A gamers view on the iPad

I’ve had the iPad for a couple weeks.  Its great with newsfeeds, ok with video, and lackluster as a gaming device.  So lets talk about gaming.

The biggest problem is controls.  Touch just doesn’t cut it.  It limits the gameplay options to just swiping and tapping.  Some games try and emulate a gamepad but without tactile feedback emulated buttons are a poor consolation to a real piece hardware in your hands.

A second drawback with touch is that my hand is constantly blocking the screen.  How am I supposed to time a swipe perfectly if I constantly have to position my hand over the screen.

There are good games based on touch though.  Angry Birds by Rovio is far and away the gold standard for the platform.  Its a game that could not have become popular of tradition console/PC controls.  It needed the touch base platform and it doesn’t suffer from it.  A point which I haven’t ever seen brought up is that the majority of the game action happens after you touch the screen so you get to watch and enjoy the game.

The platform for mobile gaming (iOS and Android) is centered around casual gaming.  Gaming where you play for a few minutes between meeting or at lunch.  Its a way of gaming with absolutely no depth.  There is no plot, no long form game dynamics, no soul in these games.  They can be fun to play for 10 minutes a day but they quickly become monotonous and repetitive and get discard while you move onto the next 10 minute wonder.

I recently started playing Infinity Blade 2 to escape the casualness only to have it slapped right back into my face.  Infinity Blade 2 is beautiful idea which is ruined short sighted casualness.  The game has amazing sweeping landscape shots that are ruined because the player has to constantly swing the camera madly around and pick up bags of gold, potions, and keys.

I played through the castle, got to the level 25 end boss, and expected to go onto the next level.  NOPE. You die and start over.  Weird right?  I play through the castle again now the boss is now Level 125 he promptly killed me, at level 9, and sent me back to the beginning.  Oh new routes opened up?  All lead to bosses level 50, 75, and 100.  All kill me.  After an hour or so of grinding I get up to Level 15, every boss still kills me.  I have to be doing something wrong.  This can’t be the whole game, right?  I’ve only scene 20ish different screens.  WRONG, this is the whole game.  They expect you to grind dozen of levels out of 20 different sequential screens on rails, beat the boss again, and fight one other guy.  Its just pretty casual gaming.  Pop onto it for a couple minutes between meeting or at lunch, fight a couple battles move on.  Not compelling.

There are some original great mobile games;  The Room, World of Goo, SimpleRockets and superbrothers swords & sworcery and some great ports Minecraft, Frozen Synapse, KOTOR, and XCOM.  These games are a minority though, gaming on a mobile device is extremely disappointing and takes a backseat to consoles.

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