Your definitive way to play

In an effort to boost their status within the gaming community, Apple have hired two key members from Nintendo and Activision to help promote the iOS as the definitive gaming platform. Robert Saunders, who is currently working for Nintendo UK, is leaving to join Apple at the end of April for a PR position specifically created to focus on Apps while Activision’s PR director Nick Grange will look after iPad hardware (via Appleinsider).

The creation of both positions and head-hunting of two traditional video game veterans shows Apple’s dedication to iOS and the devices it’s found on. But they’re going to have a hard time convincing the sternest of critics that iPads and iPhones have become the definitive way to play games. It’s true, iOS games are vast in quantity with more and more people using them for entertainment purposes however that doesn’t necessarily make them replacements for console and PCs just yet. If such a claim is to be based on the sheer number of players, Facebook would surely be on top with Farmville and Cityville leading the way. Regardless of semantics, we still have a clear divide between the casual and hardcore audiences because of the kinds of experiences that appeal to each demographic. An overwhelming majority of iOS games are of a shorter bite-sized nature and even the grander ones work better when split up this way. Controls have become a big issue too with mechanics and gameplay being scaled down to make up for a lack of precision.

I’m not against this type of game, far from it if you see some of the games covered in my review section but everything has its place within the industry. In a report from the end of last year, Smartphone gaming has risen 43.8 percent whereas those found on DS and PSP fell 13 percent. Great news for Apple and Android for that matter but being mobile phones, it’s a hell of a lot easier to get into hands than it is for systems that predominately focus on video games. They are a threat, no doubt about it just as is the iPad with a recent survey showing 84 percent of owners using the tablet for gaming. Whether or not those games are comparable to ones found on traditional platforms is still to be understood but the potential market is growing seemingly everyday. I’m yet to be convinced that the iOS can be considered definitive but I’m keen to see how Saunders and Grange try and prove that it is. Who knows, they may just win me over forcing me to eat my words good and proper. To be honest I’d rather that and have more quality gaming experiences than the alternative.


Help Japan with Street Fighter IV

To help victims of the tragedies befalling Japan at the moment, Capcom have promised (via Andriasang) to donate 100 million yen to relief funds out of their own pocket. How generous eh? Now we can do our bit too but picking up Street Fighter IV for the iPhone which, for one week, has been discounted to only 59p from its usual three quid mark. Every penny of that will go towards the relief fund and as well as being a jolly good samaritan, you’ll be getting one hell of a game too. I gave it full marks in my review for the fantastic gameplay, interesting art style and the inclusion of a satisfying virtual d-pad and buttons – something of a rarity in touchscreen titles.

So don’t hold back, buy Street Fight IV and help those in need. If you have it already, gift it to a mate, it’s only 59p!

Lucky rabbit

To celebrate the entering into a new Chinese year, Rockstar have reduced the price of Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars on the App Store by 50%. So what was £5.99 in the year of the tiger becomes £2.99 in the year of the rabbit. Only for a short while mind you as the sale ends at midnight on Sunday (6th) but it’s not like it takes long to download the game. If you do it now, you could start the weekend helping Huang Lee find the people who stole his fathers sword and left him for dead while dealing, driving and shooting your way through Liberty City. Or you could go to the pub and wake up with a hangover. Being a teetotal geek, I always opt for the former…

The dead space in iDevices

If you go down to the App Store today, you’re sure of a big surprise. A big mutated, scary-as-hell surprise. Dead Space has creeped its way onto iPhones today for £3.99 (or £5.99 on iPad), bridging the first and second console games and explaining why the hordes of Necromorphs have reappeared. Early reviews on the App Store say it’s every bit as freaky as the HD versions even with its 12+ age rating. Maybe the full voice acting and disturbing sound effects pumped directly into your ears via headphones – a method recommended by EA – is chilling enough. Exploring the mines of Titan is your mission and dual-thumb tapping and swiping controls Vandal who takes Isaac’s place in this game. This isn’t an on-rails shooter, it’s a full blown adventure complete with upgradable weapons and skills plus the ability to unlock content in Dead Space 2 for the Xbox 360, PC or PS3. I have to admit, games like this disturb me more than I’m happy to say but it’s only four quid so if my playtime is consists of frequent underwear changes, at least my wallet hasn’t been abused even if I have. But there’s no point playing a game like this in the middle of the afternoon, it must be savoured in the dark with the only light source being a haunting glow from my iPhone… Oh man… I’m beginning to have second thoughts!

