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Analogue Mega Sg Lets You Play SEGA Mega Drive Games in HD

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You can now play your old SEGA Mega Drive games on your HD TV lag-free! Imagine!

Analogue first came to my attention with the super sleek aluminium Nt Mini which is a luxury version of the NES Mini. Unlike the various clones of the NES Mini on the market it wasn’t an emulation. It played all your old Nintendo and original Famicom games plus various add-ons and extras where you could essentially customise the console in look and sound. With the success of the Nt Mini and Super Nt, Analogue have now set their sights on SEGA with the Mega Sg, and I for one am way too over excited!

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Due to be released in March 2019 and costing around £150, you can get your preorders in now. There is no need to drag out a heavy CRT TV to experience retro gaming, as you can now play in HD without losing out on video and audio quality. The Mega Sg which can play over 2180 classic cartridges, will make the knock off retro gaming toys out there look very silly!

I am a big SEGA Mega Drive fan. I transitioned straight from the daddy of retro game consoles, Atari, to a Sinclair ZX Spectrum to a 16-bit revolution with a Mega Drive. Yes, I had my dalliances with a Nintendo Game Boy and enduring chronic thumb fatigue playing Track & Field, but receiving a Mega Drive for Christmas with a 6 in 1 game cartridge with the likes of The Revenge of Shinobi, Columns and Golden Axe was and still is my happy place.

Here’s the science!

This bad boy is NOT an emulation machine like the other plug n play systems. This means no lag with video output and 1080p Hi Definition graphics all engineered with FPGA technology. The FPGA is a chip that simulates the original Mega Drive hardware instead of an emulation with software. The audio packs a 48KHz 16 bit stereo which essentially means the sound is upscaled to the highest digital quality. So no more complaints of distorted, variations of sounds when you’re trying to beat those “I only have one move” flying kick bitches in Streets of Rage!

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The use of such high-end tech and precision engineering allows the Mega Sg to be free from compromises allowing you to play all the games as they were intended to be played all those years ago.

“We design systems to celebrate and explore the history of video games with the respect it deserves,” – Analogue.

As well as SEGA Mega Drive/Genesis cartridges and of course the Sega Master System, you are also able to use an original Mega-CD with the Sega Sg. There is a connector concealed in the expansion door that allows you to plug in and get going!

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Analogue are all about preserving the rich gaming history of old skool video games and the consoles of our childhood, so of course they have thought about everything! And by everything, I mean, game cartridge adapters for Game Gear, Mark III, Sega MyCard, SG-1000 and the SC-3000. So, you can play even more retro games and avail of the sophistication and accuracy of FPGA.

With the Mega Sg you can use your old SEGA controllers but if you don’t have them then you will unfortunately have to purchase the control pads separately for roughly £20. But that’s not so bad as Analogue have super fancy wireless 8bitDo M30 controllers that come in black in white… and they look the business!

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I know I know, historically speaking wireless controllers used with retro gaming consoles have always been a taboo matter, mainly down to the fact of the annoying lag you can experience with gameplay, but these wireless 2.4GHz control pads (not Bluetooth) are lag-free. Of course! Even though I have original Mega Drive gamepads, I still think I will purchase these… because reasons!

If you’re a SEGA fan and you want to invest in a bit of tech that we make you cry nostalgic tears of joy… then you need to hit up Analogue post haste!  

General Spec of Mega Sg

Colours

*USA, Europe, Japan and White.

Dimensions

*138mm (L)

*168mm (W)

*47mm (H)

 What You Get in the Box

*Analogue Mega Sg

*Analogue SEGA Master System Cartridge Adapter

*USB Cable

*HDMI Cable

*USB Power Cable

 Compatibility

*Mega Drive/Genesis and Sega Master System Cartridges

* Game Gear, Mark III, Sega MyCard, SG-1000 and the SC-3000

*Mega-CD

*Region Free (PSU: 100-240v, 50-60hz)

 Audio

*48Hz 16-bit

*Digital audio via HDMI

*3.5mmm Headphone Jack

 Video

*HDMI 1080p/720p/480p

*NTSC and PAL Support

*Zero Signal Degradation, Lag Free

 Special Features

*Original styled controller ports for Mega Drive/Master System

*Original connector for Mega-CD

*SD Card Slot for Firmware Updates

 8BitDo M30 Game Controller – 2.4g Wireless Receiver

*20hr Battery Life

*Auto Sleep Mode After 15 Minutes

*Lag-Free

 

