While the iOS device's multitouch screen has introduced a whole new way of interacting with software and enabled game developers to rethink the fundamentals of game control, there are definitely areas where it falls short. One such area is in the on-screen approximation of a physical control stick or D-pad. Ever since we first mentioned the iControlPad, three and a half years ago, button mashers particularly frustrated by virtual controls began eagerly waiting for such physical controller accessories to arrive. This summer, the iCade and iControlPad did arrive and developers wanting to go that extra mile began adding in support for these controllers, where it made sense.

Gametel controller

In a short time from now, the controller market will be gaining another iOS-compatible unit for gamers to choose from in the form of the Gametel Bluetooth controller from Fructel AB. News on this one began spreading a couple of weeks back, but we only just learned of the device, likely due to the Android-centric PR that surrounds it; there's scant mention of iOS devices on the product webpage. Luckily, C64 for iPhone [App Store] developer Stuart Carnie of Manomio pinged me to let us know that the unit works quite well with iOS devices (by way of an iCade emulation mode, the addition of which was driven by Stuart, himself), and that he is particularly impressed by the unit's ergonomics.

The Gametel controller pairs with any iOS device, appearing to be a keyboard to the host unit. It has a spring-loaded arm / brace extending from the top of the unit that allows it to firmly grasp most any type of app phone, including all iPhone and iPod touch devices (not the iPad, of course). The unit sports a digital directional pad, four main action buttons, a Select and a Start button, and two shoulder buttons. (It lacks the analog nubs offered by the iControlPad.) The Gametel device delivers 9 hours of battery life -- for itself only, not the host unit -- and is charged via micro USB cable.

Jimmie Johansson, involved with the project, informs me that the 120mm x 67mm x 24mm unit is light weight and durable and fits easily into a pocket. Production of the first batch of devices is happening right now, as I post this, and it should be available at Amazon UK before Christmas for around £50.

Oh -- and it has a super feature: pressing Select and Start together instantly toggles in the on-screen keyboard, to enter high scores or search for an app to launch. It's an extremely welcome feature to anyone that's used an iCade, which lacks such functionality.

iControlPad

The Gametel controller isn't the only news from the iOS controller scene. The OpenPandora folks behind the iControlPad have been busy working on firmware updates to better the experience of iOS gamers.

Remember, back in the review of the iControlPad, how I mentioned that only jailbroken iOS devices and other platforms could utilize the sweet, dual analog nubs on the iControlPad? Well, I'm happy to have been proven wrong. Now, it's not as wonderful a scenario as if Apple had begun allowing the type of iOS Bluetooth pairing that an HID device with a set of analog sticks really needs. No. Instead, the iControlPad firmware developers created a new interface mode called "special packet mode" in the latest test firmware that sends the coordinates of the two analog nubs as strings of characters -- from the perspective of an iOS device, they're being sent by a keyboard. It's a pretty awesome workaround in the face of an Apple restriction that we truly wish the company would see fit to dissolve, and it lets legitimate games in the App Store take advantage of physical analog controllers.

A perfect example of this mode in action is Warner Skoch's Vertex Blaster [App Store], a space shooter in the vein of (a retro and rather simplified) Super Stardust HD that we've not covered directly, but that has a lengthy thread in our forums where readers are enjoying it. It was in the OpenPandora forums that we learned of this little gem. Have a look at a fan video showing iControlPad analog nub gameplay on an iPad. (The video also shows D-pad play of Super Mega Worm.)

Oh, and that pop-in-the-onscreen-keyboard trick the Gametel unit brings -- the iControlPad, with the latest test firmware, has that as well (it just takes a few more seconds of button-holding to kick in).

iCade

So, with all this exciting news about the Gametel controller and the analog stick support from App Store games for the iControlPad, I went ahead and contacted ThinkGeek to see if there is anything exciting on the horizon for the iCade. It turns out that while, sadly, the pop-up-keyboard trick isn't a planned thing for the iCade right now, I did glean, from extremely vague terms, that there may be some interesting things to come in the iCade's future. No specifics, unfortunately, but it's something we'll keep an eye on.

