As technology drastically evolves over time, the gaming industry is also adapting very well to these changes. Most video games are now being developed using the most advanced game engines, providing us all with an immersive and highly realistic 3D environment and hardcore gameplay. While most games are seemingly advancing in terms of graphics and gameplay, some developers are taking an entirely opposite approach and that is by emulating classic game elements and creating Nostalgic Retro-Inspired App Games.

Games that emerged from arcade machines or those from old video game consoles like NES are considered classics by today’s standards. These games are often characterized by their old-school pixel art style graphics which are always accompanied by the classic 8Bit sound.

As they always say, nothing beats the classics! These games are the pioneers that inspired many modern games that we enjoy today. It is not surprising that most developers are attempting to emulate the experience of playing these classic games and give them nothing but nostalgic games. Today, we are listing down games that are intentionally designed to make it feel like you’re playing a classic video game. These games are wonderfully optimized for mobile devices, allowing the younger generation of gamers to experience that classic gameplay. Take note that we are excluding original game titles that are ported into mobile devices.


Nostalgic Retro-Inspired App Games


Stardew Valley

When it comes to indie games, they are either a hit or a miss when they hit the market. For Stardew Valley, it was a surprising commercial success. Developed by ConcernedApe, Stardew Valley was initially released in 2016 for Microsoft Windows and was later ported to several gaming platforms including Android and iOS. Interestingly, the mechanics for this premium farming simulation game is not really new. In fact, the game is heavily inspired by the classic Harvest Moon game, the game that popularized the concept of farming simulation. Generally, Stardew Valley works exactly the same as Harvest Moon.

In the entire course of this game, players will be asked to grow and harvest crops, raise livestock and poultry animals, mine resources, sell goods, and communicate with the townspeople. Not to mention that overly used plot of inheriting a dilapidated farm. Similar to the classic Harvest Moon, the game is open-ended and you have no freedom to do whatever activities you want your character to be engaged with. You can even marry a character and have children. Appearance-wise, Stardew Valley remained faithful to the original inspiration. It features pixel-art style graphics and nostalgic soothing music that quickly reminds you of those old-school RPGs. Overall, simplicity is the greatest strength of this game.


Download Stardew Valley: Android / iOS


Nostalgic Retro-Inspired App Games



Terraria will not be considered one of the best-selling games of all time for no reason. The game is more like a strange mix between Minecraft and the classic Metroid game. Developed by yet another independent game developer, Terraria was first released for Microsoft Windows and was later ported to other gaming platforms including mobile devices. The game managed to capture the crafting and sandbox elements from Minecraft while successfully incorporating RPG elements into it in a retro-inspired 2D Pixel-art style gaming environment.

The 16 Bit graphics made Terraria stand out. It is more like a homage to some of the popular Super SNES games like Super Mario, Metroid, Street Fighter, and Legend of Zelda to name a few. Being a sandbox game, players can freely explore the map and they might also encounter different biomes and special areas along the way. You can also encounter different bosses with different abilities. Players can also build structures and acquire various NPCs to occupy the areas. The RPG elements of Terraria are what separates the game from those Minecraft clones. It comes with a very nostalgic vibe to it that even the young generation of gamers will surely appreciate.


Download Terraria: Android / iOS


Nostalgic Retro-Inspired App Games


Tomb of the Mask          

Tomb of the Mask by Playgendary will take you to a series of fun yet surprisingly tricky levels with a varying range of difficulty. The goal in this game is to take control of your character and explore the mystic Tomb. Here, you will be asked to collect treasures and find your way out by reaching the exit portal safely. Each map is filled with an overwhelming number of deadly traps that you must avoid at all costs. Interestingly, the graphics and the gameplay of this game are heavily inspired by the classic PacMan game. It comes with the same pixel-art labyrinth and is also accompanied by a classic 8-Bit sound.

Despite all the similarities to PacMan, Tomb of the Mask is still a unique game of its own. For instance, the maps in this game are changing dynamically per level. You are also capable of unlocking new characters or referred to here as the Masks. You can also purchase various Powerups and consumables from the Shop that gives you temporary special abilities such as shield, magnet coins, freeze, and score boosters. Tomb of the Mask offers other equally engaging features that players can explore. There are Missions that provide you with certain repeatable tasks and earn valuable rewards in return. There is also an arcade campaign that takes you to a classic endless mode. If you are looking for some PacMan-inspired app game, this one is a perfect fit.


