i feel bad posting about games for the ipad so often because it’s prohibitively expensive (story: someone once was telling me about designing an educational game for underprivileged children – and then being told they had to do an ipad version), but it has a lot of qualities i want to see more of in games: it allows for a wide range of inputs, even at the same time and from all directions, and hence it allows games to scale naturally between different numbers of participants.
mini mix mayhem reminds me most immediately of gamelab’s “arcadia” (r.i.p. gamelab.) – a game in which there are actually four games playing simultaneously in four small windows, and the player has to split her focus between all of them. what makes this proposition tenable is that the games tend to all be paced differently: one might be a jumping game, and the player just has to click to jump over a pit every few seconds, while another is a game of connect four with a computer opponent, which can be safely ignored sometimes and demands serious attention at others.
instead of giving the player a set of four games of slowly-increasing difficulty, mini mix rapidly reshuffles and draws from a pool of twenty-or-so games that last a few seconds each. it’s kind of like warioware – there’s that same basic videogame vocabulary that helps the player pick up on what she has to do within the ten seconds or less she has to do it. so they’re all paced quickly, but they all require different styles of input: one might require, yes, periodic tapping at the right time. one might require occasional course-correction of a slow-moving vehicle. one requires solving a math problem and tapping, once, on the solution. and another asks the player to tilt the whole ipad.
this starts getting interesting when there are multiple games with multiple, competing forms of input at the same time. maybe you’ll need to hold one finger over a rapidly-flooding leak while you navigate a maze with another finger – or shake the ipad to destroy a castle while trying to watch a “which cup is it under?” game. there’s a kind of mental and physical dexterity involved simultaneously – and because there are so many different inputs being directed to so many different places, i’ve found it’s a real easy game to include a second player in. there’s a “two-player mode” included, which makes half the games face one way and half the other, but usually i just play the game with my girl sitting next to me, wordlessly negotiating responsibility for all the games popping up and laughing our stupid heads off.