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5 retro games you didn’t know you could play for free

Monsters swarm in the game Shadow Warrior Classic.

Screenshot: 3D realms

In the down moments of playing a disturbingly long MarioParty 2 game this weekend my friends are getting a garbage truck full of NES and Super NES games Nintendo Switch Online Membership—I began to wonder what other retro games were just a download away on publishers’ official stores.

By that I mean the Microsoft store for Xbox compatible games, Nintendo’s store for the Switch, and so on. There are actually some hidden freebies in there, and you might not have realized that these five games were so right at your fingertips. So hang up your hat, partner. The long night is over. Keep reading and check out five throwback games you can download for free right now.


1943: The Battle of Midway

In 1987, Japanese developer Capcom street fighter, Mega Manand among other arcade games the vert shoot ’em up 1943: The Battle of Midway. It was a slightly unsettling sequel to Capcom’s also disturbing shooter 1942released in 1984. Both games, strangely enough, revolve around the players’ US military planes shooting down Japanese fleets during World War II.

But if you don’t often analyze the presence of war in games and don’t bother with why a company decided to kill its own country’s soldiers to appeal to Americans, then, well, 1943: The Battle of Midway it’s kinda cool.

It’s simple: explode the evil planes! — but the colors are vibrant, the music is dynamic, and the repetitive shots will make you so zen that you’ll instantly forget the plot of any anti-war documentary you’ve ever seen. It is available for free when you download it Capcom Arcade Stadium on PlayStation or Switch, and you can add four more 19XX games for $2 each.

Download from the PlayStation store or the Nintendo store.


Pac man

Pac-Man in the form of a fortune cookie started making his way through a ghost-lined maze in 1980, and publisher Bandai Namco is still trying to satisfy its endless hunger in its oft-updated mobile version of the arcade phenomenon.

This version contains the traditional one Pac man maze you probably associate with arcades – a midnight blue map with edible dots and bonus dot fruits – along with additional mazes in “story mode”, themed events in “adventure mode” and a leaderboard for “tournament mode”. Surrender to the sounds of whining ghosts and download for your Apple or Android device.

Download from Apple App Store or Google Play.


Sonic the Hedgehog classic

1991 Sega Genesis side-scrolling platformer Sonic the Hedgehog takes on a new lease of life on mobile while retaining much of its original look and feel: gritty waves and trees, tufts of grass, and blocky dirt patches paving the way for the evil bald Dr. disable robotnik.

This updated version features a remastered version of the original, the classic sparkling Dreams Come True soundtrack, and is compatible with Xbox controllers. You can play on Apple and Android devices.

Download from Apple App Store or Google Play.


Pinball machine FX2

Microsoft Studios published Pinball machine FX2 in 2010, not reinventing wheels, but providing a solid virtual pinball experience with different themed tables (the aquatic Secrets of the Deepa Las Vegas takes on Rome, etc.). Flipping switches doesn’t feel or sound as snappy as in a real pinball machine, but then again, you usually can’t play those from the safety of your couch. You can play Pinball machine FX2 on Xbox and download free trials of additional themed boards Like it Star Wars and Aliens vs Pinballat.

Download from the Microsoft Store.


Shadow warrior classic

Former Zilla Enterprises bodyguard Lo Wang is shaken up in the 1997 first-person shooter Shadow Warrior: Mega corporations are bad. He finds out after his power abuse ex-boss sends a slew of demons after him as punishment for stopping, to which he responds by shooting them in the face as he runs across Japan.

Good for him. Although Lo Wang undoubtedly is a racist caricature, with stilted lines of dialogue with an awkward accent. And although the game is built with the same engine as Duke Nukem 3D, a modern audience might instead notice how simplistic the graphics look by modern standards. It’s far from perfect.

But as in Duke, Shadow WarriorThe developer’s fast-paced gunfights endure and developer 3D Realms’ obsession with filling every square inch with secret rooms and unexpected (sometimes gross) references offers an illuminating journey back to the weird early days of first-person shooters.

Download from Steam.


What other official freebies have you found on your travels through the Switch, PlayStation, and Xbox app stores? Tell me your best finds in the comments.

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