That has changed with the latest batch of iPods introduced by Steve Jobs last month. The redesigned third-generation iPod nano features a color display with a resolution of 320 x 240 pixels, the same resolution available on iPod classic. Therefore, it is not only possible to watch video on the nano’s 2-inch screen, but games can also be played.
Three standard games are included with iPod nano: iQuiz, a question-and-answer game in which you can choose from several options; Vortex, a 3-D wall-breaking game; and Klondike, the classic solitaire card game. At this time it is also possible to purchase three additional games from the iTunes Store: Tetris, Ms. Pac-Mac and Sudoku. Vortex and iQuiz were only available as a purchase for fifth-generation iPods, so their arrival on iPod nanos is well received.
Here’s a look at the capabilities of the iPod nano from a gamer’s perspective: What is the experience of playing the little iPod like?
After a few weeks of testing, I’ve found that the nano’s gaming capabilities are a nice complement to the device’s capabilities, although I don’t think it will replace those of a Game Boy or PSP in the short term.
In the palm of the hand. The control wheel is responsive when playing the Vortes wall breaker, and the display is sharp and bright, but details are hard to make out on the small two-inch screen.
Checking the performance
The gaming performance of the 8GB iPod nano is point-for-point comparable to the standard I expected based on my previous experiences with the 5th generation 30GB video iPod. The input response with the control wheel is fast and the graphics performance is perfectly adequate. That said, none of the games you buy or come standard with iPod nano reach the limits of what can be graphically achieved, plus the gameplay is pretty simple.
The most obvious limitation of the iPod nano as a gaming system is the size of the screen. A two-inch color LCD screen is not very large. The clarity of the 320 x 240 screen is noteworthy, and the brightness is good enough too. However, I cannot ignore the size. It is too small to see many of the details of the game. I was already a bit annoyed with the small dimensions of Ms. Pac-Man on the iPod’s longest screen, and here it pretty much gets to the point of being somewhat ridiculous.
As with video playback (and even a bit more), games significantly reduce the battery power of the iPod. Apple indicates that the third generation iPod nano can offer a battery life of up to 24 hours when playing music or up to five hours when playing video. When it comes to running games, the autonomy that I have obtained has been about four hours.
However, I don’t think someone who buys an iPod nano does it exclusively for playing games. Up to that point, the nano is an excellent pocket-sized music player with an impressive feature set for something so small and slim. The fact that it can also play video and games is the icing on the cake.
Considering the small dimensions of the new iPod nano, I have found that my hand does get stiff during long gaming sessions. Between that and the small screen, I can’t really recommend the iPod nano as a gaming system, but I think it is suitable for those looking for the option of being able to play occasionally when traveling to or from work. The fact that Apple is making additional games is great too, as it’s always good to choose from the variety.
It is not right that the same games you bought for the fifth generation iPod do not work on the iPod nano. I’m sure this will be a pain in the butt for iPod users hoping to load their new iPod nano with their existing games. It really disgusted me.
ITunes Store customer support has advised me in an email that I will have to buy back my old games for $ 4.99 each if I want to play them on iPod nano.
The nano’s gaming capabilities are certainly a nice addition to its already impressive feature set, although its small size makes marathon gaming sessions impractical. Casual gamers who want to take a short break will appreciate this new feature, while fifth-generation iPod users will be forced to update their current library of games.