Sometimes, mobile games just aren’t enough. The convenience of cutting a rope to give a boxed creature a sweet might be fun, but like the aimless meandering inspired by Pokémon Go, it’s ultimately forgettable.
What you want on your Android smartphone or tablet are games that rock you to your core, experiences that pull you into the narrative, digital encounters that are ultimately unforgettable.
Yep, we’re talking about PC games here, desktop gaming magic from Windows and Mac personal computers. Console game ports—like classic Sega games—aren’t hard to find in app stores, but they just don’t seem to make PC versions like that for Android, do they?
Or do they? Well, this list of 10 classic PC games that you can play on Android should give you plenty to think about.
Each delivering considerably different experiences across three crime-centric worlds, the GTA games have been available on Android since Grand Theft Auto III debuted on Android in 2011. The experience of the titles barely differs from the PC version, with only the touchscreen controls proving a problem (and you have many options for Bluetooth and even USB controllers on modern Android devices).
Here’s a look at Vice City on Android:
While all three Grand Theft Auto games for Android will set you back around $25, there’s no need to buy all three at once.
If you love Android racing games, also have a look at these:
XCOM: Enemy Within $9.99
This 2013 expansion pack for the Windows game XCOM: Enemy Unknown is a full-length video game sequel to the same title on the Android platform. While this might seem somewhat confusing, don’t let this distract you from the beauty of this RTS.
Rather than hunt aliens (as with Enemy Unknown), in XCOM: Enemy Within you command a team to not only track down and destroy the alien invaders, but also deal with the rogue transhumans, a faction called EXALT. This is a great expansion/sequel to the previous title, one that takes the storyline in a memorable, cinematic direction.
Incidentally, the developers are so keen on making their games available across multiple platforms, that the sequel XCOM 2 is even available for Linux!
Another automobile-based game that involves a whole host of RTAs, Carmageddon is a far darker, less realistic driving experience. In short, you get points for blasting other road users, whether they’re vehicles or pedestrians.
It’s pretty tasteless, but it was a hugely popular game in its day (no doubt due to it being banned in many countries), and it’s now enjoying popularity again on the Play Store.
Unlike the GTA games, where you could, if so inclined, drive ultra-carefully so as to avoid harming pedestrians or crashing your car (an entire subgroup of fans play this way), in Carmageddon you literally have no choice, as the race-style scenarios mean that if you don’t, someone else (usually an AI-controlled opponent) will, and your car will be destroyed as a result.
Our own Tim Brookes took a look at the revived Carmageddon, and it really is as good as you remember, if not better.
Tomb Raider 1 (Original) [No Longer Available]
It took me years to give Tomb Raider a real try. I’d seen Lara Croft, of course, and remember her being based on popular British model Nell McAndrew in the original game, long before Angelina Jolie’s movies came along. I was also a pretty big fan of then-publisher Eidos’ other work, but for some reason… nah, these games just left me a bit cold.
Obviously I was totally wrong, and finally sanity hit me like a brick a few months ago when I tried Lara Croft: Go recently (despite the price tag). Inspired by this smart, challenging arcade puzzler, I decided to give the original a try, and I enjoyed it!
Tomb Raider II is also available for Android. [No Longer Available]
Dragon’s Lair $4.99
The oldest title in the list, the original Dragon’s Lair hit the upright arcade machines on Laserdisc format back in 1983! Despite the impressive-looking, animation-style graphics (courtesy of The Land Before Time‘s Don Bluth), gameplay was limited to a few repeated steps, the aim of which was to guide the hero, Dirk the Daring, around various challenges. These quick time events meant that the control system was contextual to the challenge, and the character moved automatically through other stages and proto-cutscenes.
Dragon’s Lair‘s sequels and other games built with the same technology (such as Space Ace) have also been released on Android.
Twenty years on, the strange house of PC point-and-click adventure gaming is back! Upscaled to high-definition video and compatible with your device’s touchscreen, this often-disturbing game gives you a simple challenge: Survive a night in a haunted house.
Taking advantage of full-motion video (a technique largely ignored by games in the interim, at least until the arrival of Contradiction on iPad), The 7th Guest is a memorable gaming experience and gives you over two hours of engaging, immersive gameplay.
Not a bad deal.
Doom 3: BFG Edition $9.95
Featuring mobile versions of Doom, Doom II and Doom 3, this is a long-overdue debut on Android for the most hellish, creepy, and physically exciting FPS of all time (and the first-person shooter has come a long way!). We really can’t tell you anything about the Doom series that you haven’t heard before, so the best thing you can do is check the video and then demand that Google Play take your money.
It truly looks awesome, but there’s a downside. Sadly, Doom 3: BFG Edition is limited to the Nvidia Shield and related devices.
Another classic point-and-click PC title that has been revived for Android, Baldur’s Gate features a variety of memorable characters and a striking storyline that continues to excite gamers 18 years later after its release.
Baldur’s Gate is typical fantasy fare, but the characterization, voice work and storyline is so strong, and the gameplay so slick, that it’s a game you’re likely to go back to, again and again. Expansion packs and premium content are also available to purchase, while Baldur’s Gate II is also available for Android.
Grim Fandango Remastered $9.99
This remastered version upgrades the graphics, as you might expect, and takes the player back into the world of Manny Calavera, as this classic Lucasfilm title overcomes death! Visually inspired by classic Hollywood film noir and based on Aztec afterlife, Grim Fandango Remastered has improved lighting and hi-res character textures, as well as a re-recorded score (with a full live orchestra) and over two hours of commentary from the developers.
Not a bad deal, given the remastered game’s price tag!
Half-Life 2 $9.99
Easily in my personal top 5 video games, Half-Life 2 has until recently been permanently installed on my Windows PC. Well, until the mobile version came along, that is. There is something about being a particle physicist in a hazmat suit and glasses, wandering around a post-apocalyptic Eastern Europe-style environment to bring down the alien overlords and human quislings that I just can’t let go of!
Available officially for Nvidia Shield devices (although as well as Windows, the game is now available for Linux and Mac), here’s a look at Half-Life 2 on Android:
It’s worth noting that if you don’t have an Nvidia Shield, other Tegra-equipped Android devices are capable of running Half-Life 2 — you can find the instructions on YouTube. Along with Half-Life 2: Episode 1 and Half-Life 2: Episode 2, other Steam titles are also available for the same range of devices, including Portal.
Amazingly, we’ve found TEN classic PC games that are now available on Android, either in their original guise, or with enhanced graphics and performance. But did we miss one? Do you know of some other top classic PC gaming titles that are ready to download from the Play Store? If so, tell us about it in the comments.
If you’re looking for more ways to get more out of your PC games, you can use Parsec to play local co-op games online.