The advent of technologies like virtual reality (VR) and motion detection has forever changed the way we game. But smartphones have delivered more capabilities than most of us realize.
Our handsets are equipped with more types of input and sensors that the average desktop PC or console — with gyroscopes, accelerometers, microphones, multiple touch sensors, and more. Luckily for us, some game developers have realized this and incorporated this hardware into their games in unique ways.
We’re not talking about a racing game that lets you steer through phone tilting. These games truly embrace other types of input fully in their gameplay.
Here are five games that use your phone in unique, and sometimes mind-bogglingly awesome, ways.
1. Fast Like a Fox
With so many features included in our phones’ hardware, it’s a pity we don’t use more of their sensors for our games.
Fast Like a Fox, however, goes further than using just the touchscreen. It uses the internal sensors to register tapping on the back of your phone. Doing this allows your character to move and is essential to the runner title.
The developers aptly describe the game as “easy to play, hard to master.” Trying to tap the back of your phone while using your touchscreen for other movements is a bit like the confusion you feel when trying to rub your stomach while patting your head. It’s a fun body and brain teaser — and you will need some practice before you can do it effortlessly.
This game also has compelling artwork and the appeal of a unique endless runner. Added to its unique mechanics, it offers a full package.
Download: Fast Like A Fox for Android | iOS (Free) [No longer available]
2. Scream Go Hero: Eighth Note
This is one mobile game that proves that touch or gyroscopic input is not the only way users can play. In Scream Go Hero, you use your voice to control your character. Not only will this see you belting out sounds with extreme concentration, but you will also likely end up laughing at yourself thanks to the unusual premise.
The volume and length of your sounds determine the movement of your character. When you shout, they will jump. Small sounds will move the character forward slightly. Meanwhile, if you want to make a long jump, get ready to stretch those vocal cords.
While voice input hasn’t become a mainstream mechanic for games, it’s popular enough that there are various games based on the concept. However, Scream Go Hero is one of the most popular versions, developed by Ketchapp (a studio owned by Ubisoft).
Considering it’s free, it’s a great game to try out if you want to have a laugh and experience something new.
Download: Scream Go Hero for Android [No longer available] | iOS (Free)
3. Eon Altar
While most games that make unique use of your smartphone are mobile titles, there is the occasional PC game that strays away from the regular keyboard and mouse input. Eon Altar is one of these.
The game uses the concept of pen-and-paper RPGs and implements mobile devices into the gameplay. In the episodic game, your phone acts as your “character” — receiving secret information, upgrades, skills management and strategy. All this is done through an app, which is free to download.
Eon Altar is sure to resonate with Dungeons & Dragons fans, and you can enjoy it without having to go through all the usual preparation. The app allows you to move your character and attack using your smartphone.
The best aspect of the game is that the use of smartphones allows for local co-op with up to four players. Eon Altar‘s first season is out, but its second season is not a guarantee. The developers have moved to crowdfunding campaigns to raise support for further content.
However, it does offer three short episodes with an interesting premise. If you’re interested in checking it out, but aren’t so sure if you want to spend money on it, you can download the demo first.
Using phones for local co-op is gaining increasing popularity, even on consoles. At E3 2017, Sony announced that PlayStation 4 owners will be able to play console games on their phones with PlayStation Link.
It turns out that you don’t need a Kinect or PlayStation Camera to enjoy movement-tracking games. The power, albeit smaller, lies in your smartphone.
One of the best ways to check it out is FitFlap, a motion fitness game aimed at getting people on the move. You’re probably familiar with home fitness games thanks to the Wii Fit series. And this mobile game achieves a similar effect in a fun, cartoonish way.
Your aim is to get your character to fly as far as possible, while avoiding obstacles. However, in order to do this, you need to flap your arms. The game uses the front-facing camera of your smartphone in order to track your movements. You can easily cast it to your smart television or Chromecast, but it also works with a standalone mobile device.
Try FitFlap for a bit, and you’ll find its motion tracking quite accurate. The game even managed to catch us out when we started getting lazy with our flapping movements. Its main drawback is some excessive in-app purchases, but otherwise, it’s quite fun and something different.
Download: FitFlap for Android (Free) [No longer available]
5. Motion Tennis Cast
Also stealing the show from console motion trackers are games that use your entire phone as a motion sensor — much like a Wii Remote or PlayStation Move controller. Of course, mobile games aren’t as advanced as their console counterparts. But they are still fun for those who want to dabble, rather than dive, into motion controller games.
Motion Tennis Cast achieves this pretty well. It works in tandem with your Chromecast, smart TV, or other selected casting devices. It’s not graphically advanced — after all, it has to run on Android 4.2 and up. But playing a few rallies of tennis using your phone packs in quite a bit of fun.
Using your phone as a game controller isn’t a new feature, but its great to see that mobile games are using the Chromecast and this technology to their advantage.
The main risk you face is dropping your phone while playing. After all, Wii Remotes caused an uptick in TV screen repairs after enthusiastic players lost their grip. It might be a good idea to grab a strap so you don’t send your phone across the room.
Download: Motion Tennis Cast for Android (Free) [No longer available] | iOS [No Longer Available] ($4.99)
What Unique Input Methods Do You Know Of?
While this list contains five games that integrate your smartphone in awesome ways, there are many more hidden gems out there. You could even try emulators to play Game Boy Advance games that use your phone’s gyroscope to track motion. WarioWare: Twisted! and Yoshi Topsy-Turvy both work via motion controls.
Meanwhile, with smartwatches becoming more mainstream, game developers are setting their sights on implementing the technology into their games. It’s an exciting time for innovative games!
Do you know of any games that use your phone or mobile device in cool and interesting ways? Let us know in the comments below!
Image Credit: SIphotography/Depositphotos