It's pretty safe to say that I have high hopes for the future of mobile gaming. And as of late, those hopes have only grown. With OUYA, an Android-powered open console and gaming platform successfully seeking funding via Kickstarter, and some of the recent improvements in processors and graphics capabilities, Android is shaping up to be a contender in the mobile gaming space. Its potential is oozing out of every pore.
Personally, I play mobile games off an on. I go through phases. Sometimes I get to the point where I'm obsessive about completing a level or even an entire story line. And other times I only play a game or two through the course of a week to pass some time.
Recently, though, I've been getting back into mobile gaming. Over the past two weeks, I've purchased some great games and have been playing them pretty regularly – either early afternoon or right before bed. For the last few months, the iPad has been my go-to device for mobile gaming; I've been playing Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3, Real Racing 2 HD, Osmos HD, Slayer HD (Pinball), Infinity Blade, FIFA 2012, and Burnout Crash!.
On Android, I have been prone to using the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime due to its keyboard dock, which doubles as a nice stand, a USB port for a PS3 controller and a little extra battery.
Last week, however, I loaded up the Nexus 7 with some of my favorite games … just to see what it was like and if it I could enjoy it. I figured performance would be about the same because both tablets share the same chipset, a NVIDIA Tegra 3 – that's a 1.3GHz quad-core Cortex-A9 processor and 12-core ULP GeForce GPU. If anything, I imagined the Nexus 7 might be a tad smoother due to Jelly Bean and Project Butter. But I had to try it out, just to see.
For on-screen controls, I wasn't very surprised to find that I like the Nexus 7 much better. Being only 7-inches diagonally and made mostly of plastic, the Nexus 7 is much more lightweight than the Transformer Prime, which is 10.1-inches and made mostly of metal. The controls were much easier to reach on the Nexus 7 (though I have most on-screen controls customized to my liking on the Prime anyway) and I didn't get tired of holding the device for extended periods of time.
But just this past Sunday, I finally decided to unlock the bootloader on the Nexus 7 and root it so I could use the Sixaxis Controller application and pair a PS3 controller via Bluetooth. It took a little longer than I anticipated, mainly because the software needed to manually program the tablet's Bluetooth address to the PS3 controller is made specifically for Windows. I spent the better part of 30 minutes trying to compile the C source code for Unix, running that dozens of times and looking for an alternative. After giving up on OS X and blowing the dust off my old Windows machine, I was up and running within a few minutes. (Literally, the hardest part about the entire thing is waiting through the agonizingly long Windows install process.)
By using the Sixaxis Controller app, you can virtualize on-screen actions with hardware keys through the PS3 controller, making virtually any game – with or without controller support – work with a physical gamepad. (This is something I could have used months ago, but I was too lazy to set it up.)
Since Sunday, I've been playing Modern Combat 3, Shadowgun and Dead Trigger on the Nexus 7. I have also downloaded Need For Speed Hot Pursuit, Grand Theft Auto III and several others with hopes to play them at some point in the near future.
Honestly, I assumed the Nexus 7 would begin collecting dust immediately after my review was finished. It's a great little tablet, no doubt. But 7-inches isn't really my style. I figured I would stick to the iPad and Transformer Prime. But the Prime is actually the one collecting all the dust and the iPad is still my writing and productivity machine. And, in an unexpected turn of events, the Nexus 7 has become my most prominent source of entertainment. I believe all boils down to the size, weight and higher density display. Despite being smaller, it's more crisp and, overall, it just doesn't feel as clunky.
I honestly never saw that coming.