My friend Jeff wrote an interesting post titled “Mobile games should revisit the past…“. Being a gamer myself, I figured I’d weigh in on this.
First of all, I’ve been gaming since Intellivision, when my dad introduced me to console gaming. From there, I’ve seen many console systems and played many games. Whether it was playing BurgerTime, Pacman, Blades of Steel, Tecmo Bowl, the Dragon Warrior series, Chrono Trigger, Sonic, or Bubsy (to name some of the games I used to play), I really enjoyed getting into the game. However, if you asked me if I’d play these on my phone, I’d probably say “no”.
Controlling the Game
While it’s great that phones now come with accelerometers and other nifty features that may be used in video controls, they really aren’t the same as the controllers of a console system. I can’t see myself tapping up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A, B, A, Start on my phone.
Now granted… rather than having the D-pad for directional control, it could be cool if mobile games used the accelerometer to determine which way to move your avatar. But you still have the buttons to simulate, and those are different as well.
User Experience is Hard to Replicate
Recently, I tried Pacman on my Windows Phone, and it was an awful experience. If I dragged the guy on the direction pad to the direction I wanted him to go, then it would work. But really.. I’d rather just press the button or push the button in the direction and have him move – the action of sliding/dragging versus the action of pushing a button or moving a joystick are very different experiences.
Console controls of the past allowed for a lot of button mashing, directional pad moving, joystick jockeying. Mobile apps – you replace that experience with swiping, tapping, and shaking/determining movement based on the accelerometer. It’s a different user interface nowadays, which means a different user experience.
Mobile games going forward…
My challenge to mobile games developers is this – if you want to have a successful sale on your game, find a great game of the past and find a way to emulate the controls of yore with the technology of today. If you can capture that well, then it’s your world to succeed in!