And there you have it -- a round-up of physical controller news. The introduction of a new controller, the Gametel unit, will only sweeten the proposition for developers to support for such devices in their games down the road, and that's definitely a good thing for iOS gamers. Stay tuned for more controller news as it unfolds.

  • Fabrício Heringer Barbosa

    No point in this controllers when no dev is actually supporting it.

    • Anonymous

      But it has iCade mode, so any game that supports iCade will work with it... at least in theory. I'm interested depending on price.

      • http://RolePlayFTW.com Huy Ngo

        A handful of devs that use any addon controller is a hard sell for me.  

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Werner-Ruotsalainen/685558551 Werner Ruotsalainen

        Handful? New (old) games supporting the iCade are announced on a daily basis... now, there ARE tons of games to play with the iCade (iCP).

      • Anonymous

        Yes! iCade 2 with pinball flippers, please!

    • Anonymous

      It only makes sense for there to be a native one comming from apple. With the addoption of airplay a phisical controller is all that is needed to drive that final nail into the coffin for the console market. As I am more willing to drop 6.99 for games like real racing 2 or modern combat 3 than I am about paying $64 on a game that was hyped up by the developer for a 360. I completly stopped playing 360 when I got my ipad im just waiting for the controller to come along

      • Anonymous

        Me too.  Your point weighs in even heavier when you factor in games that have been ported from iOS to XBL!  Like Infinity Blade.
        I only use my XBox360 for DVD's, Netfilx, and Hulu+ now.
        I forgot it played games...

    • Anonymous

      the only reason to get one of these is if you like emulators.  ZodTTD has done a terrible job with with control scheme - either he is lazy or just does not know enough to implement a better system.  All other iOS games work great with touch controls.

      I will be playing some Zelda with this baby!  Well worth the money.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_HPRGCCJOLFRMG52I74QO2MFENI NedS

        Zod sucks. However, another guy named Robert Broglia has a fantastic collection of emulators that beat the pants off of anything Zod (or anyone else) has made. They all end with ".emu" like MD.emu is his Master Drive emulator, and they work on both Android and iOS with full native iControlPad support. His website is http://www.explusalpha.com/

      • Nicholas Jabbour

        personally, I still say yongzh is the best emulator dev, as far as Android goes, anyway. And all his emulators (except N64oid) are free. I know a lot of people hate him cuz he supposedly "stole" n64oid and stuff like that, but honestly, I have better things to do than waste time making a self-righteous "stand" against a developer who makes a living off of $5 under-the-table apps.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Werner-Ruotsalainen/685558551 Werner Ruotsalainen

      Well, actually, TONS of games already support this... over the last week, I've counted at least 5 or 6 titles that have just added support for iCade (and, consequently, iCP). Among them, the GREAT Commodore 64 Emulator; Elite's Spectrum collection, some shoot'm ups and so on.

      These controllers are simply GREAT and well worth the price.

    • Nicholas Jabbour

      I have an iControlPad for my Android phone, and it works perfectly. the N64 emulator N64oid supports the ICP natively, and the app BluezIME allows full support for all games that allow keyboard mapping and bluetooth input. This includes all major emulators for Android (including the infamous emulators by yongzh, which are all free on SlideMe market except for N64oid, which is $5.99). However, I can imagine the issue if you want to play a bunch of smartphone specific games. personally, I would never have spent $85 on the ICP if I didn't love playing emulators.

  • Anonymous

    I prefer the iControlPad, haven't tried the Gametel controller obviously though, but it seems the same...I'd rather have one with an analog nub. Why buy the controller without the extra sticks if you have the choice between the 2 which seem fairly similar? And the iControlpad has excellent build quality. Seems like a no-brainer to me to get the iControlpad over the Gametel controller if I didn't already own one of them.

