As we tear our way through the iPad App Store, we've been focusing on iPad-specific versions of existing games. But for those who don't want to upgrade your existing library of games, the iPad does allow you to play those same games "pixel doubled". This simply means the entire game is scaled to fit the iPad's screen.

After spending some time with a few of these games, I've found the games are surprisingly playable. There have been no notable performance penalties for pixel-doubled games, though the scaled up graphics are noticeable. Realistic or detailed 3D graphics such as Real Racing and Dungeon Hunter suffer the most, vs. more cartoon themed games like Soosiz. You will find, however, that in many cases developers have moved controllers slightly in order to accommodate the iPad's larger screen size. This can be see in Soosiz and Dungeon Hunter below.

Here are pairs of side-by-side screens for a few iPad specific games and their pixel doubled iPhone counterparts. Click to see full-size images. Pixel doubled on left, iPad-specific on right:

Dungeon Hunter [iPhone, iPad] - Note that on-screen button configurations are different.

Real Racing [iPhone, iPad]

Soosiz [iPhone, iPad] - Again, buttons are reconfigured.

Here's an attempt at capturing the two in video:

Unfortunately, it doesn't show very well in a YouTube video. While the iPhone version is perfectly playable, the experience is much nicer on the iPad version.

After having played all these versions side-by-side, it's clear if you're an iPad owner, you are going to want to play your games in native mode when possible. Pixel-doubling is a nice way to keep your previously-played library accessible, but for new games HD-versions feel so much better. How can you tell which old games are worth upgrading? Stay tuned, we're working on a guide for that.

  • Hmar9333

    The difference really doesn't seem significant enough for
    me to upgrade...

    Maybe because I'm looking st 'photos' on my 'iPod'

    • Aaron Sullivan

      lol 🙂

    • mike

      maybe people who find the difference worth the money will 'upgrade'?

      so... you have price discrimination now.

      so..say 'Thank you Apple'?

  • Sambo110

    I was wondering how double pixel looked. It doesn't look that good, but it definitely looks playable which is good.

    • Aaron Sullivan

      For some games you don't even notice. Color Bind, for instance, was one of the hit games when I was sharing the iPad around with people and it isn't native at all. I know with my game it looked ridiculous when blown up.

      A Guide will be a great service, actually.

      Universal apps are just not going to work for every game. For mine, I haven't released it yet, so I'm going to shoot for it. But, I'm considering maybe a cheaper iPhone only, next to a slightly costlier Universal one. Why?

      Well, I'm having to put more work into it than I thought I might have to, and maybe the best reason is that the game just feels and plays markedly better on the iPad. I might have to approach the small version again to see if I can downscale some of the magic of the larger screen real estate.

  • chris

    id like to see pictures of GTA on the ipad. seems the extra screen would make the gps unit rock.

    gta still my fav game. im ready for more rockstar games if you listening rockstar.. guitar solo.


  • Symbolist

    Screenshots clearly show the difference. Upscaling does not have acceptable results.

  • tobiCOM

    Cant see any differences?!

    • Symbolist

      You can enlarge the screenshots by clicking on them.

  • djmuzi

    On screenshots there are differences, but on the movie I can't see that much difference.

  • Phreakuency

    Big difference. I'm surprised how nice the iPad specific games look. Nice and crisp 🙂

  • Jeffyg3

    I love my iPad, but this is what I hate when it comes to a lot of the games...a lot of them really should have been universal apps, like Metal Gear Sold Touch and Cliffed is. I love Soosiz, but that's definitely a game that should have been universal, same with Dungeon Hunter. Paying much more for same exact game we already paid for on the same OS but with little updates is ridiculous and it's a middle finger to the people who already paid for the game. Besides, being a universal app is beneficial for sales, I know there's a lot of people out there that would rather pay for a universal app than one that isn't.

    • Alex.B

      So should they charge more for a Universal game?

      • Jeffyg3

        Yeah they should charge a little more. Like IUGO, with all their universal game apps, they just charge $1 more. Pretty good idea, and it's an incentive for buyers knowing that they can play the game they bought on both devices and don't have to shell out more money buy the same game twice. Universal apps is something a lot of people were hoping more game companies would be doing, unfortunately they would rather cheat their own customers.

        I have a lot of respect now for Konami as I didn't have to re-buy Metal Gear Solid Touch, the iPad update came free of charge since they made it a universal app and that's the way it should have been for majority of these games.

  • WilhelmR

    I don't know about real racing.. i think it loses most of its charm on the iPad. The wacky wobbly cars were tuned perfectly for the small device, but i doubt you can move the ipad quick enough to take some of the most challenging corners 😛

    Plus, the graphics are more or less the same, real racing will probably be inferioir to the already-experienced-on-the-big-screens competitors like nfs. But, i might be wrong, and the game plays beautifully, who knows 😉

  • Gekkota

    Glad to hear you're working on a guide to help us decide which games look ok double-pixeled and which don't. I think it will be very useful for a lot of us.

