I used an iPhone 14 Pro Max to dig up a graveyard of mobile games

I used an iPhone 14 Pro Max to dig up a graveyard of mobile games

I remember the first time I played on an iOS device: vividly. She was 14 years old and the first generation of iPod Touch devices had hit the market. me begged on the one hand, as a Christmas present, eager to get my sweaty hands on a device that was, at the time, quite revolutionary. Music at your fingertips. More than that, games at the tips of your fingers. Even at this early stage of the iPod and iPhone era, when apps were relatively simple and experimental, I fell in love.

In this era, mobile games were not what we know now. There were no large-scale sweeping adventures, cute puzzles, or subscription services like apple arcade. The apps were largely for novelty value. Some didn’t even really have a real function. In one, you could tilt the screen and the ‘beer’ would flow through your device. In another, you could pop pimples by tapping on the screen.

There were lightsaber simulators, block puzzle games, AI illustrators, ‘love calculators,’ and countless imitations of Diner Dash. Later the games became more complex and we got hit like beat beater, tap tap revenge, and even mobile ports of titles like Grand Theft Auto: Wars in Chinatown.

In the early 2010s, action-adventure games for mobile devices took off, with adaptations of Iron Man Y Spiderman being the highlight for me, as a young and impressionable iPod user.

The novelty wore off in this period, as apps gave way to games, and “mobile gaming” evolved as a concept. As phones came with better performing hardware and higher resolution screens, these games continued to change, with each generation of devices bringing drastic improvements. I eventually graduated from an iPod Touch to an iPhone 5, and then to the ‘dark side’ as an Android user.

When I was offered the opportunity to review the latest iPhone 14 ProMax, with all its potential and modern high-end hardware, I was very curious how much the experience had changed in the last decade. Turns out mobile gaming on Apple devices has evolved phenomenally since the last time I experienced novelty pimple pops and tap-tap-revenging.

The Apple App Store always remembers

Powering on the iPhone 14 Pro Max was an incredible experience – it felt very different than how I remembered these devices. The first thing I noticed was the size: it’s a massive phone, almost too big to handle. The screen is also very impressive: sharp and brightly coloured. The input is similarly elegant, with a pixel-precise touchscreen that allowed for what felt like more precise control. This was a problem that plagued the original iPod Touch, and I have vivid memories of being frustrated with touch tracking.

Read: Apple seems to be removing old apps from its App Store

Beyond these core features, the phone is easy to maneuver, suitably slim (despite the size), and capable of playing graphically demanding games (Genshin Impact, LEGO: The Builder’s Journey, The Survivors) that work smoothly, with no noticeable heating in the device. Battery life was also a notable strength: with normal daily use, the phone can last around 2-3 days without charging.

After playing around with the phone’s settings to get familiar with the changes, I soon realized that the App Store retains knowledge of every download you’ve done. Out of curiosity and a sense of nostalgia, I clicked on the ‘Purchased’ user tab and discovered loads of apps I downloaded as a kid: pimple poppers, sand timers, solitaire, metronomes, the vigilantes movies app, Executionerand more.

Spiderman Y Iron Man both were there, just like the original Final Fantasy for mobile, Pocket God, MapleStoryand all Sims 3 mobile collection.

sims 3 mobile game
Screenshot: GamesHub

They were everybody there, preserved in digital amber. Many of the games were no longer playable (around 70% according to estimates) as a result of a decade of system upgrades, digital degradation, and store pickup – but I was still able to download many of these titles and enjoyed a wild throwback to my distant gaming past.

Interestingly, all the Sims 3 collection – The Sims 3 World Adventures Y ambitions – everything still runs smoothly, despite having an outdated and rather pixelated aspect ratio on the modern screen. You can’t buy these games on the App Store anymore, but by downloading them, I’ve managed to keep them a bit longer.

