Galaga 30th Collection, an iOS version of Galaga, an arcade video game by Namco 1981

Galaga 30th title screen

As our final entry into The 12 Video Games of Christmas we bring you Galaga 30th Collection for iOS, made by Namco Bandai.

This app was released in 2011 to mark the 30th anniversary of Galaga, the sequel to 1979′s paradigm-shifting Galaxian by Namco, distributed in North America by Midway.  The initial download is free, and for that you get the original Galaxian for free.  The rest of the games, available through in-app purchases, are as follows:

  • Galaga  $2.99
  • Galpus $2.99
  • Galaga ’88 $3.99
  • All-games pack: $7.99

The app keeps the basic mechanics of the arcade games, and gussies up the graphics so the aliens look cleaner and buzz around with coloured glowing streaks behind them.  Besides the normal versions of the Galaga and Galpus games, you can also play a score attack round and try to beat your high score in three very difficult screens.  For control, you can chose a standard joystick/button configuration, or go for the option to move your ship by sliding your finger to and fro across the screen and tapping to fire, which feels much more precise.  The app provides rapid fire shooting, which makes dispatching a large number of aliens at once much easier than the originals.

You also have access to a store where you can spend Galaga points in order to upgrade your ship with such ordinance as faster reloading shots or a forward shield.  These points are earned by playing the game and performing well.  Achievements and a ranking system rounds things off.  Over all, this is another good update of classic arcade games for iOS devices.  You can snag Galaga 30th Collection at the iTunes store here.  Happy holidays!

The 12 Video Games of Christmas: Ms. Pac Man for iOS

The 12 Video Games of Christmas continues with Ms. Pacman for iOS.

Now, this one was before my time but I have actually played an arcade cabinet of this before. I can remember playing this and Operation Wolf at an old boardwalk arcade when I used to live in the UK. I was pretty young so I had to stand on a milk crate to play them. 

I remember having a great time with this because at its core the game is classic Pac Man action. It’s all here; the classic gameplay is replicated in style with a neat cabinet style controller interface down the bottom of the screen and faithfully recreated gameplay. If you’ve ever played the game before and are wondering just what the difference between the two games is here is the short version: Ms. Pac Man features redesigned mazes in four different styles, moving fruits, random ghost movement making predicting their movements a lot more challenging and new music and sound effects. 

There is a reason these arcade games were so popular (and let me tell you, Ms. Pac Man was one of the most popular arcade games of all time!) and if you want to get in on the arcade action you can drop some iTunes credit here and download the game to your iOS device.

Were you addicted to pellets back in the day? Share your stories of obsessive Ms. Pac Man playing in the comments section. No intervention required. 

The 12 Video Games of Christmas: Pitfall!

Leaping into The 12 Video Games of Christmas today is Pitfall Harry, in a drastic iOS remake of Activision’s original 1982 Atari VCS/2600 game Pitfall!, by developer The Blast Furnace.

30 years after the fact, this new version almost seems like a retro-themed version of the hit mobile game Temple Run. Here we send Harry running pell mell through 3D-rendered native villages, cavernous er… caverns, and wild jungles.  Obstacles in his way must be jumped over, slid under and, in the case of the snakes and scorpions that return from the original, whipped with an accessory borrowed from Pitfall Harry’s original influence, Indiana Jones, all the while snagging treasure that lines the paths.

Solidly falling into the Freemium category of apps, here the in-game currency are diamonds and the treasure you find, which you use to upgrade Harry with more skills, or even just to continue the game where you left off.  Given the breakneck, twitchy gameplay, you’ll be dying a lot, and since diamonds are given out sparingly by levelling up, you’ll be feeling the pull to purchase a bunch, ranging from $1.99 all the way up to $29.99.  It’s feasible that you could plow through the game without actually spending a cent, but only for the devilishly patient gamer.  A very nice touch of nostalgia are the “Explorer Club” badges you collect in game by reaching achievements; a nice throw-back to the real badges Activision would send to players who mailed in proof of their accomplishments.

It’s good to see Harry back, even if he’s aping another gaming app like Temple Run.  Swing on over here to continue his scorpion dodging exploits on your iOS device.

The 12 Video Game of Christmas: Atari’s Greatest Hits

Wrapping up an entire video game arcade is a little tough.  Today’s entry in The 12 Video Games of Christmas makes it a whole lot easier.  The Atari’s Greatest Hits app is a masterfully made collection of classic Atari arcade and VCS/2600 games, available for both iOS and Android.

