20 classic games you can play on your Android phone

Looking for a gaming great? Here's a stack of old favorites from 2000 and earlier.

classic games lead

Old-school gaming

Hundreds of new games flood the Play Store each and every week, and many are worth a few minutes of your time—some are even pretty great. But if you’re looking for a tried-and-true gaming classic that you enjoyed ages ago in the arcades or on a console or handheld, you’ll find a solid number of those on Android as well. 

No, we’re not talking about emulators; we’ll let you dig into that on your own, if you wish. These are all official Android releases of classic games that first debuted at least 15 years ago, ranging from Atari greats all the way up to late ‘90s arcade, console, and PC gems. And many have been remastered and expanded for their mobile releases, making them potentially even better the second time around.

classic games finalfantasytactics

Final Fantasy Tactics: War of the Lions

One of the top strategy role-playing games of all time is on the Play Store, and while it may not feature traditional Final Fantasy gameplay, Tactics is excellent all the same. The War of the Lions is technically a port of a later enhanced version on PSP, but the core of the experience is pulled right from the original PlayStation release.

Final Fantasy Tactics is a turn-based game set on various battle grids, wherein your squad of fighters, mages, and the like must try to take down the opposing forces. Much of the game revolves around combat, but Tactics also has an intriguing story about warring nations, not to mention great art direction (especially in those modernized cut-scenes) and a brilliant soundtrack. This is a big, meaty game to savor.

Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions ($14)

classic games soulcalibur

SoulCalibur

SoulCalibur is an utterly beloved fighting classic, and if you can stomach the asking price—it’s $14, in line with a downloadable console game—you’ll have plenty of weapons-based brawling on your phone. It was originally a Dreamcast and arcade sensation, with fluid 3D combat and a diverse cast of characters, and the touch-based port holds up surprisingly well. 

True, virtual buttons don't feel as responsive as the real thing, but the fighting in SoulCalibur is still really solid, and the game looks great even after 16 years. Just note that it’s strictly a single-player game on Android, and not all of the console modes made the leap to the Play Store. 

SoulCalibur ($14)

classic games grimfandango

Grim Fandango Remastered

Widely considered one of the top titles from the golden age of point-and-click adventure games, Grim Fandango Remastered is a faithful touch-centric reproduction of the LucasArts classic. You play as Manny Calavera, travel agent to the recently deceased, attempting to upsell their final journeys—but he stumbles upon a conspiracy that drives this wonderfully funny and distinctive quest.

And it looks a lot better on your Android phone than it did on PC in 1998, thanks to a graphical upgrade that includes remade textures and widescreen support, among other tweaks. New controls and other bonus goodies help round out the package, but device compatibility is a little scattered: it doesn't work on some handsets that seem like they'd be compatible, so be sure to check.

Grim Fandango Remastered ($10)

classic games sonic2

Sonic the Hedgehog 2

Sega hasn’t slept on Sonic when it comes to mobile, with an array of recent entries—endless games, modern platformers, racers—to suit almost any interest. And if you want to return to the classics, you’re in luck there as well. The original Sonic the Hedgehog and lesser-played Sonic CD are both available, but for our money, we’ll take Sonic the Hedgehog 2 above all.

Sonic 2 really refined and expanded the original’s side-scrolling design, putting a stronger focus on speed and building larger stages to accentuate it. The sequel has more diversity in gameplay and level design, and introduces sidekick Tails and the “3D” stages. Plus, the Android port is great, and even includes levels cut from the original release.

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 ($3)

classic games mspacman

Ms. Pac-Man

There are several different flavors of Pac-Man to enjoy on the Play Store, including the recent Championship Edition DX and free-to-play twist Pac-Man 256. But while those maintain the spirit of the originals, there’s nothing quite like reliving the classics. Luckily, Bandai Namco didn’t mess around with Ms. Pac-Man, which is free of annoying in-app purchases.

It’s the full, original game: 256 stages of familiar dot-munching and ghost-gobbling, playing in either portrait or landscape modes and using either swipes or a d-pad for changing directions. You can also grab the original Pac-Man, but it’s only available as a free-to-play game now; we’d rather pop in the $4 from the start and enjoy Ms. Pac-Man without restrictions. 

Ms. Pac-Man ($4)

classic games baldursgate

Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition

One of the best-loved PC role-playing games is back in action with Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition, which puts a fresh coat of paint on BioWare’s original 1998 release in the Dungeons & Dragons Forgotten Realms universe. This is a rich and complex isometric RPG, with loads of dialogue, combat, and customization available across the 60+ hour fantasy campaign.

Cramming a game of this scope onto a small touch screen can be a little awkward, particularly with the tiny text (it’s a better fit for tablets), but there’s so much to enjoy here. Beyond the core game, the $10 package includes expansion content and online multiplayer with iPad, PC, and Mac players, plus there’s additional content available to purchase. (And 2000’s Baldur’s Gate II is also on Android.) 

Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition ($10)

classic games tetris

Tetris

Tetris and portable gaming have gone together since the dawn of the Game Boy, so no surprise: there’s a version of the legendary puzzler for Android. And it’s pretty good! True, it’s absolutely loaded with ads, but this is a free, official Tetris that doesn’t have any restrictions on play. (And it’s well worth the $1 in-app purchase to clear those ads for good.)

Endless marathon mode is here and just as enduringly great as you remember, plus there’s a one-touch mode that significantly streamlines the game for touch; purists won’t want anything to do with it, but newcomers might find it appealing. In any case, it’s Tetris on your phone, and that’s surely an awesome thing. 

Tetris (Free)

classic games crazytaxi

Crazy Taxi Classic

Crazy Taxi is one of Sega’s all-time-great arcade games, letting you get behind the wheel of a cab and pick up fares. Does that sound boring? Well, you must’ve missed the “crazy” part of the title, because whipping around the congested city at high speeds—all while pulsing songs from The Offspring and Bad Religion blare from the radio—is a total blast.

Beyond the core game, which has a couple of variations, Crazy Taxi also comes with an array of addictive mini-games. True, touch controls aren’t perfectly ideal for a game designed for a steering wheel (and later a Dreamcast controller), but for just a few bucks, this is a fun one to keep on your phone for a quick spin.

Crazy Taxi Classic ($5)

classic games atarisgreatesthits

Atari's Greatest Hits ReMastered

Actually, this app has 100 vintage Atari games available within, so maybe we ought to change this article's title. It’s true: Atari’s Greatest Hits ReMaster for Android loads up its archive with a wealth of old favorites, including Centipede, Asteroids, Super Breakout, Pong, Lunar Lander, and Battlezone. The emulation is solid, and the controls are fine for games this simple.

The initial free download only comes with Missile Command, however: everything else can be purchased in one of a couple ways. An array of game four-packs are sold for $1 apiece, otherwise if you want the entire library at once, it’ll cost you just $10. An entire vault full of Atari games on your phone for a Hamilton? Not bad at all. 

Atari’s Greatest Hits ReMaster (Free)

classic games metalslug3

Metal Slug 3

SNK’s Metal Slug series is well represented on the Play Store, with Metal Slug, Metal Slug 2, Metal Slug X, and a recent defense spinoff all available. But of the original arcade shooters, Metal Slug 3 tends to get the most praise among aficionados, as it maintains the winning spirit of earlier games while introducing a bit of extra depth.

All the Metal Slug games are pretty similar at their core: they're side-scrolling blasters with fluid 2D graphics and plenty of chaos. However, Metal Slug 3 builds upon that with branching paths within levels, as well as additional characters to play as and more vehicles to commandeer. Start with the original if you don’t know the series, but this is the best of the bunch.

Metal Slug 3 ($4)

classic games 7thguest

The 7th Guest: Remastered

If you gamed on computers in the early-to-mid ‘90s—and weren’t (hopefully) a little kid—chances are you’re well familiar with The 7th Guest. The grim adventure about exploring a toymaker’s twisted, abandoned mansion was a landmark release, blending full-motion video with CG graphics for an eerie blend of scares and puzzles.

Despite its PC and Mac origins, Android actually has the best version available as of this writing, as the Remastered edition updates the interface and some animations and refines the game for touch. It also adds helpful “hotspots” on interactive objects to cut down on frustration, and the app bundles in a load of extras, including a making-of featurette and deleted scenes.

The 7th Guest: Remastered ($6)

classic games ducktales

DuckTales Remastered

Of all the games that could be revived and revitalized for a new generation, DuckTales for the original NES isn't an obvious candidate—after all, when’s the last time Disney did anything with the DuckTales franchise? And yet here we are with DuckTales Remastered, which brings the old platformer back to life with a fresh coat of paint.

The crisp 2D aesthetic looks great, while the side-scrolling gameplay is just as you might remember from 1989. As is often the case with touch ports of platformers, the controls aren’t perfectly responsive, but they work well enough—and Bluetooth controller support means you have a better option available, at least. The $10 price is ambitious, but if you love retro platformers, you’ll probably have a soft spot for this one. 

DuckTales Remastered ($10)

classic games finalfantasy6

Final Fantasy VI

Final Fantasy Tactics is a real strategic gem, but if you’re eager to play one of the series’ core entries, arguably the best pre-3D-era release is available on Android. Final Fantasy VI delivers a vast campaign set in a fantasy steampunk world, with a large array of playable characters and a gripping storyline. Released in 1994 for Super Nintendo, it’s considered the benchmark for that era’s role-playing epics.

On Android, the core game is intact and still well worth playing—but it’s been tweaked and updated in ways that die-hard fans don’t necessarily love. Some of the graphics have been smoothed out and changed, while the menus and interactions are different. So long as you can tolerate the changes (and that price tag), it's an absorbing on-the-go RPG.

