The iPad doesn't officially launch until tomorrow, but Apple is already letting eager customers stock up on software for the new handheld system. The company has added iPad-specific programs to iTunes, and game publishers have wasted no time in jumping on board.
When Apple first showed off the iPad's gaming abilities, it did so with an assist from Electronic Arts, so it's not surprising the publisher is providing significant launch support. EA has five games available for the system, four of them (Scrabble, Tetris, Command & Conquer Red Alert, and Need for Speed: Shift) being updated editions of previously released iPhone and iPod Touch games. The fifth EA title is Mirror's Edge ($12.99), a 14-level action game inspired by the 2008 PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 game (also released on the PC in 2009).
Mirror's Edge isn't the only new experience on the iPad. Activision is now offering Geometry Wars: Touch for $9.99. Geometry Wars: Touch includes all the gameplay modes from the Xbox 360's critically acclaimed Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2 and adds a new Titans mode exclusive to the iPad.
Another iPad port from other gaming systems is Sam & Max Episode 1: The Penal Zone ($9.99). Just like its PC and console counterparts, the Telltale Games adventure title is the first in a five-part series that the developer plans to release on a monthly basis.
Of course, not all noteworthy games on the iPad are adapted from the console and PC worlds. The iPad launch is being accompanied by Zen Bound 2, the sequel to one of the iPhone's most popular original games. Described as a "meditative puzzle game," Zen Bound 2 has players twist and rotate objects on the screen in order to thoroughly wrap them up in a length of rope. The $7.99 offering features more than 100 levels, including all of the puzzles from the original Zen Bound.
Previously released iPhone games like Uno, Worms, Metal Gear Solid Touch, Super Monkey Ball 2, and Civilization: Revolution have received iPad-specific updates that typically center on enhanced visuals. Some publishers are attempting to make substantial improvements to the games as they move to the new platform; for example, 2K Games has added a new scenario and world editor feature to the $12.99 Civilization: Revolution, allowing players to make their own challenges and game types.
One common theme is that companies are charging a premium for the iPad versions of their games. For example, Need for Speed: Shift and Call of Duty: World at War Zombies each cost $14.99, while their iPhone counterparts are $6.99 and $9.99, respectively. (However, World at War Zombies for iPad does include a second playable map that costs players of the iPhone version an extra $5.)