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Antstream Arcade provides mobile retro gaming on a budget

In our Antstream Arcade review, we try out this retro game streaming service to see how our fave blasts from the past fare on mobile today.

Antstream Arcade review: 3D Pac-Man from Smash Bros doing a thumbs up and wink, outlined in white and pasted on a blurred screenshot of the Antstream Arcade library

Pop culture always includes some element of nostalgia, but the call for retro handhelds and videogame preservation is particularly strong these days. Even as a late nineties kid like myself who missed the arcade era and barely touched a PS1, there’s bound to be at least one ‘blast from the past’ title that jumps to mind as something you’d love to play in the comfort of your own home. For me, those are Tetris, Pac-Man, and Space Invaders.

If you’re feeling the call of the 80s but don’t want to shell out for a retro handheld emulator, you should take a look at Antstream Arcade. In this Antstream Arcade review, I’ll cover the pros and cons of this innovative retro gaming streaming service, the titles on offer, and how it performs. We’ve covered similar gaming subscription services before in our Utomik review, but never one whose catalog solely focuses on consoles and arcade cabinets from the early days of videogames.

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  • Multi-platform
  • Affordable
  • Tons of games


  • Only retro titles
  • In-app purchases
  • Some latency issues

Price and availability

Antstream Arcade is available across a huge range of platforms from iOS and Android to PC via Steam, Epic Games, and the Windows Store, as well as Xbox and Amazon. You can even access the service in your browser. You can use the same account on multiple devices and platforms, and any save states transfer across. The wide range of platforms also means that you can play multiple games in couch co-op, which is great for titles like Double Dragon.

An Antstream Arcade subscription costs $3.99/month or $39.99 annually, which is equivalent to the cost of a cup of coffee a month. The service is quite a bit cheaper than other popular media subscriptions like Netflix ($6.99/month with ads) or Crunchyroll ($7.99/month), and gaming subscriptions like PC Game Pass ($9.99/month). However, Antstream Arcade’s portfolio is limited to retro games. You can’t download the titles to your device, and it still features in-app purchases for certain games and to enter tournaments.

If you’re really into retro gaming, you can purchase the Lifetime Pass Edition on Xbox for $79.99, which presumably means that you no longer need a subscription.

Antstream Arcade review: The start screen of Pac-Man on a purple background


As of writing, Antstream Arcade currently has 1,357 games in its library, with two new games added each week. These titles originate from the following platforms:

  • Amiga (1985)
  • Amstrad (1984)
  • Arcade cabinets
  • Atari 8-bit (1979)
  • Atari 2600 (1977)
  • Atari 7800 (1986)
  • Atari Lynx (1989)
  • Atari 5200 (1982)
  • C64 (1982)
  • DOS (1981)
  • Game Boy (1989)
  • NES/Famicom (1983)
  • SNES/Super Famicom (1990)
  • MSX (1983)
  • MSX 2 (1985)
  • PS1 (1994)
  • ZX Spectrum (1982)

As I alluded to in the introduction of this review, all of these systems came out before I was born, so I didn’t grow up with them, but for people who did, this is a huge range of platforms and manufacturers from throughout the rise of home consoles and videogames at large. Over 1,000 titles is plenty to choose from if you’re looking for something short and sweet to occupy your time, and the benefit of Antstream’s emulation system is that you can create save states, which simply wasn’t possible on these consoles in their time.

Even for someone like me, the library contains a huge range of recognizable titles like Pac-Man, Bubble Bobble, Galaga, and Double Dragon, as well as tons of new-to-me games like BurgerTime and Splatterhouse to explore in my free time. You can view the entire library on the official website, too, so you can essentially ‘try before you buy’ to see if there are enough titles to justify your subscription.

Antstream Arcade review: The Pac-MAn landing screen

UI and design

While I don’t think Antstream Arcade’s UI is the prettiest in the world, it is extremely user-friendly. The text is large and easy to read, so you know where to go for games, tournaments, and achievements. The games themselves are presented as app icons which is really clean and easy to read, and they’re separated into categories based on genre or similarity to games you’ve played before, kind of like Netflix’s film and TV algorithm.

Once you choose a game, you go to a really pleasant screen with more information about the title, screenshots and videos, and space for save states. This landing page is a nice touch, especially if you’re intrigued by a game’s genre or cover art but don’t exactly know what it is. It saves you from having to quit the app and pull up a search engine.

Connectivity and performance

Of course, as a cloud-based gaming service, connectivity is extremely important. I tested Antstream Arcade out on both my phone and PC and the service performs fantastically on both. I had some slight connection issues on my phone, but that was influenced more by my partner playing an online game on the PS4 than by the service itself.

Antstream Arcade review: A promo image of a game on a purple phone screen

Potentially thanks to the 8- and 16-bit graphics of the represented eras, there’s no graphical drop-off between PC and mobile either. Both experiences feel smooth and stand up to one another. My main issue when playing on mobile is the virtual joystick controls, but I struggle with this control scheme in all sorts of games. Antstream Arcade supports keyboard, touch, and controller inputs for the majority of its games, and you can adjust the position, sensitivity, and dead zone of the virtual joystick in each game’s settings.


Overall, if you fancy a trip down memory lane or want to learn more about the beginnings of videogames, you should give Antstream Arcade a go. At only $3.99 and with flexible cancellation policies, it’s worth the cost of admission to try it out for a month. If I had an Xbox, I could see myself and my partner spending hours on the couch playing Double Dragon together, and having the option to play a quick game of Pac-Man while I wait for a train is wonderful. Of course, if you’re after the latest triple-A and indie titles, Antstream Arcade likely isn’t for you.

That’s it for our Antstream Arcade review. For more gaming on the go, check out our list of the best portable gaming consoles next. Or, if you want to invest further in the nostalgia trip, head over to our guide to the best retro handheld on the market.