A Whole New World: iPhones & Gaming

I have never been one for mobile phones. I have made no attempt to keep up with the latest models, chased upgrades nor based friendships on phone ownership. Although I have come to appreciate the advantages of having a Blackberry, I see phones as a necessary evil and have made little use of their multimedia functions.

I’ll text family and close friends, make the odd call, and check my emails but that’s pretty much all I have ever used my phone for. I don’t take many pictures, listen to music, surf the net or play games on my phone, as I have a perfectly good camera, MP3 player, netbook and PSP that have those activities covered. However, that may all be about to change as I will soon be the owner of a shiny new iPhone 4S. Before long I shall be hanging out with trendy types, using annoying buzz words, wearing colourful trousers and dancing like one of those twats on the TV ads. Or so I’ve been led to believe.

I have resisted an iPhone in the past (I have a good camera, 80 GB iPod, Virtual Boy etc. etc.) but the opportunity to upgrade to a superior phone for no extra charge – the advantage of being on a business tariff – was too good to pass up. I’m not sure how it’ll fit into my day-to-day, though I am already looking forward to asking Siri filthy and/or deeply philosophical questions. I’m sure I’ll download some shitty apps and I appreciate that it will make Twitter easier to use on the go, and with a better camera it may even encourage me to include more photos in my tweets. I presume it also does phone calls and text messaging, though the salesman never thought to mention it. Even more exciting is the chance to advertise my true colours with video game themed cases; I almost bought a Sega Saturn case at Tokyo Game Show last year, just on the off chance that I would one day get an iPhone! I really should have trusted my instincts and made that purchase.

This is the real reason why I'm getting an iPhone

Predictably, and despite everything else it does, I am most interested in the iPhone as a gaming platform. I have many of the same concerns with iOS gaming as I do the Vita and 3DS – portables get played at home or not at all, usually not at all, as they struggle to compete with home consoles – but I’m always up for a new platform to buy games for. I was aware that, due to their bite-sized nature, iOS games are cheap and cheerful but I didn’t appreciate just how cheap. At only a pound or two, I will definitely try my hand at a couple of titles and see if they stick.

On the strength of recommendations from friends, I will be picking up a copy of Kairosoft’s Game Dev Story, where I shall do my utmost to develop TimeSplitters 4. It appears to be the kind of game that is peculiar to iOS devices, the kind of title that will help to differentiate it from all the other hardware I own and legitimize its presence in my rotation. Sonic CD also looks promising, being re-built from the ground-up specifically for the device. Other games ideal for short-burst sessions, such as Canabalt, Bejeweled and Pac Man Championship Edition, may also earn my hard earned pennies.

More immersive and traditional gaming experiences like Infinity Blade 2 are unlikely to fit my circumstances, and I remain cautious of console ports like Metal Gear Solid 4 and Grand Theft Auto 3, unsure of how well they lend themselves to a more restrictive platform. Those are the kind of games that, if given the option, I would prefer to experience on a game dedicated portable, and that’s why I’ll always be in the market for a good handheld.

Chances are that the iPhone will wow me for a couple of weeks and may even drag me away from Skyrim for half an hour, but once my curiosity has been satisfied, there’s a fair chance that it will become yet another gadget that I don’t use as much as I should. Even if that is to be it's fate, I‘ll be sure to enjoy the honeymoon period and will be grateful for another gaming platform to explore.


  1. Smart phone games seem a lot more accurate to the genre of portable gaming, in most cases. Like, if I'd only paid $1-5 for all those lame psp and DS titles over the years, that would have been exactly correct for their quality level and the amount of time I played them. I'm sure I'd have a much higher opinion of all portable libraries too, and be 10x more likely to run out and buy a MH-less Vita.

    When you see the battery life on the 4th gen Apple handhelds... you might as well start working on the "HEY WTF?!" look you're going to give your 3DS and psp now. Even my special edition psp with its 10-12 hour battery is a sad joke compared to the Apple 4 critters.

    (Read and posted from my Droid X2. Viva juegos de cellular!!!)

  2. congrats on the free upgrade. i really want one but can't justify spending the money and the fact that if i do upgrade i will lose my unlimited data plan. my phone bill is already way too high.

    i played the game dev story demo and all my games bombed. it's a cool game but i got bored with it pretty quick. i recommend peggle and plants vs zombies. both classics that are good for killing time while waiting in line.

    also, don't forget about the love plus apps. awesome!

  3. I got an iPhone last year. I like it for browsing the web and using Twitter when not around the computer, but barely play any games on it. The ones that kept my attention the longest are Mirror's Edge, Cut the Rope and Temple Run. But ultimately I prefer traditional controls. And virtual analog sticks and buttons sadly don't cut it for me.

  4. @ Thirdrail - I like the pricing of iOS games, though I am a little concerned about virtual buttons/controls. I tend to be quite picky with PSP games and only buy those that I know will offer hours of quality gameplay, and only once they have been discounted. Always avoided the throw-away titles, so usually happy with my £10-20 purchases.

    The 3DS battery life is pretty special. It's spent more time charging than being played since I got it at xmas.

    @ superfriar - I had no idea there was a love plus app. Google has filled me in on all the details! There is a whole world of strange things to explore on my iPhone.

    @ tripopt - I have heard good things about Cut the Rope and may give it a look. Not sure how I will feel about virtual sticks. It looks like they may take a bit of getting used to.

  5. I'm glad to hear your getting an iPhone. You'll have to tell me what all those cool iOS games I keep hearing about are like. I still just have a phone phone. My contract has long since expired, but I don't want a new phone yet. I hate talking on the phone, and I barely use mine as it is. I also enjoy having a really cheap phone bill. It lets me buy more console games...

  6. Got my iPhone earlier today. All a bit overwhelming at the moment, as i try to set everything up as i like it. Will post some impressions once i've played a few iOS titles.


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