The State Of Mobile Gaming 2012 (Part 1)

8/3/2012 11:40:22 AM

Mobile technology is moving so fast it’s hard to keep up, so let Ian McGurren put you in the picture. This week, it’s gaming on the move

Mobile gaming has been around nearly as long as videogames themselves. At the beginning of the 1980s we had the first electronic games from Tomy and Grandstand. These were luggable and simple games that aped the popular arcade videogames of the time, albeit in a more simplistic, vacuum fluorescent manner. Short while later electronic games had moved into liquid crystal display technology and were small enough to be truly portable and live in the pocket. It was here that one Japanese company made its mark on this embryonic hobby, and those of us without a Nintendo Game & Watch game back then was usually insanely jealous of those who could fire up Donkey Kong at a moment's notice.

With Nintendo releasing its Game Boy console in 1989, mobile gaming had gone from glorified calculators to a genuine video gaming experience in your hand, every bit as exciting as the system you would have had at home at the time. A full LCD display, great graphics, excellent titles on interchangeable cartridges and mostly kid-proof, the Game Boy went on to sell over 100 million units, and pretty much created the market for handheld consoles.

Description: Handheld gaming circa in 1982
Handheld gaming circa in 1982

Others tried to take on the Game Boy: the Atari Lynx, Sega Game Gear and NEC PC Engine GT were all technically superior but cost more and ate through batteries at an alarming rate. Its only serious rival was its follow-up, the Game Boy Advance in 2001.

“Game Boy went on to sell over 100 million units, and pretty much created the market for handheld consoles”

More recently, we've had the Game Boy for the new generation: the Nintendo DS. With its quirky dual-screen / touchscreen setup it not only effortlessly outsold Sony's rival PlayStation Portable, but it escaped the 'games for kid' tag and drew in nongame’s with titles such as Dr. Kawashima's Brain Training.

Description: as Dr. Kawashima's Brain Training

Dr. Kawashima's Brain Training

That brings us to today, and a whole different playing field. When Apple released the iPhone in 2007, handheld gaming meant the Nintendo DS and Sony PSP. Playing games on a mobile phone meant Snake, or Nokia's ill-fated N-Gage at a push. Certainly few people were looking Apple's way when it came to the future of mobile gaming.

Yet here we are in 2012 and only a fool would ignore the seismic change the iPhone and Android have had. Not only have they arguably taken over the mobile gaming mantle, they've also done it on their terms. Once such games that typifies is Rovigo’s astoundingly successful Angry Birds. Based around a simple premise, the game uses physics and a control system anybody can use over a series of increasingly challenging levels. It’s fun, it has personality, it can be played in short bursts and it will cost you a matter of pence, not pounds.

Description: Unreal Engine 3 powers infinity Blade Dungeons
Unreal Engine 3 powers infinity Blade Dungeons

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