After three months on the market, the iPad has started to build up a decent range of games designed specifically for the tablet’s ten-inch screen. While I still think most of the apps have only scratched the surface of what the iPad can do, some of the top-played games in our household hint at the gadget’s potential as a primo gaming platform. Here are a few currently in rotation.
Laura Jones and the Gates of Good and Evil
I discovered downloadable Hidden Object games for the PC not that long ago, and while the genre isn’t terribly sophisticated, I do find it addicting. The best examples combine hidden object screens with mini puzzles of all varieties and at least a semi-coherent narrative. These types of games are perfectly suited for the iPad. The touch screen is convenient for navigation, and the ability to zoom in and out at will is ideal for object searches. My four-year-old daughter and I have started in on Laura Jones and the Gates of Good and Evil ($4.99) for the iPad, and if you skip quickly through the dialog, it’s quite a lot of mindless fun. So far, Laura Jones is one of the few HD-branded (i.e. created for the iPad) Hidden Object games I’ve found, but I expect the App Store will be flooded with more before too long.
I love Scrabble ($9.99) for the word play. I hate Scrabble for the endless hours of waiting between player turns. Endless hours, that is, if you’re playing another human. Playing a computer speeds up the process considerably. And although the iPad isn’t the first platform for computerized Scrabble, it is the most convenient. I don’t want my netbook in bed with me, but I will curl up with the iPad for some nighttime Scrabble play. The screen is always oriented in my direction, moving tiles around the board is effortless, and there are even one-touch options for shuffling my letters and recalling the tiles to my virtual rack.
This is one for the aspiring air traffic controllers out there. Flight Control ($4.99) looks easy at first – control the routes of different aircraft (planes, jets, helicopters) by swiping your finger to create a flight path to the correct runway or landing pad. But as the aircraft stack up, it gets harder and harder to avoid a crash, particularly with different aircraft moving at different speeds. The graphics for this iPad game are fairly simple, but the touchscreen is crucial for quick maneuvers. To keep the game interesting, you can try out different fields of play. There’s even one level in 3D! But without the proper red/blue glasses (okay, so it’s low-tech 3D), I haven’t yet tested the three-dimensional game play.