Finding the Mythical Immersive iPhone Game

The future of iPhone gaming?  Probably not.
The future of iPhone gaming? Probably not.

As the iPhone and other smartphones accompany their owners everywhere, so does the chance to have fulltime access to games. Gamers and journalists alike are asking for more immersive iPhone games, but it’s unlikely they’ll flood the App Store anytime soon. Sure, it would be fantastic to have a lengthy, engaging iPhone game with depth, character development and a solid narrative, but it’s highly unlikely.

With the current benchmark for a “premium” app being anything over $5.00, developers can’t afford a fully-fledged staff. Great games like Mass Effect use cinematics and professionally-delivered dialogue to draw in the player, but both budget and hardware constraints prevent this sort of experience on Apple’s ‘slippery brick,’ as evidenced by Mass Effect Galaxy.

However, there are other inherent flaws in iPhone gaming. Even with your earbuds in place and zen-like concentration, gaming time can be interrupted at just about any moment. This isn’t even kept to the external problems of your average day – even the device insists on bothering you with incoming calls or text messages. While one could set the device to airplane mode, this effectively turns it into an iPod touch – a quandary. By the very nature of being connected on the go, one makes the gaming experience tough to establish.

I find that I have the most fun playing puzzlers on my phone, and the reviewers agree. Over half of the top 15 games on Pocket Gamer are puzzle games, and as developer Tale of Tales founder Michaël Samyn points out, small screens are better suited for shorter, more abstract titles. The device’s limitations are not likely to hinder your play in a puzzle game, whereas shooters and RPGs can be a real headache.

Between the hand cramps and screen glare, I, like most gamers, prefer my iPhone sessions to be short and sweet, relegating my larger-than life gaming experiences to the sofa.