Atari 2600 was my first home console gaming experience. I'm still pretty nostalgic for those simpler games in the early '80s and if you are too, there are many apps available in the iTunes and Google Play stores to feed your 8-bit needs. I recently set out on a treasure hunt that I think Pitfall Harry would've been proud of. My app quest initially involved just games, but along the way I also managed to find apps for sound effects and even a guided tour inside an Atari 2600 console hosted by a gaming legend.
I've compiled 26 apps for Atari 2600 lovers to experience for themselves. Now, RD80s isn't exactly IGN and I don't have any minions on the payroll to test and rate each app I've noted below. So I'm leaving some of the leg work up to you and would love to hear your comments on any of the apps listed below. Most are free to download with add-ons or ad-free pay options available. I'm providing links below each description to iTunes, Google Play, and Amazon stores when available (pricing as of article post date.) Here is the list in no particular order...
"Angry centipedes are coming down the screen to attack your hero! But you will be well armed and able to defend yourself and your Garden from the coming killer bugs! Free centipede arcade shooter game with increasing difficulty and vibrant colors." RD80s: Great copy of Centipede with a 4+ star rating on both platforms.
Atari's Greatest Hits (Free Amazon)
The official Atari app featuring 100 classics like Asteroids, Centipede, and Yar's Revenge. "This extensive catalog pays homage to each of the originals, with controls designed to mimic what Atari fans remember from 30 years ago!" Bluetooth multiplayer available on Tempest, Warlord, and others. RD80s: Missile Command is free, but you'll have to pay $1.99 cents for 9-game Pro Edition.
River Raid (Free iTunes/Google Play)
"This is the exact remake of River Raid! We tried to make the exact remake of this fantastic game with its marvelous atmosphere in every possible aspects of the original game (sounds, graphics, gameplay, scoring, etc.) and added few touches here and there, like adding Game Center for online scores." RD80s: Highly rated in both iTunes and Google Play stores and I'd highly recommend this one as well! Great game play.
Keystone Kapers ($1.99 iTunes/$0.99 Amazon)
Based on the Atari 2600 game originally produced by Activision in 1983. This remake uses the 8-bit characters of Officer Kelly and crook Harry Hooligan in all new levels. "It will not be an easy quest as department store hazards like fast moving shopping carts, biplanes, cathedral radios and beachballs will attempt to hinder your progress as you try to catch up with the crook." RD80s: If you are not planning to purchase the game pack on the Activision Anthology app, this can be a nice substitute.
Boulder Dash 30th Anniversary (Free iTunes/Google Play)
"Gem Collectors, Dig This! Boulder Dash-30th Anniversary finds our heroes, Rockford, Crystal and others, facing a slew of new, exciting challenges in this legendary action puzzler. Dig through spectacular caves with 3D elements; avoid falling boulders; collect valuable gems and avoid nefarious enemies along the way. Discover treasure chests with rare collectibles and potent power-ups. With 280+ exciting levels, 12+ new, gorgeous worlds, and 10 playable characters, Boulder Dash-30th Anniversary is the best game in its 30 year history." RD80s:Premium ad-free versions available on both platforms.
Smash (Free Google Play/Amazon)
First, open a new window or tab and run an image search for "Atari Breakout." Second, go download Smash if you want a good knock-off of the classic Atari's Breakout. Two great modes are available. Use Arcade mode to try to beat your personal best score or try Challenge mode to progress through the levels at your own pace. RD80s: A solid 4.5/5 rating with millions of downloads can't be wrong! The iTunes store has Atari's official Breakout: Boost for free.
Pong World (Free iTunes)
"Pong World introduces a new generation to the classic game of PONG® with a dazzling unique twist and colorful new look. Explore Pong World by defeating opponents while collecting all five paddle creatures; Shaggy, Chompers, Sir Bouncelot, Razzle and Gnop to help you in your journey for domination. Each paddle is equipped with unique upgrades and powers. Unlock 4 different locations, each equipped with unique features -- summon a wall of energy to block your opponent’s ball, hinder your enemy’s vision and much more!"RD80s: I'm on Android so haven't check this one out personally but appears to be what we remember with new backgrounds.
Kaboom! Classic (Free Google Play/Amazon)
"Original retro style graphics! Absolutely FREE! - No ads or purchases! Simplistic and addictive retro game play! Small app - uses little space."RD80s: Very fun mobile version. One of my favorites on the Atari 2600. It was simple yet not easily mastered (at least I never had the patience) but didn't keep me from plugging in the cartridge. No ads is a nice bonus!
