Classic Games on iPad: The Good, the Bad, and the Missing in Action

iPad conversions of PC and game platform titles. Which "classic" games have made the transition well to the iPad and which ones have failed? What titles are still noticeably missing from the App Store? These are my personal favorites, my personal wish list, and one personal rant.

When I got my iPad last Christmas, one of the first things I did was search excitedly through the App Store for some of my favorite game titles from other platforms (PC, Playstation, XBox) because what could be better than carrying your “best of” collection around in your backpack!

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The search was a mix of good and bad news. Some of the platform “conversions” were fantastic. Some were terrible. And some were just plain missing. This year I repeated the search. Here’s what I found…

The Good 😀

Final Fantasy

Square Enix has done a tremendous job of bringing this entire series to the iPad, going all the way back to the beginning. I’ve only played the first couple (I’m playing them in order), but I have to believe they’re well done all the way through. If you’ve played later titles in the series and they aren’t as smooth, by all means add your comments! But the ones I’ve played so far get two thumbs up.

Game tip: some of the boards get crazy complicated without an in-game map. I found it useful in some situations to play on the iPad with a cheat map open on my computer.

Mystery Trackers

I played these first on the PC and looked for them immediately on the iPad. Mystery Trackers: The Void was already out last Christmas and was the first game I downloaded onto the iPad when it was brand new. I played it all the way through, and it was every bit as good as the original.

I did encounter a single bug on one of the many puzzles that make up the game. I finally had to skip that one in order to move on, but I was more than willing to overlook it given the overall experience. I’d say 9.5 out of 10 stars on the conversion job. Nice work guys!

Plants vs. Zombies

Weapon-grade vegetation and brain-eating zombies. What could go wrong? This is another title that was first released for personal computers (both Windows and Mac) and made the transition to iOS early and in high style. The game is every bit as good on the iPad. 10 out of 10 stars for the conversion.

Prince of Persia Classic HD

I loved Prince of Persia, the original, which I first played on the Playstation 2. I mean I loved it. When I first looked for this title on the iPad it was not to be found, but this year it’s out! The levels have been completely re-worked, so it isn’t exactly like playing the same game over again. To some this will be a drawback, but I’m listing it under “The Good” because the designers have obviously put some real effort into porting the game to the iPad in a way that makes sense for touch screen play as well as bringing players something new, and yet classic, at the same time.

(By the way, several player reviews suggest that the newest version of the controls leaves something to be desired, but there is a settings option for the original arrow-style movement, which most players seem to prefer. I found that switching to the arrow controls worked better for me as well.)

Game tip: sometimes you have to go significantly backwards to go forwards. I was stuck on this for at least a couple of minutes back on level one before exploring far enough, so I felt it was worth mentioning. Trust the butterfly.

Overall, well worth the $0.99 to carry Prince of Persia wherever I go.

The Bad =(

Diner Dash

The only title I’ve found so far that I just have to give a complete thumbs down to is Diner Dash. I was expecting to enjoy this one after playing it through on the PC, but the timing on some of the iPad levels makes it almost impossible to get a perfect score without paying real life cash for in-game power-ups that in my opinion shouldn’t be necessary. I would have paid five or six dollars to get an exact replica of the original game on my iPad, but re-working a classic PC game into an in-app purchase model scores a big fat zero in my opinion.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against that model in general. I play Hay Day on the iPad like it’s going out of style. But you can get everything you want in Hay Day without spending real cash if you’re willing to be patient, and you can treat yourself to a little something extra when you’re in the mood. You don’t have to buy in-app purchases to succeed in the game, which to me marks the difference between a well-designed game and a borderline scam.

I deleted Diner Dash from my iPad in disgust. Two thumbs down, guys. Thumbs down.

Missing in Action

(Games I Would Buy for the iPad… if only I Could)
Castlevania, Curse of Darkness

I loved this title on the Playstation 2 and still can’t find it on the iPad. In fact, I can’t find any Castlevania title on the iPad. Boo, hiss!

Champions of Norrath

This is one of those Playstation 2 titles I found myself playing over and over again. It didn’t get the hype of titles like Final Fantasy, but if I could get it on the iPad, I would. And I’d pay good money for it.

Lara Croft

Most of the Tomb Raider titles are still noticeably absent on the iPad. That said, Square Enix has come out with Lara Croft and the Guardian of the Light, which is getting high marks from players in the app reviews. Hopefully this means the publisher will be looking at re-releasing all the old titles on the iOS platform, especially given what they’ve already done with Final Fantasy.

Tradewinds

Any PC game big enough to have more than one sequel deserves to be released for the iPad. This one is so simple that reworking the interface just wouldn’t be an issue. Screen touches could easily replace mouse clicks, and the game would be just as addicting as ever. I’d like to see more of the old $19.99 PC games released as under-ten-dollar iPad versions. I’d be willing to buy them again just to be able to carry them around with me.

Game publishers take note! There’s a market out there to breathe new life into your old titles. Don’t let that intellectual property rot on your virtual shelves. Dust them off and port them to the iPad! I’ll buy them, and I’m sure I’m not the only one.

 

What other titles have you seen ported to the iPad or iPhone that you’ve loved? What re-workings have you hated? What titles would you like to see? I’d love to read your comments!


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Author
Ask Erin
app developer, author, rancher, gamer, (and occasional lawyer)