Mobile gaming has opened up our lives for having a game with us. Gone are the days where we had to remember to bring a Sodoku book with us, or a newspaper for the crossword puzzle. Gone even are the days many people my age grew up with, of having to carry around a Game Boy for entertainment.
I mean, there are moments in our lives where a little gaming is right, right? Like waiting in lines. Or when traveling. Waking up in the morning or winding down at night. Good for children who can play while perhaps other things are happening. Mobile gaming – in its many and varied forms – is not a new idea. But with our Smart devices, it’s easier than ever.
Now there’s even a new Nintendo system that looks far more like the merging of a Nintendo DS and a tablet than it does like much else. How we view mobile gaming is changing. But even as I play some games on these hand-helds, they don’t all work the same way as each other. And one keeps bringing me back. I’m going to consider mobile gaming just a little bit, and then talk about my favorite one, but then really I’d also like to hear from you – what are your go-to mobile games?
One thing that I have quite a bit of, actually, for mobile devices is full length type games. I got a Nintendo DS and loaded it up with games like Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy games, and Zelda games. And don’t get me wrong, these games are fantastic. Some of them, with older graphics, aren’t as noticeable as having older graphics on a smaller display – the age might show a bit more on the 40+ inch TV, right?
But the problem with games like this is that while mobile, they did require some dedicated time to play. And really, for many of them I ought to have the sound up – the music is often amazing. So when are the right opportunities to play these games? At the same times I might be playing other games on a different system? I mean, when I was doing most of my DS gaming, I was waking up at 4am (gross) and didn’t have work for several hours, so it was my way to wake up without being fully awake.
I got a PSP, and much the same – mainly Final Fantasy games, like Dissidia, and Crisis Core. Music, longer sections, a lot to play.
Then I got an iPhone, and there are all sorts of shorter – and cheaper – types of games to pick up, and I’ve gotten everywhere from full RPGs to side-scrolling running games to solitaire and cards. Sodoku and full board games. The world is at your fingertips, at least as far as gaming goes. Well, and maybe everything else – there’s an app for that too, right?
And then I got an iPad, and even moreso could I have mobile gaming on a larger screen, with more space most especially to have controls. All of a sudden seeing games like Baldur’s Gate and Knights of the Old Republic. But again, these long-format games, that I want sound for, that I want time for. Not great for pulling out and playing real quick while waiting in line, though maybe again not bad for waking up or winding down. I have mainly played Baldur’s Gate Enhanced Edition in bed, and KotOR later at nights too.
So the key perhaps is a combination of the type of game and the system, right? Not as easy to carry around my iPad – or a 2DS – as perhaps a DS, and that not as easy or as necessary as my Smart Phone. Having that always on me does make it nice for gaming. But then, the games take up space, and some of the ones I really want to play – like Final Fantasy I and II – I again would like sound for, so I have barely touched them. So what is my go-to game?
Don’t Mess with Aaron
There’s one game I keep going back to and going back to on my iPhone, and even my iPad, and that’s Ascension. This card game was a lot of fun when I first played it – and then at that same time I found out there was an app. And I got that app. And I have been playing it ever since.
You have to understand, I also bought the actual cards. Several of the sets we have yet to actually play. We own all the expansions. I love the game so much, that in my mind, having them means I could play it. But I do get to play it. On my phone.
Ascension is a deck-building game, where you are playing against a middle selection of six random cards, and a few others that are always available. Some cards you can “buy” to add to your deck, where you will draw them later to help you out in various ways – to buy more expensive things, or draw more cards, for instance. Other cards you “fight” to earn victory points. The cards you’ve added to your deck are also worth victory points, however – so you won’t necessarily know who’s won until all is done and counted.
What’s great about the game as an app is that the work of keeping track of the victory points, as well as your purchasing power and your fighting power, is all done by the computer. A lot of time with the card game can be spent counting, and counting again, to make sure you’ve taken everything into account. Then figuring out what you can afford to do – which in the app, is conveniently highlighted for you.
The computer AI is pretty good – I kind of understand how it makes its decisions, based on the best currently available cards, and so I can usually beat it pretty well. But as a deck-building game, in Ascension you’re kind of both playing a game of solitaire building your deck, playing a game against luck, and what cards come up in the middle (okay, still kind of like solitaire), but then also playing against opponents playing off of those same middle cards. You can build a strategy, only to watch the cards which would fulfill it never come up – or come up and get picked up by an opponent.
I’ve found also – for you Ascension fans out there – that three player games tend to have some of the highest scores. In two player, you’re kind of racing to the end against one person. In four player, so much happens between each of your turns that the game is constantly different. But with three, it’s a solid middle ground that tends towards a bit longer of a game, where you can build your deck up a bit more, and get to see what it does.
They’ve added great features, too – like being able to control how many points are being played in a round, which can allow you to play a much shorter or longer game than standard. They’ve added all of the expansions which have come out, as well as having promotional card sets, with cards I would love to own physical copies of as well, because not having them if we ever actually play with the physical cards would just be sad. You can choose which expansions you play with, as well, so if you want to mix it up, the options are right there.
There’s online multiplayer, which at first I played a lot of. It works kind of like Words With Friends, with asynchronous play, waiting for your friends to make their next move. However, as the expansions came out and everyone owned different ones, it got harder to set up a game, and I’ve fallen back to just playing against the computer. Or in-person, passing an iPad around for that game mode.
Basically, great game, fantastically executed app, one you can grab, play, stop if you need to, make games shorter or longer, doesn’t need any sound, I don’t even read the text anymore because I recognize the cards by picture… Well worth a few dollars to check out. I’m pretty sure you can get the whole game and expansions for less than one box of the actual cards to play that way – so a bargain when you look at it that way.
And I was playing it before writing this blog post, and had it on my mind. They came out with a new promotional cards set, and it helped me get one of my more ridiculous scores: