Journalists: Take the Mobile Game Challenge
We read the gaming blogs and message boards. We know what you all think about mobile games. Over the last two years Modojo has reviewed over 200 of them, so we think it's safe to consider ourselves experts on the subject. And the fact is, nearly all of you are wrong.
Mobile games don't suck, and we can prove it.
I'm calling you out, game journalists. I know many of you personally. For the most part everyone that writes about games is reasonable, intelligent, and friendly. You love giving great, underexposed games their due and bringing them to the attention of your readers. For the most part, game journalists are a progressive bunch.
So, it's time to give mobile a fair shot. A real shot.
Things have been moving in the right direction for a while, but as a press collective, we just aren't there yet. Joystiq's Alexander Sliwinski expressed shock that God of War: Betrayal was actually... fun. Destructoid's Nick Chester expressed similar surprise. Sliwinski also seemed pretty surprised that mobile games weren't just "Tetris clones," despite the fact that only about one in eight mobile games reviewed by us, IGN Wireless, or any other mobile games site is a puzzle title.
We totally get everyone's attitude towards mobile. We felt the same way (that the games weren't worth our time/money), until we were forced to start covering them here at Modojo. It was only when we went hands-on with some of mobile's AAA titles that we realized that mobile games were more fun than we ever believed they could be.
So, here's the deal. We're requesting (nicely!) that all the game journos outlined above download a couple of the mobile games listed below and give them a fair shot. Any other publication that doesn't pay much attention to mobile (1up, GameSpot, Game Informer...) you're welcome to join in as well, of course. Play through them like you would any other handheld, keeping in mind that mobile games are designed around being fun for short bursts of downtime, are designed to be interruptible, and are (usually) designed to by fully playable with just one thumb.
And then simply report on your observations. If you still find the experience lacking, Modojo will reprint your negative opinion in full in a follow-up article, and we promise to pay for your downloads (or buy you a few rounds) at the next gaming show or the next time we see you. If, on the flipside, you find the games to be as enjoyable and addicting as we at Modojo do... we won't rub it in. We didn't think mobile games were worth anything until we gave them a lengthy look either.
So really, you have nothing to lose. At worst you'll spend a few hours and a few dollars on something only marginally enjoyable, and at best you'll come away a more well-rounded gamer, with some new upcoming games to get excited about.
All we ask is that you go into the experience open-minded, without any kind of determination to "prove us wrong."
*This challenge carries with it just ONE caveat: The games must be played on a decent phone. It doesn't need to be cutting-edge - the RAZR can play most all high-end Java games, and it was launched in 2005. If you or your publication has no access to any decent phone launched in the last 24 months, feel free to reach out to us, or the game publisher directly, to get a loaner handset.
This list does not represent the absolute "best of the best" in mobile games. We don't feel equipped to make those kinds of judgements, at this point. What this list does contain are four great, addicting, replayable mobile titles. We didn't overthink it - we just chose four games that we love.
Super KO Boxing (Glu Mobile)
It's a lot like Super Punch-Out, only it isn't, you know, like 15 years old. Lots of enemies, lots of challenges, and silky-smooth control make this one of the best mobile games ever released.
Alltell, Bell, Boost, Cingular, Cricket, Fido, Helio, Kajeet, Metro PCS, Midwest, Motricity, Nextel, PlayPhone, Rogers, Southern LINC, Sprint, T-Mobile, US Cellular, Verizon, Virgin, Western Wireless.
Super Boom Boom (Gamevil)
8.5/10 - IGN
Modojo review: None yet, but we've played it and we dig it
It's all about timing. You must pitch a bomb upwards into a series of moving baskets, to reach the top of the stage. It starts out as just baskets, but before long pulleys, birds, poles and all kinds of other obstacles enter the mix. The game induces a zen-like feeling of rhythm. Plus, Super Boom Boom has a sweet Wind Waker-ish cartoon pirate theme. The would would be a better place if it had more cartoon pirates in it...
AT&T and Helio, two more major carriers shortly.
Tetris Multiplayer (EA Mobile)
9/10 - IGN
We know that Tetris Multiplayer's inclusion on this short list doesn't do much to further the case that mobile isn't just "Tetris clones," but we included it anyway because, honestly, it proves how playable Tetris remains to this day. It takes about 15 seconds to forget you're playing "on a phone," and after that it's just you and the blocks.
AT&T, Sprint and Verizon, and some regional carriers
Pyramid Bloxx (Digital Chocolate)
Pyramid Bloxx is really two games. You're tasked with building three great pyramids, strategically placing one block at a time, in order to maximize their grandeur. The "hook" is that each of these blocks you actually fashion yourself, in the game's action/rhythm segment. The farther your workers can hoist it up the mine shaft, the more valuable the block becomes when it comes time to place it.
AT&T, with Verizon, Sprint, Boost, & VMU soon.
Orcs & Elves (EA Mobile)
Skipping Stone (I-Play)
Transformers (Glu Mobile)
Ghost Recon 2 (Gameloft)
...so there you have it. The challenge has been issued. The gauntlet... thrown down. What say you, game writers?