Behold, the unholy marriage of a Tegra 3 game on a Snapdragon S4 device!

Update: The folks at VectorUnit got in touch with us and filled in some details about this one. While what you're seeing is the same app that is used for the Tegra 3 version, it's not really the same game. Rather than have two distinct apps, they've rolled up the Tegra 3 enhanced version and the "normal" version into one application file. That's why it plays so well, and that's why it looks so , erm, different. It's like the game within the game. Gameception. Anyhoo, thanks to VectorUnit for taking the time to let us know, and thanks for the kick-ass game!

One of the greater marketing successes of the past year or so has come from NVIDIA and its Tegra platform. Tegra 2 kicked off the dual-core era in early 2011. And in late fall last year, it upped the game even more with the quad-core Tegra 3 platform. 

One of NVIDIA's major competitors in the space, Qualcomm, has answered back in 2012 with its dual-core Snapdragon S4 processor and Adreno graphics. And in one of those bizarre manufacturing twists that can only happen with Android (or so it seems), we've got the opportunity to see both in action in the HTC One X.

It can get a little confusing, though. In the United States, the HTC One X refers (thus far) to AT&T's version with its Qualcomm processor and LTE data. Outside the U.S., the Qualcomm version is referred to the HTC One XL, and Tegra 3 is the One X. Follow?

Back to Tegra 3. For some time, NVIDIA's strategy rested solidly on Tegra 3-optimized games only being available on Tegra 3 devices, and some only through NVIDIA's own Tegra Zone store. A number of titles have since made their way into Google Play Store at large and are now available on non-Tegra 3 devices. We're using Riptide GP as our example, because we're very familiar with it. Very. There's a version in the Google Play store that plays on pretty much all high-end devices -- Qualcomm S3 and S4, OMAP, Exynos, etc. It plays very nicely, and our hat's off to the developers for such a great game. 

But when that same game is loaded up on Tegra 3 devices, you see all sorts of effects and graphics that other processors just can't handle. Things like water splashes on the screen, or a cool hyperspeed blurring effect when you use speed boosts. Here's what the developers have to say --

“RIPTIDE GP ENHANCED FOR TEGRA 3!The quad-core power of NVIDIA's Tegra 3 superchip has enabled us to add even more detail and excitement to the Riptide GP experience.  Tegra 3 players get extra-high-detailed normal-mapped waves, realistic water splashes on the camera, and a dramatic motion blur effect when boosting.  Riptide GP looks even better thanks to the power of Tegra 3!”

Other games, like Shadowgun THD won't even load on our S4 powered HTC One X. And on GTA3, you need to be running a Tegra 3 to max out all the settings and run at the full frame rate. We can't just dismiss these differences, and NVIDIA gets the nod for having the wow factor.

So. What happens when you run one of our favorite games -- Riptide GP -- on the dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 version of the HTC One X? Only one way to find out. Hit the break to see how it holds up.

Phil Nickinson