Tag Archives: Classic

Classics and Clones: Retro-gaming on the iPhone: The Early 70’s

Every week for the next couple of months, No D-pad will spotlight key games from the last 40 years of gaming.  Not only will this retrospective give readers a brief history of the industry, we will also point out notable classics and clones from that bygone era that are now available in the app store.  We hope you enjoy.


The impetus for video games began in late 1940’s when the earliest of computer engineers began testing war game simulations on mainframe computers.  To run these games, mammoth machines size of home trailers were housed in academic and military institutions.  These machines looked impressive, but their computing power was less than infantile compared to what we have today.  There’s nothing currently available for the iPhone that mirrors these early experiences, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.  Most people today wouldn’t even recognize these early programs as “video games.”  The idea of using computing power for entertainment purposes grew in the 1960’s, but this wasn’t till the 1970s that things began to change.

The Early 70’s

The early 70’s laid the groundwork for what is now the world’s most profitable and fastest growing entertainment medium.  Not only did refrigerator-sized gaming machines show up in local bars and restaurants around the United States, they also found their way into homes.  The earliest home video game game system was 1972’s Odyssey system by Magnavox; the system included a handful of single screen games like Roulette and Simon Says.

Note: There are many fun Simon Says and Roulette games available for the iPhone, but none of them truly emulate the early Odyssey experience.

1973- The first blockbuster video game stepped on to the world stage in 1973.  Atari’s Pong– a simple block-style table tennis game- became a huge hit in the U.S.  With this success came another video game tradition: unabashed cloning.  After Atari made a home version of the game for Sears, other developers (Coleco, Magnavox, and even Nintendo) began making there own versions, too.  The closest iPhone game to original Pong is yet another a clone named Pang: Pocket Pong.  For a more modern experience, check out World Cup Table Tennis.

pong comparison
Left: the original Pong Right: the iPhone's clone

Following up on the success of Pong, Atari released the arcade game Gotcha.  A simple, top-down maze game with a hilariously sexy ad campaign, the game didn’t quite latch onto gamers like Pong, but the iPhone does have a decent retro-re-creation in iMazePro.

gotcha comparison

Left: 1973 ad for Gotcha!   Middle: screenshot from Gotcha! Right: iPhone’s clone iMazePro

1974- The maze game expanded in 1974 when a NASA engineer came up with a 3-D maze game called Maze War.  Not only was this title one of the first 3-D games, many credit it as the earliest first-person shooter.  It also was a pioneer in competitive play; multiple players could shoot at each other while wandering through the same sketch-like maze.  For the iPhone, there is no exact clone, but there is Simple Maze 3-D, a line art game that recreates the look of this old trend setter.  If you’re looking for a modern spin on the maze game, check out the GPS-driven i-Gotcha.

Left: classic Maze War    Right: iPhone’s clone

Check back with us every week or so for more gaming history with our continuing series Classics and Clones: Retro-gaming for the iPhone.

Earthworm Jim for iPhone is Now Live

Nostalgic gamers can now get their Earthworm Jim fix for $4.99.  He makes his reappearance on the iPhone and iPod Touch as a full remake of the original game.  Those who played this classic game will immediately feel comfortable playing through the game.

Gameloft lists several features for the game: four levels of difficulty, a remastered soundtrack, and the option to use your own music in-game.  Earthworm Jim comes with 16 levels divided into a total of ten environments.

Check out Earthworm Jim on the app store for $4.99.  We’ll have the full review shortly.



Taito’s Classic Brick-Breaker Arkanoid Out Now, $4.99

The name Arkanoid will stir up fond memories for many.  You have a paddle, a ball, and it’s your job to clear all the bricks above you. With many brick breaker clones on the iPod and iPhones, it’s about time we saw one of the originals step up to the plate.

In this version, Taito promises 100 available levels.  There are also boss battles thrown into the mix, and multiplayer shared over a single device to break up the gameplay.

While $4.99 isn’t cheap, it looks like Taito’s betting on nostalgic fans to take the bait and buy this one.  Check it out on the app store now, or wait for our full review.



Snood Takes Aim at Bust-A-Move

Two similar bubble blaster games have launched in the last couple of days: EA Mobile’s Snood, and Taito’s Bust-A-Move.  Both of these games are new entries in established series’, with Bust-A-Move having an edge on name recognition.

If you’re not familiar, these games have balls stuck to the top of screen.  Your job is to shoot new colours from the bottom, upwards.  Once three of the same colours are in a row, they disappear.  The board needs to be cleared quickly, before it gets pushed to the bottom and the game ends.

Some notable features from Bust-A-Move is two control methods: tapping where you want to shoot, but also pulling back to aim and then fire.  Bust-A-Move also includes a versus mode to play a friend over Bluetooth.

Snood is available for $3.99, and Bust-A-Move for $4.99.  Look for reviews on both of these games on the site shortly!



Luxor Coming, Support for Plus+ Network

The popular action-puzzle from MumboJumbo is on its way to the iPhone and iPod Touch, and it will also be fully compatible with ngmoco’s Plus+ Network. There are several different Luxor-style games on the App Store already, but Luxor is one of the originals.

If you’re unfamiliar with the Luxor series, its gameplay is very similar to what you’d find in the previously released StoneLoops game.  As a series of balls get pushed towards a finish line, you need to shoot balls into the line to try and match three of the same colour in a row.  Luxor will be facing stiff competition, as we reviewed StoneLoops! of Jurassica before and gave it a hearty buy recommendation.

Keep your eyes peeled for more details, but as the official site says, it’s due out in August so the wait won’t be too long.