I’m not going to debate the merits of upgrading with you, since I’m sure you’ve already wrestled with that particular demon yourself, but I did want to take a look at the gaming side of Apple’s new 3GS, and the amazing potential it boasts for bringing cell phone gaming to even more lofty heights. I knew it was better at handling graphics, but just how much better only became really clear yesterday, thanks to a post at Gizmodo looking at how the 3GS handles hardware emulation.
In short, it handles it very well. Much more adeptly than its predecessor, the 3G, in fact. ZodTTD, homebrew coder extraordinaire and jailbreak enthusiast, recently managed to get his Playstation console emulator running on a new 3GS, and the performance gap between it, and the same program running on a 3G, provides a tantalizing hint at what could be coming in the near future for 3GS gaming enthusiasts.
The results are amazing. The 3GS runs PSX game Final Fantasy VII flawlessly, albeit in a tiny space, since the screen is mostly taken up by clunky controls. ZodTTD demos the game in action in the YouTube video included below, so you can see for yourself. Sadly, none of the game’s lavish cutscenes were included, which really would’ve provided an accurate measure of the hardware’s capabilities.
Even without cutscenes, this performance beats the same game running on the same emulator on the iPhone 3G by a wide margin. So far, developers seem reluctant to exclude 3G users by developing games specifically for the 3GS, and instead claim that some games will scale based on your hardware capability. I think it’s only a matter of time, though, before some companies start taking the lead in 3GS exclusive development, a move which Apple will likely want to encourage from a product differentiation standpoint.
Add to better first-party hardware in the 3GS the ability to connect with third-party devices via the dock connector interface and over Bluetooth, and you have a recipe for a great gaming machine that can match, or even exceed, the likes of the PSP and DSi in terms of both core and casual gaming. The oddly themed GameBone Pro appears to be the first such device on the horizon, but I’m sure it won’t be the last. It’s a controller with a built-in battery, microphone and speakers that uses new hardware device access APIs in the 3.0 SDK to control your phone.
It’s a nice start, but as Kotaku points out, companies will have to build support into their apps if they want players to be able to use the device. So before we see a truly useful iPhone controller, industry players will have to agree on a coding specification that third-party hardware makers can then use in all of their devices.
With third-party device access, and much improved graphics capability, Apple has opened the doors for an unrivaled gaming experience on the iPhone. Let’s just hope developers are up to the challenge.