    • Anonymous

      Because the iControl Pad is cumbersome, overly complicated, and ugly.  Plus most games you are going to use a physical controller work better with a D pad.  Why do we need the analogue sticks?

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Werner-Ruotsalainen/685558551 Werner Ruotsalainen

        "overly complicated"

        It's not that complicated. At first, it is - but anyone can learn switching to the different modes (native iCP, emulated iCade etc.) before pairing in, say, 5 minutes.

        "Plus most games you are going to use a physical controller work better with a D pad."

        The digital D-pad on the iCP works great. It's probably because of its precisity that several previously unplayable games (e.g., the robot-overtaking minigame in Paradroid running under the Commodore 64 emulator) became perfectly playable.

        I've even taken a demo video of Paradroid controlled by iCP: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kbb2JV2mfto . Now, do this using touch controls :)

  • Anonymous

    Much better than the iControl Pad - better design esthetically and functionally.  I will be buying one!

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Werner-Ruotsalainen/685558551 Werner Ruotsalainen

      " Much better than the iControl Pad - better design esthetically and functionally.  I will be buying one!
      "

      Just curious: have you EVER held an iCP in your hand? Which is, BTW, far thinner than the Gametel controller.

      • Nicholas Jabbour

        agreed. honestly, looking between the ICP and Gametele, it boils down to this: The ICP has everything Gametele does, plus a better dpad (I hate dpads made of four different pieces and they tend to not be as easily usable), two analog pads, and truly marked ABXY buttons (which can be rearranged however you wish by opening up the ICP and changing their positions, which is very VERY easy to do).

        aside from that, the Gametele has L/R triggers more towards the top (like a true game controller)... but even then, the L/R triggers on the ICP are pretty easy to use after about 10 minutes of getting used to them, and are pretty intuitive considering the way most people hold their phones while texting.

        After all that, the only reason I could think of to logically choose the Gametele is if it was much cheaper that the ICP (the ICP will run you $85, plus ridiculous shipping if you live outside of the UK or the US, where you can buy it off thinkgeek.com), and you didn't feel like spending as much money.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Werner-Ruotsalainen/685558551 Werner Ruotsalainen

    Thanks for linking to my Vertex Blaster + Super Mega Worm video :)

  • Anonymous

    Wasn't there some game controller that boosted its hosts battery life too? I though it was this. Must have been dreaming.

    • Anonymous

      Yep. That would be the Gamebone from 22moo, but it is not out yet. Supposed to come out around late 2011, early 2012, but there hasn't been much news on it. Last I heard about it was 3 months ago; 22moo said that they were getting prepared for production. Best looking iOS controller so far, but also taking forever to come out. It may be taking so long because they wanted to get Apple certification for it. I know they have quite a few (big name) developers interested in developement for it.

      • Anonymous

        Thanks! I was afraid, that they would have changed their minds about the battery. In fact, as most games are designed for touchscreen and are therefore intriguing for me as they are, I'm surprisingly little interested of getting a controller for iPhone, and much more interested of getting a battery enhancer in a "cool" form, and opening doors for certain classics at the same time. I couldn't play Tetris without buttons, and I NEED to play Tetris all the time.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_HPRGCCJOLFRMG52I74QO2MFENI NedS

      iControlPad can charge devices when you play. You just need a USB OTG adapter (it must be an "OTG" adapter for the mini USB port to switch modes) and you're good to go.

  • Anonymous

    Each one of these external controller solutions is immortally flawed to the point in which they're massively unideal... scroll a little bit down in this link to see why.

    http://xevon.awardspace.com/xperiaplayrev/

    • John McCollum

      The link you provided is outdated. The iControlpad isn't cumbersome at all. You don't have to "assemble" it with the new universal clamp they made. There is also a great catalog of games gaining support too.

      • Anonymous

        That's not outdated, it's from Nov. 19th of last month. The note about assembly was for the outside grips (which look much less indecent than that clamp).

