Anyone who discounts the iOS family of devices as a legitimate gaming platform is fooling themselves. Not only is the App Store home to thousands of exclusive indie games, big publishers, like EA and Ubisoft, are beginning to develop for Apple’s portables, as well.
But since the release of the iPad, we’ve seen a disheartening trend – instead of updating current iPhone games to inherently support the iPad’s higher resolution, developers have a tendency to release a second high-res version of the game, often noted in the title with “HD”. This means if you’re looking to take your iPhone NBA Jam experience to the bigger screen, you’ll have to either suffer a lower resolution version, or rebuy it for the iPad.
Well, not anymore.
For those unfamiliar, there are three current resolutions iOS devices support: iPhone 3GS (and all previous models) is 480×320, iPhone 4 is 960×640, and the iPad and iPad 2 are 1024×768. Below is a scale model of their resolutions (in portrait mode):
So why is this important? When a company develops a game for the iPhone, they typically have to adhere to the lowest supported resolution, which in this case is on the iPhone 3GS. If a developer goes an extra step to support the iPhone 4’s Retina Display, they have to literally double the resolution of the product, and usually upgrade the textures. Thankfully, it’s become quite standard for App Store developers to support the iPhone 4’s high resolution display.
Unfortunately, when you play any iPhone game – regardless of its supported resolution – on an iPad, the display will always get knocked down to 480×320. While the iPad has the option to “double” the display resolution of the game, it simply scales the low-resolution image up, making it look chunky.
This is where jailbreaking your iPad comes into play. RetinaPad, software only available to jailbroken devices, tricks your iPad into inherently displaying the high-res 960×640 version of the game you’re playing, if available. Here’s an example of the app Little Uzu being displayed using the native iPad 2x scaling on the left, and RetinaPad on the right:
Using an additional program called FullForce, you’re able to scale the 960×640 application to a full 1024×768, taking up the entire iPad screen. In our tests, FullForce isn’t quite as successful as RetinaPad, often incorrectly displaying certain textures. When it works, though, it rivals native iPad apps.
Expand the picture below to see direct screen comparisons of EA’s NBA Jam in action:
While RetinaPad and FullForce only target the demographic of those who own both an iPhone and iPad, it’s saves iOS gamers from having to buy the same title twice, just so they can enjoy it in HD.
RetinaPad is available on Cydia for $2.99, while FullForce is free. You can jailbreak your iPad (and any other iOS device) by simply visiting JailbreakMe.com on mobile safari. As always, there are risks involved when you modify your iOS device, so please read more before jailbreaking.