Adventure games on mobile devices: what’s the story?

Having just got a spiffy new smartphone last week (Samsung Galaxy S2 if you’re curious – sorry Apple people), I began to itch for some good old point-and-click games to play on the commute to work. It seems to me that touchscreen devices are by nature eminently suitable for adventure games, so I figured there must be at least some good ones out there.

It turns out that a couple of classics have been converted for the iPhone – The Secret of Monkey Island for one, and Simon the Sorceror was another. (Oh man, those screenshots sure do bring back memories!) Even Beneath a Steel Sky, a game I’ve been itching to play, is there.

But for the Android? Nothing. Well, none of these classics. There is The Mystery of the Crystal Portal, which I’ve downloaded but haven’t played yet. In order to play the classics on Android you need ScummVM. On the good side, you get to play ALL the classic games (I think). On the other hand, the thought of setting up this stuff is a bit of a stumbling block for this relative smartphone newbie. All right: I’m lazy.

And having created a game (one! game) means that my thoughts now naturally turn to game development: why don’t I create an adventure game for the Android? Head puffed up with visions of portable, story-heavy adventure games, I set out to find out exactly what lies in between me and having something with Team Effigy’s name on the Android Marketplace.

It turns out that the biggest wall is named Java. I’m not a programmer, and neither are most people I know. The few programmers I do know are better versed in various versions of C, and anyway they have better things to do than to help me on some half-baked idea of programming for the Android. It seemed like Android was a land out of my reach.

Then I discovered two things that make the Android platform seem closer. One is the App Inventor, an attempt to bring app development to the masses. It works using blocks, and I’ll probably make a separate post about that one of these days. The point is that it is simple to use, and I wondered if it was possible to make a very basic adventure game with it. A quick google found me this page, so yes, it does seem very possible. But is it good enough?

The other thing I found was Andengine, which looks more like something meant for action games – but I wonder if it could be adapted for a point and click adventure. After all, it seems to me that mobile devices are ripe for innovative, interactive puzzles, what with integrated cameras, swipes, gestures, internet connectivity, tilt sensitivity and what have you.

If only I could program in Java!

What point-and-click adventures have you seen on the iPhone/Android? Share your discoveries and recommendations in the comments!