The iPad is many things to many people, but the area where it stands to make the most change is in mobile gaming.
Up until now, gamers have been left with two very different options for mobile gaming. One is user portables like the Sony PlayStation Portable and the Nintendo DS. The other is to lug around a beefy laptop for games, which can work just fine but be a burden on your back and nomadic lifestyle.
The same way the iPhone shook things up for the world of mobile phones, the iPad could end up doing the same for portable gaming. Its big touchscreen and cellular data connectivity (at least on the 3G models) will no doubt help in launching new and popular franchises. There's even a patent filing from 2008 that could bring docking hardware that would add real tactile buttons and an analog joystick.
Until that day arrives, there are a handful of games at launch that are simply iterations of existing iPhone games. We've rounded up 20 that can be found on both platforms. Then we stuck them side by side so you can see the differences.
The two huge caveats with this slideshow are that:
1) Our photo viewer does not currently let you see full-size, pixel-for-pixel screenshots
2) We didn't start out with those anyway.
All the shots you see (with a few exceptions) are the ones provided by the developer and found in the App Store. With that warning aside, click on through to see the differences.
Ngmoco's Godfinger is not even out in the U.S. app store yet, that is, unless you have an iPad.
The iPad version, which is free, gives users a zoomed-out view with slightly smoother graphics. The big gain here is the UI, which has been stuck out to the corners, instead of down on the bottom of the screen.
Plants vs. Zombies, and other such tower defense-style games are well suited for the iPad's larger screen. The game's iPhone sibling costs less than a third of the "HD" version at $2.99, but the extra $7 gets iPad users what is arguably a better experience.
There is, for example, the return of survival mode, which lets players try to last as long as they can. There's also an iPad-exclusive mode called "buttered popcorn" that has them targeting zombies with their fingers for corn cob artillery attacks.
The real reason it's a better version though, is that the controls are finally back in the correct place--up top. In the game's transition from PC and Mac to the iPhone, the controls were scrunched into the left of the screen. This way, you get to see more of the play field and keep from accidentally deploying anything.
To be fair, Galcon Fusion is not available on the iPhone. But its two forerunners--Galcon and Galcon Labs started there. And Fusion is essentially the same core game but with live chat.
The big deal here is that the iPad offers Galcon players a bigger galaxy and more planets to work with. Where players may have found it difficult to select smaller planets, or lead several fleets at once from their iPhones or iPod Touches, they can do it with more precision on a larger screen.
Seen to the left is a shot of Galcon for iPhone next to Galcon Fusion for iPad.
Worms fans want all the screen real estate they can possibly get their hands on. The iPad version does not disappoint in that regard.
Since an update last year, Worms players on the iPhone and iPod touch have been able to zoom out and see more of the battlefield. With the iPad version, you can do this and still see what you're doing.
Worms HD largely remains a port of the iPhone/iPod version. Many gamers might have been expecting Team17 to make use of the extra screen size to rework the weapon selection menu, streamline the UI, and add more toggles for things like fuse times and grenade bounce, but it's all the same.
EA's Need for Speed Shift was one of the first games showed off for the iPad. It's also a game that helps you look like an idiot in public as you flip your device back and forth like a virtual steering wheel.
The iPad version of the game adds a few bells and whistles. The most noticeable being better textures and more detail on cars (both inside and out). There are also eight more cars in the iPad version, as well as a more realistic feeling of acceleration as you zoom around the track.
Gameloft's Asphalt series is a close rival to EA's Need for Speed. The UI overhaul in the iPad version of this game compared with its iPhone/iPod version is extensive.
The most noticeable improvement is that there's more room on the screen for all the HUD elements like the track mini-map and a user's position. This may not seem like a big deal from the screenshots, but keep in mind that with racing games like this, your fingers are almost always covering up both sides of the lower left and right corners. On the iPad this gives you more room to see what you're doing.
A notable omission though, and hopefully something that will show up in an update, is a rear-view mirror. Now that these racing games have the room, it's more of a possibility.
Scrabble is one of the few games on this list that's had its UI completely reworked for the iPad. The result is a much cleaner experience with more room for the UI. This is especially true of the scoreboard, which is not nearly as squished on the iPad version. And because the toggles have been moved from right underneath your letters, over to the left side of the screen, there's less chance of accidentally thumbing one when you're trying to go for that triple-word score.