        It's cumbersome by the hardware nature that BT devices stress the battery of the device of question, and that it requires a peripheral to be taken around... and even a bother from a software basis that it's connection has to be managed. By the time a given user has assembled all this, turned on BT on their phone, powered on the iControlPad and connected them just to get set up... any competent gaming device is already in game.

        ...and I've seen the list of non-emulated games that iControlPad works with. Not near enough to change the tides; as opposed to something like the Xperia PLAY. It's definitely better than the Gametel, but that's about it.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Werner-Ruotsalainen/685558551 Werner Ruotsalainen

        "It's cumbersome by the hardware nature that BT devices stress the
        battery of the device of question"

        No, they don't. The additional power consumption added by BT units can only be measured with BT functionality that does require CPU power - that is, currently, A2DP only. Being connected to an external BT keyboard does NOT result in any measurable power consumption increase.

        "and that it requires a peripheral to
        be taken around..."

        Better carry around a (perfectly pocketable!) iCP than playing on the touch screen - or, for that matter, with a Fling joystick.

    • Nicholas Jabbour

      The only points in this article that I can agree with are the bulk factor (having to carry the ICP/gametele around) and the inconvenience factor (having to set up the connection everytime you want to play). I'm going to ignore the MSI BGP100 here cuz that gamepad is a total joke. lol.

      The two notes from this article on the ICP...

      "Comes with too many parts; which, in turn, means you'll have to do on-field assembly just to get from normal "phone mode" to actually getting to play a game, and vice versa. 
      - Very low support on what phone form factors will be held properly. "

      ...use very outdated information, regardless of when the article was actually published. Thanks to the universal holder (which, admittedly, wasnt available when the ICP first came out), pretty much any android/iPhone/iTouch can fit. Just choose the height required for your phone, assemble it first time, and unless you own multiple phones and game on all of them (and who would?) you never have to assemble again afterward. btw, I own a Samsung Epic, a rather thick, bulky phone with a sliding keyboard, and it still fits perfectly.

      Not to mention, that it's really not that bulky... the ICP is about the same size as my Samsung Epic (a little narrower and a little longer), and I just put it into my empty left front pants pocket and keep it with me wherever i go, like my phone. In fact, it's in my pocket right now. So even the "bulk" factor is only about the equivalent of carrying two phones with you as opposed to one.

      Plus, personally I tested with the Xperia Play multiple times in AT&T stores and read reviews, and while a great design in theory, it's actually a horribly implemented gaming device. the hardware feels cheap (typical xperia product), the buttons are sunken in and hard to press, the dpad feels unintuitive, and the two "touch circles" provide no tactile feedback, and function as four directional "softkeys", not analog pads, as everyone would naturally think. Worst of all, the L/R triggers feel uncomfy, are misplaced (cramping my fingers when using them), and arent very tactile. Not to mention the android device itself (screen brightness, etc) just isn't that good.

      I agree, something like an xperia play would be amazing and definitely superior to the ICP in theory... but that hasnt happened yet. the Xperia Play definitely isn't it. So, to me, the decision between a bluetooth gamepad and the xperia play boils down to one thing, and one thing only: how important is portability and lack of bulk to you?

      Personally, I'll wait till a gaming android with a slideout gamepad equivalent or greater to the ICP comes out. Then I'll say it's better. :-p

      • Anonymous

        The logic you're obscuring here is that there are many reviews from people who have actually had more experience than "testing a few times" who's opinion is much more developed and happen to disagree with yours. From those few in-store tests, you don't even get to play any of the games that show how effective the touch-pads are. Considering that, it's a pretty weightless to try concluding anything when most of your experience is second-handed.

        Then you say ICP is not bulky, while also admitting that it's bulk is so drastic that you might as well have brought another phone with you. From seeing that you think it's okay to lug something around that's equally the size of your phone, it's clear that we're simply in disagreement about what's ridiculous concerning size.