Why Is Retro Gaming So Popular : The Science Behind The Fun

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The average age of someone who identifies as a retro gamer is apparently 34 years old. And by ‘retro gamer’ I mean someone who likes to get overly animated when it comes to the old skool classic consoles of Atari, Sinclair Spectrum, Amiga and of course the more well-known Nintendo, SEGA and Sony PlayStation. Playing video games that date back to the 1980s and 1990s is not just an aimless meander down memory lane for those who are hiding from the 21st Century. (well… ok… sometimes this is true!) It’s more about the nostalgic feels that makes us warm and fuzzy as we indulge in our whimsical childhood memories. Memories of button bashing the hell out of Street Fighter or advancing through levels of Sonic resonates with the adult version of you.

The earliest game console came on the scene in the 1970s. It was called a Magnavox Odyssey and was the first commercial home gaming console. The monochrome screen brought the delights of the classic game Pong. In the late 70s/early 80s you had the explosion of Atari with such titles as Asteroids, Centipede, Breakout, Pitfall and the first game I ever played, Frogger. You may have also embraced the 8-bit likes of a Commodore 64, Sinclair Spectrum or Amiga. And then moving into the 1990s there was the great console wars between SEGA and Nintendo.

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As we entered the 21st century, ‘old’ gaming consoles were considered obsolete and terribly uncool with many folk opting for technological advancements with enhanced graphics, better audio, faster processors and the need for an immersive, layered story when it came to their gameplay experience.

We’ve come a long way from the simplicity of Pong to the latest stunning visuals of Zelda!

We’ve come a long way from the simplicity of Pong to the latest stunning visuals of Zelda!

Collaborative games became ‘a thing’. Online gaming was where the party was at… And if you could play games on the move from your mobile phone, then you were winning at life. Convenience and speed were considered paramount in a world where we desperately needed to experience every-damn-thing in real time. Nobody had time for loading a game anymore or troubleshooting a heavily pixelated frozen screen by blowing into the cartridge!

The big game developers were consistently creating award winning games and even indie game studios were regularly releasing huge hits. The gaming industry was doing just fine… but as if from nowhere, people began dusting off their old childhood consoles and scouring the internet for second hand classics.

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There was a resurgence in vintage items and memorabilia, and with that forgotten names like Atari, SNES, SEGA Mega Drive and Gameboy were once again thrust into the public over 30 years later. What the hell was happening and what brought this huge wave of popularity with retro gaming??

Money

Some say that the expense of modern game consoles like Xbox, Switch and PlayStation are making the 30-something year olds revolt back to simple, cheaper forms of gaming. To be a modern gamer you have to be willing to spend your fun tokens on add-ons, expansion packs, upgrades and in-game purchases just to complete a game. Whereas old skool gamers can play a retro video game from start to finish with only being out of pocket for the price of the game itself.

Resilience

Durability is also a huge pull for vintage video game systems. You should be able to dig out a SEGA Mega Drive from hibernation in the attic with a little wipe, and then kick off a game immediately. Whereas the newer gaming consoles would probably have a system meltdown if you tried rebooting it after it was dormant for 20 years. There is a warm reassurance you get with older game consoles that is completely absent from the fancy pants machines we have now.

Superiority and Simplicity

Another argument is that the old games and consoles from the 80s and 90s are just better and gamers are simply favouring these over the modern titles. It’s not just about the technology and build of the games and the consoles, but also about the characters like Pac-Man, Link from Zelda, Sonic and Mario who all captured the imagination of an entire generation which can be lacking in contemporary games. Yeah sure the graphics are immense… but if the narrative sucks then what’s the point? Many retro gamers also champion the simplicity of gameplay from back in the day. There were no online video tutorials or walk through cheats to download. You had three lives and you kept on going no matter how hard and fast the game evolved.

All of the above are of course factors in the ever-rising reputation of retro gaming, but I think it’s the power punch of nostalgia that has made us want to rekindle the magic!

