The more things change, the more they stay the same. If you were lucky enough to be growing up in the dawn of the digital age, you’ll have memories of older generations shaking their heads at your Atari, Commodore or Spectrum and saying how different it was in their day.
You will also have almost certainly found yourself doing something very similar as you look at today’s kids playing on their iPhones or Xboxes. Like cars or music, today’s games might be very slick and well made, but do they have the soul and character of their counterparts from 30 or 40 years ago?
Our kids might never experience the excitement and anticipation of waiting five minutes for the latest 8-bit platform game to load from a tape, but that doesn’t prevent them from trying the games out themselves. OK, who are we kidding? To put it frankly, here are three of the oldest classics that we can play today and transport ourselves back through the decades.
Say it quietly, but it’s almost 50 years since Atari released the first mainstream home video game. We all know how it works, and it’s about as basic as you can get. But look at it this way, football has been around a lot longer, and is still popular today. By the late 70s, there were dozens of competing Pong consoles on the market, but the game was superseded when home computers and then game consoles appeared.
Pong has been reinvented for the mobile age by developer Lee Gray. The graphics are smoother and the AI has got a little more fiendish over the years, but apart from that it’s the same old Pong.
There are numerous io games out there that revisit bygone classics, but Paper io is a particularly intriguing offering. It’s conceptually similar to classics like Snake and Splix, but with the added dimension of real other players out there all trying as hard as you to grow and dominate the virtual landscape.
You can kill opponents by hitting the trail left in their wake – but be careful, they will be trying just as hard to do the same to you.
If any game sums up the 80s, it is Pac Man. It was a mainstay in the arcades, and was rapidly ported to the 8-bit computers of the brave new technological world. Pac Man was also notable for being one of the first mainstream arcade games to attract a strong female following.
A variety of Pac Man versions have been released for smartphone, and if it is a truly retro experience you are looking for, seek out Bandai Namco’ loving recreation. The attention to detail is truly stunning. However, the game that has done the best job of bringing Pac Man into the 2020s has to be Ms Pac Man for smartphone, where the original gameplay is enhanced by different bonus challenges along with hundreds of new mazes.