Galaga Wars(Free iTunes/Google Play)
"The authentic retro, sci-fi experience returns for Galaga's 35th Anniversary. Weave through endless waves of original enemies, including the Bee, Butterfly, Scorpion and many more. Evade the treacherous tractor beam of Mother Galaga in battle against the huge alien boss! Play as Galaga fighter, as well as other legendary Namco starshipsincluding Xevious, Galaxian, Star Blade and many more. Double your firepower by rescuing captured friends' ships and merging into twin mode." RD80s: Galaga was only ported to the Atari 7800 but I couldn't resist adding it here. This updated version has all the featured of the classic arcade game we love.
Pac-man(Free iTunes/Google Play)
"PAC-MAN is the retro arcade game you know and love, now better than ever before! Join millions of fans and experience this classic along with new features such as original mazes, weekly tournaments, and token rewards!" RD80s: Pac-man is a pretty nice setup and the social interaction with other players is a nice new feature that will have you forget the awfule 2600 port every existed. The joystick control takes getting used to, but it's definitely worth downloading. I'd also recommend Pac-Man 256.
Radiant ($0.99 iTunes, $1.99 Google Play/Amazon)
Radiant is a revamped mix of Atari classics Galaga, Space Invaders, and Asteroids. "Cut through hundreds of creeps to face giant monsters in unique bossfights. Collect special weapons and power-ups, upgrade your ship and save your homeworld! Features include 3 Episodes with 100+ Levels, 10+ Unique Boss-Fights, 6 Upgradeable Weapons, 12 Special Power-Ups, and 3 Difficulty Options." RD80s: If you can't get enough Galaga, you'll love this neon-injected version.
Lunar Racer(Free Google Play/Amazon, $1.99 iTunes)
"Ever tried racing with homing missiles, land mines, bubble shields and gravity thrusters? Yeah, didn't think so! Shoot, dodge, blast, and nitro boost your way through the solar circuit. Achieve the ultimate prize and conquer the solar system by beating any competitor in your way!" RD80s: For those of you who remember Moon Patrol on Atari, try this modern version called Lunar Racer. This mobile version still has the same concept of racing on the moon.
Retro Jumping Frog(Free Google Play/Amazon)
"Help this little frog to reach home! Cross roads and rivers, avoid cars, crocodiles, serpents and jump over turtles. Retro Jumping Frog is awesome and you will feel like playing these old arcade games again. Classic game with 2 touch screen control modes. CRT screen modes like old arcade machines. Google Games supported, share your highscore and achievements!" RD80s: There are many Frogger look-a-like apps available but this one is about the best except for the ads.
Copter Classic(Free iTunes/Amazon)
"Guide the helicopter through the cave and avoid the obstacles. Touch the screen and hold and the helicopter will accelerate upward. Take your finger off the screen and the helicopter will fall with gravity."RD80s: If you remember playing Choplifter then you'll have fun with this game. It's a simple game of avoid obstacles with the graphics and feel of classic games. Definitely not one of my favorites on this list, but there are definitely some Atari 2600 fans who will enjoy playing this freebie!
Pitfall! (free iTunes/Google Play)
If Pitfall was one of your favorite games on Atari 2600, you might enjoy this re-visioned and re-booted 3D version. "Navigate through constantly changing environments as you make your way through narrow trenches, dark caverns, and cascading waterfalls with cinematic camera angles.Level up and trade in your loot for a trove of game changing powerups that can be used to enhance your experience and customize your wardrobe. Easy swipe and tilt controls allow you to jump right in! RD80s: Read my full review of the Pitfall! game.
MechWings(Free iTunes/Google Play)
"A love letter to the arcade classics of the Eighties. Pilot your ship through multiples waves of mechanical Hawks and larger Phoenix class enemies. Ultimately you have to use all your skill to destroy the alien Phoenix Mother-Brain. In typical arcade fashion you then have to do it all again - only this time it will be tougher!"RD80s:Think of this as a hybrid of Galaga and the Atari 2600 classic game Demon Attack (which was one of my favorites.)
Pong World(free iTunes)
"Pong World introduces a new generation to the classic game of PONG® with a dazzling unique twist and colorful new look. Explore Pong World by defeating opponents while collecting all five paddle creatures; Shaggy, Chompers, Sir Bouncelot, Razzle and Gnop to help you in your journey for domination. Each paddle is equipped with unique upgrades and powers. Unlock 4 different locations, each equipped with unique features -- summon a wall of energy to block your opponent’s ball, hinder your enemy’s vision and much more!" RD80s: There are many free ping pong apps on every platform to get your Pong on, but this is the official revamped version that most classic players will enjoy.
