SupPORT or DisapPORT?
Have you ever wanted to play an old game and couldnt find it anymore and saw that it was available on the mobile marketplace? The App Store and Google Play has plenty of classic ports already available. But with more and more games getting the mobile treatment, we started wondering what were some of the benefits and drawbacks of having older games available on smartphones and tablets. Not every port is perfect, but theyre sure to bring in fans of the games and introduce younger gamers to a series if theyre more readily accessible. But they can do more harm than good, too.
Publishers like Square Enix, Namco, and Sega have been keeping busy with mobile titles, even re-releasing some of their older ones for iOS and Android. And with many urging Nintendo to do the same, porting games to mobile seems like a no-brainer. But it's actually a mixed blessing. Here are some reasons why.
In with the old...
The good:: Playing an old game you havent played in a while hits you right in the nostalgia. And if youre one of those people whose parents threw away their old gaming collection or lost a few gems throughout the years, playing an old favorite just makes you feel good--even on a mobile device. Plus, chances are you may not have played every classic game out there, so getting to experience a whole new game regardless of how old it is gives these relics a second chance to shine and reconnect with fans and make new ones.
The bad:: If your name is Final Fantasy, chances are youve seen your fair share of ports. Many games in this series and others have been re-released on various consoles throughout the years, so bringing them to mobile feels like an afterthought--and many times, its an afterthought after your wallet. You may have already heard about them, and even your little brother in elementary school has heard about (and even played) them. Why bother spending even more money to play old games on your phone?
Improvements in progress
The good:: Some old games look really good on your iPads Retina display and many even feature upgraded visuals, better lighting, and a whole new and improved look. The WiiWare game The Conduit, for instance, was completely revamped when it was ported and re-released on Android. Others like Final Fantasy VI keep their traditional look, but include a few modified textures to give you a fresh taste of an old favorite. Visuals arent everything, but if its done right, whos to argue?
The bad:: Sometimes old games dont look better on mobile devices. In fact, as its true with news anchors, weather girls, and game show hosts, HD displays are more than likely to reveal a games age. Some of the older 8-bit and 16-bit games that get ported to mobile also just look strange next to their sleek menus and buttons. And if you happen to play a game that overcrowds your screen with enemies or things to shoot, your smartphones small screen may frustrate you too.
The good:: Mobile phones dont come with a handy set of shoulder buttons and joysticks, but they do offer touch controls that work with many games coming from other platforms. DS games, for example, have no trouble finding a home on your Nexus or Galaxy since all you need to do is replace the stylus with your finger. Having a second screen is only beneficial to some of these games, and even ports like The World Ends With You manage to tweak their gameplay to accommodate their new mobile format. Other console ports like Bastion and XCOM also make their transition work without taking away anything from the original experience.
The bad:: DS and PC games arent the only ports youll want to play on your tablet, of course, and the problem with mobile devices is how limiting their controls are. Sure, you can use a virtual joystick and buttons to control your fighter in Street Fighter IV, but its really hard, inaccurate, and doesn't feel the same as holding a controller in your hands. If you want to play it old-school, you may need to invest on a pricey mobile controller that may not be compatible with every game out there just yet. Why pay for something you may not always use?
Dying battery zones
The good:: If your favorite game required you to play it in front of a TV before, a mobile port gives you the freedom of taking it with you wherever you go. And since almost everyone and their mother has a smartphone nowadays, this makes playing those games a lot easier and more accessible. Not to mention, a lot less expensive if you consider your phone can do so much more than just play games. Saving is also never an issue since many current mobile games come with auto-save features that keep your data safe even if your phone happens to die if youre in the middle of a boss battle.
The good:: Many games with auto-save features require you to be connected to the internet to upload your save data to their servers. If youre not connected to your mobile provider or a Wi-Fi connection, this restriction may keep you from playing. Sadly enough, this even applies to single-player titles. Many of these games also put a heavy strain on your devices battery life. And since you dont just use your smartphone for gaming, you may be forced to prioritize when your battery is under 20%.
Everything comes with a price
The good:: Depending on the type of game, youll find ports ranging from as little as nothing to the average of $15 on the App Store or Google Play. Some of these ports even cost a lot less than if you were to buy the originals, making them a great buy if youre on a budget. Phoenix Wright Trilogy, for example, gives you three games for the price of one DS game. Others like Baldurs Gate II offer extras or DLC pack with your purchase, making them more complete and a better value.
The bad:: The phrase You pay for what you get applies just as well to the mobile marketplace where youll find freemium games that crowd your screen with ads or torture you with paywalls. An essentially free game like Tales of Phantasia, for example, lets you play the classic JRPG on your phone, but kicks up the difficulty so youll be forced to grind a lot more than youll remember or be forced to cough up money for IAPs that will save you mid-battle. Its not a nice way to reintroduce old favorites, so dont be hesitant to put a price on a favorite.
TelePORTing to the future
Nothings going to stop publishers from porting games to mobile, but some good can also come if they come up with new games using already-established IPs that are designed specifically with mobile in mind. Of course, gamers still buy classic games on Virtual Console and PlayStation Network, so mobile ports arent such a bad thing after all. Let us know how you feel about playing older games on your mobile device.