iPhone vs. iPad: 20 games side by side (photos)
A tale of two screens
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.
Let's Golf! by Gameloft was released March of last year. The iPad version costs $5 more than the its smaller sibling but sports prettier graphics and more room for your fingers.
Not seen in this shot, is the reworked club chooser. This lets you more easily swap between clubs from a pop-out menu instead of cycling through them one by one.
To give you some idea of scale, all the controls and HUD elements are the same size on both screens.
Let's Golf HD ($6.99)
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
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.
Plants vs. Zombies HD ($9.99)
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.
Galcon Fusion ($9.99)
The big benefit of moving to the iPad, is size itself. Players just get to see more of what's in front of them, letting them do things like set up tricks, and avoid obstacles.
The iPad version also throws in a split screen, two-player mode, something you cannot exactly do when trying to share a single screen of your iPhone or iPod with another person.
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.
Worms HD ($4.99)
Need for Speed Shift
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.
Need for Speed Shift for iPad ($14.99)
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.
Asphalt 5 HD ($6.99)
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.
Scrabble for iPad ($9.99)
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.
Minigore HD ($4.99)
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.
Fieldrunners for iPad ($7.99)
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.
We Rule (free)
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.
Smiles HD ($4.99)
Flight Control HD
Having more space juggle a handful of planes means you can get higher scores. It can also make for absolute chaos once you get jumbo jets, helicopters, and smaller planes going all at once.
We're looking forward to some really interesting level designs coming out of this one and any sequels.
Flight Control HD ($4.99)
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.
Harbor Master (free)
Real Racing HD
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.
Real Racing HD ($9.99)
Labyrinth 2 HD
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.
Labyrinth 2 HD ($4.99)
Labyrinth 2 HD lite (free)
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.
Soosiz HD ($4.99)
The extra room also gives gamers a mini map that can be moved around to wherever the player wants.
Dungeon Hunter HD ($6.99)
Azkend HD ($4.99)