The Triumph of Mobile Gaming

I’ve been struggling to get my game time in. What else is new? This time, I’m resolved in my effort to Play More Video Games–so much so that I’m going to start waking up a few minutes early to get a quick fix of Starcraft 2 in before work. You know that feeling of regret you get when you consistently fail to be disciplined enough to reach your goals? (Working out, drinking less, etc.) Fuck that feeling. I’m gonna get an extra 45 minutes in my day for Starcraft. I also might stay a little bit later at work to get a game or two in–nothing makes me look like a good little worker like the sound of me macroing on three bases.

What little gaming I have gotten in during the last few weeks is largely due to my new iPad–I picked up Gameloft’s Diablo and Starcraft clones for a buck apiece. I beat the Diablo clone yesterday, and I can’t even remember the name (“Dungeon something 2 HD”), but it’s the only game I’ve beaten since Bulletstorm months ago. Yikes.

When I got the iPad, I was reluctant to install any games on it. I wanted it to be a productivity machine that would keep me writing more, reading more (Books! News! Not more Twitter…), and generally make me a Better Person. Which it did, for about a week. Then I got sucked into Words With Friends, and, well, you know how it goes from there. But never, ever, did I imagine I’d be sitting at my gaming laptop, iPad in hand, playing Dungeon Whatever 2 HD instead of a good game of Starcraft. Or a good game of just about anything. I have a Nintendo 3DS with Street Fighter IV and Cave Story, and I’m still playing on the iPad.

I titled this post “the triumph of mobile gaming”, but I could have just as well called it “the triumph of mediocrity”. Dungeon Whatever 2 HD is Diablo II minus the soul and clever game design. It’s stupidly easy (I died maybe twice during the entire game on Normal Difficulty), and there’s nothing interesting about it in the least. Even the loot is boring. It’s like all the love that went into making Diablo 1 + 2 addictive just got photocopied over and over until all the potentially copyright-infringing material is unrecognizable. Starfront, the Starcraft clone, looks like someone took a shitty Command and Conquer game and copied + pasted vaguely Terran/Protoss/Zerg skins on them. Both games make allowances for the stop-and-start reality of mobile gaming–Starfront build times are much shorter than Starcraft’s, and it’s not really designed to allow prolonged multi-base games–but other than that, they’re basically bad versions of the original.

And yet, I’m playing them. Because they’re there, on my iPad, and they’re easier to pick up and play than Starcraft 2–which, in contrast, is so emotionally engaging that I need to mentally set aside time to play it, and feel bad when I don’t. I fancy myself rather discriminating when it comes to the games I play (I’ll have you know that most of the games in my GameFly queue have gotten returned after only an hour or two of play), but I’m playing the shit out of these crappy games. Starcraft 2 is like a healthy, home-cooked meal, and Starfront is the Taco Bell version of a teriyaki chicken bowl.


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