Games to Go
Portable consoles and phones put hours of fun at travelers’ fingertips
Party in your pants! Given excitement levels surrounding set-top systems like the Wii and Xbox 360, enthusiasts often forget several of today’s most advanced gaming platforms actually fit in your pocket. With spring here, it’s worth reiterating a few ways vacationers can enjoy a little fun on the run, even while braving the horror of direct sunlight.
Nintendo’s new DSi, which adds twin digital cameras, voice recording, music playback and wireless game downloads, arrives April 5th. But even now, fans of the current touch-sensitive, dual-screened console have plenty of hits to choose from. Consider the sword-and-sorcery epic Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Echoes of Time, which lets multiple adventurers wirelessly connect and quest together. Crave suspense? Broken Sword: The Director’s Cut adds new mindbenders, backdrops and plot twists to the award-winning animated murder-mystery– making it a great alternative to paperback thrillers.
Discerning players shouldn’t miss the Asian Triad-inspired underworld odyssey Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars, given its colorful cartoon styling and inventive play twists. Those who prefer more offbeat topics can always turn to the J-pop flavored musical mini-game collection Rhythm Heaven and green-thumbed grab bag of activities Gardening Mama instead.
Sony’s PlayStation Portable (PSP) has been making headlines lately mostly for players’ lack of enthusiasm for the system, and its proprietary UMD disc format. But with support for Skype calling, watching videos stored on a PS3 remotely over the Internet, and online game downloads, the console remains one of the most versatile hand-helds.
God of War: Chains of Olympus is the system’s killer app. Translating simple button taps into blade-swinging symphonies of destruction, this striking tale sees you single-handedly rending creatures of Greek myth in gruesome fashion. Fans of sci-fi shooters will also enjoy the recently released Resistance: Retribution. As if the heated blaster’s sweeping story arc and 3D alien-splattering action weren’t enough, the title also entices with engaging head-to-head multiplayer action.
As much a gonzo art experiment as it is a compelling blend of action and strategy, Patapon 2 is also a must-have. What’s not to love about a game where keeping the beat with pounding drums causes silhouettes of one-eyed tribesmen to engage in heated combat?
Meanwhile, the gesture-tracking and tilt sensor-equipped iPhone continues to grow in popularity amongst gaming aficionados. Credit on-demand software delivery from the App Store, which now boasts over 6,000 titles from empire building challenges such as Lux Touch to addictive arcade outings, i.e. Rolando, and complex civil engineering simulations like SimCity.
The coming iPhone 3.0 software update should also add major features from a player’s perspective. New capabilities include using Bluetooth for multiplayer connectivity, sending play invites to friends, and purchasing new items such as vehicles and weapons from within games. Coming this summer, it’s just one more reason why even chronically addicted fans can look forward to their next business trip or seaside getaway.
Even everyday cell phones from manufacturers like Sprint, Motorola, Nokia and LG can double as portable arcades. Given the option to download titles like Diner Dash and The Oregon Trail anytime, anywhere, who knows? You might even be able to step away from the couch long enough to (gasp!) get a tan.
Get Rich Playing Games (getrichgaming.com) author and TV/radio host Scott Steinberg has covered technology for 400+ outlets from CNN to Rolling Stone. For more of his insights, visit www.gadgetexpert.net.