  • Galley

    This is like the days when Palm devices moved from 160 x 160 screens to 320 x 320 and 320 x 480. Once you started using Hi-Res apps, you never wanted to go back.

  • Bruno

    Right now the iPad/iPhone gaming world is on a transition and neither gamers nor developers know where the future is going.

    I think that charging for the same game just because the new version is HD/XL doesn't make any sense and as far as I understand, that model will no longer last. You will see the Top Grossing Charts changing in a few weeks when developers start to launch new IPs tailor made for the iPad.

    On the other hand, developers can fool the customers by releasing the game for iPad first and then for the iPhone. I am saying fool because for me that will also work for a few weeks then gamers will wait to buy, and that is where the AppStore business model gets dangerous. Greedy developers and cheapy gamers. The final result is price war, poor quality, and less profit/fun (for developers and gamers respectively).

    I will no longer support developers that will insist on that strategy with my money. Maybe I am being a lonely knight on that fight, maybe not.

    I truly believe that this is the right thing to do and I hope you think the same.



  • Shimmy Trakos

    For those gamers who prioritize playability over graphical flash, in my opinion Real Racing 2x is a better experience than Real Racing HD. The response and overall experience are much smoother running 2x vs. HD. Had I known this ahead of time I would not have purchased HD.

    And to this old-school gamer, to my eyes, higher resolution does not equal better graphics. I kinda like the chunkiness.

  • Adams Immersive

    Doubling to 960x640 is an interesting stopgap measure... but more importantly, it makes me believe there MIGHT be truth to the rumors of a 960x640 (ultra-high-DPI) 4th-generation iPhone and iPod!

    Regular iPhone games would look pretty normal on such a device, using the same doubling as the iPad (except they’d actually fill ALL the screen with no borders, and there’d be no need for a 1x toggle). But then along would come the double-res games looking super sharp.

  • Heaven

    I'd rather not hold something that weighs a pound in my hands.

    Except when I have to take a leak.

  • Mel Swelnerinegenen

    The biggest surprise for me with my iPad is that old iPhone games that I had abandoned or just briefly tried and then not played have suddenly become quite enjoyable on the iPad. I thought that the pixel doubling would just make the apps ass ugly and ridiculous, but it has actually breathed new life into certain games.

    Many of these games I bought for the iPhone, only played about two or three times, and then simply deleted them from my phone, have now become quite enjoyable in pixel double mode on the iPad:

    Looks GREAT pixel doubled:
    The Deep Pinball, Wild West Pinball, Enviro-Bear, Beat It!, Canabalt, Castle Warriors, GTA: Chinatown Wars, Coast Defense Reloaded, Space Invaders: Infinity Gene, Rogue Planet, Sentinel 2.

    Looks okay:
    Hi, How Are You?

    Pixelated (but playable):
    Undead Attack Pinball

    Robocalypse crashes on my iPad, as does Harbor Master HD.

    Some games like Sim City, which I couldn't play because the iPhone's screen was just too small, have suddenly become playable.

    I think a good strategy for new iPad owners is to buy one or two iPad-only games that look great and then just try to replay your iPhone games for a month or two until the really amazing iPad-only games start to release.

    As for pricing, the devs are trying all kinds of pricing strategies to see what sticks. Charging separate prices for two different apps. Free to enter, but pay for DLC. Or just offering the iPad upgrade for free.

    I honestly did not expect any of my iPhone games to have any appeal on my iPad except as a novelty, but that has turned out to not be the case.

  • Mel Swelnerinegenen

    One other big thing about the iPad... you need a case for this. It would be so easy to drop and the back scratches extremely easily. Also, as many would expect, it is an absolute fingerprint magnet. Probably one should go so far as to always carry a small chamois (or a Sham-WOW!) in one's case. It just goes with the territory with any touch screen.

  • Lakeshore |

    Could someone please show a screenshot of the pixel doubled Broken Sword, Beneath a Steel Sky and Simon the Sorcerer? I would think, that these adventure games would _benefit_ from the pixelated look - because that’s what they where built for.

  • Chris Muir

    Thank you so much for taking the time to compare 2x and HD versions on the iPad. Mine is coming soon and I as VERY curious about details. Looks like some will be quite playable, while others will beg for a 5-10 dollar improvement. Would like to know how Myst plays, as I held off getting that game due to the size issue on my iTouch. Again, thank you!

  • Wisdominthemind

    Review so far - I find this a bit buggy, so far I am unable to upgrade my characters on the shop once you load up the game. It also needs to be a little bit more responsive.