Q: How is stylus gaming different than finger touchscreen gaming?
A: Stylus.

The difference between stylus gaming and touchscreen gaming is the difference between painting with a brush, and painting with your fingers. Fingerpainting is super rad, but hoo-boy, using a brush is a whole different kind of awesome!

A stylus can demand more precision of the player, require less hand movement, and use smaller UI elements. Human fingers are large, imprecise, prone to obfuscating game elements, and its very taxing to wave your entire hand for demanding gameplay.

Trauma Centre is a game with terrible politics where you need to zap cartoon viruses inside the human body with lasers. It rules, and it could never work with finger touchscreens. It’s too fast and precise.

Professor Layton contains beautiful backgrounds, where you can tap hotspots to find flavour text and hint tokens. In a finger touchscreen scenario, the game is playable, but your fingers would obfuscate the UI elements you’re attempting to interact with. It would suit a point-and-click style with a mouse better than fingers.

The Nintendo DS is the home of several adventure game classics. A point-and-click genre moving to a stylus based input is just such a natural fit. And you don’t really need to do anything differently than a mouse point-and-click. There’s a lot of great adventure games for finger touchscreens too, but they usually need to design their hotspot UI around that input method and make compromises to it.

Drawn to Life is a generic platform game with a gimmick – You yourself can draw the appearance of many in-game elements, including your protagonist.

Illustration mechanics and gimmicks are a natural fit for stylus games, and appear in many DS games. Drawn to Life is just the most obvious example. WarioWare DIY would be another great example. Animal Crossing: Wild World lets players illustrate their own custom outfits for the player character. Kirby: Canvas Curse is a more subtle usage, where you illustrate lines for Kirby to move across. There’s similar minigames in Super Mario 64 DS where you interact with Mario by illustration. Or the DS Zelda games, where drawing on the game’s maps, and drawing paths for AI controlled characters (Zelda) to follow, is a neat mechanic that adds a nice twist to the Zelda formula.

on the other hand.

I get why people like finger touchscreens. You don’t have to own a stylus – and a stylus is a tiny piece of plastic which loves to go missing. Whereas your fingers are Just Right There.

I am aware there are stylus’ available for finger touchscreens. And I do own and use some! and they go missing A Lot!! But these stylus mimic human fingers, by having large wide grippy tips. And the games I’m playing them with are clearly built around fingers anyway, so it’s just not the same.

but yeah in the end i

i do miss stylus gaming. *sigh* Touchscreening with fingers isn’t the same.

anyway please leave some comments. let me know your fave stylus game, or if you also miss this input method. or just say anything I live for comment’s

Thanks to LParchive, which I stole screenshots off of because of course I did. Specifically, thanks to World‘s Trauma Centre LP, Lyrax‘s Kirby: Canvas Curse LP, and Dragonatrix/Lotus Aura‘s Professor Layton LP. Good stuff, you three rock. <3