Technology with attitude

The joy of SEGA retro gaming on mobiles.

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There’s a revolution going on with mobile gaming.

The other day I was on a plane. Now, with work and visiting family I have abroad this is a pretty common occurrence. For what it’s worth I hate flying with a passion, and airports. As soon as I’m inside on I simply can’t wait to get out, they’re a cesspit of misery, rudeness, disrespect and arrogance. The worst kind of humanity.

But I digress. The fact is the only way I can mentally get through this experience is to throw myself into some kind of escapism, whether it be listening to music or getting my head down and doing some writing.

More often than not though I’m playing games. Now, I can look at my phones game collection and how it’s changed in the two years I’ve had this contract. I currently rock a HTC One M7 as I’ve had for the past two years, two months away from an upgrade.

What’s interesting is the fact that the games that I have had for the phone have not changed since I first picked it up.

True story. Sure I’ve picked up games I’m interested in over time, but more often than not they’re deleted and I’m left with the usual suspects. I’ve got caught up in the flabbergasting hysteria of Flappy Bird – deleted -, cursed myself when I downloaded Angry Birds Transformers – deleted -, and awaited a sure fire mass attack upon purchasing donuts on my imaginary Springfrield in Tapped Out – deleted-. Nothing has really peaked my interest on mobile. Except for remasters of classics. That’s what I’m talking about.

Call me old – many, sadly, already do – but gaming on mobiles doesn’t get better than when I’m playing some of the stone cold legends of my childhood. The fact I can even pull out my phone and jump into some of the games that kept me up at night when I was a kid is still rather amazing to me. When they’re done right, they’re truly superb time killers. Retro games don’t last particularly long if you’re good at them – a good amount of them are still hard as nails by todays standards – but if you’re not, they offer a serious challenge that I think just isn’t offered in a modern world where you can pay your way to the end of a game.

The screenshot above is taken from Sonic The Hedgehog 2 on iPhone/Android/Amazon Phone. Now, Sonic 2 is unequivocally my favourite game of all time. Ever. It’s a game I can play whenever I need to just relax for half an hour and tear through without really thinking about it anymore. It’s a game I’ve completed more times than I care to remember. Sonic 2, in my opinion, is the absolute pinnacle of 2D platform gaming, and no Italian plumber is going to take that away from me. It’s a game that when I’m stuck at an airport, I can pull out and play and finish to kill an hour (or an hour and a half with the special stages grabbing all the Chaos Emeralds). Sonic 2 is my ultimate mobile gaming experience, and its remaster is recreated with so much love and attention (from one man dev studio, remaster King Christian Whitehead), the touchscreen controls are absolutely spot on, the colours are vibrant and the music is still as wonderful as it ever was. For me, it doesn’t get better than playing Sonic 2 on my HTC One M7. Perhaps once I upgrade and download it all over again it’ll look even better.

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But then it’s not just Sonic 2. A huge amount of the classic SEGA collection is available on mobiles. Along with pretty much every retro Sonic title, legendary titles such as Streets of Rage – the entire trilogy in one app, no less – grace the App Store(s), ECCO The Dolphin, Golden Axe, Double Dragon, Phantasy Star and many more (including the awful Altered Beast, but even that’s fun to download if you want something really ‘so bad it’s good’ to play). Even Dreamcast titles such as Space Channel 5, Crazy Taxi, Jet Set Radio, the brilliant puzzler Chu Chu Rocket along with the always glorious Castle of Illusion starring Mickey Mouse, albeit in a remastered visual upgrade. It’s still great though.

When you look at that list of a ton of games I enjoyed as a kid, my phone is full to the brim with all of them. Call it nostalgia, but when I was younger I was always SEGA. Sonic the Hedgehog was much cooler than some red and blue Italian guy jumping around on the back of a dinosaur that seemingly had no choice in the matter. SEGA games back in the day were tremendous fun, and being able to relive those experiences wherever I please at the touch of button is something I don’t take for granted.

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So whenever I’m stuck at an airport, on the plane, even waiting for that stupid bus that takes you from the departure gate to your plane and back, if I’m on my own and I’m being unsociable, the chances are I’m playing something from the SEGA back catalogue on my phone. These are games that I’ve completed over and over again, games that I can’t ever get tired of. Games that I know I’ll still enjoy in 20 years when I’m playing them from a chip inserted into my brain. I’ll more than likely be playing Sonic 2 and the like for generations to come and I’ll keep passing them down. If I end up living forever I’ll be playing them for the rest of time.

The beauty of mobile gaming is that it’s instant and it’s with you wherever you go. If you do need to kill some time then there it is, these classic experiences are there waiting for you in the palm of your hand whenever you wish to indulge. And as the technology gets better the games – and these remasters – will only get better.

At 28 years old, I feel stupidly old in this industry sometimes. The great thing about these retro SEGA games? They keep players young, and you never miss a beat.

Come play Sonic 2 with me sometime and see what happens kids, I DARE YOU.