★ TouchArcade needs your help. Click here to support us on Patreon.

iPhone: Thoughts on Ports From Mobile Phone Environments (Java BREW, etc)?

02-15-2009, 12:47 PM
Joined: Feb 2009
Location: Chicago, IL, USA
Posts: 28
Thoughts on Ports From Mobile Phone Environments (Java BREW, etc)?

What does everyone think about the general benefit/harm to the iPhone gaming world of the seemingly increasing number of ports of games that are co-developed for an environment like BREW and the iPhone (vs. games that are either developed for the iPhone from scratch or co-developed with the PSP, DS Lite, console or PC variants)?

I generally tend to think it's a bad thing, as it sets the bar lower for iPhone games (I think for instance Spore was likewise disappointing because of how much shorter it was than the other handheld versions), although I have to say my view has been tempered somewhat by some of the more impressive games that came from mobile phone environments, like Bobby Carrot (which is not graphically competitive with any other game for which I've paid, but which is nonetheless quite excellent in terms of gameplay and offers a really solid amount of depth).

But does the frequent porting of mobile phone games generate the idea that this is the entry level at which developers need to play, to be taken seriously on the iPhone? Or does it not really impact the bar level that Gameloft, EA, and other larger houses play at (or the entry of more large development houses to the iPhone)?
02-15-2009, 12:54 PM
Joined: Dec 2008
Location: England
Posts: 399
I don't have a problem with it, unless it is a copy-cat attempt to clone a popular game from another console. I like games if they are a full port, including sound and cutscenes, but slightly improved to run on iDevices (Like Vay and Westward).

02-15-2009, 02:45 PM
Joined: Sep 2008
Location: Berlin/Germany
Posts: 946
I have no problem with such ports. The point is: Do they just copy it or do they really port it? "Porting" in case of the iPhone means to rethink the whole interface and control scheme. A game which fails in this fails on the platform and a game with a good control scheme wins.

I think that ports are a very good thing for the platform, because a good port will sell much more copies and make more revenue than on all other platforms combined.


Plus+: Lakeshore / OpenFeint & Game Center: taptoplay.de
02-15-2009, 03:51 PM
Joined: Feb 2009
Location: Chicago, IL, USA
Posts: 28
Originally Posted by Oliver View Post
I have no problem with such ports. The point is: Do they just copy it or do they really port it? "Porting" in case of the iPhone means to rethink the whole interface and control scheme.
Hmmm, by your definition, I think I agree quite wholeheartedly. However, usually when we talk about a game being ported, I would think it to mean that its code is re-used with minimal tweaking necessary to make it work sensibly on the destination platform.

I would usually call what you describe a "remake" or adaptation, and when remakes are done well, I applaud
them. A perfect example to me was when Nintendo did Super Mario All Stars, and later the variant of this on the DS -- these games were remakes at least in the sense that the graphics of all games were brought up significantly to a higher standard than in the original game, while the original play was painstakingly preserved.

Likewise, most of the games that have landed on the iPhone from the mobile environment seem to me to be ports (by my definition) and not remakes -- even the really good ones such as the aforementioned Bobby Carrot.

Magnetic Joe is another example -- aside from the fact that the game changes aspect ratio when the screen is rotated, and that touching the screen is mindlessly substituted for presumably touching a button, I don't see how I could describe this game as a true remake or adaptation to the iPhone console -- this is a straight and fairly thoughtless port, albeit of a game that was well received in the mobile environment.

Now porting highly detailed and complex games -- as long as the basic porting job is done well -- that's fine to me. I would welcome a port -- without a lot of adaptation to the iPhone concept -- of say the best of the games on the DS Lite. With straight porting it's really a question of what the bar is -- and straight porting of games from the Mobile Phone environment tends to set a bar far below the capabilities of the iPhone..

Last edited by mkrishnan; 02-15-2009 at 03:54 PM.
02-15-2009, 05:02 PM
Joined: Jan 2009
Posts: 881
Digital Chocolate could have done this with Tower Bloxx at the launch of the App Store. They had the game in J2ME, BREW, and FLASH.

They choose to do the game all over again, in 3D.

I think that was the right choice and the sales prove it.

Your apps have to have iPhone-ness to succeed.

Lesson learned.

A late game is only late until it ships. A bad game is bad until the end of time.

- Shigeru Miyamoto
02-15-2009, 05:13 PM
Joined: Sep 2008
Location: Los Angeles, USA
Posts: 722
There's nothing wrong with ports as long as the devs are trying to make a good game; making it multiplatform shouldn't affect the game too much if they're smart about it. But lots of people are just jerks trying to make quick cash (DSEffects!!!) and this gives ports a bad name.
02-15-2009, 05:25 PM
Joined: Feb 2009
Posts: 658
EXACTLY I would love to see some games make an iphone debut but if they are just stretchd to fit an iphone screen with a crappy fake joypad, than NOOOOOO. I would love to see some of my favorites be made into a iphone game, FROM THE GROUND UP! like peggle, even if we have to wait for a few months.