Tech Review: Apps recreate early video games

Frogger app. Frogger app.

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Games developed for today's smartphones and tablets feature graphics that make games played on even the most expensive PCs of decades ago look primitive. For grizzled gamers who want to relive the early days of zapped aliens and squished frogs, these ancient artifacts have been recovered -- if not updated -- for mobile devices.

Atari's Greatest Hits

(iOS, Android; free)

This might more accurately be named Atari's Greatest Hit, because only one title -- Missile Command -- is included. About 100 other classic Atari titles are available as in-app purchases. Those who remember playing games on an Atari 2600 when it was released in time for the holiday season 36 years ago will see similar graphics and hear the familiar sounds produced by the classic console.

Commodore 64

(iOS, $4.99)

You can sense the developer's care in creating this app that turns an iOS device into a Commodore 64 emulator. Many veteran gamers began with the classic C64 computer, released 32 years ago this January. But game play can be difficult on this fairly expensive app, which comes with eight classic titles. The graphics look not just precentury but prehistoric -- exactly as a game played on an original C64 you might still have somewhere in your garage.

Duke Nukem 3D(iOS, $0.99; Android; free)

Today's shoot-'em-up games such as Grand Theft Auto can trace their violence, panache and themes to this wildly popular 1996 game. A faithful re-creation of the vintage PC version, the app follows action hero Duke as he fights aliens bent on destroying Earth. But game play is difficult, so even if you remember mastering the game 17 years ago, the aliens have a good chance of prevailing on your mobile.

Frogger

(iOS, Android; free)

This arcade superstar came out in 1981, and the iconic amphibian trying to cross a busy street has become such a part of American culture it was featured in an episode of "Seinfeld." But game play on phones is not easy, mainly because the already small screen is truncated by ads.

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