[Tooth & Arrows] The Lure Of Mobile Gaming

Monday, August 11, 2014

So I haven’t posted a Tooth & Arrows blog for a long time. It isn’t that I’ve stopped gaming, I just have shifted platforms. At first it was by necessity. When my large monitor fried back in March of this year, I lost my primary and favorite way of gaming.

I tried switching to a smaller monitor, but the details I was used to seeing in my games (and in games like TheHunter, those details mean the difference between getting the trophy and losing it) were impossible to see on the smaller screen.

I first allowed my World of Warcraft subscription to lapse, then my TheHunter subscription. I never really stopped gaming, though – I just moved to the other two options I had. Those options being my 3DS, and my phone.

For awhile, I carried my DS with me everywhere, but while that was great for building up the pedometer-assisted coins for use with certain games, I didn’t really have time to play things with the dedication the games actually warranted.

The one constant is my phone – I use it for everything. It’s a music player, it’s an e-reader, it’s my connection to social media – and it’s a gaming machine.

I spend most of my phone game time playing quick little social games like Hanging With Friends, Words With Friends, Stampede Run, and Guess The Emoji. Things I can do while waiting in a doctor’s office, or for a bathroom stall. Things I can do to be social – I usually play these games with family and friends. My wife and I have gotten through nights of insomnia by playing Hanging With Friends back and forth while we were in the same room.

But recently I’ve become interested in the more engrossing phone games. Three of these games are the How To Train Your Dragon mobile game, “Dragons: Rise Of Berk,” as well as Deer Hunter: 2014, and it’s derivative, Dinosaur Hunter.

What’s so addictive about these games? Well, like the little social games, they don’t require a large commitment of time. Dragons just requires I check it a couple of times a day to tell the dragons what to do, and hatch any eggs I might have at the time. Here are some screenshots from Dragons: Rise Of Berk.

The hunting games that have captured my attention are…well, they aren’t exactly the highly realistic hunting games that I usually enjoy. I can shoot an animal in the tail and, if the weapon has been upgraded to do enough damage, they go down as if it were a heart shot.

However, they have incredibly satisfying visuals, otherwise, and some great sounds. I enjoy the challenge of hitting moving targets in the stampede/onslaught style hunts, and the trophy hunts with their uniquely patterned creatures are always a lot of fun.

There’s a variety of backdrops – different locations across North America, Africa, and Europe, each with their own sets of species and requirements. All quite beautiful to look at. Some hunts take place at night. Others require the use of an infrared scope to spot an animal’s body heat in complete darkness (though the function of infrared in the game is also to show exactly where the vital organs are to aid in aiming, but I mostly ignore that). Still others take place during rain storms, challenging you to spot a camouflaged animal between flashes of lightning.

The animals you hunt are as varied as the environments – and despite the game’s name, not everything you hunt is a member of the deer family. In fact there are dozens of species and subspecies represented, all realistically depicted (except for the heath-bar damage equals instant death aspect I mentioned earlier). If you enjoy hunting games, these are definitely something fun to do while waiting in line at the DMV.

The Dinosaur Hunter game is likewise interesting and functions the same way as Deer Hunter. The dinosaurs don’t reflect the most up-to-date paleontological discoveries – the raptors don’t have feathers, the archaeopteryx can actually fly rather than just glide – but they’re still damn nice to look at. I enjoy watching the way they move as much as I would in any CGI documentary. Take a look at the images from both games in the gallery below to see what I mean.

I’m starting to get back into gaming on the computer – small screen or not – but I don’t anticipate stopping playing these mobile games in the mean time. After all, my computer isn’t with me everywhere I go, but my phone is.

So, contrary to what the absence of this blog feature might seem to say, I am very much still an avid gamer. My platform of choice has just changed.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some dragons to feed.

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