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There are several reasons why Apple has changed gaming for good, a topic we explore in today's App Industry Roundup. Also, we offer a glimpse of the new iPhone games plus a key rule to keep in mind before letting your kid download games.
The must-see at E3 - iThings
On top of all the games and console news coming out of the E3 show this week, there is an overriding feeling that Apple has permanently changed the hand-held gaming market.
Here are three obvious reasons:
1. Games on Apple's iThings -- the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch -- are cheap.
2. New iThing games are always a finger swipe away, as are game upgrades.
3. The iThings, particularly the iPhone, are always with their owner.
Apple's traction in hand-held gaming has been so quick, and so powerful, that it's become hard for another company to cut through that noise. Yet Nintendo is doing a decent job of trying to compete thanks to a gimmicky approach with its new 3DS system. Pricing and availability have not yet been announced, a potential sticking point, but reviews have been solid.
The 3DS, with its version of 3D gaming, should still appeal to its primary target audience: young boys and uber gaming geeks. The gaming system has a bigger screen while the graphics have been improved, as shown by the crowd-pleasing new game, Kid Icarus: Uprising.
But the problem facing Nintendo and others who want to compete with the iThings and an improving Android gaming platform is daunting. There's little need to buy a separate gaming system when a compelling jack-of-all-trades like the iPhone (it plays music, makes phone calls, even has a calculator!) is attracting all the attention.
The kids can keep keep their 3DS's and DSi's, as the iThings can tap into a caravan of gaming fans -- hard-core and casual -- that knows no age limit.
And that's the game-changer right there: Young or old, new gamer or old-school, the iPhone offers so much variety -- from snacking on a silly game while waiting in a line to intense gameplay -- that it has turned all iPhone owners into gamers.
What new games look cool?
Ultimate Spider-Man: Total Mayhem may have been the Day 1 "favorite" from the gamers at SlideToPlay.com. "When we were swinging through the city at night, gameplay consisted of a combination of touching the screen to bounce off of flying robots, and hitting the web button to grab a flagpole or building spire. It’s an on-rails, timing-based level, but it was a lot of fun." From Gameloft and available soon.
Sonic The Hedgehog 4: Episode 1. This Sega tradition will hit all platforms and includes special features for each: It will get "two exclusive //[iPhone]// Acts that focus on the Accelerometer functions while the console games will have a two exclusive acts that the iPhone and iTouch will not get," notes gamrReview.com. "The game play is exactly as you remembered, which is exactly what we want. ...Also, Episode 1 is supposed to end with an amazing cliffhanger..."
Already available at iTunes for 99 cents, Zombie Wonderland has drawn raves during its showing off at E3. The game hearkens back to Romero's 1968 Night of the Living Dead, notes Boing Boing contributor Mark Frauenfelder.
Coming to the iPad later this month is the popular (and pricey) Splinter Cell Conviction. The game is $9.99 for the iPhone, but as Levi Buchanan writes for IGN, "the iPad Conviction is the exact same game as the iPhone version – which includes an exclusive stage on the Potomac River – but with significant visual upgrades." Pricing details were not released, but since it's nearly the same as the iPhone game, lets hope Gameloft doesn't raise the price.
A rule for kids games
Finally, as I noted above, the iPhone is a great platform for all gamers, but kids are particularly drawn to the touch screen wonder. Yet kids are fickle about games and since the iPhone has a never-ending supply of games to choose from, rules must be set.
Hence, I have one critical rule for downloading iPhone games for kids: the games must be free.