Games on mobile platforms are beginning to catch up to those on portable or even full-sized consoles. Once considered the realm of “Angry Birds” and its ilk, the mobile game space is now offering such fully featured experiences as “Grand Theft Auto” games, not to mention graphical powerhouses like “Infinity Blade.” The gap is closing.
Two recent iOS releases, “Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Dual Destinies” (iOS; Free/$14.99; Rated 12+) and “Dragon Quest IV: Chapters of the Chosen” (iOS; $14.99; Rated 9+), feel like a way for publishers Capcom and Square Enix to migrate products, normally reserved for dedicated gaming machines, into the realm of phones. Both are re-releases of existing games for the Nintendo 3DS, modified in terms of control scheme and presentation for a new audience.
“Dual Destinies” has made the transition beautifully, especially when compared to the half-hearted ports of previous “Phoenix Wright” games on iOS. Of particular note is the visual presentation – even on high-resolution retina displays, “Dual Destinies” looks incredible. The hand-drawn art is clear and appealing. Whether on iPhone or iPad, it looks as though the game was made for the hardware.
The gameplay is exactly as it was on the 3DS, though the game’s “talk, read, investigate, argue” structure is arguably better suited for the mobile platforms. It’s the type of thing you can play for a short while, and think about while you’re doing other things. It’s the perfect type of game to have in your pocket at all times, ready to try something when inspiration strikes.
Perhaps the most innovative thing about “Dual Destinies” is the pricing scheme. The first episode is free, and beyond that, you can either purchase the additional four episodes for five dollars each or get all of them at once for $14.99. It’s a steep price to pay for an app, but it’s half what you’ll pay on the 3DS.
‘Dragon Quest IV’
“Dragon Quest IV” is a port of a Nintendo DS remake of an NES game from 1990. It’s as old-school as old-school gets in role-playing terms. It has a story, but that story tends to take a backseat to exploration and old-fashioned grinding.
Yes, you’ll spend many hours simply defeating enemies to become more powerful. This being a mobile product, you’d almost think that microtransactions would be included to help speed up the process. But no, it’s clear that preserving the purity of the original game was important to those doing the port. It’s another expensive app, but for the price of admission you get 30-40 hours of gameplay, with no fear of stalling via soft paywalls.
The most striking change between previous versions of “Dragon Quest IV” and the iOS version is the presentation, which is locked into portrait mode. People familiar with the game (or even the genre) may be thrown off by the lack of left-to-right view, but it’s a design choice that makes sense for those using “Dragon Quest IV” for quick bouts of gameplay. Locking the game in portrait mode means that switching between it and, say, Facebook is a more natural action.
The movement controls, done with a simulated joystick, do not feel natural immediately, though you get used to them after a few hours. The game itself may also become tiresome, particularly to a gaming audience accustomed to immediate gratification. Still, gamers with large reserves of patience will find plenty to love.
While Nintendo and PlayStation-style experiences may be largely relegated to ports of older games, the growing presence of games like this suggests that some of these games may begin to appear on mobile platforms first, rather than ported there later. Games like these expand the mobile gaming experience, and that can only be a good thing.
New this week: “Diablo III: Ultimate Evil Edition” (PS4, XOne) brings “Diablo III” to the new generation of consoles, complete with a new expansion called “Reaper of Souls” and a new character class, the Crusader. If “Diablo” isn’t your thing, you could get your golf on with “The Golf Club” (XOne) or enjoy some side-scrolling spy action with “Counterspy” (PS4, PS3, Vita).