        ICP does have the universal clamp, but that doesn't counter the existence of the side-locking clamp mechanisms which are a better ergonomic design, look better and are easily a much more thought-through option than the one-size-fits-all clamp. And even still, having to retract/detract it counts as on-field assembly unless you plan on risking it snapping while in your pocket... so no, this article is still far from being outdated or running on outdated info. Xperia PLAY's controller is simply superior to iControlPad's in size, practicality, efficiency and software compatibility.... and every reviewer worth their weight knows the Xperia PLAY is the one bringing smartphone gaming to a level it never reached prior.

        http://www.pocketgamer.co.uk/r/Xperia+Play/Sacred+Odyssey%3A+Rise+of+Ayden/review.asp?c=32981

      • Nicholas Jabbour

        Sheesh man, I'm just trying to have a discussion here. No need to get self-righteous and arrogant.

        What you're not revealing to me is your experience with the ICP. Do you own one? Have you ever played with one? You're unfounded bias and the fact that you erroneously think that the universal clamp has to be "retracted" to close and open (you just swivel it sideways in reality) leads me to believe that you've never even seen one in person. My personal hands-on experience with the XPlay, though minimal, is infinitely more weighted than any experience you could have with the ICP without owning one. Because, unlike the XPlay, there's no way to "test run" the ICP cuz you can only buy it online. By your logic, I actually have a much stronger and "valid" opinion than you do because I have indeed used both.

        To say only testing the XPlay in store voids my opinion and analysis is also extremely foolish and illogical... As experienced gamers like you and me (I'm going to assume that you are indeed a gamer), the gamepad comes to us intuitively... Unless you're talking about something wildly different in design (id est, the WiiMote), most modern gamepads share the same universal design. Just take a look at the three major consoles right now (obviously, the Wii "classic" controller will replace the wiimote in this example):

        http://pective.com/m/xbox-360-controller-2
        http://www.ps3controller.org/ps3controller.jpg
        http://i.i.com.com/cnet.g2/images/2006/news/05/09/wii_controller_screen001.jpg

        Sure, there are some design tweaks, such as the placement of the left control stick and dpad, and the design of the trigger buttons, but they all follow this basic style:

        -1st analog stick and dpad to the left
        -2nd analog stick to the lower right
        -4 action buttons to the upper right
        -two pairs of shoulder triggers at the top left and right corners
        -start, select, and equivalent "menu" buttons in the very middle

        And the trend bleeds in to most other controllers as well. The Logitech USB dual action controller I own, as well as previous ones owned by my family and friends, etc, is an exact imitation of the PS3 controller as far as button placement and quantity goes, as are similar controllers owned by family and friends who are PC gamers.

        And if you look at the Xplay and ICP, they both also follow a similar (albeit simpler) style. In fact, they are almost identical to each other. Check it out:

        http://images.gizmag.com/gallery_lrg/icontrolpad-0.jpg
        http://cdn.androidcentral.com/sites/androidcentral.com/files/articleimage/26462/2011/02/Xperia%20PLAY_Black_screen1.png

        The design is exactly as follows for both:
        -Dpad to the left
        -4 action buttons to the left
        -start/select buttons in the middle
        -2 analog pads toward the bottom middle
        -1 pair of L/R shoulder triggers.

        the only true differences are the style of the analog pads, the placement of the trigger buttons (the xplay's are toward the top and the icontrolpad's are lower down), and the existence of a menu button on the xplay.

        I apologize for that long demonstration, but now you get the point: gamepads are intuitive. If I'm given a completely new system, chances are the only thing I will need time for is memorizing the labels of the action buttons. And that's a good thing: console manufacturers design their controllers that way ON PURPOSE.

        Put that on top of the fact that the design of the XPlay gamepad and icontrolpad is LITERALLY identical to a PS1 controller, minus the analog "clickers" and extra trigger buttons. THEN put that on top of the fact that I've been playing my old PS1 since I was about 8 or 9 years old.

