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)
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)