3 Free iOS Arcade Quarter-Wasters

When it comes to gaming, those who play will tell you there are two basic types; Modern and Old School.

Modern games are full of graphical glory, deep story lines, and in-your-face effects that blur the line between what’s real and what’s only a game. On iOS devices these game might include Infinity Blade (Infinity Blade 2 is out, in case you didn’t already know) Rage HD, Nanosaur 2, Real Racing, Dead Space, and others.

Old School games, on the other hand, tend to rely less on graphics and more on puzzle solving and quick reflexes. Here we might include Dig-Dug, Burger Time, Space Ace and a gazillion others. You get the idea.

There are those who have an affinity for Old School games that’s not fueled by nostalgia. Great Old School quarter wasters will always have a place in the hearts and minds of even the most casual gamer. Why? Because they are so accessible.

Many Old Schoolers were designed to grab your attention while you idle through an arcade, mock your skills, then get you out of the way for the next player. It was all about quarters. You seldom got backstories because then you’d have a reason to stand there to take it in, thus hogging the machine from others who might want to drop two bits in the slot and knock you out of the top score spot.

Even the more graphically advanced Old Schoolers, like the early Tekken and Street Fighter games, minimized the story lines on arcade consoles. With the possible exception of the arcade version of Trivial Pursuit, testing your literary aptitude never made anyone rich in the world of old school console games.

I must have dropped my weight in quarters into consoles playing Galaga, Frogger, and, of course, PacMan and the many clones and variations of these games. Whenever I pass an arcade that still sports a Old School console featuring any of these games I will often stop for a moment and see if I still got my old joystick chops. I usually leave a bit disappointed after realizing that I’m older and slower. Still, the fun I had was worth the four bits wasted (inflation!).

Now, thanks to my iPad and iPhone, I can save a few quarters and still enjoy Old School gaming at its best because I can get many of those old quarter wasters for free, or nearly so.


Take Galaga for instance. Namco Bandai now offers up a free 30th Anniversary iOS version that’s true to the original, but they added a little some-some, when you fire up the game you are treated to an intro movie that is as fun as it is imaginative. X-Wing like fighters square off against rocket(?) powered insects deep in space. There’s lots of swooping and explosions. The action is cool and mesmerizing.


Wisely, the game makers let you bypass the intro with a simple screen tap because, though it’s cool and all, it can get a bit tiring if you’re forced to watch it each time you want to play. You can also buy other versions of Galaga (Galaga, Galaga 88, and Gaplus, all 30th anniversary editions). Galaxian is free to play.


Once you’re in the game arcade memories come flooding back. Bug formations line up, kamikaze bugs peel off and dive while raining certain death from above, you maneuver your fighter avoiding enemy fire and ships while unleashing a firestorm of your own. Big fun!


Grab Galaga 30th Anniversary Edition and relive the days of alien swarm destruction.

If bug blasting isn’t your thing, then maybe an amphibian dodging traffic is.

Frogger Free

Frogger Free is an iPhone/iPod Touch game (there’s an iPad oriented free version as well) that really puts the “old” in Old School. You get the original 8-bit graphics, sound, and game play. Help your fly-eating friend make it from one side of the river, road, or whatever to the other side without getting squished. Swipe to jump in any direction.


If you’d rather have old school game play with updated graphics, that’s an option too. You’ll also find a Turbo (faster), Nighttime (dark with limited visibility), and Inferno (leave a trail of fire) options.


Like Galaga, you can buy an upgraded version, or other Konami games, and you can buy an ad-free version, but Frogger Free will suffice if all you want is a taste of nostalgia.

And if you find Frogger Free fun then you’ll positively panic over Pac-Man Lite.


Pac-Man Lite (and Pac-Man Lite for iPad) looks so much like an arcade console that you’d swear you can hear the BeeGees stayin’ alive in the background.

On the right side of the screen there’s a virtual joystick, a menu button on the left. The joystick is pretty responsive, but I was left wanting a physical stick to hold on to. Still, pushing that hungry yellow guy around that maze while dodging Blinky, Pinky, Inky and Clyde is as much fun as it ever was.


PacMan Lite is ad supported, and, of course, you can buy an ad free version, but this version will do just fine. And the price is right.

That’s a wrap for this week.

More free gaming below with direct links.