Isaac’s iPhone excursion

Vodpod videos no longer available.

The iPhone and its brethren can’t handle real games. The only thing they’re good for is casual experiences and novelty apps, right? Someone should maybe tell that to EA because their upcoming Dead Space game for iOS devices is looking incredible. No doubt iPhone 4 users will get the most out of the visuals but that doesn’t mean everyone else won’t be suitably impressed with what the team have done with Apple’s pocket wonderland. With a date still to be announced, Dead Space looks like a mix of swiping and tapping as it tries to recreate the horror of its console and PC counterparts. Doing so very well in this trailer (via The Sixth Axis). But will said fear be muted due to thumbs obscuring a large part of the screen? Presumably that will be its control method, using one thumb to move and the other to aim. It’s too early to tell and right now, there’s a trailer to enjoy.

From developing to dealing

Kairosoft’s Game Dev Story was a big hit last year for the iPhone as players sunk many hours into developing their ultimate fictional game. A simplistic approach to game development made what many find long and stressful into something twee and fun. While the sequel is said to be porting over to the West soon, a more natural progression for a title about making games is one about selling them. Kairosoft is way ahead of those ideas and released Waiwai: The Game Dealer onto the Japanese App Store (via Touch Arcade), treating the cut-throat video game retailer world with the same kind of fanciful notions as it did for the development side. Instead of a studio head, Waiwai has you in charge of a game store dealing with stock levels and the likes. An inclusion of some form of E3 is probable since real-world retailers plan strategies around this event and what would be even more mind-blowing than the idea that a game about stock taking is something to look forward to is if the game could use data from Game Dev Story for its titles. I appreciate I’m now in my own little dreamworld what with the iOS port of GDS based on a game nearly 15 years old but think about it, you make a top selling, highly revered game in GDS then a few clicks and swipes on your iPhone later you’re in Waiwai, ready for a shipment of the same game. Oh how crazy a world that would be! Back to reality now and despite no official word of a English version of Waiwai: The Game Dealer, the huge success of Game Dev Story almost cements a future release.

Game Dev Story 2 being translated to English “soon”

It’s funny isn’t it? One of the biggest and most discussed game in the last month or so isn’t a blockbuster triple A release, nor is it from a highly established developer or contain a single gun. Well, that is unless you’re trying to create the next Call of Duty inside it. I’m talking about the mobile and iPhone phenomenon, Game Dev Story where you control the head of a development studio making the kinds of games only nerd can dream of. When I was told of its addictiveness, I scarcely believed that a port of a Japanese mobile phone game (which itself is a port of a PC game) onto the iPhone could consume so much of my time. But it did. And continued to do so for sometime.

Now the developers Kairosoft have announced a sequel is on the way but won’t be coming anytime soon. Why? Not because it’s yet to be created, Game Dev Story began its life on the PC back in 1996 and Game Dev Story 2 has been out since 2000 in Japan. Translating the game into English and porting to iDevices takes time and right now Kairosoft are working on other things. The team also want to better their millennium release: “We are thinking of improving the game by adding elements of networking in the sequel, such as sales score rankings and sending employees to a friend’s company, etc.”

So at least we know that it is indeed coming and the potential improvements sound pretty awesome too. But if you excuse me, I need to finish off the sequel to my popular franchise in Game Dev Story!

{Thanks Touch Arcade}