It makes me feel old to realize that some of our readers may actually be too young to remember a time when 8-bit gaming was not considered “retro” and was just called “gaming”! If you are like me, and fondly remember a time when things were simpler and you just had a single button on your joystick and a graphics pallet of merely 8 colors (100 if you count various shades of the original 8 colors), then let the retro renaissance begin.
Currently there are some fantastic idevice games available that successfully recreate the essence of what was so great about early 8-bit era gaming. These games have simple controls, simple graphics, but challenging gameplay…exactly what an 8-bit retro game should be! Sure, anyone could make a game with (what some would deem) “crappy, blocky graphics” and 80’s-era synthesized soundtracks, but it takes a craftsman to design a game that delivers both that nostalgic feel, whilst still offering something new and exciting.
Two games that exemplify this are Lunarcy (by the FABRIK) and Squareball (by Drömsynt). These titles are a fine example of how retro early 8-bit games should be designed for the the iPhone.
Lunarcy is a gravity/thruster balancing game in which you must launch your supply ship off your home planet, navigate your craft to one or more space docks and then safely land on your home planet. Sounds easy enough right? Well, it’s not! It’ll take a steady hand on those thrusters otherwise you’ll quickly find yourself either in a dead spin, or out of fuel.
Lunarcy’s simple 8-bit style graphics (think Space Invaders), coupled with a rad (yes I said rad) retro-synth soundtrack, form the perfect retro gaming experience. The game’s 48 levels will easily provide you with many hours of entertainment. I will admit that this game does get frustratingly difficult at times. For those whom this would be a turn off, there is good news. The next update will feature a beginner class in order to ease the difficulty level a tad. The beginner class is basically the same game, with the same levels, only slowed down a bit. Other great new features will include an Online Leaderboard (also viewable at the developer’s website) and a new game mode called ‘Time Trials’. In this game mode, the objective is to complete a level as quickly as possible. Ship damage and fuel are irrelevant, it’s the time that counts.
If you want a challenging retro game, then the full version will set you back $1.99, otherwise you should definitely at least check out the lite version.
Squareball is part Breakout, part maze and a dash of Venture, in other words, it’s totally retro. The game’s premise is simple, on the screen is a dot that is constantly bouncing up an down. Using your finger, you slide the background back and forth to the “move” the ball horizontally. The goal is to bounce the ball into all of the green blocks (breakout-style) and make it to the end of the maze-like gameboard before the timer expires. It may sound easy, but it’s most certainly not! If you can’t keep the ball on course, then before you know it, all three of your lives will be expired and the game will be over. Choose between Pro and amateur game modes, depending on your reflexes.
The sweet retro rainbow-colored blocky graphics, make the game look just like something that you would have (or rather, wished you could have) played on an Atari 2600, but with smoother motion/movement. Squareball’s soundtrack also sounds like it’s straight out of the early 80’s…perfect vintage video game music. The sound effects ‘pings’ and ‘bleeps ‘are very reminiscent of that golden age of video-gaming as well.
Squareball’s super simple style, intuitive controls and challenging gameplay make it a really appealing game. If you aren’t a fan of retro gaming, I urge you not to judge a book by its cover and immediately dismiss this game due to its lack of flashy modern graphics. At its core, Squareball’s fun gameplay definitely has that “one more quick game” addictive quality that will keep even non-retro fans coming back for more. A gameplay video is included below to give you a better idea of exactly how the game works. At 1.99 cents this game is highly recommended to all fans of retro-gaming, fence-riders feel free to check out the lite version.