My goal here isn’t to slam on phone gaming. I’m going to, indirectly, but I don’t mean to make that my pure focus. I actually plan on slapping down a few titles you may or may not have played, and giving you some solid justification for why they’re worth your time.
Because, honestly, I think gaming on a phone is a complete waste of time. And as impossible as it may seem, that isn’t an insult. I review iPhone and iPad apps for 148apps.com. I take them completely seriously. But, face it, they don’t typically fall into the same genre as video games. Their presence, their design, their gameplay, all of it… it’s so far removed from console gaming that I don’t consider it honest-to-goodness gaming at all.
Like I said, it’s a complete waste of time. The games that you download on your mobile device are typically meant to serve as a distraction from reality. A quick jaunt into an intuitive title that lasts only a few minutes per session. DoodleJump, Fruit Ninja and Angry Birds are all games built around this quick play mantra.
So when I say gaming on a phone is a waste of time, I mean, quite literally, it’s a great place to waste time. And these games all have a level of addiction that comes with them that forces you to play for way longer than expected. Everyone I know has sat down on the crapper and whipped out Angry Birds for a quick poo, they stand up 20 minutes later only to find that their legs have gone completely numb and turned utterly useless. Many a 40-hour-work-week professional has hobbled back to their desk after doing their duty for a bit longer than usual.
But what about games that are built around more than just a quick romp? Games on the iOS or Android that were designed with extended play sessions in mind. The exist, and I’m here to give you a quick glance at three of my favorites. Consider these games closer to console or handheld adventures, rather than evolutions of Snake for that first Nokia you thought was so badass.
Game Dev Story
This game is actually the first phone game to drain my entire battery in one sitting. I had heard about Game Dev Story from some friends around the net. I snagged it for like three bucks, gave it a quick look at set it down. Initially, I didn’t much care for it.
It’s one of those SIM games. You run a game development studio. You hire employees, train them, raise their stats, take on development projects, expand your office and earn tons and tons of money.
But, holy shit, this game is addictive. Believe whatever amount of hype you’ve heard here; Game Dev Story is intensely hard to put down. I picked it up after my initial bout of doubt and was floored. This game is a complete time sink and, once it works its magic, will have you dumping hours into it at once.
Undoubtedly one of the best looking iOS games I’ve ever seen, Infinity Blade was developed with the Unreal Engine. Yep, it’s that gorgeous.
This RPG title features touch-and-walk exploration, touch-based combat and a great collection and leveling system. What’s nice about Infinity Blade is that while the whole game is rather large, the mechanics allow for it to be played in extremely quick spurts. You’ll be able to pop it open when you’re short on time, get a quick fight in and move on.
The touch-based combat takes a little getting used to, and it certainly won’t make any die-hard console gamers want to set their controllers down, but it comes a nice, rhythmic break from the way other fighters have been controlled on touch screens. Rather than a faux joystick and set of buttons, you’ll be tapping and swiping in specific directions on specific locations in order to topple your foes.
Plants vs. Zombies
You absolutely have to hand it to PopCap here. PvZ is one of the best games to come out in a long, long time. It released when zombie titles weren’t completely flooding the market, and it did so with a unique take on tower defense gaming.
This title is packed with stuff to do. It’s fairly lengthy and the gameplay, while repetitive, is steeped in glory. Oh, and it’s absolutely hilarious.
The touch screen approach works well, too. In fact, I’d place the touch screen versions of this title on a higher pedestal than any other version. Take that to the zombie bank.