Family Games, Harmonix and PopCap, announced their games on Apple's popular music player."/>
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11/09/2007 Family Family Gamer Article
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While clearing the office out, ready for its transformation into a bedroom, I discovered a misplaced iPod and some unused iTunes cards - the perfect opportunity to try out some iPod games. I've wanted to give them for a spin since I noticed that two developers famous for their Family Games, Harmonix and PopCap, announced their games on Apple's popular music player.

As you can see from my Flickr stream, I didn't manage to play for very long before the kid's ears pricked up and they came running. How is it that kids have a sixth sense when there is some fun going on? No matter how hard I try and disguise my gaming tells, the pitter-patter of tiny feat is soon heard as they make their way to my side. Probably best not to play poker with them - they'd see through my poker face in seconds and clean me out!

iPod Peggle

E trys her hand at iPod peggle

E trys her hand at iPod peggle

In the end I didn't mind the interruption too much as I was finding the minute click-wheel on my Nano just too small to be viable for my clumpy man thumbs. I was quite happy to switch back to the DS whilst the kids put the iPod through its paces.

Once they had the music player in hand though, a transformation took place. In their diminutive mitts the iPod's controls suddenly made sense. Apple had stumbled upon a perfectly sized controller for the smaller members of our family. Some companies have all the luck, ironic when you contrast it with Microsoft's super-sized controller for the original Xbox - even the grown ups struggled to use that one!

Once they had the music player in hand though, a transformation took place.

Whilst browsing for some more games the kids might like I was impressed with the number of 'proper' developers and 'proper' games available on iTunes. Not so hot however, was the discovery that some games I had brought on my older 4th generation iPod video were not compatible with my newer 3rd generation Nano. Regardless, the games I pulled down managed to hit the spot. In addition to Peggle and Phase, they ranged from a remake of Sega's classic platformer Sonic to a pixel perfect replication of the original Pacman.

Some games certainly worked better than others (for me as well as the kids). Those that use the click-wheel as an aiming device (Bubble Bash, The Sims Pool and Peggle) fared much better than those (Sonic and Pacman) using it for directional control. There were some games that managed a compromise, such as Pole Position, but even these were a poor substitute for a proper direction pad (like the D-Pad on the DS).

Whatever the case, the kids and I had great fun for a good few hours both at home and out and about. I particularly enjoyed using the iPod to introduce the kids to a few of the classic games I enjoyed as a child. The size of the device, the clarity and brightness of the screen, not to mention a solid line-up makes it an often overlooked but very viable mobile gaming option.

The real gaming platform for them is about to be released on the iPhone and iPod Touch.

What's more, the exciting news is still to come. These iPod games are just Apple dipping their toe in the gaming market. The real gaming platform for them is about to be released on the iPhone and iPod Touch. As we'll dig into another time, these offer great opportunities for some family friendly gaming. Not only to they have a touch screen like the DS but they also contain motion controls like the Wii.

More pocket family gaming snippets in a couple of weeks. Until then, why not check in on the family. You can get to know me by friending me on Facebook, read my mini-blog on Twitter or even watch the tribe mobile gaming pics on Flickr.

Written by Andy Robertson

You can support Andy by buying Pocket iPod Games

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Andy Robertson writes the Family Gamer column.

"Videogame reviews for the whole family, not just the kids. I dig out videogame experiences to intrigue and interest grownups and children. This is post-hardcore gaming where accessibility, emotion and storytelling are as important as realism, explosions and bravado."

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