Mobile gaming is definitely on the increase thanks to iPhone sand Smartphones being pretty much ubiquitous nowadays. I must admit defeat and say that even though I own a Samsung Galaxy I am still jealous at the fact that iPhones do seem to run quicker with less crashes and they have better apps.
But what about the newest contender, the Windows Phone? I had an SPV back the day which ran Windows on it and I liked it very much. Since then though I switched back to a simple Nokia until recently getting the Samsung. Just before Christmas, however, I went to the launch of the Windows Phone at Sketch in London and managed to get on a waiting list to try one out. After one being lost in the post for weeks I’ve finally been sent an HTC Trophy along with Windows 7 OS so I could take a look at some of the games available on it.
The Windows Phone
The phone itself is actually a neat little thing. It has a 1GHz processor, 8GB of internal storage, a 5 megapixel colour camera with 720p HD video recording and lets you do all the usual social media things you’d expect via its apps including of course Windows Live. One thing that I noticed straight away is how much more responsive it is than an Android phone. Microsoft have also opted for large icons on the main screen instead of smaller app icons and whether you like this or not is down to personal preference. It certainly looks less cluttered.
The Xbox Live Store
One of the great things about the store when it comes to games is, just like with XBLA, you can download a trial of the game before you decide to buy it. This means you can give it a quick spin and if you don’t like it you can just uninstall it at no extra cost. My Android games and apps sometimes let you download a trial but sometimes you just have to take the plunge and go for it. You can also sign into Xbox Live to view achievements. I downloaded a few games that took my fancy.
Tiki Towers is the polar opposite to Angry Birds because you have to build bamboo bridges to get monkeys from one side of the level to the other, collecting bananas along the way. Get all the bananas and you get a perfect score. You have a limited number of bamboo pieces and once you hit the action button the bridge responds to gravity and the tug of the monkeys as they swing across the bridge. This type of game is perfect for a device such as this and definitely has that addictive quality gamers may be looking for whilst on the tube or waiting for a bus.
Microsoft’s Zombies game is a turn-based strategy game where you must be the first player to guide your human game piece to the centre square of the ‘helipad’ tile where you must kill the zombie there and escape. You also win if you’re the first to kill 25 zombies. The game has a classic board game feel and once again is the type of game that suits a mobile device as you’re not bound by reaction times and the limitations of the phone not actually having any buttons so to speak.
There’s no need to explain what this game is about but you do need to know it’s a faithful reproduction of the arcade original complete with leaderboards so you can see how your points fare with others. The game perfectly suits the upright orientation of the phone, looks and sounds exactly the same as the original game and has a virtual joystick at the bottom of the screen you use to control the little yella fella. Some people have complained the controls aren’t very good but I find it’s best if you ‘flick’ the joystick to pre-empt the direction you want to go next. Occasionally it doesn’t register which can lead to frustration when you end up being gobbled up by a ghost.
Need for Speed Undercover
This mobile version of the console game has you steering using the phone’s built-in gyroscope. You hold the phone like a wheel and tilt it left and right to move your car. Graphically the game looks really good but the controls are a bit of a mixed bag. The car automatically accelerates until you apply the brakes by touching anywhere on the screen. It’s ambitious but considering what they had to work with this game will keep racing fans happy with tonnes of new levels and cars to unlock as you progress through the game and Xbox Live achievements to unlock.
Guitar Hero 5
This mobile version of the latest Guitar Hero game has you tapping the screen instead of playing with a big guitar peripheral. You may as well be playing the piano then as surely half the fun of Guitar Hero is it sort of simulates you playing the real thing no? Of course things are stripped back a little in the graphics department too. You have one guitarist playing in the distance as the notes arrive towards the bottom of the fret board where you must tap the icons when they hit the correct place in order to hit the note in time. You can play guitar, bass or drums and you only have three things to tap instead of up to five. Weirdly though, despite all these compromises, the game’s actually quite mesmerising to play!
Microsoft’s Windows Phone version of the popular fruit slicing game, you simply have to draw a line across the screen in order to cut the fruit as it launches into the air and falls in front of you. You get more points for slicing lots of fruit at once and must avoid the bombs. There are three modes to play. Arcade, Classic and Zen mode. Classic has you trying to rack up the highest score with three lives, Zen gives you 90 seconds to get the highest score possible with no bombs and Arcade mode spans 60 seconds as you try to slice coloured bonus bananas that unleash all kinds of point bonuses. The game’s slick, the graphics are suitably colourful and it’s as addictive as it’s ever been on the iPhone and Android phones.
de Blob Revolution!
This is the mobile version of the console game developed by THQ Wireless. Sensibly they haven’t tried to recreate what happens on the consoles and instead the game revolves around Blob rescuing Graydians by running into them and then leading them into a hole at the other end of the screen. It’s a similar mechanic to snake as Blob leaves behind him a trail of ink which he can’t go over again so you must draw a path with your finger that doesn’t cut Blob off and will rescue all the Graydians on each level. It’s a fun game with colourful graphics that once again takes advantage of a smartphone’s strengths and is aware of the limitations of only having a touch screen to play with.
Assassin’s Creed Altair’s Chronicles
One game that clearly isn’t aware of the limitations of playing a console-type game on the phone is this one from Gameloft and Ubisoft. You play as Altair from the original Assassin’s Creed game and it uses a virtual joystick on the bottom left of the screen. The game looks nice enough but they’ve been a bit too ambitious here as unfortunately the control method means you constantly keep running off the edges of buildings to a premature death. Mini-games are better such as dragging objects such as keys from the pockets of people in the streets. Personally I’d have liked to have seen a spin-off based around the Animus which didn’t try to be a game that plainly needs a proper controller to play.
These are just a few games I have tried and of course there are lots available to download and play and the list is growing all the time. In my experience, it seems that it’s best to play simple games on phones that offer something different to what you might play on a PS3 or Xbox 360. I guess that’s why Angry Birds has done so well. It’s nice to see that the Windows Phone has a large selection of games available and if you already have an Xbox Live account it’s a huge bonus to be able to migrate your account over to your phone as well.
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