It was the summer of 2000. The summer of Diablo 2, one of the most anticipated games in my teenage life. It was also the summer my family vacationed in Hawaii. That was a magical experience, but I mostly wanted to play Diablo 2. Being away from my PC meant I had to settle with reading the latest issue of PC Gamer. I poured over the review and the few tiny screenshots to get my fix.
I distinctly remember sitting on the plane, clutching my Game Boy Color, and wishing I could be playing my growing library of awesome PC games like Diablo, Starcraft, Fallout, and Baldur’s Gate.
Fifteeen years later, as I load up Heroes of Might and Magic III on my iPad, I realize that dream has finally come true.
There’s no denying the mainstream success and appeal of the mobile game marketplace. But it’s still scorned by many who identify as “gamers.” I can understand this view. Most mobile games focus on simple, quick, and effective gameplay mechanics. These games are designed for play on your phone or tablet when you’ve got a few minutes to spare. Many successful mobile games have even created their own genres, like the Endless Runner and the Match 3.
But besides some great simple games, there is a constant deluge of copycat products and money-gouging “free” games. Thankfully, there is a growing trend to port full-fledged classic PC games to mobile. Many PC indie games (and a few AAA franchises) have found success in reaching a much wider audience by creating mobile-friendly versions. Broken Age, Transistor, XCOM: Enemy Within, and Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft are just a few examples of great PC games that play just as well (if not better) sitting on a couch with a tablet or phone.
Like many that love gaming, I’ve been very dismissive of mobile games in the past. That has absolutely shifted in the last few years. Big name publishers have also realized the undeniable potential of releasing mobile versions of their big franchises. Titles like Grand Theft Auto: iFruit act as silly little companion apps to big releases, while Heroes of Dragon Age and Lara Croft GO create enjoyable spin-offs made specifically for mobile devices.
If you grew up with PC gaming in the ’90s and ’00s, the mobile marketplace has suddenly become one of the most exciting spaces in gaming. Groundbreaking and beloved classic PC games like Baldur’s Gate have received loving makeovers for touch-screen controls.
For Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition, Overhaul Games went a few steps further. The developer added all-new party members and entire areas to the original massive game. A new expansion for Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition is in the works. That game plans to bridge the gap to the even more lauded sequel. Adding a giant expansion to a 17-year-old game is amazing. This is all thanks to the exciting prospects of the mobile game space.
Other classics get slapped with an HD moniker, but mostly just boil down to a few touched-up sprites. Even with the bare minimum work to get the interface working properly for touch screens, Heroes of Might and Magic III HD remains one of the greatest turn-based empire management strategy games. Playing this infinitely replayable title that once took all of my old Pentium’s processing power on my tiny iPad is nothing short of astonishingly awesome.
One of the biggest barriers to PC gaming is the PC itself. Most everyone has a PC, but the ability to play modern games can be frustratingly elusive. Those who aren’t particularly tech-savvy or who don’t like the price of powerful machines may be missing out on some great games. Tablets and smart phones, like consoles, are infinitely easier. Make sure you have enough space and meet the system requirements, install the game, and away you go.
I’ve had a blast replaying old favorites with updated visuals and widescreen support. I’ve repurchased and replayed many PC games on iPad and enjoyed them even more with touch screen controls. I can easily foresee a near future where I would actually prefer many PC games on my mobile devices. PC gaming is reaching a wider audience through mobile, and I couldn’t be happier.