Final Fantasy VI ($16)

classic games namcoarcade

Namco Arcade

Like the Atari’s Greatest Hits package, Namco Arcade is a compilation bringing together a few iconic arcade classics from one storied company—and a few of its lesser-known entries too. Leading the pack are Galaga, Pac-Man, and Xevious, but there’s also Phozon and Motos, among others. Each game is playable in landscape view with borders and virtual buttons.

Where the Atari package sells its games in bundles, Namco Arcade has each game available individually for $2-$3 a pop, plus there are in-game boosts sold separately as well. You can play one game per day (once) for free, otherwise you’ll have to buy something or wait ‘til the next day. But at least you can try everything out in time and then buy what you like. 

Namco Arcade (Free)

classic games kingoffighters98

The King of Fighters '98

Looking for the best fighting game of 1998? It’s obviously this one! We’re half-kidding, but really, this entry in SNK’s once-annual team-based fighting series is considered one of the best of the bunch. It delivers technical hand-to-hand combat, great sprite-based graphics, a stellar soundtrack, and a diverse array of playable fighters.

Did we say diverse? It’s true, but we really mean massive: The King of Fighters ‘98 offers 38 total characters, of which you’ll pick three at a time to form your squad. Multiple touch control options are available, alongside Bluetooth controller support, and the game has local wireless multiplayer as well. And if ’98 is a little too modern for your tastes, you can also grab The King of Fighters ‘97 on Android.

The King of Fighters ‘98 ($3)

classic games rtype

R-Type

When it comes to classic space shooters, few games are more beloved than R-Type. Luckily, the Android version does a great job of keeping the original experience intact, despite swapping an arcade joystick for virtual controls. This horizontal shooter sends your ship through waves of aggressive enemies that zip in and around as you try to keep the chaos under control.

R-Type is known for being an extremely challenging game, but luckily, the Android version has two difficulty settings on offer—so at least you have a chance if you’re not a die-hard fan. Even after all this time, R-Type’s challenging gameplay and distinctive environments hold up, and it’s the best of its kind on the Play Store.

R-Type ($2)

classic games doubledragon

Double Dragon Trilogy

This legendary quarter-muncher from the ‘80s is back in action on Android—and it brought its sequels along for the ride. Double Dragon Trilogy bundles together all three of the beat-‘em-ups, sending you out for revenge with your fists, feet, and whichever weapons you can find while walloping generic street toughs.

The gameplay is ultra-simplistic and certainly can turn repetitive, but like most brawlers, it’s better with a friend in (local Bluetooth) co-op play. And this compilation has options galore. All three games are playable in an arcade-mode or a “story” mode that unlocks levels as you clear them, plus there’s a new difficulty mode ideal for quick mobile sessions and both the original soundtrack and a remixed one to choose from. And gamepad support, crucially. 

Double Dragon Trilogy ($3)

classic games tombraider

Tomb Raider

Tomb Raider is absolutely iconic, with the 1996 adventure game not only paving the way for third-person action in 3D, but also prominent female protagonists in games. Problem is, most early 3D games are tough to revisit now after a couple decades of vast improvement, and that’s definitely the case here. Tomb Raider is a bit tough to enjoy on Android, given the awkward controls and navigation.

But there’s a saving grace here: it’s only $1, and for a shot of nostalgia, that’s not bad at all. The port even has a couple of bonus levels not seen in the initial release, plus it has controller support, which surely makes the game easier to play. If you’re a hardcore Lara Croft fan who needs to revisit the original, you can do so cheaply on Android. 

Tomb Raider I ($1)

classic games samuraishodown2

Samurai Shodown II

While SoulCalibur delivers great 3D combat on Android, Samurai Shodown II is one of the earliest examples of weapons-based fighting—plus it’s about one-fifth the price. Recreating the 1994 arcade and NeoGeo favorite on Android, this SNK port is a solid rendition of the 2D classic, with feudal warriors swatting each other with blades.

Given its age and pixelated origins, Samurai Shodown II has borders around the action, although the virtual buttons and stick still cover up a bit of the great old-school artwork. Fighting games tend to suffer a bit on touch devices, but Shodown’s pace isn’t so frantic that it loses the fun. Plus, there’s an optional touch perk: a button you can tap to unleash your powerful special instead of trying to enter a combo.

Samurai Shodown II ($3)

classic games dragonslair

Dragon's Lair

Dragon’s Lair was hailed as one of the most impressive games ever created when it hit arcades in 1983, essentially turning a hand-drawn cartoon into a playable game at a time when pixels were king. Since then, the original game has been ported time and again to newer platforms—and yes, that means it’s available on Android too.

Nostalgia has carried the game far over the last 30+ years, but unless you’re a die-hard fan who memorized the inputs long ago, it’s tough to see Dragon’s Lair as more than a brutal relic from a simpler time. It’s still an attractive game, although the trial-and-error gameplay—in which you’ll perish repeatedly while memorizing when to tap the button or directional arrow—is truly punishing. Still, it’s probably cheaper to play through now than it was in the arcades back when, considering the constant deaths.

Dragon’s Lair ($5)