Friday Slide: Bigger Isn’t Always Better

There’s nothing like losing yourself in a major blockbuster game on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, or PC. These multi-million dollar productions do everything they can to immerse you in their world, which usually means offering up enough content to keep you busy for dozens of hours. But with huge games like Skyrim or Batman Arkham City, I generally don’t have the time or desire to get every achievement and experience every byte of content in the game. In iOS games, however, it’s a different story.

I love iOS gaming for many reasons, but one of them is the smaller scale of the games. Games like Cut the Rope, Mos Speedrun, Where’s My Water, and League of Evil 2 are all fairly quick to beat for average gamers. But more than that, they’re perfectible. If you put in some extra time, you can generally get a 100% completion rate in level-based iOS games, whether that means earning three stars on every level, or picking up all of the scattered collectibles in the game world. In an iOS game, mastering every challenge is hugely satisfying, and often attainable even for casual gamers.

For instance, I became obsessed with Run Roo Run when I played it last month. The colorful graphics, the one-button gameplay, the insane precision of the controls– I was hooked. But beating the standard levels is no problem for anyone with a bit of platforming experience. What really grabbed me were the “Extreme” levels. These obstacle-ridden constructs could be downright devious, but I couldn’t stop playing them. I’d re-try a level 30 times in a row before giving up and moving on.

The thing is, I kept coming back day after day to try again. After a few days, I managed to get a gold star on the last one, and I felt like I was on top of the world. All told, it only took me two or three hours of play time, but those hours were well spent. There are hardly any games that I want to spend 80 hours playing, which is about how long it would take to see all the content in many modern blockbuster games.

I’m certainly not going to stop playing console games; they offer experiences that are impossible on small-screen devices like the iPhone. But I also know I’ll never put in the time and effort to re-play Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning on the hard difficulty just to get an achievement. I will, however, put in some extra effort to grab that just-out-of-reach star in a level of Cut the Rope. These smaller-scope iOS games are really fun, and the potential sense of accomplishment makes putting in a little extra effort worthwhile.

How hard do you try to get everything you can out of games? Are you ambitious enough to finish every side quest in Mass Effect and unearth every artifact in Uncharted? Or are you proud that you’ve gotten three stars on every level of every Angry Birds game Rovio has released? Or do you just play games until you’ve beaten them, regardless of your completion rate? Let us know in the comments below.

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