Reminiscent of Fishing Derby by Activision on Atari 2600. "Press the screen at the right time to throw the spear/hook, you can catch the fish and get the money! You can submit your score after passing each level and then see your score in the global high score board." RD80s: I remember my dad didn't play many Atari games with me growing up. We did like to play Fishing Derby together and this app is about the same gaming experience for one player.
Ski Classic Free (free Google Play) Similar in play to Skiing on Atari 2600. "Ski free down a wintry slope. Pass arrows on the side they point for a better score. Buy Ski Classic Pro for $.99 to get more modes of play: fast, no bigfoot." RD80s: The game does not hold a high rating by any means but for those of us who remember the bottom-scrolling game on Atari, this might fit your need to ski.
Circus Atari(free Google Play) Updated version of the classic Circus Atari game. "Like a human cannonball, launch your fearless clown into the air and guide him through the big top by tilting your device. Pop balloons to hurl yourself up higher while grabbing as many Coins and Power-ups as you can—just be careful not to fall!" RD80s: This game has the simple gameplay style you'll remember on the 2600, but with updated graphics and features. The basic premise is what you'll enjoy, like back in the day.
Centipede Origins(free iTunes, $.99 Google Play) "Inspired by the Atari classic, Centipede: Origins brings an entirely new level of bug-blasting fun to the world-renowned franchise. Evil, plant-munching vermin are swarming into your precious garden and rapidly destroying everything! You, a peace-loving gnome, have no choice than to wage an all-out war against these vile creepy crawlies. Using extreme weapons and gadgets, protect your garden from the ambush of vicious bugs and the dreaded CENTIPEDE." RD80s: I wasn't much of a Centipede fan, but this updated version seems to keep the classic gameplay.
Atari Outlaw (free iTunes)
"Inspired by Atari’s 1976 classic arcade game, Atari Outlaw™ features a heavy arsenal of weapons with tons of powerful add-ons and upgrades. Travel from town to town and annihilate corrupt sheriffs, banditos, ol’ miners and the like. Let your shootin’ do the talkin’ and show who lays down the law!" RD80s: I remember playing alot of Outlaw with my friends on Atari 2600. I don't think you ave to worry about hiding behind pixelated cacti and stage coaches in this game by the looks.
Asteroids Gunner (Free iTunes) "Experience the next evolution in Atari’s legendary Asteroids franchise! Blast your way through deadly asteroids fields and alien war ships to become the most wealthy and powerful Asteroids Gunner. Work your way to the top of the gritty crystal mining business by traversing through the galaxy and collecting the treasures of the cosmos. Upgrade your ship as you climb up the intergalactic ranks and become a force to be reckoned with!" RD80s: Holds a pretty good rating and the screenshots appear to be the classic gameplay style that Asteroids fans are used to seeing.
Alsteroids(Free iTunes/Google Play) "This is an endless shooter. Your objective is simple - stay alive as long as possible by shooting and avoiding wave after wave of asteroids ... your reward: a high score and bragging rights on the Game Centre leader boards. You can use your ships thrusters to move out of the way of an incoming asteroid. Be careful of thrusting too much as there is no inertia in space and you will have to correct your trajectory to stop! If you find yourself in a no-win situation, you can hit Hyperspace - this will transport your ship to a random position on screen." RD80s: This is one of the best free apps of Asteroids available. Solid 4.5 rating on both platforms.
Enduro(Free Google Play/$1.99 iTunes) "NEMO GAMES has been busy remaking ENDURO for the sake of retro lovers using their iOS Devices featuring the very exact original game's theme and all its detail." Rated a 4+ in the Apple iTunes store. RD80s: From the screenshots, it looks like you booted up an Atari 2600 emulator on your iPhone. Appears to be the exact graphics and gameplay you'll remember.
Dragon's Lair($4.99 iTunes/Google Play) "Immerse yourself in the visually stunning world of hand-drawn animation adapted from the original smash hit arcade classic. Transferred from the original high definition master film, you’ll experience this fully arcade authentic experience right in the palm of your hand. Simply press on the direction pad to guide our hero Dirk The Daring in the correct direction. Use your sword to take on all that the Evil Wizard Mordroc throws your way." RD80s: Okay, so maybe this one wasn't Atari, but simply had to share. Seems to be the same classic game we all remember inserting $.50 cents to play.
Please feel free to share your favorite apps that take you back to the Atari 2600 era!