Highbrow High Score

The Art of Gaming Intellectually

The One-Stop-Shop: Mobile Gaming

with one comment

With the 3DS suffering some embarrassing sales (compared to Nintendo’s usual launch success), the possibility that the Playstation Vita will be over-priced and over-hyped, and the general decline of handheld gaming since the Nintendo DS, I fear I will be even more tied to my iPhone as I begin to game more and more on it.

In the beginning!

Feeling nostalgic for a simpler time...

Let’s be clear: I don’t think the advent of iOS or Android gaming is going to become the end-all-be-all of portable gaming; however, as the technologies become ever more sophisticated, I am not surprised how many “big name” developers I see releasing games in the App Store and Android Market. It’s a logical progression for sales – go where the people are. And the people are using their smartphones for everything from grocery lists to fitness plans to finding their keys in the dark (I hear some people even make calls!). Is it any wonder developers are releasing pared-down versions of their traditional console games like EA’s FIFA franchise?

There are several games on my iPhone that are addictive and cost much less than the games I could buy for a DS or PSP and that’s with good reason. Graphically, the iPhone and Android games can not compete because of the beefier processors in modern handhelds. There is also an issue with controls – a touch screen does not perform as well as a D-Pad or thumbstick does for tactile reasons. There are products that attempt to address that problem, but they look too awkward to actually be useful and if you think you need suction cup thumbsticks to slap on your device, you may just want to suck it up and buy a handheld if that’s the experience you’re looking for.

The Fling mini Joystick

The appeal of phone gaming is due to the simplicity and casual nature of the games offered. If I have a few minutes to kill or I’m positive no one is looking at work, I love playing a quarter or two of NBA Jam or trying to rack up a higher score on Words with Friends because I can easily put the phone aside and not feel an obligation to save or reach a certain point in the game before I quit.

A few games on the market seem to be targeting gamers who may want to become more invested in their smartphone as a handheld. The folks at SQUARE-ENIX have reaped the benefits of iOS gaming with classic installments of the Final Fantasy franchise. The best rated of which happens to be $15.99 in the App Store, a much more in-depth game as far as storyline when compared to the 99-cent  Angry Birds that everyone’s crazy about. Not to mention the deeply immersive Minecraft ported to the Android platform.

Minecraft on the Xperia Play

Once dubbed "The Playstation Phone", the Xperia Play lends itself to more graphically taxing games.

As far as the future of traditional handhelds, some people seem to think the handheld is a dying platform. But, in a recent interview with GameSpot, Sony’s Director of Hardware Marketing John Koller did not seem distressed about smartphone gaming and said the smartphone gamer “enjoys smaller ‘kill time’ gaming and has not gravitated to the larger, richer, deeper experiences that true handheld gaming provides.” I am still very excited to see the Vita and will decide if it’s worth the money when it’s released, but I’m confident that given the proper consideration smartphone games could be just as engrossing as their traditional counterparts.

What are your thoughts on smartphone gaming?


Written by highbrowhighscore

September 29, 2011 at 6:16 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. I think people like phone games because they are time killers; something to do while waiting on the bus or at the dentist. It’s convienent and that’s it’s appeal. I don’t think that type of market is the same type of market that The DS/PSP are after. It’s not a group of people who are invested in the game so much as they are invested in a cute way to pass their time. How much NBA Jam are you playing when you could be playing your Xbox/PS3? Are you giving up time on Steam to play Angry Birds? I’m not. I’m guessing you aren’t either. Given the choice I think the people who are truly invested in videogames, want the richer, deeper, more fullfilling experience that a dedicated platform provides.
    Further on that point:
    I’m typing this up at work right now and have half an hour before I go home. And to kill time I’m playing Solitare. I can drop it at any time and not care a bit about the game, but when I am sitting at my desktop at home I’m not playing Solitare, I’m on my 37″ monitor with 7.1 sound playing a game that takes advantage of these things. I think smartphone gaming fills the same gap; downtime until I can get to my REAL systems. Plus playing with my phone looks so much more professional than playing with my DS, so there’s that too I suppose.
    All those things said, I do think games like LIMBO, Loco Roco, and Patapon could make great titles for smartphones.


    October 3, 2011 at 5:11 pm

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