One of our very favorite not-a-game-itself-but-is-still-gaming-related apps in the App Store is Zell Application’s Joypad Game Controller [Free]. We reviewed the Joypad this past February, and in short it turns your iOS device into a customizable virtual control pad for playing games on your computer. You just run the app on your device and then it very easily connects to a desktop client on your computer over Bluetooth or a local WiFi network. You’re then free to map the virtual buttons of the Joypad to the keyboard controls of whatever game you’re playing, or choose from the many preset configurations, and just like that you’ve got yourself a competent little game controller.

Naturally, it’s not quite the same as having a physical controller, but if you like to travel light or find yourself needing to get your game on in a pinch it more than does the trick. Heck, I use the Joypad exclusively to play old emulators on my laptop simply because it works really well and I’m too lazy to bust out my USB controller. Ah, technology, always facilitating my laziness.

Anyway, back at WWDC this year I sat down with Zell Applications who explained how they had just released a Joypad SDK, which anyone can use to add native Joypad support in games on both desktop computers and iOS devices. We first saw this officially in action with the platformer Lars [$1.99/Lite], and recently the Mac App Store version of Mos Speedrun [$2.99] was updated with Joypad support, too. No need to pair the Joypad app with desktop software with these, rather just fire up either game along with the Joypad app on your device and everything just works, and it rocks.

During that WWDC meeting, Zell also revealed that the Joypad would be getting some retro skins packs in the near future, and that update has just hit the App Store. As you may know, Joypad was originally a paid app when it launched in March of last year, but in order to entice more people to use it the developers launched a separate free version back in January. As a way to support their efforts and put food in their bellies, the new retro skins are being sold for 99¢ each, or you can grab all 8 of them in a pack for $5.99 and save a couple of bucks.

Both versions of Joypad are functionally identical, but if you already owned the original paid version, which is now called Joypad Elite, then you’ll get the entire 8 pack of retro skins included for free with the update. The skins are beautiful and feature 8 of the most classic console controllers ever, and are perfect for getting the full effect when playing with emulators. Also, inside of the in-app shop there is now a list of Joypad compatible games. So far there is built in support for Lars, Super Mega Worm [99¢/Lite], Emerald Mine [Free], and Mos Speedrun for Mac. Upcoming supported games will include Meganoid [$1.99], Arcade Jumper, 8-bit Rally [99¢], and Marathon [Free].

Finally, inside the store there is a link to order the Fling Mini, another cool control peripheral that we took a look at during WWDC and works really well in conjunction with the Joypad app. As a bonus, if you use the in-app link to order the Fling Mini then you’ll get 10% off the regular price. Not a bad little deal at all.

In case you couldn’t tell, I get pretty stoked talking about the Joypad. I just can’t help it. It’s clever, it works surprisingly well, and it's completely free to use. I actually game way more on my laptop since discovering the Joypad than I ever did before. It’s just really convenient. If you haven’t yet tried out Joypad for yourself, give it a download, you’ve got nothing to lose except your dependence on a dedicated physical gamepad.

  • Brendch06

    My main problem with Joypad is that I wasn't able to set it up to be automatically connected like I could with something like HippoRemote. Each time I need to open the connect, select my phone, etc. I'm doing a HTPC type thing so to have to do that each time just doesn't work.

  • http://twitter.com/rustym Rusty Moyher

    These new skins pull at my childhood heartstrings in all the right ways.

    Meganoid is also going universal (sweet), so adding Joypad support makes sense to me. Would anyone want to play iphone to iphone?

  • http://twitter.com/21tigermike Michael A. Robson

    ", it works surprisingly well, "

    What the F does it do? You connect it to an AppleTV and wait for the ATV Games to appear in the App Store?

    • AmpliHelix

      Did you read the entire F'ing article or even look at the F'ing video, F'er? No... you just read the last F'ing paragraph of the F'ing article.

      Try the F again.

      • http://twitter.com/JaredTA Jared Nelson

        F YEAH

    • http://twitter.com/JaredTA Jared Nelson

      What?

  • Jerome

    I guess I don't understand the appeal of this. IMO the biggest downside to the iOS devices is their lack of physical buttons and joysticks, and this just brings that downside to a new arena. I admit the skins look fun, but I'd much rather just use a cheap Logitech controller.

    • BlackHiveMedia

      We have implemented it into Arcade Jumper and I can honestly say it's the best way to play our game, outside of a physical controller.  ...but we have support for that too. ;) iCade!

  • Anonymous

    How about adding iCade / iControlpad support? ;-)

    Actually; yes; just for the bragging rights!