“Options” is the operative word here, and Atari provides plenty of.  The app is available for free, and with that you get Atari’s cold-war influenced arcade game Missile Command.  If you want to add to your classic collection, you can: download 4-game packs for $0.99 each, buy a pack of 15 tokens for $0.99 that lets you sample any games you wish, or buy the whole shebang of 100 games for $5.99.  What’s even better, though, are the myriad of control options you get.  You’d be justified in worrying how a mobile app would handle the wide gamut of control options you get in the long history of Atari games, like the trak ball in Centipede to the thrust controller of Lunar Lander to the VCS paddles of Video Olympics and more.  The Atari’s Greatest Hits app serves up multiple ways of playing the game, sometimes with 7 or more configurations; fixed joystick, touch-screen control, fire button on the right, fire button on the left, on the top, on the bottom… it’s a given that you’ll find some way to play the game comfortably, either in portrait or landscape mode.  What’s more, this app was the first to offer support of the mini-arcade cabinet iCade, and Atari has since come out with their own official Atari Arcade joystick for the iPad.  It’s not as retro-cool as the iCade, but it comes in lighter in weight as well as price, selling for $59.99 as opposed to $99.99 for the iCade.

All these options, plus 2-player simultaneous play via Bluetooth for some games.  The Atari’s Greatest Hits app lets you defy physics by stuffing an entire arcade into the stocking of the retrogamer in your life.  Get it here from Apple’s app store, or for Android at Google Play.

The 12 Video Games of Christmas: Pac-Man for iPad.

Yellow ornaments hang from the tree in today’s The 12 Video Games of Christmas.  Wait, that one is eating the tinsel!  Darn you, Pac-Man!

Made by Namco and selling for $4.99 in the App Store, this round of Pac-Man is for the iPad only. It definitely feels like the arcade game, and has some good options for controlling our yellow hero.  Using the virtual joystick feels a bit logey, but an option to move Pac around the maze by swiping your finger to make him turn feels surprisingly responsive.  What’s really neat, however, is the accelerometer control scheme, where you tilt the iPad to move the character, kind of rolling him around the maze like in a marble-roll game such as Labyrinth.  It feels pretty cool and physical, although not particularly precise.  All of these control methods come included with the free Lite version; if you want to really get the arcade controller experience by hooking the game up to the mini-arcade cabinet iCade, you’ll need to pay for the full version of the app.

Another interesting addition to the formula is the ability to continue your game where you left off after losing your last man, by spending Namco coins, which, of course, you can purchase with real cash.  This particular freemium endeavour is not so obnoxious as others you find in the app store, as you get an awful lot of the program in the free version.

Pac-Man for iPad can be gobbled up at the iTunes App Store. Bon appétit!

The 12 Video Games of Christmas: Doom Classic for iOS

As the 12 Video Games of Christmas extravaganza continues with a nice little gem from id Software. Doom Classic is a faithful recreation of one of the most popular FPS games of all time. If you’re here reading this you probably don’t need Doom explained to you but for the sake of context here’s a little background.

In 1993 id Software released Doom much to the chagrin of office Managers everywhere. By 1995 the game was estimated to be installed on more computers than Windows 95. The game catapulted id from an obscure Texas based game developer to the holy ground of shooter game development. Now, the game that filled a thousand BBS’s in shareware form can be yours for Christmas for the bargain price of $4.99. 
Doom Classic isn’t just a cheap cash-in port either. There have been features implemented like tilt strafing and tilt turning and “auto use” which opens doors or pushes switches automatically that take advantage of the unique idiosyncracies of the iOS platform. 
If you’re expecting some iTunes cards for Christmas then definitely put Doom Classic on your “list of things to get with that iTunes card I got for Christmas” – or that Dimensional Shambler won’t be pleased. Here’s a link to expedite potential Doom-ing: Doom Classic

If you (like myself) wasted much of your young life playing way too much Doom then share some experiences in the comment section. Whether it was forgetting to eat or talking back to the quit messages it’d be great to hear them! 

The 12 Video Games of Christmas: Prince of Persia Classic for iOS

Welcome back to the 12 Video Games of Christmas!

Anyone who grew up with a home computer in the early 90′s probably remembers Prince of Persia. My earliest memories of playing the game go all of the way back to sitting in the dingy after school program room playing DOS games like Gods, Castle Wolfenstein and of course: Prince of Persia. 

The animation impressed me and it still is impressive if you look back on it today. Such an important game does not deserve to be relegated to the “Halls of Obscurity” (a place I just made up) and thankfully if you’re packing iTunes cards around the Christmas period then you can pick up Prince of Persia Classic for iPod and iPad for only $1.99 – honestly. That is really cheap considering you get the original game with updated visuals, updated level design and modern game design sensibilities. 



Prince of Persia Classic features three modes and Game Centre achievement support which should extend play for diligent players. The price is really compelling though, so if you have $1.99 laying around the dusty confines of your iTunes wallet then drop it on an updated piece of gaming history today here: Prince of Persia Classic.

Did anyone else play Prince of Persia growing up? Let’s hear about your swashbuckling antics!