The iPad version of Scrabble, like many others on this list, costs three times its iPhone/iPod sibling. On the plus side, it adds things like landscape mode play and a four-player mode.
Minigore is a hard one to do right with just screenshots. The frantic shooter has you surviving as long as possible against wave after wave of baddies. The longer you play, the more likely you are to get into situations where you need to shoot yourself out an escape route, which is where the extra screen real estate on the iPad can be of assistance.
Other perks include sharper graphics and storybook-like level selection screen. The real reason to go HD with this one though, is the same one as with the racing games. With your fingers covering up so much of the screen in the iPhone/iPod version, the iPad gives you that slight edge in seeing the bad guys before they get too close.
Just like Plants vs. Zombies, Fieldrunners on iPad offers users more room to build things, as well as tucking away the UI from the action.
The real benefit though, is being able to see more of what's happening on screen without scrolling around, which can be helpful in fighting off the larger waves of bad guys as they make their way through your defenses. At the same time, developer Subatomic Studios is working on a new batch of iPad-specific maps that promise to thwart your best strategies.
Ngmoco's Farmville-esq title is one of the best examples of games that just work better on the iPad.
Where iPhone/iPod users will spend much of the game scrolling around the screen to grow crops and check on what buildings are ready for money collection, iPad users can see most all of this on one screen. This becomes the most apparent when trying to move things from one area to another when reorganizing your kingdom.
Michael Kasprzak's Smiles is a simple and beautiful matching game. On the iPad, it's simply bigger and better looking.
Interestingly enough though, there is one noticeable difference. The iPhone/iPod version of Smiles is actually packing an extra row of characters, which means players on that game could theoretically stack up higher combos. Though given the game's casual nature (which includes a pressure-free "zen" mode), it's probably not a deal breaker for most fans.
The only bummer with Harbor Master for the iPad is that there's currently only one level. Fans of the original for the iPhone and iPod Touch know well enough that the variety in levels is one of the thing that makes this game an App Store gem.
Still, like with Flight Control HD (which has a similar game play mechanic), having more room to move your boats in and out of port will make for some big scores. It could also lead to the blending of some of the level's game play types, where the developer wouldn't have otherwise had enough room to include things like pirates, sea monsters, and storms on the same map.
Real Racing HD is a notable improvement over the original, at least in terms of the screens and footage we've seen. There's more detail on the track and inside the cars. It's also got some new features like playing against ghost records.
The really neat part though, is that you can now skin your car with photos from your library. This means you can design something on your computer (or another iPad app), then transfer it over to your car. It also lets you share it with other people and vice-versa.
Labyrinth 2 is one of those games that would naturally transition well to a larger screen real estate. As an added benefit, there really is more precision and control when you're making careful adjustments to larger device. A slight tip in any direction with an iPhone might send your ball flying, but on the iPad it's more subtle.
That extra control is needed though, as iPad levels can be larger and more complicated. What's nice is that developer Illusion Labs still lets you play user creations from the smaller version--they're just scaled to the bigger screen.
Soosiz, a gravity-bending platformer that played well on the iPhone, looks killer on the iPad.
As with many of the other games on this list, the added screen real estate with properly scaled controls means that your fingers don't get in the way as much. However, the scenery itself takes up about the same amount of size, meaning you're not going to be able to see more of a level than you would before.
The only odd thing about the HD rendition is the pair of black lines on the top and bottom of the screen. These give the game a movie-like appearance, but in truth, it would be nice to have the game take up the full resolution of the iPad instead.
Gameloft's Dungeon Hunter is another good example of where a larger screen can make for a less frustrating experience. Anyone who has played the original can appreciate more room on screen for various spell toggles, as well as more space so you don't accidentally use up magic points on a spell when you meant to use one of your weapons instead.
The extra room also gives gamers a mini map that can be moved around to wherever the player wants.
Azkend on the iPad is basically an all new game compared to its iPhone predecessor. The extra screen real estate gives you more room to draw out lines. You can also see more of the background photo without having to clear symbols.