April 18, 2013

Tech Thursdays: Make Time Fly with These Games

Welcome to Tech Thursdays, penned by Miguel, tech expert and our Airport Operations Supervisor in San Jose, California. This month’s topic is all play and no work – Miguel’s tips on some cool games on the go that will help make your travel time fly.

85% of smartphone and tablet owners download games on their devices, according to a recent Nielsen study.  Wow. As a long-time electronic entertainment fan, I’m glad more people are discovering them.  As a travel enthusiast, mobile games add a new dimension and fun to your time spent in a plane or at the airport.  Games make time fly.

It makes sense that mobile devices made electronic games very popular.  In the past, electronic entertainment has been relegated to home consoles and desktop computers.  They’re great but you can’t really enjoy them anywhere else but at home.  The advent of iOS, Android and other operating systems for mobile devices are allowing an influx of developers to create and post new and classic titles to new portable devices.  Galaga or Pitfall, anyone?  You can find these classic games in the Apps Store or Google Play.

Old favorites are great but what excites me these days are the variety and high quality of games being developed for smartphones and tablets.  They range from the brain-engaging word and puzzle games to the high-twitch action titles.  The following are some of the games for the iPad 2 or newer that take up my free time:

Word with Friends

I know I’m not the only one who calls this their favorite word game.  Words with Friends is a Scrabble-esque game that allows you and your friends and family to compete even when you’re miles apart.  Word with Friends is a great game for all ages.  You can play with several players simultaneously but not on the same board.  Words with Friends lets players have several games running simultaneously so you won’t be waiting for the other players’ turn, which can stretch a game from minutes to days. It also has a basic chat feature that comes in very handy when you want to tease and complain to your opponent that you’re always getting five T’s and Q’s.  I haven’t won a game yet against my brother.  I think he’s cheating.

Are you smarter than a 5th Grader?

If you think you are (smarter than a 5th grader), this game will bring you down to earth.  The game pits contestants against five others online.  You do need a Wi-Fi connection to play this game.  Fortunately, most airports these days have Wi-Fi connections for free.  The questions are challenging as they are in the TV show.  Each question is timed so you’ll feel the pressure to answer quickly.  I found this leads to the wrong answers frequently.  Are you smarter than a 5th Grader can be downloaded for free if you don’t mind the pop-up ads.  The ad-free version cost $2.99.

Real Racing 3

If that extra-shot-upside-down grande caramel macchiato is not doing it for you, I’d like to suggest adding a shot of Real Racing 3 (RR3) during your flight.  The graphics and sound quality of RR3 are impressing and it’s “free-to-play.”  (notice the quotations)  Similar to many racing games on the consoles, RR3 attracts players with a bevy of exotic cars and tracks located in beautiful locations around the world.  I find myself doing a lot of screen capturing to show off the new cars and tracks I’ve unlocked.  The events range from two player drag races to an all-out 18-car event against real players online.  RR3 uses an intriguing Time Shifted Multiplayer technology to keep the speed running smooth.  And don’t worry.  You won’t look foolish twisting and turning your device to drive.  RR3 offers control options that are more socially acceptable.  The thumb-control is my choice.

Infinity Blade I and II

I remember laughing when smartphones and tablets were being touted as gaming devices.  That is until I played Infinity Blade I on the iPad.  The gorgeous graphics and amazing sound in Infinity Blade I convinced me that high-end gaming is possible on tablets.  Infinity Blade II pushed the game to the next level.  This is the game I play often during my travels.  It’s an action/adventure game that involves swipes and quick taps on the iPad’s touchscreen. It’s great as a travel game because you can easily pick up where you left off in your journey.  Player’s assume the role of a mysterious hero as he wanders a medieval palace and battles against weapon-wielding enemies.  Infinity Blade I is now free on the App store and I highly recommend this download. You might get lucky like I did and get Infinity Blade II during a promo weekend for $2.99.

Injustice: Gods Among Us

I can’t end this list without including the game that has Batman, Wonder Woman and other DC comic book characters battling it out.   As you might have guessed, Injustice has a somewhat twisted back story.  But for comic fans of all ages, it doesn’t really matter.  The main appeal of Injustice is the ability to assume a DC comic hero or villain, create your team, and engage in a tag team battle. Did I mention, this is also a free-to-play game?  The fighting game scheme fits a traveler’s routine.  Similar to Infinity Blade, Injustice: Gods Among Us gives players the option to play quick bouts or dive deeper into the role-playing aspect of the game.  You can’t beat free!

Before downloading any games onto your mobile device, make sure to check the system and version requirements for each game to get the best playing experience.  Until next time, Happy Tech Travels!

Read Miguel’s previous columnslearn more about Miguel and stay tuned for the next edition of Tech Thursdays!

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