As a kid in the late 1970s and early '80s, I grew up with such classic game platforms as the Atari 2600 and Nintendo Entertainment System. A lot of you may have the same memories, while others are curious about an era before your time. Now you can revisit those days on your iPad with these five arcade collections. Each has a "try before you buy" feature so you can find what you like before spending money.
<p> <center>credit: Nintendo</center> The <a href=http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/vh1-classic-presents-intellivision/id364084776?mt=8>TurboGrafx-16</a> never reached the popularity of the Nintendo Entertainment System, but several players got into its vast game library, butting heads with Bonk the caveman or enjoying the thrilling collection of shooter games. The GameBox brings back many of those titles. <p> It comes with one free title: the Olympic-based "World Sports Competition." With this, you can get used to the easy controls -- a directional pad and "I" and "II" buttons. From there, you can try out a randomly highlighted game of the day free of charge, such as "Bonk's Adventure," "Ninja Spirit" and "Dungeon Explorer." <p> Each game runs $3. While that may seem steep (it puts the entire library around $90), you can choose what you like best.
<p> <center>credit: VH1</center> While the <a href=http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/vh1-classic-presents-intellivision/id364084776?mt=8>Intellivision</a> wasn't nearly as popular as the Atari 2600, it had devoted fans—as well as the humorous George Plimpton commercials. VH1 has faithfully recreated the Intellivision experience for iPad with this six-game package of action and sports titles. <p> Probably the best is "Astrosmash," a space shooter where you defend a moon base from incoming meteors and other obstacles, including spinning satellites. <p> Other titles include the shooter "Night Stalker," where you shoot at enemies within a cavern; the role-playing adventure "Thunder Castle" and the golf simulator "Chip Shot." <p> Sadly, no extra downloadable games are planned. But "Astrosmash" by itself is worth the price.
<a href=http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/namco-arcade/id465606050?mt=8>Namco Arcade</a> features four quirky arcade classics, with more to follow within the next few months. <p> The best is easily "Xevious," in which you shoot and bomb enemies both in the air and on the ground, while avoiding incoming gunfire and taking down "boss" ships, which appear throughout the game and try to destroy your ship. The game ends when you run out of ships. <p> Others include the adventurous "The Tower of Druaga"; a skill-based puzzle game called "Phozon," where you build structures using atoms; and the enemy-bashing action title "Motos." Namco Arcade comes with one free play per day. You can go another round by purchasing a coin (10 for $1), or spend $2.99 to unlock unlimited play for each machine. <p> But where's "Pac-Man"? You can buy a fairly faithful port of the 1980 classic separately for $5. "Ms. Pac-Man" is also available, for the same price.
<p> <center>credit: ION Audio, Atari</center> At the forefront of the video game industry in the early 1980s, the Atari 2600 drew million of fans playing the likes of "Asteroids" and "Missile Command." <a href=http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/ataris-greatest-hits/id422966028?mt=8>Atari's Greatest Hits</a> brings back several Atari 2600 releases, as well as several arcade titles, including "Tempest," "Red Baron" and "Pong." <p> The initial release comes with the arcade version of "Missile Command" for free. Additional game packs of four are available for $1 a pop. You can also buy the full 100-title library for $10, guaranteeing hours of retro Atari bliss. <p> Atari's Greatest Hits also supports ION Audio's $100 <a href=http://www.bestbuy.com/site/Ion+Audio+-+iCADE+Arcade+Cabinet+for+Apple%26%23174%3B+iPad%26%23174%3B+and+iPad+2+-+Red/Black/3158185.p?id=1218382081246&skuId=3158185>iCade gaming cabinet</a> – a faithful, tabletop recreation of standup arcade machines. Dock your iPad, and play through its classic, arcade-style controls, complete with joystick and buttons.
<p> <center>credit: Capcom</center> Finally, we have Capcom's virtual collection, a smorgasbord of hardcore fighting and action games as well as casual plays. <p> <a href=http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/capcom-arcade/id397347348?mt=8>Capcom Arcade</a> features brawlers like "Street Fighter II." It also has one of the better competitive puzzle games for the iPad, "Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo," where anime-style characters engage in gem-building battle. <p> Every time you start up Capcom Arcade, you get around five "free play" tickets. That not only gives you a feel for each title, but also introduces you to characters who act as game-room guides. You'll also receive notification when new games are added, as Capcom plans to expand its Arcade Library with new releases soon.
<p> <center>credit: Sega</center> There are other classics in the App Store, too. Sega has several for cheap, including the top-selling <a href=http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/sonic-cd/id454316134?mt=8>"Sonic CD"</a> and the action-packed <a href=http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/gunstar-heroes/id404096825?mt=8>"Gunstar Heroes"</a>; Gameloft's <a href=http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/earthworm-jim/id334838620?mt=8>"Earthworm Jim"</a> is a sweet recreation of the Super Nintendo/Sega Genesis platforming classic (and comes with the awesome opportunity to launch a cow, "Monty Python and the Holy Grail"-style). If you can't get enough "Pac-Man," Namco Bandai has released a free portable edition of its multiplayer arcade game, <a href=http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/pac-man-battle-royale/id404706110?mt=8>"Pac-Man Battle Royale"</a>. With games this good, you can save those rolls of quarters for something more useful. Like laundry.