An incoming software update could destroy its compatibility, as is often the case with older apps, but it was still lovely to see my favorite games in action on a modern device.

what it was weirdhowever, it was that some games retained their save data, more than 10 years later. pocket god, for example, opened with my entire team of villagers in attendance, including Charlie, a special villager who can turn into a tiger, in reference to a Charlie Sheen tirade from 2011 (and subsequent meme). It was as if I had never left them, despite the years between us.

pocket god game on iphone 14 pro max
Screenshot: GamesHub

The sharp screen resolution of the iPhone 14 Pro Max meant all the classic games were pixelated and blurry: Scribblenauts Remix they looked particularly ugly and out of focus, but despite this, their charm remained.

Having access to my old app library was a lot like visiting a quaint, peaceful graveyard. Still, it was enlightening, and a trip back in time helped elevate my experiences with more modern games on the iPhone.

Apple Arcade is a quality subscription service

Mobile games have evolved in more ways than one and have developed a certain level of stigma over the last decade. Predatory microtransactions have become a common part of mobile gaming, with many games encouraging players to shell out money to keep playing, speed up segments, or get exclusive characters.

While not each game in the space attempts this predation, there are enough bad examples to spoil the bunch, and mobile games get a bad reputation as a result. but if you only think this is what mobile gaming is, you’re missing out on some of the best handheld gaming out there.

To combat monetization issues and the perceived low quality of mobile games, Apple released the apple arcade subscription in 2019. This AU$7.99 per month service brings you a variety of great games from trusted developers. Overall, it looks like it delivers on the promise of a brighter future for mobile gaming.

On Apple Arcade, you can find plenty of well-curated titles, like the surprisingly excellent kitchen master adaptation, which takes cues from mom cooking (there is also a solid mom cooking game on Apple Arcade). You will find an excellent sequel to the classic. Queen Serie (queen beyond), the sandbox simulator the survivors, the beautiful The LEGO Builder’s Journeyand a range of other delightful games.

The subscription model means you can download stuff at your leisure as you browse the Arcade catalogue, and you might even stumble upon your next favorite game. Out of curiosity, I recently downloaded a puzzle game called stitch., where you manipulate spools of thread, and has become a lovely way to pass the time. It’s a brain booster that keeps me entertained while I’m watching TV, working out at the gym, or getting ready for bed.

It wasn’t the only surprise new love I found on Apple Arcade, either. After the clunk and confusion of the classic games of the 2010s, the sharpness and beauty of LEGO: The Builder’s Journey It was a great and surprising surprise.

The art direction in this game is vivid and sharp, as are the intuitive controls. Builder’s Journey it’s a complex game that requires extensive player input to guide and move small game pieces across the maps, but the responsive and intuitive touch controls make the whole experience a relaxing and welcoming breeze.

Even a game like survivors, which requires direct character movement, planning, and strategy, was easily handled on the iPhone 14 Pro Max. I win kitchen master rounds in rapid order, even with the necessary accuracy and speed.

Apple Arcade was rife with experiences like this: cheerful, colorful, active games that combine bright, modern visuals with stylish, light-hearted gameplay that’s easy to pick up and jump into.

Mobile gaming waits for no one

It seems that mobile gaming has really evolved in the blink of an eye. In nearly a decade since I last held an iPhone, so a lot has changed, enough to make me feel old and withered, at 27 years old. A decade’s growth has taken us from novelty apps to full-fledged adventures, complete with phenomenal graphics and impressive performance. Mobile gaming has gotten serious.

Experiences that, in my opinion, were previously relegated to higher powered gaming devices (such as Old School RuneScape, Ghost Hack, Y monster hunter stories) are now freely available to everyone with a phone, without a single flaw in quality or performance. Even Genshin Impact, a downright great-looking game, runs like a breeze on the iPhone 14 Pro Max. No compromises, just some graceful swordplay and beautiful exploration.

Taking the phone for a spin, with my decade-old library of apps to look back on, was a huge eye-opener. While the glory days of popping pimples and tap tap revenge they are clearly over, replaced by a much stronger generation of mobile gaming. It’s amazing to see how quickly they’ve moved on and realize that mobile gaming will likely evolve again in the next decade, faster than the blink of an eye.

GamesHub was loaned an iPhone 14 Pro Max in order to test its capabilities.

Leave a Comment