Growing up in the 80s, I have fond memories of dimly lit arcades, incessantly feeding quarters with reckless abandon. When you took control of a machine, you would line up your quarters, letting others know you’d be there a while. I must have dropped hundreds of dollars over the course of a few years, all worth it. Nothing can bring back the excitement of first playing Space Invaders, my absolute first experience with an arcade game, but you can relive those moments on the iPhone. There are others, but these are the best 8 classic arcade games from the 80s for iPhone.

Classic Arcade games

Space Invaders

Originally manufactured by Taito and picked up in the U.S. by Midway, Space Invaders was basic, yet incredibly addictive. As you lay waste to the invading aliens, they would increase their march, reinforced by the game sounds and your heartbeat. And when that spaceship would fly across the top, you’d forget about any strategy, as you sent as a stream of bullets trying to blow the mystery ship out of the sky. Now you can strap yourself to the laser cannons and fight this battle again, this time on your iPhone.

Space Invaders

Download Space Invaders ($4.99)


No one ever admits to liking PacMan in the same way they don’t admit to wearing parachute pants. Admit it friend, you did both and loved it. Chomp on those pellits, grab fruit where you can eat those ghosts while they are weak.

Pac-Man free

Download PacMan $1.99

Midway Arcade

What’s the absolute best birthday present any kid could get back when hair was big and it was ok to use the word ‘Sike’. Why that would be renting an actual Defender arcade machine. That weekend proved that captains looking to protect humanoids can operate with very little sleep.


Defender is just one of the games in this collection available in Midway Arcade. Spy Hunter, Joust and more can be purchased once inside. There are over 30 arcade style games to choose from. Defender is worth the price of admission. It’s also a lot less lighter than that cabinet they wheeled into my family room back in the day.

Download Midway Arcade $1.99

Pole Position Remix

Prepare to qualify! How many times have you heard that echo into the corridors of the mall? In a remixed version of Pole Position, you race to glory using the tilt wheel controls of your iPhone. Bring yourself back to 1983 with the game that set records for being the most-successful game of that year. Crank up Down Under from Men at Work and race to the winner’s circle.

Pole Position Remix

Download Pole Position Remix $0.99


Want to feel old? Frogger just celebrated its 29th brirthday. Still, after all these years, this frog hasn’t learned that busy streets might not be the best thing for an amphibian. You can choose from the classics or opt for new modes that include turbo, night time inferno (in-app purchase required). Feel up to the task of navigating your frog past cars and trucks.


Download Frogger $0.99


You are just one space ship, fighting a legion of ships. As you do battle, they send kamakaze fighters down forcing you to go one on one. Galaga sprung onto the arcade scene in 1981, developed by Namco. Despite making it to the list, I cannot recommend buying this one, at least not yet. While it checks most of the boxes (awesome, retro, awesome), the developers have yet to update it for iOS 7. So if you are rolling with a retro iPhone circa iOS 6, then go get yourself some Galaga. If not, just add this one to your wishlist and hope the developer gets on the ball. Despite this major oversight, Galaga was simply too important of a game to not make this list.

Galaga iPhone

Download Galaga Free (DOES NOT SUPPORT IOS 7).

Centipede Origins

While most games remain stuck in the 80s, which for the most part is a good thing, Centipede Origins attempts to build upon a classic. That ain’t easy. It would be like improving up The Dukes of Hazzard. While I’d caution against any TV producer attempting to re-cast Daisy, Centipede Origins is on instance where riffing on an original works. Over a thousand reviews and it has a 4.5/5 star rating. Old school meet new school. Well played Atari!

Centipede Origins

Download Centipede Origins Free

Dragon’s Lair

If you were wondering about advancements in gaming technology during the decade, how about the user of LaserDisc? Dragon’s Lair was part movie, part game. The graphics were well above anything seen to date. You would guide Dirk the Daring through a fantasy adventure. Based on your gameplay, video would playback revealing both good and poor choices.

Dragon's Lair

On a retina display iPhone or iPad, you can relive Don Bluth’s hand-drawn animations, using your sword to take on the Evil Wizard Mordroc.

Download Dragon’s Lair $4.99

Bonus Round

What kind retro arcade round-up would this be without a bonus round. We’ve saved a big one for last. Namco Arcade (Free), availalble for free, makes its money on in-app purchases. It comes packed with a number of classic apps. You can either buy coins to play or buy the games outright. Either way, it’s entirely up to you. It’s also compatible with an iOS 7 GamePad, because who does not love a physical controller.

Kids today would likely thumb their nose at this list and rightfully so. They are growing up games like Infinity Blade. While some of these developers have certainly used their historic cache to cash in, these apps have a place in arcade gaming history. Would your teenage self pay 20 quarters for unlimited gameplay?

What were your favorite games of the 80s?