        Put all that together, and there's literally no reason why I shouldn't be able to accurately judge the XPlay after only 10-20 minutes of playing various games on it, including Crash Bandicoot, which has the exact same gameplay and controls as the PS1 version I grew up with.

        And you know what? I did intuitively get the controls on the xplay... but it just flat-out wasn't well designed. the buttons were all sunken in, moving the dpad diagonally felt impossible, and the trigger buttons felt unnatural in their placement. And the "analog pads" were just a joke to me... I would normally be understanding of the difficulty of putting a physical analog pad on a slider device, except that they did THE EXACT SAME THING WITH THE PSP GO!!! They put a decent analog pad on the PSP Go, why not on the XPlay? I mean, look at them side-by-side:

        http://www-bgr-com.vimg.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/play7.jpeg

        Compare that to my experience with the icontrolpad... Sure, I had to set it up, pair via bluetooth, and map keys the first time i used it. But once I actually started playing, I knew exactly what to do. No problems, either. The game pad was comfortable and well-designed, as it should have been. For good measure, I even loaded up Crash Bandicoot on the FPSE emulator and was pleased with how easy it was to control.

        And while we're talking about reviewers who " have actually had more experience than "testing a few times" who's opinion is much more developed" than mine...Check this review, which admits, very rightly, that the ANALOG PADS ON THE XPLAY ARE TERRIBLE

        http://www.ubergizmo.com/2011/06/xperia-play-review/

        Quote: "there’s one big problem: they are terrible... the analogs are pretty useless."

        He then continues to criticize the L/R triggers as well. Even worse, he goes on to talk about the poor quality of some of the games, and even goes so far as to say that the ONSCREEN CONTROLS ARE MORE EFFECTIVE than the actual gamepad in some cases. He then even dares to compare the XPlay less to a gaming platform, and more to a FREAKING N-GAGE. OUCH!!!

        http://www.swotti.com/tmp/swotti/cacheBI1NYWDLVGVJAG5VBG9NES1DB25ZB2XLCW==/imgN-Gage1.jpg

        ^FAILURE!

        He then criticizes the lack of devoted games, and honestly that's my biggest peeve... Sony has been promising the "Playstation Suite" for how long now? And we still dont have it, nearly a year after the Xperia Play's release?

        Btw, that review was the first one that I opened on google "Xperia Play review". I didnt purposely look for a "bad" review, or google "bad xperia play reviews"

        Now, to defend against your other baseless statements: the ICP's universal clamp is most certainly an upgrade to the standard side clamps in every way: It's sturdy, holds way more phones, and makes it much easier to carry around. Also, it allows me to use the ICP as a bluetooth gamepad on my laptop much more easily. And again, i told you it doesnt retract.. it just swivels to the side, an action that literally takes about half a second to complete.

        So no, I still assert my claim that your article and your faulty "knowledge" on the subject is outdated and uneducated... and almost certainly fanboyish.

        Both the XPeria Play and the ICP have advantages. but the few advantages the XPlay has (id est, greater portability and devoted 1st party games) just arent interesting enough to me to make up for the rest of the faulty aspects compared to the ICP. Also check this: If i ever decide to get an iPhone, or else upgrade to another better android phone like the Samsung Galaxy S @ or the new Nexus Phone, the ICP comes with me... And with Android 4.0 being announced to natively support bluetooth gamepads, way more apps are going to support the likes of the ICP, making the call of the XPlay that much more pointless to me.

        But again: this boils down all to my personal preference. And since I play almost exclusively emulators, it makes sense that i would prefer the ICP. I have no problem with you thinking that the XPlay is a better device, but I DO have a serious problem with your arrogance, condescending way of speaking to me, and your foolish portrayal of your opinion as ultimate fact.

        TTYL God bless. It was a joy discussing this with you, as well as a good exercise of my debate skills. :-)

      • Anonymous

        Wow, you sink to sophomoric ad-hominems, blatant assumptions and the like then I'm the one being self-righteous/arrogant? Minus the blind assertion that I've never had first-hand experience with the ICP (false, btw). I really don't care to respond to all that, your content's all I'm worried about.

