Due to mobile devices sacrificing physical buttons in favour of larger screens and increased portability, titles like Angry Birds, specifically designed with touch controls in mind have flourished. However, while many consider tapping and swiping to be an effective means of interacting with games, others maintain it comes at the cost of reduced player control, leading to casual, more simplified experiences. The question is, is there anything wrong with that?
While some may yearn for AAA quality on their mobile devices, most undoubtedly prefer bite-sized chunks of gameplay. For those individuals, more immediate titles tend to be favoured, and isn't it better to have a simple game that plays well than an intricate one that handles poorly?
Adding further control components to a device allows for increased interaction; opening up the possibility for more complex gameplay. While this can be achieved to an extent through the use of virtual buttons, it isn’t nearly as effective as tangible hardware. Established titles that have been ported to mobile platforms often suffer in this regard, and despite some enhanced visuals and the convenience of playing on-the-go, control inconsistencies render them largely inferior to their console counterparts.
This isn't to say that all mobile ports are disastrous. Even the ones with issues are often a lot of fun, and occasionally a developer will surprise us. For example, Limbo - a surreal puzzle-platformer released in 2010 by Playdead - recently came to iOS. Rather than implement virtual buttons in lieu of a gamepad, its controls were fundamentally redesigned for touch; dragging your character to move him, tapping to jump and holding to interact. This fresh approach was critically lauded for its effectiveness, and while the control scheme was inarguably streamlined, the game's mysterious core and problem-solving aspects remained very much intact.
Rather than directly port well-received titles, some developers have wisely chosen to adapt their formula to create accompanying games for mobile. A recent success that comes to mind is Rayman Jungle Run, a platformer based on Rayman Origins, a previous console incarnation. Retaining its beautiful hand-drawn art style and wacky sensibility, the mobile version was designed around Origins' speedrun levels. Rather than have full control of Rayman as before, he continuously sprints towards the goal and players must guide him safely through succinct stages while grabbing collectables. Again, gameplay has undeniably been stripped down, but it's so wonderfully entertaining, does it really matter?
Naturally, most mobile software is designed specifically with touch in mind, opting for simple-yet-effective player interaction. Puzzle-solving titles like Cut the Rope and Where's My Water? task players with deciphering conundrums merely by swiping, and although gameplay is minimal, they're mentally taxing. Other games like Super Hexagon and Impossible Road focus on reflexes, guiding objects through crazy, spiralling courses; again, basic in premise but engaging in execution.
Things don't necessarily have to be intricate to be enjoyable. Mobile games are increasing in complexity, with titles like Infinity Blade II approaching console quality. If that's not enough for you, there's always dedicated handhelds and next gen is finally here; just don't discount something just because it's uncomplicated. There is a time and a place for the epic AAA experiences we all love, but when you only have five minutes to play, often simple is best; and mobile is perfect in this regard.
Let us know what you think. Would you prefer to see console comparable experiences on your mobile devices, or is it sometimes best to keep things straightforward? Let us know in the comments, and for everything gaming - both mobile and traditional - keep it locked to GameGrin.