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Monday, May 27, 2024

Aggie Arcade: Your weekly dose of video games

Mobile Metamorphosis

Last December, I joined the exclusive club of hip, cool kids and their fancy smart phones. More specifically, I acquired an iPhone, and in turn gained access to an extensive library of mobile games. Two years ago I wouldn’t have cared about that, but perspectives shift over time.

Apathy best describes my past feelings on the mobile games field. The fact that I didn’t have an iPhone played a big part in the thought process, but I also equated the platform to inherently lesser experiences. I still don’t feel mobile games reach the heights of console/handheld releases, but I did unfairly judge the platform.

Now that I have experience with games on the iPhone, I can understand the appeal. As I find myself consumed more and more by schoolwork and other responsibilities, I look to mobile games as a brief diversion. I may not be able to play Dark Souls II while I wait 20 minutes for my next class, but I can easily load up some Ridiculous Fishing on my phone.

The pick-up-and-play mechanics that define numerous mobile games create a niche in which busy individuals can still find video game experiences to remedy boredom and malaise. Again, these games don’t capture the thrill and excitement of playing the best games on a PlayStation 4 or 3DS, but they don’t need to — their goals are largely different.

But my shift in perspective only represents one part of the equation. Mobile games themselves have also changed over time. They grow and adapt based on the market, and that adaptability allows developers to take greater risks.

The first example that comes to mind is Monument Valley, a puzzle game released on iOS earlier this month. It uses artist M.C. Escher and Japanese art as key sources of inspiration in order to craft a distinctive world. Impossible structures and beautifully vibrant colors coexist with each other which establishes a mysterious tone as players solve increasingly complex puzzles.

Monument Valley is not a perfect game — it’s rather short at 90 minutes and falls on the easy side of things. But it made a huge impression on me as I played it, and it presented a unique experience that one might not expect to find on a phone. Others felt the same way, as the game shot to the top of the App Store in numerous countries.

Games like Monument Valley signify a metamorphosis in the mobile games field. Mobile developers understand that part of their audience wants to see creative risk which helps the platform grow and appeal to initially skeptical people like myself. I don’t think mobile games will dominate the industry five years from now, but they have the potential to sit comfortably right alongside titles on other platforms.

ANTHONY LABELLA can be reached at arts@theaggie.org.



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