Nostalgia is understood to be a mix of bittersweet emotions both negative and positive. They are anchored to memories of meaningful events and intrinsically linked to relationships. There are also two main triggers. External triggers can be a song on the radio throwing you right back to a school disco or a smell which reminds you of Sunday lunch at your nans. Internal triggers are the emotions that are brought on by feelings of boredom and loneliness. The number one thing that nostalgia has been proven to do, is to promote well-being and mental health especially for those living with dementia.

The force of nostalgic marketing is fierce! Gaming companies jumped on the idea of bottling nostalgia and they did it well by reproducing old consoles with new tech like the SNES Mini and SEGA plug and play consoles. You could now play 16-bit classics on a modern HD television with wireless controllers if you wanted to. It was seen as the picture-perfect marriage between old and new. When Nintendo released the NES Classic in 2016, they sold out of all 2.3 million of them. This Christmas the classic Sony PlayStation mini version will be available and is already tipped to be just as popular.

We get excited about classic video games just like we do old films and music. Kids of the 80s and 90s are now reliving their youth through fairly inexpensive retro game consoles, and we are now old enough to be able to afford the art of playing! The pleasure of indulging our nostalgia has paved way for the huge hype in all things retro with no clear signs of it being ‘Game Over’ anytime soon!

 

 

Retro Gamers Buying Guide For Beginners 2019

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Whether you have a nostalgic itch to scratch or you are a serious retro gamer who laughs in the face of the mini classic consoles that have exploded in popularity over the last couple of years, there’s no getting away from the fact that retro gaming is big business right now. Personally, I fall into the retro geek camp of 30-something year olds who yearn to stop the ageing process by playing with games from my childhood… because adulting is just too hard! I’m not an expert on the technical spec of every old school video game console from 1977 and I’m not going to scoff at those who have jumped on the bandwagon of retro gaming in recent years. I own an original SEGA Mega Drive because it epitomises my childhood and I’m a sucker for nostalgic marketing! But I also have a SNES Classic Mini because my motivation behind playing video games has always been fun even if it comes in a teeny tiny all in one game console that fits perfectly in the palm of my hand! If that kinda logic offends you then…

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My point is, however you wish to get your pixelated kicks is up to you… because retro gaming snobbery doesn’t live here!

The accessibility to retro gaming has never been easier but I understand that deciding to invest in this hobby can be slightly overwhelming with so many options and opinions. Plus, there’s the eye candy distractions of gaming rooms like these, where you convince yourself that you need immediately! (You don’t. Chill out!)

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You also want affordability when settling on a particular console of yesteryear. One that will suit your budget, because we’re at the age now where we have bills to pay! So, this guide is aimed to help the novice amongst you who want to effectively figure shit out before they throw fun tokens at experiencing the classic gaming world again.

The Original Purist

If you just want to jump right in and you are an all or nothing kind of person, then getting your hands on an original game console is where you want to be. The best way to experience vintage video games is to go straight to the source of origin which means investing in the genuine game cartridges, accessories, controllers and of course the original Atari, NES, SNES, Mega Drive or perhaps Sinclair ZX Spectrum! This route is considered more for those who are into the idea of being a serious game collector and not for those who just want to dick around for a few hours playing Mario Kart for sentimental reasons.

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Obtaining a classic gaming system with all the peripherals is fairly simple especially on the interweb. The likes of eBay and Amazon are the obvious big online merchants to find second hand retro gaming goodies, but look out for sites like Gumtree, Adverts.ie or a quick Google search to find gaming specialists in your area. I prefer the face to face transaction from those who actually know what they’re talking about like the guys at The R.A.G.E in Dublin rather than rudeboy_92 from some obscure online forum who over uses emojis! You can also look into retro gaming exhibitions and events near you like Retro Games Fair or Play Expo Manchester which essentially brings together a load of gaming enthusiasts under one roof, including retailers who are showcasing a lot of retro consoles and games for you to pick up and take home. Winner!

Just be aware that if you are wanting to go all guns blazing down this route, you will have to invest a few quid financially. Original games in decent condition are considered rare and so will come with a higher price tag. You also need to consider the space and storage for your multiple consoles and a possible CRT TV.

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The majority of us have a fancy HD television sat in our living room which now come without such trivial things as an ‘archaic’ scart connector. Imagine! So, if you’re resolute about the bona fide gaming experience that comes with a retro game console, then you’re going to need the old school kit to go with it. And a HD telly is just not it! Most serious gamers who play original video games have a CRT TV like you had when you were younger. This is what the consoles were designed to be played on so if you’re wanting authenticity, then this is the best way to enjoy it. You will also not be able to use a light gun which you would use to play classics like Duck Hunt on the NES because that will not work on a modern LCD TV.

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Just be wary of trying to marry old tech with new tech, because when your AV TV scart cable for your SEGA Master System doesn’t match with your 65” Smart HD TV with laser beams and a unicorn, there will be tears!

All in One Game Consoles

The all in one retro game console has been boosted in reputation over the last few years with the big names in the gaming world bringing out their own plug and play retro consoles. Notably Nintendo with the SNES Mini Classic which had people salivating with excitement over its release and now the new PlayStation Classic which will be here in time for Christmas. They both come with around 30 memorable and popular in-built games and mimic the look and style of the original consoles and controllers but with upgraded parts made for your modern life. For example, USB ports and HDMI connections.  

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I find these little bad boys fab for the part-time retro gamers out there who are looking to relive your youth without the commitment to an original retro gaming system as mentioned above. The only drawback is that with the all in one console like the SNES Mini Classic, there are no straight forward work-arounds of playing your old game cartridges. The miniature consoles are just an attractive model version. Unless you are a bit of a tech whizz and know how to jailbreak it in order to load more games onto it, then you are stuck with the pre-installed games.

The only plug and play game consoles that are designed to accommodate your old game cartridges, seem to be the Atari Flashback with 101 games installed and the SEGA Mega Drive that has 80 games ready to go. This to me makes perfect sense and it’s a shame that Nintendo and Sony have not allowed this magical hybrid to happen.  

All in One Video Arcades

If your idea of retro gaming is heading to the arcades with a pocket full of coins and button bashing until your heart’s content, then getting yourself one of these mini arcades could suit you best. Not only can you have up to 1000 classic retro games pre-installed on one machine, but you also get to experience the look and feel of having an arcade in your home. Let’s face it, they look awesome! There are various models on the market from legitimate brands but some unfortunately are a poor man’s version. For example, there has been comments about duplicated games on the system so you’re not getting the promised number of games as advertised or there’s a lag in gameplay where a cheaper joystick has been installed. To distinguish between the good and bad, I would suggest that you read all the reviews available to you online before you tap in your card details. These types of plug n play video games are on the pricier side due to their optimised hardware, gaming catalogue, size and of course the stylised graphics.

You will also have to consider where the hell you will put this in your gaff as they’re not as portable as a mini SEGA Mega Drive with a couple of dangly controllers. A mini arcade will be more of a permanent fixture that can’t just sit on the dining table!

Emulation with RetroPie

This option is very popular amongst the hardcore gamers who like the idea of a DIY project where they have control over what games they play and on which platform. Essentially, an emulator simulates the original gaming hardware from all the great retro games consoles like Nintendo, Atari, SEGA, Commodore etc. It can play infinite amount of classic games and with the help of the RetroPie app that can be installed on a Raspberry Pi, you can have all your childhood games stuffed into one neat computer! The actual games remain untouched in quality but if your emulator doesn’t replicate a true likeness to the original game, for example if it runs at different speed or the audio is off, then that’s when it can cause issues. 

The reason why so many gamers enjoy emulators is because they get to tweak and customise the gaming system to their liking. You can add Bluetooth and Wi-Fi capabilities and even use your controllers from Xbox or PlayStation. There are also tons of guides and helpful YouTube videos to get you setup and troubleshoot any problems you may have.

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The only real downside for using a retro gaming emulator would be the fact that you have to build it yourself. It is more powerful than an all in one game console with a few built in games but with great power, comes a lot more effort and fiddly parts! You also have to be careful about illegally downloading certain games from the big names like Nintendo. This is technically piracy and gaming companies are becoming more vigilant with stopping users downloading ROMs that they don’t own.

