Whenever I write about Anki’s Anki Drive — a remarkable plaything that involves tiny robotic cars you control via iPhone — I call them a dazzling modern-era take on the slot-car racing of my youth.
They are. But strangely enough, until now, Anki Drive hasn’t been racing. The gameplay involves shooting tiny virtual weapons at other cars (controlled by your friends or artificial intelligence). Rather than being the fastest car, it’s often been advantageous to hang out in back so you can shoot at the ones in front.
The great triumph of Apple’s iPhone, beyond the whole revolutionizing-mobile-devices thing, is that an effectively buttonless gadget has become today’s default gaming system. But while, say, Angry Birds works just fine with a touchscreen—and is in fact harder to play with a regular controller—nothing pushes gamers’ buttons like actual buttons.
Enter the G-pad, a silicon sleeve that slips onto your smartphone to restore what it’s dearly missing. Covering roughly a third of the screen, the G-pad outfits your phone with a four-way directional pad and an A and B button, A oriented in a pleasingly familiar upper-right angle to B. If the layout reminds you of the classic Nintendo controller interface, well, that’s the whole point. Gizmodo heralds the G-pad, which designer Aws Jan is crowdfunding on Indiegogo at $13 a pop, as something that “turns your iPhone into a Game Boy.” All you have to do is download a program called GBA4iOS, slip on the G-pad, and you can play through a giant chunk of the Nintendo library—Mario, Donkey Kong, Zelda, and more, the way they were meant to be played, all for free!
Three weeks ago, an editor sent me a link to the browser version of the hot new game “2048,” saying I should cover it for The Huffington Post. It was popular because it was simple: You swipe numbered tiles back and forth, combining like numbers — two 2 tiles make a 4, two 4 tiles make an 8, and so on — until you reach the final goal of a 2048 tile.
The game was getting media attention as it rose to the top of the App Store’s Top Free Apps list, and other sources hailed its 19-year-old creator, Gabriel Cirulli, as a wunderkind for creating a simple game capable of such viral success.
I played the game for about 10 seconds before I told my editor that we should let this one go; it didn’t sit well with me to write a piece that would inevitably lead users to download a clone.
Because it was very clear to me that “2048” was a clone, ripped from another game with almost identical gameplay, a cleaner and more beautiful design, and a catchy soundtrack. I had been playing that game, “Threes!”, for about a month.