How I'm reliving my childhood through Android apps

As if it wasn't already obvious, nostalgia is in, everyone. 'Tis the season for unearthing your middle school journals, busting out the retro video game consoles for marathon summer gaming sessions, and making playlists for the sole purpose of reminding you of that one faithful night.

Nostalgia doesn't seem to be limited to my bubble either. Every old thing seems to be getting a reboot, from the Twin Peaks TV show to the Nokia 3310 cellphone, to high-rise jeans (Frankly, a fad I can get behind). I'm not sure if this is 2017 or 1997 anymore, so I thought that maybe it would be entertaining to use my Galaxy S8 as a time machine and take me back to when Bill Clinton was in the Oval Office and the Spice Girls were my favorite thing.

Games that take you back

Perhaps the best way to truly relive your past is through video games for the simple reason that they're interactive. Playing Ecco II: The Tides of Time, for instance, brings me back to the arduous summer of 1995, when I realized that there was just no way in hell I was ever going to beat that game. That was the first time in my kid life that I'd experienced crushing defeat.

Minesweeper: the game that only a few could conquer.

Minesweeper: the game that only a few could conquer.

If you were a fan of the Sonic the Hedgehog games, you might want to grab the original title from the Play Store (opens in new tab) (and pay the $1.99 to remove ads). It's been specially optimized for the mobile playing experience and it lets you save your game progress — not a thing you could do in 1991. You can also play as either Tails or Knuckles through the classic Sonic levels as soon as you finish your first round of the storyline.

I also sought out a classic Nokia-era Snake redux for my personal pleasure. This one's (opens in new tab) fun because it features old school controls and you can choose your background to be one of five classic Nokia phones. This Minesweeper (opens in new tab) app is a blast from the past, too, though I'll never be able to properly play the game, and Microsoft's Solitaire (opens in new tab) reminds me of how I'd always use the original program as a ruse so my Dad wouldn't catch me on the dial-up internet. (Sorry, Dad.)

Retro-inspired fare

Part of what's helping fuel all of this sentiment and longing for the good old days is the fact that fads are cyclical and we're at a point in time when the aura of the nineties and early millennium are what sells to the youths (I think).

I found some apps that hearken back to a digital time of yore and twist it up so it's modern again. For instance, this app called Photo Text ASCII Art (opens in new tab) will help you transform your modern-day marvels into a relics of the past with a literal touch of a button, and then you can share those creations through other apps.

Vaporwave is also a musical genre that's sparked and evolved precisely because of this same sort of wave of nostalgia hitting the dance scene. My favorite app to tune into vaporwave-style music is Nightwave Wave Plaza (opens in new tab), which even utilizes Windows 98 dialog windows to add to the aesthetic. The music is chill, and you can still listen to it when the screen is off, like any other traditional music app.

If you're simply not interested in playing the games of the past, maybe because you've played them too often in a bout of "the good old days", there are plenty of retro-inspired games in the Play Store that are just as satiating. One of my favorites is 10000000 (opens in new tab), which I've already played through a couple of times out of sheer enjoyment of the game mechanics.

Old is new again

Oh, yes. That's a fake Windows XP error screen.

Oh, yes. That's a fake Windows XP error screen.

Nostalgia can seem sort of nauseating when you've got too much of it surrounding you, and maybe the idea of downloads extra apps to your smartphone that already has limited storage space isn't your idea of the best time.

However, it's been proven that nostalgia is actually good for us as longer-living human beings, so I supposed a couple of apps that can quickly take me back (opens in new tab) might be worth the download after all.

Florence Ion was formerly an editor and columnist at Android Central. She writes about Android-powered devices of all types and explores their usefulness in her everyday life. You can follow her on Twitter or watch her Tuesday nights on All About Android.

8 Comments
  • "Vaporwave..." I initially read that as "vaporware" and got really confused. Took a couple of attempts before my internal autocorrect allowed me to see what you really said.
  • I'm waiting on Donkey Kong.
  • I love old games as much as anyone. But trying to play old console games on a touchscreen phone is an exercise in futility.
  • I am planning on making a little 3d printed controller case thing for my phone with an Arduino to allow for tactile controls with my phone. That's the day I'll start emulating retro games on my phone... Until then, I'll stick with my gaming laptop.
  • I'm playing Chrono Trigger on the bus ride home tonight.
  • Fateful night, not faithful night.
  • i was gonna mention "fateful" versus "faithful" too. also, i think she meant "downloading" versus "downloads" here?..."maybe the idea of downloads extra apps" and please don't take these little notes the wrong way - i love this article and this site, and i re-post AC's stuff to FB all the time. i just notice typos on almost every article, and yet i want AC to be respected as the professional publication that it is (or is really close to being). seems they just need to hire 1 full-time proof-reader that's extremely detailed and combs through every article before it goes live?... would take the pressure off the authors like you that are (as you should be) focused on generating article ideas and writing great content. just a thought. in the meantime, maybe i should just shut up when i notice misspellings or grammar issues. Lol instead of posting a comment every time. i just thought the author would want to know so they can correct via a quick edit. maybe not though...?
  • I thought it was just me. I agree, a proofreader would be a great thing to add. Love the articles but the typos distract me from the content lots of times