5 in 1 Consoles

Now in theory these appear great and convenient for those who require flexibility and are on a budget. The idea is that instead of having many retro game consoles you can just have the one universal console that can play more than one gaming platform. It’s like a Swiss Army knife of consoles! However, be careful as logic suggests that the more games you can play on one system, the more that will inevitably go wrong with it. If you have one machine that is dedicated to playing the compatible games that it’s designed for, then you’re looking at a better quality of gameplay. If you know that you will be playing specifically one retro system, then get the console which supports that. However, if you don’t want to invest in various different game consoles and you genuinely have a vast array of games for different systems, then these 5 in 1 may be exactly what you’re looking for.

Points to Remember

  • If you’re buying an all in one type plug and play game console, don’t get too carried away with the modern advancements like a wireless controller. These can cause problems with gameplay and they tend to lag. Go for connected controllers or the originals.

  • If you are wanting to go for the full retro gaming experience, then you need to consider space in your home to accommodate this hobby. A gaming room/den might be necessary with appropriate furniture and the correct storage in order to keep your consoles and games in tip top condition. Dust is the number one killer of vintage video game systems!

  • When you’re scouting for new games it’s best to go to a dedicated retro game retailer rather than a random seller on the internet. This is because you are much more likely to be purchasing the genuine article with original hardware and not a knockoff emulation.

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Retro Game Review : 112 in 1 Sega Mega Drive Game Cartridge

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So recently I came across a product on Amazon that I rolled my eyes so hard at I’m fairly certain I sprained my cornea! It was a Sega Mega Drive game cartridge for 112 games in 1.

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The fact that it was £15 made me think that it was nonsense, or it was full of 112 obscure games with many many duplicates. As described, the game is for only genuine Mega Drive consoles and not compatible with the all in one Sega emulators that also take cartridges. So, as I have an original and I was clearly procrastinating the crap out of my day, I figured I would read on. And by read on, I mean check the reviews.

It has an overall rating of 3.5 stars out of 5 but scrolling down the product page, there is a mixed bag of 1 and 2 star reviews muddled with a handful of 5 stars. My spidey sceptical senses were tingling especially when some folk were saying “Avoid, scam!” or “If I could give this a 0 star I would.” But, my disregard to flaws and always wanting to fight for the underdog, I decided to trust the better reviews and throw money at it because it was payday and I was a little drunk! Yay drunk online purchases!

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And let’s face it, 112 Sega Mega Drive games for 15 quid does sound super attractive.

A few days later my game arrived in an Amazon cardboard envelope. There was no fancy packaging just the cartridge wrapped tightly in bubble wrap and a small plastic bag.

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I eagerly booted up my Mega Drive, inserted the game cartridge… and I honestly waited for it to either blow up, melt or just show me a black screen with ERROR stamped across it! However, once loaded I simply was greeted with the menu of a shed load of games.

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As I scrolled through, I recognised some classics from serials like Streets of Rage, Shinobi and Sonic. But as I got further on in the list I realised that I had stumbled into no man’s land of games I had never heard of. 

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I decided to ignore that for now and figured the only way to see if this was worth anything, would be to actually play it! So, I started with Streets of Rage 2 and I quickly realised from being a die-hard original Streets of Rage fan, why I never really liked this sequel. But apart from my loyalty to the original game, there was nothing abhorrently wrong with the gameplay. The soundtrack still made me feel like I was tripping out in a Japanese electronic dance club, and there appeared to be no glitches. Winner so far.

I then hit restart and played the classic Sonic the Hedgehog. I wanted to see what it was like compared to my original Sonic game in audio and picture quality. I took a couple photos and videos for comparison and then tried to detect any differences.

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I couldn’t find a difference between the original Sonic the Hedgehog and the Sonic installed on a cartridge stuffed with 112 games. Now I’m not a pro retro gamer. I have never pretended to be completely schooled in the fine art of vintage video games. I play because it’s fun and I rarely pay attention if the graphics or audio are slightly amiss from the original. As long as the gameplay is good then…  

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After my little test I scanned through the list a little more and got far too overexcited at a few Sega platform games like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Captain America. However, I would need more procrastination tokens to give these games a real go.

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In conclusion…

Pros of 112 in 1 for Sega Mega Drive Game Cartridge

If you’re a casual retro gamer like myself looking to pass some hours for nostalgia’s sake, then this is a great 16-bit buy. When you think that a standalone game can be easily upwards of £20, then £15 for a fair few decent games is bargain town! It’s a fab little journey down memory lane for all you button bashers who enjoy keeping active by consuming alcoholic beverages whilst screaming at your TV screen!

