- Category: Volume 88 (Fall 2016 - Spring 2017)
- Published: 26 October 2016
- Written by JOHN MORANO | STAFF WRITER
Mobile games, such as ones on cell phones, have somewhat of a bad reputation, and in my opinion, largely deserve it. Mobile games are plagued by the pay-to-win business model that typically results in the death of PC or console games. Unfortunately, this model has somehow managed to thrive on mobile devices. What exactly pay-to-win is and why it should be avoided is something that every mobile gamer needs know. If you know what to look out for it is quite possible to enjoy quality games on your cellphone, specifically iPhones, even if the deck is stacked against you.
The pay-to-win model is simple; games that use this business model expect people to pay real-life money through micro transactions in order to progress. Pay-to-win titles include the ever-popular Kim Kardashian: Hollywood, Game of War: Fire Age, Kingdom Hearts: Unchained X and Mobile Strike. There are a number of games that feature micro-transactions yet aren’t pay-to-win – the crucial distinction being the amount of benefit paying gives a player.
Pay-to-win games typically have shallow, poorly-written plots (if they even have one at all) and low-budget game design, yet manage to make large sums of money. I personally consider these types of mobile games to be a pitfall and best avoided at all costs.
People also need to understand technical aspects of mobile devices and how they affect gaming. Something to keep in mind is that certain phone models and softwares may be too old to play some of the newer games. If it’s out-of-date, there’s a good chance you won’t be able to run recently released games.
The design of the phone will also effect what games someone can play. For example, if you are hoping to play a good shooter game on an iPhone, odds are he or she won’t be able to find one. A touch screen control scheme doesn’t work well for most conventional shooters, although depending on one’s standards for such game, he may be able to find one or two exceptions. One also shouldn’t expect flashy graphics and smooth gameplay comparable to PC/console games on most mobile games; many mobile games experience framerate hiccups, even on low-spec titles.
On the other hand, there are better games that mobile gamers can choose from. There are a number of low-spec classic games that have been ported to iPhones; if you’re not opposed to playing a game that’s up to 25 years old, these can be a ton of fun. Final Fantasy 1-7 and 9, along with numerous spinoffs, are all on the app store. In the context of mobile games, they’re quite overpriced, with Final Fantasy 9 going for $21. Having played most of them, I can personally vouch for their quality. Final Fantasy 6, 7, and 9 in particular are excellent titles and are widely considered to be among the best games that the JRPG (Japanese role-playing game) genre has to offer. Final Fantasy Tactics: War of The Lions is also one of my favorite strategy games. If you’re into turn-based strategy, it’s very much worth purchasing. It’s also worth mentioning that these games should run as well on your phone as they would any other console.
Some games that were successful on recent handheld consoles, such as Nintendo DS and Playstation Portable, have also received mobile ports. One such title, The World Ends with You: Solo Remix, is a masterpiece of gaming. Originally released on the Nintendo DS, this game is now considered to have been one of the best handheld JRPGs of its generation. It also stands as one of the best mobile ports to date, with its iOS version having better graphics, sound, and more content than its Nintendo DS original.
There are also a number of successful indie games which, due to the low-specs required to run them, can be played on iOS. Transistor is one such game; it was well-received and with its deep plot, atmospheric environments, and unique gameplay, I very much doubt that it would disappoint (also, the price is right, at $10). Minecraft, the highly successful building/survival game, also has an iOS version. It’s not as good as PC/console versions because it lacks content, mods, and the controls don’t feel as natural. That said, it is $7, and if you want a fun game to play on the go, you could do far worse.
Lastly, we get into original mobile games, that is, mobile games that were first released as mobile games. These are the most questionable purchases; you’re better off applying intense scrutiny to even the most highly rated of these, as all the games I listed as being pay-to-win fall into this category. That’s not to say there aren’t any gems, you just have to be speculative when looking for them. In my opinion, the safest way to go about this is to buy from a popular publisher, such as Square Enix, who developed and published the previously mentioned Final Fantasy titles, along with The World Ends with You. Occasionally you will find an excellent release from a mobile developer, such as Galaxy on Fire by Fishlabs but it’s far more likely that you will end up wasting your time and money.
image taken from mobileadvertisingwatch.com