Confession: I’ve never understood the appeal of Flappy Bird. (I didn’t really get Angry Birds either though, so maybe I just have an inherent dislike of avian-themed mobile games.) So you can imagine how nonplussed I was to learn that Flappy Bird’s creator Dong Nguyen is now thinking about bringing his wildly, accidentally successful game back to the app store.
I dig the retro graphics … but there are so many actually retro games from my childhood I’d rather see make a comeback instead. With classics like Oregon Trail, Myst, The Secret of Monkey Island, and Number Munchers already having made reappearances on mobile devices, isn’t it time for these other favorites to resurface in a new form, too? Here are nine games from the '90s I'd love to see make a mobile comeback.
Are You Afraid of the Dark?: The Tale of Orpheo’s Curse
This game. YOU GUYS. This game. Was the best. Are You Afraid of the Dark? was always my Nickelodeon show of choice, so when a PC game based around the series came out in 1994, you bet I played the heck out of it. Combining the gameplay of the best point-and-click adventures with a spookiness that not even The 7th Guest (which, by the way, is available on Steam now) managed to capture, was a ghost story-loving kid’s dream. Also, let’s face it: Haunted theatres are awesome.
Wing Commander was the very first computer game my brother and I played that had actual voice acting in it. There wasn't a lot of it — just the intro video, if I remember correctly — but the first time we booted Wing Commander up and heard it actually talking to us? Minds. Blown. Setting aside the terrible movie adaptation of it staring Freddie Prince, Jr. and Matthew Lillard, it was the be-all, end-all of space flight simulators for a really long time.
We’re all sick of Star Wars (although to be fair, Tie Fighter and X Wing were also excellent games) — so let’s brush off this lesser-known franchise, shall we?
Who didn't play Treasure Mountain during your class's weekly time slot at the school computer lab? Geared towards honing basic reading, writing, math, and logic schools, it taught us stuff without even making it seem like learning. Sneaky!
I suppose I should really be counting my lucky stars that we’ve already gotten a mobile game remake of the best LucasArts point-and-click adventure game of all time (the previously mentioned Secret of Monkey Island). But I think 1998’s Grim Fandango deserves another day in the sun, too. With its wacky graphics, film noir feel, and unique sense of humor, grim reaper Manuel “Manny” Calavera’s adventures in the Land of the Dead as he attempts to save recently departed soul Mercedes “Meche” Colomar were definitely ahead of their time.
Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?
No dose of ‘90s nostalgia would be complete without this lady in red ransacking Pakistan or pulling a scam in Scandinavia. Or both. Because that’s just how she rolls.
A construction and management simulation in the vein of Sim City (long before all that The Sims nonsense), RollerCoaster Tycoon put kids in charge of their very own theme park. The first one was released in 1999, and it's had a productive and happy life as a long-running series. For a moment there it almost looked like we would be getting a mobile port of it — but alas, Atari going bankrupt in early 2013 put the kibosh on that. We can still dream, though!
The Lost Vikings
Before Blizzard Entertainment became the giants behind World of Warcraft, Starcraft, and Diablo, they were called Silcone & Synapse — and in 1992, they created one of my favorite side-scrolling platformers of all time. The Lost Vikings and its sequel, The Lost Vikings II: Norse by Norsewest, featured three hapless Vikings trying to escape from their kidnapper, Tomator, the emperor of the alien Croutonian empire. Yes, it was ridiculous. But it was also a blast trying to guide Erik, Olaf, and Baleog safely through each level, utilizing their unique abilities in the process. Other side-scrollers like Sonic the Hedgehog have made mobile reappearances, so why not this forgotten classic?
The Castle of Dr. Brain
Or any of the Dr. Brain games, really. Like Treasure Mountain and Number/Word/Whatever Munchers, they were the best sort of educational games. They’re full of the sort of brainteasers that mobile games live for, and with today’s graphic capabilities, I have no doubt the series would be able to finally reach its full potential for zaniness.
I’m cheating a little here, since Battle Chess came out in 1988 — but it is far and above the most entertaining chess program ever created. Essentially, it was Harry Potter-style wizard chess before Harry Potter-style wizard chess existed. With a queen that sounds like Mae West and pop culture references ranging from Monty Python and the Holy Grail to Indiana Jones, what’s not to love? From what I gather, there is in fact a remake in the works – now all we need to do is convince them to port it to Android and iOS devices, and we’re good to go!