Cons of 112 in 1 for Sega Mega Drive Game Cartridge

If you’re a purist retro gamer, then you probably will hate everything that this stands for! The cartridge does look like a dodgy rip off from Wembley Market circa 1995! And yes, you do get some classic games like Contra, Golden Axe and Double Dragon to dick around with… but you also get a load of games listed in no particular order (which will ruin your OCD!) that are also spelled like someone sneezed!

Overall rating: A solid 7/10

Top Free 80s and 90s Retro Games for the iPhone

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So, are you rocking the latest fancy pants iPhone like every other unimaginative lemming (including myself!) on the planet? Every time my contract is due for a renewal I curse the moons and the stars at how rubbish my now obsolete iPhone is and threaten to cross over to the dark side of SAMSUNG! However, due to me being a creature of habit/lazy mofo and not being a fan of change, I always continue with Apple and ignore the enticing alternative of Android.

The thing is… I may be turned on with ridiculous uber modern techy shite like paying for groceries via my phone… that can only be opened with my entire giant face BUT I also find myself desperately clinging onto the good old retro inspired days especially when it comes to gaming. If I could carry around my Sega Mega Drive and SNES Mini I would... but I fear that I would be this kind of unnecessary hipster wanker!

When vintage and modernity collide... but you're also still a bit of a twat!

When vintage and modernity collide... but you're also still a bit of a twat!

So how do we marry the old grumpy assholes of the world who refuse to move on from their childhood with new technology?? By playing retro video games on your iOS device of choice! Obviously.

Here are my top 5 80s & 90s retro games you can blissfully play on your iPhone all the live long day! I went for simplicity and a heavy dose of nostalgia when picking these. The kind of games that you can tap away on your iPhone when waiting for a bus wishing you called in sick to work! (All games are available for free from the iOS App Store.)

One – Sonic The Hedgehog 2

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I mean, Sonic numero uno is fun and all... but Sonic The Hedgehog 2 in my opinion ups the frivolity and merriment when you have your pal Tails in the mix! This game was originally released in 1992 and you can now be happily kicking Dr. “Eggman” Robotnik’s ass on your daily commute into work in 2018! Woooo science and stuff! This version of the iconic Sega game is the most complete with regards to gameplay with a remastered soundtrack we all will instantly recognise. You can play this game for free (with the usual ad free in-app purchases if you like) Explore 12 zones, collect rings, take on the Time Attack mode and you can also fly as Tails!

Two – Snake ‘97

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If you didn’t spend hours on your Nokia 3210 following a snake around on dot-matrix screen trying not to die… did you even grow up in the 90s?! This is a homage to yesteryear where we all lost ourselves in the most iconic mobile phone game from the 1990s. Snake has all the old features complete with the same monotone sound effects! Get addicted once again and lose more precious hours of your life on this classic retro game!

Three – PAC-MAN

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This highly addictive game is certainly one of, if not THE most popular video games in the entire history of gaming… ever! Recreate the classic arcade feel with your fingers and thumbs as you scurry around in a dark pixelated room popping pills and running away from ghosts! You can play in new tournaments, opt for one of three game difficulty levels including the original 1980 PAC-MAN as well as getting hints and tips along the way. If you’re going to get your retro gaming on, then playing with this iconic character on your iPhone is a good place to start!

Four – Space Invaders

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This is another arcade classic from one of the world’s longest running gaming franchises! Earth is being attacked and you need to defend our planet against the relentless assault! Ooooh drama! Space Invaders along with PAC-MAN are classic examples of gameplay getting faster and harder until you die… a bit like life! Play Space Invaders for free on your iPhone by tilting your phone to steer your spaceship and tapping left or right to blow the crap outta the enemy! For an instant gratification and wave of wistfulness, Space Invaders will keep you distracted long enough to miss your stop on the train!

Five – Breakout

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Breakout is an Atari classic that had gaming geeks hooked forever… or until your mum called you for dinner! This arcade must-have now can be played on your iPhone with enhanced graphics and added features like power ups and boost control. Sounds exciting right?!! You initially get 10 free levels and then you are able to purchase 200+ additional levels. Get involved and share your top scores with the global leader board, because nothing says I have too much time on my hands like an Atari Breakout top score!