If you have read my editorial on the popularity of BanG Dream and the changes in the Japanese video game market, Gacha games are wildly popular. While I have some mixed feelings with mobile gaming in the past, smartphones and tablets have changed substantially. They are now powerful to give good enough experiences.
After deciding to retire my Surface Pro 2, I decided to go back to an iPad. I used the original iPad when it first came out up until 2015. While it had limitations that prevent it from being the ideal tool for blogging, it was good for gaming and web browsing. However, it can’t really play Matroska files with subtitles and multitasking is rather limited.
However, things have changed in 8 years. Android tablets as a whole are dead and replaced with Chromebooks that can run Android apps. Also, iPads nowadays are more capable. Newer versions of iOS provide desktop-like features such as side by side apps, better multitasking, and drag and drop support. With that, it’s time to take a look at another iPad. Maybe you might want to get one if you want to play those Japanese mobile gacha games.
Apple makes three different types of iPad models. This consists of the regular iPad, the iPad Mini, and the more expensive iPad Pro. I decided to go with the latter since it has a better screen, speakers and smart keyboard support. The one I chose is a used cellar first generation iPad Pro 9.7 with 128 GB of storage. I also bought a slightly used Smart Keyboard cover to go along with it.
Since the tablet is used, the battery life is somewhat diminished. However, it still provides several hours of battery life. I decided to go with the iPad Pro 9.7. This model doesn’t have any known flaws and provides similar performance to the 2018 iPad while having all the Pro features. With the full package, it costs less than a 128 GB cellular 2018 iPad with a Smart Cover. Since Apple tends to support iPads for five years, this model will receive updates until early 2020.
I have to admit that the blogging experience is better than the first generation. While you can use the native WordPress interface, I tend to write my posts in Microsoft Word and then paste it into WordPress. Now, Microsoft develops Office for iOS. On the iPad, Word is free to use for iPads under 10 inches with a few limitations.
Also, there are Photoshop alternatives such as Pixelmator and Affinity Photo, which I can use to edit images for my posts. While you still have access to anime streaming sites through their own apps, Crunchyroll rolled out their new HTML5 player. It’s now possible to load the desktop version and use the new HTML5 player and turn the subtitles off to take screenshots. If you still want to just view video files, there is an iOS version of VLC player.
The biggest reason I want to ditch my Surface Pro 2 is that I am missing out of those anime mobile games. I tried running an Android emulator on the Surface and it wasn’t a good experience. Sure, I can play them on my iPhone, but I would rather not to since I want to preserve my battery life. Moreover, the storage isn’t big enough since it stores my whole playlist that I listen to when I am driving. Besides, playing games on the iPad is a better experience with the bigger screen.
While Android tablets provide more freedom, being able to download Japanese mobile games on these tablets and keep them updated might be tedious. You need to use a VPN to access the Google Play store in a different region to download the games. Sure, you can download the APK files, but it can become tedious to install updates. However, on iOS, you simply need to create a Japanese iTunes account to download any game on the Japanese App Store.
You might be wondering, are these games playable outside of Japan? For the most part, yes with some few exceptions. The more popular ones such as Bang Dream Girls Party, Love Live, Idolmaster Cinderella Girls Starlight Stage/Million Live Theater Days, Kirara Fantasia, and Magica Record will work. The only one I couldn’t get to work is Revue Starlight. Maybe that will change once they release an English version.
If you haven’t seen my Twitter or Mastodon feed, I spent 11 hours playing Magica Record. Yes, it’s that official Madoka Magica mobile game, which they recently announced an anime adaptation for. For the most part, the game is pretty addicting and the story is pretty interesting so far. For most of these mobile games, they will play like visual novels.
These games can be a good source for practicing your Japanese reading skills. You can use applications such as the Yomiya app to easily lookup words you do not know. Of course, with the iPad, you can have your Japanese dictionary app as a side app when you need to look up a word.
It’s obvious that these games have their in-game currencies that you can buy with actual money. In most cases, it’s not necessary to do so, unless you really want a certain card right away. You can play the game and you will typically earn in-game currency you can use for Gacha.
As a whole, should play Japanese Gacha games on the iPad opposed to a smart phone? While it’s not necessary if you already own a smart phone, it provides a better experience. You don’t have to jump through the hoops to download any Japanese Gacha games. Compared to the Surface, you still have access to various dictionary apps. Also, you can write blog posts on it without resorting to a laptop, especially with a physical keyboard. Still, I think it’s still easier to write posts on my MacBook Pro since I can have multiple windows open.
In short, if you just going to play Gacha games and watch anime or read manga on it, it’s best to get a used 2017 iPad, iPad Air 2 or iPad Mini 4 or later or new 2018 iPad. If you going to do more on it such as blogging, I would go with an iPad Pro. Used iPad Pros, especially the 9.7 and 10.5 models are better values since you will have access to the Smart Connector to add a keyboard. You can write posts anywhere without having to lug around a laptop. I wouldn’t recommend the newest iPad Pros since they are expensive and most if not all Japanese Gacha games are going to use that power, for now.