Just before Christmas of 2009 I picked up an iPhone after my Blackberry died and left me with the need of a new wireless phone. This was the first Mac product I’ve ever purchased. For a long time I have been very anti-Mac so this was a pretty big deal for me but many people have told me how enjoyable their experience with the iPhone has been so I took the plunge.
When Apple first released the iPhone and the iPod Touch there was a lot of discussion on the devices as portable gaming platforms. Like many gamers I just shook my head and laughed at the idea of a phone competing with the likes of the Sony PSP and the Nintendo DS in the portable gaming market. But having spent a few months with the iPhone (the 3Gs to be specific), I have to say that Apple has made a believer out of me.
There are a few reasons for my change of heart on the subject and they are reasons that Sony and Nintendo should take note of because they could change and shape the way we think about portable gaming in the future.
The first thing I noticed when I started looking for games for my phone was the shear amount available already. Not only that, but the games are organized so well in the App store that it is easy to find games you want and find games that are similar to ones you are already enjoying. Furthermore, chances are if you have a favorite time-waster for the DS or PSP they have something similar to it on the App store.
The iPhone may still be trailing the DS when it comes to this but it’s still done incredibly well in its own right. Most games for the iPhone and iPod Touch generally have a unique touch screen method of control. Some games have a more traditional method by plopping a joypad or buttons onto the touch screen and some games even give you the option choose how you control them. What I’ve found to be particularly enjoyable is the way many games require only your thumb to play. For times when you’re standing on the bus or carrying a bag with your other hand this is incredibly handy. And it isn’t just the simple games that are doing this. Some of the more complex games are designed for single-thumb control.
3. Free Games and Trials
Because of the way the Apple has handled developing for the iPhone and iPod Touch it isn’t difficult for small developers to take a crack at the market. What’s even better is the fact that many developers release their games for free along with ads inserted. So if you don’t mind a company trying to sell you a trip to Cuba while you blast aliens out of the sky then you can enjoy the experience free of charge. And games that are made by big name developers like EA and Square-Enix generally come with a free trial version of the game so you can try before you buy. While this is being done with PSP games already on the Playstation Network it definitely isn’t as easy as it is with the iPhone and iPod Touch. And it seems that there are a few titles out there that have free trials which are actually worth downloading. More than a few of the trials I’ve downloaded have been fun enough that I didn’t even consider downloading the full copy. This may seem like a backhanded compliment but it really speaks to the effort that’s going into these games.
While there are many games available on the App store that take a queue from traditional genres more and more I am seeing new games coming out that use the iPhone and iPod Touch to their advantage. I am speaking about games that infuse music into actual gameplay. For example there is a role playing game called “Song Summoner” from Square Enix that takes music from your iPod and utilizes it within the game. It works similarly to the old “Monster Rancher” games in that the songs you choose dictate content within the game the way different CD’s did for “Monster Rancher”. The promise of more innovation in games is an idea that has me excited as a gamer.
These points have really made me start paying attention to new software coming out for the devices. But while Apple has impressed me so far there are two issues that really need to be addressed. The first is the price of many of these games. While it is true that I have found so many of these games to be fun and enjoyable often the full game price tag can be a little steep. It’s definitely not true of ever paid game on the App store but there are many games I just can’t justify dropping $10.00 on when I’ll generally only be playing them when I’m not around more powerful gaming entertainment.
The second issue is battery life. Now, this is obviously more an issue with the actual hardware rather than the games but it’s hard not to feel the sting of a short battery life on the device I’m using to play games when I’ve enjoyed the DS and PSP which last much longer. The problem is the iPhone and the iPod Touch function as other types of devices – a phone and a music player – so you have other application draining juice.
Looking for some iGames? Take a whack at these:
Metal Gear Solid Touch
Final Fantasy Crystal Defenders
Ace Combat Xi
Article from Gamersyndrome.com