Download Tomb of the Mask: Android / iOS


Nostalgic Retro-Inspired App Games


Mini DAYZ: Zombie Survival

Mini DAYZ is a post-apocalyptic zombie survival app game set in a retro-style environment. The game is reminiscent of old PC games similar to the first WarCraft game. It is generally a miniature version of the DAYZ game by Bohemia Interactive (hence the title) and is mainly optimized for mobile devices. Although it loses a bit of the horror quality of the original 3D game due to its cartoon-like interpretation, Mini DAYZ: Zombie Survival is still capable of giving players an eerie and enigmatic experience while providing nostalgic gameplay.

Here, players will be prompted into a randomly generated map. The goal is to survive by scouting for food, ammo, and supplies. It features a crafting system that allows players to build weapons and other items that they can use to maximize their chances of surviving. Remaining faithful to the original material, players will encounter aggressive zombies and even ferocious wolves that you can either avoid or kill depending on the given situation. It is a great game that provides unpredictable outcomes, decent longevity, and impressive replay value. Definitely a game worth exploring.


Download Mini DAYZ: Zombie Survival: Android / iOS


Nostalgic Retro-Inspired App Games


Mirage Realms

Mirage Realms is another game developed by an independent game developer. Liam Stewart managed to take us back to the classic RPG with roguelike and dungeon-crawling elements. Mirage Realms is a free-to-play 2D MMORPG that pays homage to the iconic RPGs that popularly emerged during the SNES Era. Along with the Pixel-art style graphics, medieval-inspired characters, and classic jobs, this beautifully crafted game managed to capture all the exciting old-school RPG elements that we all grew up with. Similar to classic RPGs, the game mainly requires grinding in order to gain resources and experience.

It is also important to note that this is an MMORPG that allows you to meet and interact with other online players in real-time. To top it all off, Mirage Realms comes with a unique and challenging navigation system. The game has no Auto-path and Auto-Quest system that is commonly found in most modern MMORPGs today. It doesn’t have a navigation map and you will be required to explore places manually. Here, you might come across a dungeon, ruins, and other challenging areas that are inhabited by aggressive and powerful mobs. If you are up for an epic and old-school RPG adventure, Mirage Realms is definitely an app game to try.


Download Mirage Realms: Android


Nostalgic Retro-Inspired App Games



Developed by MarxGames, RPG MO – MMORPG managed to emulate a classic RPG and provides players with an authentic old-school gaming experience. RPG MO takes you on an epic adventure where you take control of your chosen hero and explore an open world while fighting against an endless number of enemies along the way. It is a beautiful homage to classic RPGs like Crystalis, Willow, and even the earliest version of Legend of Zelda. Anyone who grew up with these aforementioned classics will definitely find this game equally fun and fascinating. There are just too many things to explore in this game and it has captured every classic RPG element that we all loved and enjoyed.

Unlike most RPGs, however, RPG MO has no class system but you’ll start the game with a little makeover and expansive character creation. It comes with a comprehensive crafting system, forging, farming, mining, alchemy, fishing, and many other activities that you can do to collect additional resources. Similar to classic RPGs, this game puts the grinding system at its forefront. The multiplayer element, on the other hand, can be accessed through the trading system and PvE campaigns where you can team up with other players as you defeat bosses or as you raid dungeons.


Download RPG MO – MMORPG: Android / iOS


Nostalgic Retro-Inspired App Games



It is interesting to note that Tibia has been around since the late 90s. It is considered to be one of the earliest and longest-running MMORPGs today. TibiaME or Tibia Micro Edition, on the other hand, is developed for mobile devices to reach a wider audience. In fact, the game was first launched in 2003, back when smartphones are not even a thing yet. The game constantly adapted to changes and was ported to different platforms over time. Appearance-wise, TibiaME comes with a simple yet nostalgic game interface that quickly reminds you of early MMORPGs on PC. The game follows the story of a hero that is destined to save his land Aurea from the dark forces. You must set yourself on an epic journey to defeat the enemies and bring your kingdom back to its former glory.

