MMObility: Ten terrific titles for this nifty new netbook

Inspiron Duo picture
I mentioned this new gaming toy of mine last week, and it finally arrived. I immediately loved how it felt and weighed. Sure, there are lighter netbooks, but many of them feel more fragile. This Inspiron Duo has a rubberized edging to it, and the flip-screen feels snappy but firm. I was happy right away. It's a higher-quality netbook with a decent-quality tablet included.

After I tweaked it and purged it of bloatware, I had to get some games going on it, and not just casual Facebook games but real MMOs. I spent a few days going through my list of titles to see which ones would work on the netbook and how many will work well with the touchscreen. I wanted games that would give a normal netbook fits but not lag excessively. Note that my netbook's screen is 1366x768, while the cheapest ones out there are normally 1024x600. Adjustments might need to be made there. I came up only with 10 games for now, but expect more in the future.

Click past the cut to see the list!

Glitch

The very first game I thought of was Glitch. If there is a game that is begging for a touchscreen, this is the one. I've even streamed it on my iPad using Splashtop remote, but playing it on this new device was much better. Be aware that the game is made in Flash, and Flash is notoriously system-taxing. It can feel sluggish depending on the amount of activity on the screen. Still, Glitch ran great and felt wonderful. This is a must-have for any netbook owner.

Gunshine

This is another Flash-based game, and its performance suffers a bit because of that. I wanted to include it on the list because the developers have made it so easy to jump into a fight and to group up. It's fun, simple, and hilariously violent. There are a few creepy moments in it, strippers and all, but it's kept to a minimum. Gunshine is not browser-based, as many would describe it. Instead, the game pops out in its own window. There is an option to turn down graphics quality if it's too heavy to run on your machine.

Puzzle Pirates

Three Rings still has some of the most innovative games in the market with Puzzle Pirates and Spiral Knights, and it seems the company is finally getting the respect it deserves. You'd think that Puzzle Pirates and its puzzle-based design would be absolutely perfect for a touchscreen, but some of the puzzles simply require a touchpad or mouse and keyboard. Luckily your netbook will work. Puzzle Pirates uses puzzles for all sorts of group activities -- real-time group activities like combat or piloting a ship. It's fantastic and a must-have for any netbook owner.

Illyriad

Have I mentioned this game before? I believe so. The HTML5-based MMORTS will truly work on any device, as long as it has a browser. I have played it on every phone, tablet, laptop, desktop and now netbook in my home. Once you meet the community and get started, you are likely to forget that the game is actually a free-for-all PvP sandbox. Anyone can attack you and destroy your city, but the effort it takes often discourages willy-nilly attacks. The community protects its newbies, as well. I love the hand-drawn "old map" feeling the game has. It's perfect for a netbook. Hell, it's perfect for any device.

Nadirim screenshot
Nadirim

This delightfully sandy browser-based MMO is due for launch very soon, so jump in while you can. Movement and combat can all be achieved with a few clicks, but the music and hand-painted backgrounds give the game a flair of sophistication. I've watched this one grow and morph over the period of a few betas, so definitely keep an eye out for more development. It is a dream on the touchscreen and runs with no lag on the netbook.

Wizard101

Who could go wrong with a fully downloadable, fully voice-acted MMO that will run on a toaster? The very first time I visited the studios of KingsIsle, the maker of Wizard101, I brought my old netbook with me. I was having issues fitting it to the 600-pixel-tall screen, but one of the coders came in and adjusted a config file and got me in the game. The game is not just for kids. Not at all. The card-based battle system is a lot of fun and takes quite a bit of strategy. Some of the community members even "theory-craft" stats and pet abilities. This "kid's game" is perfect for any adult with a netbook.

A Mystical Land

I've had my issues with A Mystical Land in the past. I've also loved so many things about it. It definitely started out rough, but now that it finally has housing (called "villages") the game is really coming together. I thought that it would surely run like molasses on my new machine, but it does pretty well. Bear in mind that the Duo offers two gigs of ram, so if your machine sports only one, it might not work. The loading times are really long, but once you are in the game and have set the graphics pretty low, you'll find a game with some great crafting and adventure. File this one under "in progress, but we like what we see so far."

Golden Age

I first tried out this new MMORTS by Aeria last week and was impressed. True, I have not familiarized myself with all of the nuances of combat, crafting or higher-level existence, but the avatar social areas and the wonderful music and graphics have got me hooked. It shines on the touchscreen and works just as perfectly with a touchpad or mouse. Build, expand, and (I think) conquer. I'm not sure about that last one; ask me in a few weeks.

Puppet Guardian

I have absolutely no idea what is going on with this title. This was the oddball of the browser-market before Glitch came along. You roll dice, collect materials, craft items and fight monsters. It really is an odd duck. For some reason, though, I keep checking back on it and try to get a little further. I really need to find a game expert to show me the ropes because I know there's some good stuff in there. It's Flash-based, but you should have no problems running it.

Ultima Online screenshot
Ultima Online

Oh, Ultima Online. Such memories. This is the first title I bought for my first PC, and I've been hooked on MMOs ever since. Recently, my wife and I were able to tell Richard Garriott just how hooked we were on his creation. It runs and plays wonderfully on a touchscreen and a netbook. It still offers some of the best sandbox gameplay out there. Boating, killing monsters, owning a house -- Ultima started it and will probably finish it. Just be sure to download the 2-D client if you want to play on your netbook. Some might call it uglier, but I actually prefer it.

Mabinogi

OK, OK, so I had to throw in an eleventh title. Mabinogi is a must-have for any PC MMO gamer, period. The graphics are a little odd, and the control scheme does take some getting used to, but there is so much to do and to explore in this game that it's a shame more gamers do not get past its graphics. I love to craft or to sift for gems down at the beach. I can even play as one of my pets, running around as a dog or ostrich! Nexon still has one of the best games in the market on its hands with this one. Be aware that you might need to adjust screen size, and when you do, it might flicker before adjusting. If you have a 600-pixel netbook, it might not work at all.

OK, so there are 11 games for your new (or old) netbook. Unfortunately I had to skip some of my absolute favorites like RuneScape because of performance issues. I am aware that my screen size and ram amount is not as common for the lowest-end models, but many of those can be tweaked. Speaking of tweaking, I've listed below a few guides to help speed up Windows 7 and the Duo. Most of them are easy and harmless, and basically they take away a lot of the fancy bells and whistles. Who needs that stuff anyway? If you don't know what you are doing, then just skip the tweaking. Bear in mind that some netbooks come with Windows 7 starter in the first place and might not need much work.
Each week in MMObility, Beau Hindman dives into the murky waters of the most accessible and travel-friendly games around, including browser-based and smartphone MMOs. Join him as he investigates the best, worst, and most daring games to hit the smallest devices! Email him suggestions, or follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

This article was originally published on Massively.