CNET también está disponible en español.

Ir a español

Don't show this again


Retro-style games are modern classics

When it comes to games, graphics aren't everything. These retro-style games are still lots of fun thanks to awesome gameplay.

Super Mario
The classic Super Mario Bros. spawned a game genre and people are still making games using similar mechanics to this day. Nintendo

After reviewing Devious Dungeon, it occurred to me that the classic platformer game genre is far from dead. Even though the graphics for smartphone games have reached amazing heights with games like Real Racing 3, the Modern Combat franchise, and countless other top-tier titles, what's interesting to me is that games that look like they could be played on a '90s-era gaming console continue to be popular with today's gamers.

A steady stream of retro-looking platformer titles have had great success and continue to fly up the App Store's most-popular lists, relying more on tried-and-true gameplay than looks. As a result, there are a ton of games for iOS and Android that mimic the look of '90s-era gaming and they're still a lot of fun.

With this in mind, I put together a collection of what I call the "modern classics." These games use the platforming game mechanic made popular by Nintendo's Super Mario franchise, with excellent gameplay and graphics that could fit right in with what we played almost 20 years ago.

Editors' note: In this list I've focused on the originals in a series because they're available for both iOS and Android. If there is a more recent sequel to a game, I've linked to it in the description.

Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET

League of Evil (iOS | Android) is the type of game that has you trying to complete levels countless times to grab an item and get to the goal in the shortest amount of time.

The graphics stick to that 8-bit style we had so long ago, but the gameplay is excellent, with extremely difficult levels that will have you coming back to make that perfect run.

For a similar experience with updated graphics, you should also check out the sequel, League of Evil 2 (iOS only).

Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET

Random Heroes (iOS | Android) is also by Ravenous Games, the same developer that made League of Evil. But this time, rather than going for the best time, you'll be jumping through levels while blowing away alien monsters.

Random Heroes takes the platformer genre into RPG territory, letting you use gathered coins to buy upgraded weapons that make you stronger as you progress through the game.

Like League of Evil, I also highly recommend the sequel, Random Heroes 2 (iOS only).

Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET

Mikey Shorts (iOS | Android) is another great platformer that has you running to get the best time while you collect coins and free prisoners from each level. As with League of Evil, in order to be successful in this game, you'll need to run each level several times. First to get a feel for where everything is, then to figure out how to fly through it in the least amount of time possible.

BeaverTap Games, the developer of Mikey Shorts, went on to make a sequel called Mikey Hooks (iOS only), but decided to switch the gameplay style to mimic more of a swinging-game mechanic as found in the classic '90s game Bionic Commando, or more recently on iOS, Hook Worlds.

Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET

Mutant Mudds (iOS only) is a new game that adds another wrinkle to the platformer mechanic, letting you play through levels in multiple dimensions. The way the game works is, you'll run, jump, and kill monsters while collecting coins on one 2D level, then hit a teleport to warp into another level in the background. Though it's difficult to describe, you'll notice in the screenshot that there's a playing area off in the distance you can warp to.

Mutant Mudds has less-than-ideal physics, but once you get the hang of the controls it's fun to bounce back and forth between the different playing areas, and there are tons of levels to explore and master.

While it's a fun game, I need to point out there's one big problem with Mutant Mudds, and that's the price. I downloaded the game yesterday when it was free, but today the developer has raised the price to a whopping $8.99. It is simply not worth buying at that price, but judging by the app's history, it's only a matter of time before the price will drop again. Hopefully the developer will eventually settle on a price that better matches its worth.