Innovation in the gaming world is quite rare. The Wii set the agenda for this generation of consoles with movement based controllers, while the Wii U will attempt to “innovate” by giving you a tablet controller to function as a secondary screen. Why wait though?
If you have a mobile or tablet, and can connect your computer to your big screen TV (or even if you just have a really big monitor), you can enjoy big screen gaming with your mobile or tablet functioning as the controller, right now. Brass Monkey is the magical software that ties it together, and currently it’s in beta with tons of free games. Compatible with both Android and iOS, this could be the cross-device party game platform you’ve been looking for.
Brass monkey runs in your browser, so first you’ll need to hook up your PC to your TV. Also DISABLE any Flash block plugins you have running – an HTML5 based solution is in the works, but for now you’ll need Flash on the PC side
Note: this isn’t a requirement for the mobile app, which have native code.
The instructions insist on using a Wifi connection, but if you’re running over an Ethernet cable to the same router that’ll work too. When you’re ready, head to PlayBrassMonkey.com
On the mobile side, you’ll need to download the free Brass Monkey controller app (iTunes | Google Play). Ensure all your devices are on the same network. Assuming things go well, you’ll be walked through the account creation, then thrown straight into the lobby. If things didn’t go well, and you can’t find the browser session – go to the PC side, ensure you’re connected to the same network, and double check you’re not blocking Flash (even if the website loads fine, you still need Flash to handle the network connectivity). Your browser creates a server – your mobile joins that server.
If this is the first time you’re joing a game, you’ll also need to install the Unity web player from the link provided – it’s a 3D game engine used to render the awesome graphics.
Now, get gaming. Not all of the games support multiplayer, and some are distinctly better than others. Some even cost money. Here my pick of the free games.
Angry Bots (1 player)
A relaxed 3D third person shoot em up which sees you exploring a factory environment and randomly shooting the inhabitant robots.
Contamination (1 player)
A slick, on-rails Zombie shooter along the lines of House of The Dead. Motion controls included, but using the manual aiming is a lot more reliable.
Monkey Dodgeball (up to 8 player, motion controlled)
Rather than a well-translated digital schoolyard torment, Monkey Dodgeball involves a bunch of monkeys trying to dodge many balls. Tilt left and right, and jump to avoid getting hit. It’s fun, family-friendly, and brings every mobile device you own together in one happy monkey environment.
Tank Vs Alien (2 player, motion controlled)
There are two versions of this game, one is online and has rarely any other players; so go for the 2 player local devices only. It’s a simple game of tilting to move, and then shooting from your turret or mega death ray.
Monkey Golf (1–4 player, motion controlled)
Where can you can wrong when you combine monkeys and mini-golf? Honestly though, swinging around an iPad like this is not recommend – stick to mobile phones to avoid nasty $600 accidental insurance claims.
Rival Racers (2 player, motion controls)
Literally an Android vs Apple boat race. Not sure how this works out if you’re both playing on iPhones, but best not to question it I think. In fairness, it’s actually a lot more fun than the racing title in Kinect Adventures…
Candescent (1 player, motion controlled)
Surprisingly, this was my favourite of the lot. It’s a blind puzzler, whereby you need to navigate a small glowing orb toward the exit. It’s simple, but highly addictive. You can cheat by blasting off a light for a few seconds, and memorize the route. Tilt in one direction and you’ll keep moving until you hit something.
There is a small amount of lag between button pressing, and I found playing with the standard controller interface on the Nexus 7 to be a little too large for my liking – your fingers really have to stretch to get full range of character movement. Some of the games just failed to load on the Nexus, while they worked just fine on the iPhone; and as a I mentioned, motion controls don’t always work that well on large tablets. That said, the service is still in beta, so expect some kinks to be worked as it develops.
Mostly though, I’m really impressed. It’s a shame that Nintendo wants to shove yet another tablet down our throats that’s dedicated to gaming when we already have a multitude of devices that are up to the task. If you want a quick party game for some tech-savvy enthusiasts, I think Brass Monkey is going to impress you to0. Even the single player games are really fun, so don’t feel like you have to invite everyone round. For more browser based fun, check out these HTML5 browser games or these retro gaming sites.
Tried it? Let us know what you think in the comments!