Let’s face it — living in a bustling city means there’s a lot of downtime to contend with; long grocery store lines and half-hour+ commutes mean there’s a lot of time that needs to be filled, and I usually pass the time playing games on my phone. In the early days of mobile gaming, the best I could hope for was Angry Birds or a Tetris clone, but recently the market for smartphone gaming has exploded in ways none of us would have predicted ten years ago.
If you’re anything like me, you probably keep up to date with tech trends and know that Google and Apple’s versatile software platforms have given developers big and small the chance to get their products into our hands. Globally, games make up a massive 40 percent of all app-store downloads and, incredibly, 75 percent of app-store spending. Entertainment giants like Google, Apple, and even Sony are finally coming to grips with the fact that games are dominating the market.Personally, I tend to play old-school ports of console games I loved in the ’90s. The more retro games they put out, the happier I am.
Old School Gaming
Hundreds of new games crowd the Play Store each week, and many are worth a look. Not only are more and more games from older systems (think Atari to the N64 all the way to PS2 ports) are making their way to our phones, but since many have been re-mastered and even expanded for their mobile releases, I find that some of these games are even better on my phone than they were on their original consoles.
One of my favourite strategy role-playing games of all time is Final Fantasy Tactics, which is now available on the Play Store, and while it’s not a traditional entry in the Final Fantasy series, I think it’s the best pick of the bunch. Though it’s technically a port of the enhanced version that came out on the on the PSP, it plays so much like the original PS1 version, that I don’t even care.
Game of Thrones Style Intrigue on your Mobile
Final Fantasy Tactics is a turn-based strategy game set on various battle grids, peopled with mages and warriors and alchemists. A huge chunk of the game revolves around combat, but Tactics also has an engaging story about warring nations (think Game of Thrones-level epic), not to mention beautiful art direction (especially in those modernized cut-scenes) and a gripping soundtrack. I thought that porting one of my favourite PS1 games of all time to my phone was going to be the highlight this year in terms of mobile gaming, but it turns out this experience is just the tip of the iceberg.
Mobile Gaming Conventions
One of my best friends from college, Dave, works for Ubisoft — aFrench video game company with offices in Canada — and last summer I visited him in Toronto. He brought me to Toronto’s GX, one of North America’s biggest gaming conventions.
I came hoping finally to figure out the best possible tablet upgrade I could get. After some comparisons, I opted for a Google Pixel C, which I knew would put Dave’s Mac Air to shame. Taking advantage of the low Canadian dollar, I browsed online and discovered Kijiji, a popular Canadian classified site. It didn’t take long to find a great deal on a used smartphone, and with the right tablet in hand, I was ready to have my mobile future revealed to me at GX.
At GX, I was floored at the number of advances in the tech sector we’ll be seeing this year. Mobile gaming in particular is about to see a major leap with Sony Computer Entertainment (SCE), the subsidiary responsible for the entire output on the PlayStation console, announcing that it is introducing a new company dedicated to building games specifically for mobile devices. This is major news, as it suggeststhat our mobile gaming experience will not be limited to ports of games from other systems. The new company “ForwardWorks” will now be making games exclusively for your smartphones and tablets. If you’re a fan of mobile gaming, get ready for what the rest of 2016 has to offer. If bold new territory is what you’re after, get ready for the game changers that are just around the corner.