Lurking on the bedside table in my apartment, a devious piece of technology lies in wait. At first glance, it seems like nothing more than a simple tablet; something to provide convenient internet cruising from any location. But don’t let its harmless exterior fool you. This electronic notebook hides a darker side, filled with hours of engaging and addictive video gaming.
When my wife and I first received an iPad, we assumed it would be mostly used for surfing the internet and reading electronic books/magazines. After a while, she started to load art applications onto the tablet, allowing her to create some fine digital sketches. The iPad became her new toy to play with, which was just fine by me. After all, I had my 3DS and piles of great games to play. My mobile gaming niche was pleasantly filled.
It was roughly two months into our ownership of the iPad that we started to download some games. My wife installed Angry Birds (a carry-over from her phone) while I added a puzzle game I had read about called Spell Tower. This is how our madness began. It seemed like every spare moment was spent tossing birds or making words, destroying pig buildings and leveling towers of letter blocks. Soon after, more games snuck onto our iPad. Jetpack Joyride became a sort of challenge game, each of us trying to outlast the other and make a longer run through the cartoon laboratory. Jack Lumber was a hilarious swipe and slash game that my wife discovered while we attended PAXEast, and so the vengeful logger leapt onto the small screen. So many short and sweet games came to inhabit our happy tablet, and we were glad to have some little distractions to pass the time. Then we caught Machinarium on a sale, opening up a new world of gaming possibilities.
Machinarium was not just some cutesy mobile game to be played in short turns. It was a full-fledged adventure title, harkening back to the glory days of point-and-click PC gaming. We spent hours exploring the dystopian world of robots and scrap metal, trying to help our mechanical friend Josef in his journey. Sword and Sworcery followed next, which started to explore just what sort of features can be unique to a tablet game. The touch screen provided interesting gameplay mechanics, while the high-resolution screen allowed for gorgeous visuals. The transition was complete: the iPad had become a full-fledged gaming device and we hadn’t even noticed the change.
As someone who grew up playing video game consoles, it seems so odd that a device that was originally thought of as nothing more than a portable internet source has become such a gaming staple in my life. Two of the best games I played last year were mobile exclusives (Year Walk and Device 6), and it looks like this year will have even more iPad games for me to enjoy. So as you start to make your list of pros and cons for which killer next-gen console to purchase, be sure not to overlook the tablet market. There are years of amazing games in their back catalog, which is more than either the PS4 or Xbox One have to offer.