Tag: iphone

Games In Your Pocket

Courtesy Halfbrick Studios

After a couple days of heavy stuff, I thought I’d lighten things up with a few mini-reviews of some of the best mobile games I’ve played lately. Here’s my take on three games available on both iOS devices and Androids.

Ghost Trick

I know that there are a lot of Capcom games out there that may give the impression that they don’t know how to tell stories. Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective is not one of them. Developed for the DS as well as smart phones and tablets, and under the direction of Shu Takumi of the Ace Attorney games, Ghost Trick introduces us to Sissel, a detective who finds himself the victim of a murder. Death is not the end, as Sissel and we discover, but before he can uncover the nature of his untimely demise, he witnesses another murder and finds he has the power to avert it. He teams up with the woman he rescues to get to the bottom of the situation, and maybe get his memories back as well.

The dichotomy of the worlds of the living and the dead yields unique puzzle mechanics. In the living world, times moves at its normal pace, but Sissel can manipulate objects. In the ghost world, Sissel can move himself but not other things, while time stands still. You can also rewind time back to a checkpoint, or 4 minutes before the impending murder if you mess something up. This intuitive system combined with an interesting story, fluid animations, and quirky characters makes Ghost Trick a rather immersive experience for a mobile device, and while only the first episode is free, I highly recommend checking it out.

Assassin’s Creed: Recollection

This game is, in a nutshell, a real-time Magic the Gathering game in the Assassin’s Creed universe. I admit, I have not played a great deal of it. While I do like Magic, and dig the Assassin’s Creed games, putting them together along with a constantly ticking clock and the unfortunate over-arching presence of a freemium model and U-Play feels like a hodgepodge meant to grab cash.

It’s not a bad game, despite its trappings. The territory is divided into three between you and your opponent, and you deploy allies and resources to defend and build up your side and increase your income. Every time day turns to night (a minute of in-game time), combat resolves, cash is collected, and new cards are drawn. I could see it working, but unlike the other games, I find myself disinclined to make the necessary investment to do well in it. Spending real-life money on digital cards has always felt off to me. It’s why I don’t play Magic Online.

Yet I’ve spent real-life money on digital skins for champions in League of Legends. I never said my mind was always entirely logical.

Jetpack Joyride

This little number comes to us from Halfbrick, creators of the very simple and satisfying Fruit Ninja, and holds to those tenets. The premise is the simple part: Your name is Barry Steakfries, and you steal a jetpack. The game consists of alternating between running and jet-packing down a long hallway, gradually building up speed, avoiding obstacles, and grabbing power-ups. If you’ve ever played one of those Flash games on the Internet that has you fling something to achieve maximum distance or one of the many “cave flyer” games out there, you’ll find Jetpack Joyride similar, but far easier to grasp and a great deal more satisfying.

Featuring a rather tongue-in-cheek presentation, a kickass soundtrack, and a true free-to-play model that does not require you to spend a dime on it, Jetpack Joyride does everything a mobile game needs to do in order to be memorable, fun, and habit-forming. With shout-outs to Angry Birds and (if I’m not mistaken) VVVVVV, Halfbrick has stuffed the game with appeal, surprises, and a lightness of tone that makes it undeniable. I seriously love this game. You have no excuse not to download it.

A Big Bite of Apple

Courtesy MS Paint Adventures
Courtesy MS Paint Adventures

I’ve been fighting this. I haven’t had an Apple product of my own in any place I’ve lived with the exception of a 2nd generation iPod Shuffle I still use for walks. I’ve opted to install Linux on all but my latest laptop. I’ve had moments where I’ve considered purchasing an iPad in passing, but I’ve consciously struggled not to fall into the iCulture that seems to promote an attitude of smug superiority in some circles. No more or less so than Tux’s biggest fans, but that’s beside the point.

Those days might be over. I may soon own an iPhone, and perhaps an iPad before the end of the year.

Why the change of heart? Sure, it’ll pay homage to the memory of Steve Jobs, but expenditures and committments like this require more concrete, practical reasoning. So here it is.

As A Rich Media Professional

First and foremost, the position I now occupy requires a great deal of tasks and testing related to the iOS. The advertisement assets upon which I work can and often do appear on Apple’s mobile devices, and as HTML5 grows, the more prevalent those sorts of adverts will become. It’ll behoove me to have a platform on which I can test my work on these items, no matter where I might happen to be.

Other projects by other professionals will be created for the platform as well. I know a few very talented people invested in pursuing transmedia projects, and having a universally-available and name-brand platform is sure to be key in a few of them. Giving feedback on those projects, and reporting on them either for the blog or a professional publication, will require the use of such a device. There’s only so much of an ARG I can experience using my current dumbphone, after all.

As A Gamer

I know there’s a contingent of gamers who would like to say that platforms like the iPhone and iPad are not viable for gaming. I don’t think they can be more wrong. From graphically impressive RPGs like Infinity Blade, to simple and fun puzzle games like Angry Birds, to straightforward multiplayer standbys like Words with Friends, I can tell you that an iPhone or iPad can cater to just as many gamer tastes as a PC or console can. Sure, some of the graphics and depth of gameplay or story will be a few years behind, but it’s forgivable for being able to have that sort of thing in your pocket on the same device you use for communication, or even productivity.

It’s not just limited to what’s on the App Store under the Video Games category, either. Tabletopping could benefit from it. A quick, covert die roll or looking up a forgotten rule might be easier with one of these devices, even if it doesn’t have the same tactile feedback as a page or a polyhedral. And I hear there are emulators available, so I may be able to play Mega Man 2 on the train as I have long dreamed. Just remember, if you see a scruffy man approaching middle-age glaring at his iPhone and muttering curses at somebody named “Quick Man,” it’s probably me.

As A Writer

I’ve long been a proponent of the notion that a writer can write anywhere. Originally this was based on a writer only needing some basic tools: something to write on, and something to write with. And there’s nothing wrong with carrying a pen and paper with you at all times, if you’ve got a creative mind. But a technological tool can be helpful as well.

Imagine my delight upon discovering that PlainText is available for the iPhone as well as the iPad. Now, I can’t picture myself doing long passages of writing on the iPhone, but if an idea strikes me and I need to jot it down (or perhaps dictate it!), this device would provide me the means to do it, and always know where I left my notes. I know other writers who adore their Apple devices for various reasons, and I’m sure they’d be happy to tell me more about their experiences.

That’s why I have a comments section, after all.

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