Akihabara Allows Programmers to Create iPhone-Friendly Browser Games

This image described by iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, HTML5, Java, LeaveMeAlone1 


Jobs has been unwilling to budge on his stance regarding Flash on the iDevices. He says it’s too buggy. And just recently, Adobe has completely given up in the fight with Apple over getting their software to run on those machines along with any hope of ever being able to make it easy for Flash developers to port over their games. An iPad with flash? It’s not happening if you play by Apple’s rules. Steve’s answer? HTML5 is the future. At least, that is his hope. 


Of course the lack of Flash support on these devices is nothing new, and a few programmers who enjoy creating browser-based games have worked around that limitation. One such developer has created his own set of tools that work within the boundaries set by Apple. Using only Javascript and a small subset of HTML5 features, he has been able to craft what he calls his “personal dream.” His demos are a tribute to the 8 and 16-bit games of yesteryear. Named after Akihabara, a mecca for gamers seeking everything from the rarest of classic games to those looking for the latest PS3 software, his toolkit is available to those who want to build their own games without the need for Flash.  His site features only five titles, all created by him. Each game on the site is at a different level of completion, but they all feel familiar.

The handful of games featured all like they could have been built in the late 80s, but that is part of their charm. They aren’t advanced, they have no sound, feel sluggish, and the controls aren’t very responsive. Still, they have their place in the hearts of classically-trained gamers. Though, more importantly, it shows some of the possibilities of browser-based gaming on an iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad. One can only hope that others can build on this foundation to create something truly captivating.

Though the games featured on the site amount to nothing more than short demos, they encompass most of the popular genres: (Note: All games were played on an iPhone 3G)

Leave Me Alone is an action platformer in which the player takes control of a lonely boy named Jin. One day “violet squids” hop out of the ocean and ask Jin to play. Little Jin turns out to be an angry kid and screams “Leave me alone,” and tells the squids that he doesn’t want to play, and proceeds to chase them out of the beach. So begins Jin’s adventure. The object of the game is simple, jump on the violet squids to clear the stage. However, it’s not very forgiving. If the player doesn’t land on the squids just right, it’s instant death. With three lives, and a time limit, it can be quite difficult, in fact, frustrating. Though as a demo, it serves to show what can be done on an iPhone without Flash or the App Store. It’s a start, just rough around the edges.


This image described by iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, HTML5, Java, Solitude 

Solitude is a basic ‘Shoot ’em up’ (SHMUP) the concept is one that’s a favorite amongst gamers. Piloting aircraft over terrain and shooting down the bad guys while dodging their incoming fire.  The art style is great for the type of game, a bit of anim√© meets arcade shooter. The downfall is that the framerate is consistently choppy, which doesn’t always help when trying to avoid enemy fire. It would be interesting to see what could happen to a game like this one with a bit more optimization for the iPhone. 

The Legend of Sadness

This image described by iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, HTML5, Java, LegendofSadness 


The Legend of Sadness is simply a Zelda clone. The site describes it as the most complete of the set. That may be why it was the most enjoyable game of the group. The pacing works well with the control limitations. It takes roughly 10 minutes to complete, and the NPCs (Non-playable Characters) in the game speak to the hero, and each has something to say. The Legend of Sadness is an example of the saying, “sometimes less is more.” Through avoiding the faster action and more precise movements demanded by Solitude  and Leave Me Alone, it becomes fun. The Legend of Sadness is the most recommended of the bunch.


This image described by iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, HTML5, Java, TSpin 


T-Spin can be described as a collection of Tetris-like games. Though The Legend of Sadness is the most entertaining of the games, T-Spin is the best-built. It plays like the classic puzzler: players must stack shapes in order to create complete lines. When they create a line, any row of shapes forming the line disappears. The idea is to keep the stack from from reaching the top of the screen. It works well on the platform, and is probably the best suited for this type of gaming. 


This image described by iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, HTML5, Java, Capman

Capman is another game modeled directly from an arcade classic. This time, Pac-Man. Strangely, this turned out to be of the hardest to play on the iPhone’s screen. The space is very limited, and only the smallest of thumbs will be able to accurately guide “Capman” through the levels. Again, games that require faster, more accurate movements aren’t as fun as the games that give the player a bit more time to position their character around the screen.

Again, the small collection of games on the site all seem a bit rough around the edges. Still, there is something to be admired about the DIY attitude in the work work created done by someone on their out of their love of a medium such as games. As browser support for devices such as the iPad grow, their will be even more effective ways of creating experiences that can be enjoyed on the iDevices. This is just the beginning.


Games and programming tools available here: Akihabara





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