Hands-on reports regarding the iPad have begun to surface around the Web, with major gaming sites such as Kotaku and Joystiq dismissing the device’s gaming potential as fairly disappointing.
Despite boasting the same features that have made the iPhone and the iPod touch such a breakaway success as a gaming platform – such as the capacative touch-screen and accelerometer-based controls – many reports claim that some of these features don’t translate so well to a larger form factor.
Kotaku’s Michael McWhertor, for instance, says that while the existing iPhone and iPod Touch games upscale surprisingly well to the iPad in terms of graphical crispness, the controls for such upscaled games become awkward. “They simply looked like their iPhone counterparts, no worse for wear when blown up,” he writes. However, onscreen controls were seemingly thrown out of proportion in the process. “Trying to hold the iPad, tap its screen, control the software d-pad with one's thumb, and pan across it with one's fingers just didn't work very well. It was uncomfortable and awkward, a problem made more apparent by the weight of the iPad versus that of an iPhone,” writes McWhertor.
According to Kotaku, the games that worked best on the iPad were those that relied on the basic inputs of touching and tilting. “PopCap's gem matching casual hit Bejeweled 2 was, unsurprisingly, easy to play with its simple taps and small swipes. Super Monkey Ball, admittedly not the easiest game to control via accelerometer anyway, worked as well as it does on the iPhone platform.”
McWhertor did contend that EA’s Need For Speed (pictured), optimised for the iPad platform, was “one of the more positive control experiences”, perhaps an indication that games designed specifically for the iPad will be more effective.
Joystiq’s Christopher Grant, on the other hand, said rather conclusively that “there's not much more to add. It's a big iPod Touch”, he writes, adding that a “2X” button will cause existing apps and games to fill the screen.
As opposed to Kotaku, however, Grant claims that there is a noticeable graphical dip when upscaling existing iPhone apps to utilise the iPad’s entire screen real estate. “The games are scaled up and look like it,” he writes. On a positive note, however, he also mentions that “the larger surface means your big fat thumbs won't obscure as much of the screen as they do on the iPhone -- that means more room for on-screen pads”.
Game Informer’s Nick Ahrens describes the iPad as “one sexy piece of technology” before adding that “the software on the other hand is a bit of a mixed bag”. He decries the iPad’s lack of multitasking – a legacy of the iPhone and iPod Touch – and that he feels that the device’s touchscreen is still its biggest stumbling block when it comes to gaming. “There’s just no replacement for a controller for certain types of games,” he writes. “All Apple needs to do is announce a Bluetooth wireless control and I’d be sold.”