Like most MMORPG, TibiaME comes with an elaborate quest system that you must accomplish sequentially in order to progress. In the entire course of the game, the player will be asked to perform numerous tasks, fight against an endless number of enemies, and explore creepy dungeons. There are numerous dungeons to raid and many different types of monsters to defeat. The game also features an impressive weaponry system and allows you to easily switch from one weapon to another in no time. The game comes with many PvE and PvP campaigns that allow you to interact with other players in real-time. There is also a Guild system that you can be part of. Overall, there is absolutely a great reason why Tibia remains popular with gamers and you better explore this game to find out!


Download TibiaME: Android / iOS


Nostalgic Retro-Inspired App Games


Mystera Legacy

Mystera Legacy is very much the same as Mirage Realms. It is a Sandbox MMORPG that takes you on an epic adventure. It is reminiscent of classic RPGs like RuneScape and Legend of Zelda. Mystera Legacy managed to capture all the classic RPG elements that we all grew up with while successfully incorporating some modern approach to it. In this game, the player will be asked to explore and scavenge for various items in order to survive the challenging environment. You will also be asked to craft and build items from different resources you collected along the way.

Interestingly, the game has no class system and you can use and wield any weapons according to your personal preferences. It is an old-school RPG that comes with no auto-path or auto-quest system and heavily requires a lot of button-smashing especially when you are engaged in combat. The tricky part about Mystera Legacy is the fact that it has no navigational system. There is no map to guide you and the only way to reach new places is by exploring. The crafting system, on the other hand, is what makes Mystera Legacy absolutely special. In this game, you can only obtain weapons through crafting and it will require you to look for all the needed materials. If you want an authentic and old-school RPG experience, this game will certainly not disappoint.


Download Mystera Legacy: Android


Nostalgic Retro-Inspired App Games


Crossy Road

Remember the 1981 Arcade game Frogger by Konami? It is a simple yet highly successful game and is also considered by many critics as one of the greatest games ever made. It has very simple yet surprisingly tricky mechanics. The goal is to help Frogger cross the road and the river full of hazards. The level of difficulty in this classic game will drastically increase as you progress. Interestingly, independent developer Hipster Whale recreated this classic arcade game but in an entirely different and much more colorful interpretation. Instead of a frog, the game features a chicken which is also a response to an old joke “why did the chicken cross the road?

The mechanics for this game are generally simple. Simply help the chicken cross the busy road and prevent it from being hit by any upcoming vehicles or hazards. In this game, the player must hop to go forward or swipe the screen in the appropriate direction to move the character horizontally or backward. The graphics of the game might be far from the classic Frogger but the entire gameplay and experience are truly nostalgic. It is a beautiful tribute to the classic arcade game. Aside from the Chicken, you can eventually unlock many other characters including other animals and some pop-culture references. It is a wonderful time-killer game that can be played with or without an Internet connection!


Download Crossy Road: Android / iOS


Nostalgic Retro-Inspired App Games


Sky Wings: Pixel Fighter 3D

Shoot ‘em Up is an action game genre that was popularized by the iconic Space Invaders in the late 70s. Since then, many shooter games were developed embracing the same action-packed gameplay. It was in the 80s when vertically scrolling shooters became a massive hit.  Most of these vertical shooters involve flying vehicles like aircraft and spaceships. Some popular arcade games that belong to this category include Turbo Force, Xevious, Strikers 1945, and Aero Fighters to name a few. Interestingly, the concept and the gameplay are still being embraced by modern games today.

Sky Wings: Pixel Fighter 3D by SHMUP Games is one of those that provide great justice to classic shoot ‘em up games. The game takes you to a nostalgic vertical shooting battlefield. Here, you will operate an aircraft and your goal is to eliminate all the enemies that you will encounter along the way. As you defeat your opponents, you can collect stars to dramatically improve your fire rate. You are also equipped with other abilities that you can use to create massive damage. Similar to classic shoot ‘em up, players will encounter various bosses that must be defeated to clear the level. You can also upgrade the vehicle to make it more efficient in the battle or better yet unlock a new one by the game’s gacha system.


Download Sky Wings: Pixel Fighter 3D: Android / iOS


What do you think of these Nostalgic Retro-Inspired App Games?

Feature Photo by Lorenzo Herrera on Unsplash