So after years of resisting the tempatation, I eventually ended up cracking and buying a friggin iPhone 4S. I managed to go years without even so much as thinking about getting a smartphone, but I eventually had to crack. After schleping through a couple of years using a (mostly) functional Android phone, I decided to finally say fuck it and get an iPhone. That also may have to do with the fact that I always had an iPod, but those would tend to…well they would get stolen. A lot. More times than one should have an iPod stolen. As in more than one.
Anyway, after the last time my iPod went missing, I said fuck it, as I had an upgrade available on my Verizon plan anyway, I decided to go finally buy one of these new-fangled Apple telephones. Now I wanted this for the streamlined experience for only having one fucking device in my pocket at all times. However, after I got my hands on the phone, and put everything onto it from my iTunes, I noticed something entirely awesome. The phone is a good deal thicker than an iPod Touch.
This was a revelation to me, as I bought a bunch of games on iOS, but rarely, if ever played them because the iPod was way too thin to act as a proper controller. Now armed with this thicker…thing, I felt like I was finally able to properly play all these old RPGs I bought.
Buying an iPhone has taught me one simple thing about handheld gaming. Unless you’re some tiny person with carny hands, proper physical controls will work better every god damn time. Maybe it’s just me though. I grew up with an NES controller’s corners digging into my hands as a kid, maybe I am just too accustomed to the physical feedback a proper physical control scheme provides. The d-pad like thing in FF1 and 2 is just silly, and Chrono Trigger is no better. At least those stay in the same place though.
Cthulhu Saves the Word on iOS is a special brand of crap in the control department by putting the d-pad wherever the fuck you put your finger. What happens here is your hand ends up all over the place, so you do not even get to see your god damn game as you play it. It’s really dumb, and makes me want to sit around at my computer and play it with a proper controller. Which I do. So yeah, Apple got my money, but not my satisfaction.
The issue I find is that no matter how big they make the screen on an iPhone, which does have a very finite limit as it is a phone first and foremost, your hand controlling the action will take up too much of the visual real-estate. This actually makes me kinda sad as from what I can tell, iOS has some truly great games, that actually look amazing. All too often though, that view is blocked by your own grubby hand making sure it is properly moving, swiping, pressing, tapping in whatever way the game demands.
That is not to say it is all bad however. Certain games, mainly ones that rely on tapping, not pressing are great, as you generally get to see the onscreen action. Battleheart and Hero Academy are great examples of games that do iOS right. As a matter of fact, I think tactics RPGs would do great on a whole genre level. Hear that Square? Get the fuck to work with getting FFT Advance on my iPhone.