        Where you've fallen apart here is that I never stated my opinion as ultimate fact. All I'm here to do is present figures. Yes, I do say that just testing in store does not make an incredibly meritable experience. Just testing in store, you'd never get to see how greatly it's confirmed to help every action-oriented genre of game because you get limited software experience. Crash Bandicoot, for example, comes natively with analogs disabled

        If we want to talk outdated sources, I'd have to look no further than the ubergizmo one from earlier, which came long before any of Xperia PLAY's major updates or major releases.Another flawed assumption of yours is about how many of my arguments you say are "baseless" without even having the courtesy of seeking the base... so you have labels you thinly assign to me without any logical backbone. This is false for the obvious reason that I do have a basis for favoring ICP's two side grips over the one clamp, which, as I stated earlier, could be synopsized as aesthetics and ergonomics.So a reviewer tried to relate it to the N-Gage? That alone should have immediately trigger a mental red flag, put two and two together on their wild exaggeration, and let you know to take their opinion with a grain of salt. In order to made such an absurd claim that the touch-controls were ever more effective than the physical ones, he'd have to have purposely hunted out an incompetent piece of software to base this on... therefore putting them in violation of a straw man logical fallacy - and thus invalidating the weight of their opinion. Yes the touch-pads do not contain that physical element of tactile response, but as far as responsiveness goes, anyone doubting it would be proving their own lack of in-depth experience with software. That's from an objective view that you could see too just by checking Xperia PLAY game reviews on the Android Market.Fact of the matter is, when a COMPTETENT developer gets ahold of the Xperia PLAY's touch-pads, the result is far above satisfactory (Dead Space, Age of Zombies, Sacred Odyssey, the list goes on and on) hence why there's so many instances of the few fair, balanced reviewers constantly citing how Xperia PLAY brings smartphone gaming to a level that nothing else has.http://www.knowyourmobile.com/mobile-games/gamereviews/androidgamereviews/1118991/dead_space_review_xperia_play.htmlhttp://www.pocketgamer.co.uk/r/Xperia+Play/Dead+Space/review.asp?c=32635Another thing that's quite chuckle-worthy here is that you base validity on a extrapolation of BT gamepad support. I do not mean to say the ICP is a bad product, never have. But the game support is very low unless we count what it piggybacks off of past-generation consoles. Right here and right now, it's the Xperia PLAY that, without emulation, has near 200 games. No other one of these gamepads can say the same.

  • John McCollum

    I have an iControlpad that I've been using daily for about 4 months now. I love being able to sit on the couch and play app store games on a 50" TV with the hdmi adapter an not have to hold the device. Initially I bought it for all the great emulators, but now there have been a ton of great games added. Vertex Blaster is great, along with Muffin Blaster, and Air Attack HD.

    2 days ago I got an iCade and loaded my iPad 2 up with MAME Roms. It works perfectly, and it's so much fun to have the feel of an actual arcade cabinet in your living room. These devices both enhance the user experience, and are amazing.

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

    Hey Look! Half a PSP VITA!

  • Anonymous

    In addition to the possibility of being low quality and having a lousy feel, these controllers have only one flaw;
    you don't reach the touchscreen, which the games are made for anyway. Outside of old school gaming, I don't even want old school controllers. I'm a gamer, and I would want to play Street Fighter, Mega Man, Gradius, Tetris etc etc etc too numerous to mention, but being able to play those games, would hinder the experience of the new stuff.

    I think its best for me, to get separate console for playing old stuff...(or, hmmm...3DS, with it I can reach for the touch screen AND have the controls handy)

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_HPRGCCJOLFRMG52I74QO2MFENI NedS

      I can't speak for the others, but the iControlPad feels very solid and is strong as heck. It doesn't feel cheap for flimsy at all.

    • Nicholas Jabbour

      lol... I'm thinking of getting a 3DS, and once they've successfully hacked it to run emulators I'd be tempted to abandon my android and ICP altogether for gaming, except for one thing: the 3DS simply doesnt have enough buttons to properly emulate the N64 or the PSOne. The ICP does (well, technically, it's missing two extra L/R triggers and the obvious control stick "clickers" needed for proper PSOne emulation,but it still gets it closer than the 3DS would).

      I seriously wish the 3DS implemented a second analog stick... it would've added so many possibilities.

      • Anonymous

        lol...3DS is quite big enough for me without second stick, and you can get a second stick and 4 very pleasing shoulder buttons for it if you want, so it has all the PSone buttons and more. 

        N64 didn't have many games worth of playing even back then, even less today, no need to hinder a design of a modern console because fond memories of obsolete consoles, and you can get the best 3DS games enhanced form any way.

        Most gamers buy new console to be able play new games, and 3DS have many very intriguing possibilities for NEW games. It has plenty of buttons, analog slider supported by motion sensors and a touch screen that is separate to the main screen; in separate touch screen the virtual controllers don't block the view to a game. Separate touchscreen can act as a mouse; it has the same range of movement as mouse, is as responsive and accurate -> many possibillities, that second stick doesn't offer. Gyroscope can also replace second stick. Even without touchscreen, it can make virtual reality come true on hand console. With gyro, the handconsole can become a window into the game world that you hold in hand. When you turn, you can look in every direction in the game world. Very immersive and much more sensitive and direct way of controlling FPS, than last gen controllers.

        Many Android and Nokia gamers(like me) have to stick with old games, because there are no new games. Loving the option to have emulators and old school games, but I'm in minority and even I would prefer some new blood.

      • Nicholas Jabbour

        You have good points. However, i believe it would be possible to add a second analog pad to the 3DS without making it bigger, as shown in these fan-made concept pics here:

        http://i21.photobucket.com/albums/b267/samusxaran/My3DSichange.jpg

        http://pici.se/pictures/znkiDwmqS.png

        Also, it would've been really cool to be able to play first person shooters dual-stick-style... i remember playing Metroid Prime: Hunters at Best Buy, and I just HATED the aiming system... it was so hard to use. It works great for touchscreen-only games on smartphones (id est, N.O.V.A. and N.O.V.A. 2), but not so much when you have to use the action buttons for one thing, and then leave them to touch the screen for another... but that's just my personal preference.

        but anyway, i agree with you... I haven't bought a new console since the GCN, so i havent really been into new games. However, I just lvoe my old-school games so much. I love the age before DLC and online multiplayer especially, when you can actually count on having all the in-game features when you paid for it (unlike now, where you pay extra for the simplest of extra weapons, etc), and the ability to have good multiplayer together in your room.

        but you're right... new games would be very nice.

      • Anonymous

        I don't think that second analogue slider would work at all. I also think that the reason its not there, is that it wouldn't work at all.

        "I just HATED the aiming system... it was so hard to use. It works great for touchscreen-only games on smartphones"

        Sorry, but that sentence reeks suspicious. I have to be honest to you; I don't believe you.
        Touchscreen works exactly like mouse and keyboard in DS. It seems to require some accustoming for some people(I haven't seen anyone who couldn't use it right away though, but they have all been PC players and already accustomed to mouse), but it adds sensitivity and immersion in the form of direct controlling of the character for those who learn to use it. In competitive gaming its also superbly fast and accurate, but for me the immersion is the main motive to use controllers that allow direct controlling.

        In touch screen phones it works too, but its harder to use because of their limited range of movement and fingers are blocking the screen. Phones could use at least a couple of shoulder buttons to trigger things more reliably, so that the player could concentrate on aiming on the touchscreen; now its some times hard to guess wheres all the virtual buttons are. On some games, the phones limited range of movement is rescued by the aiding gyroscope. They are surprisingly accurate and they have made me change my mind about the Wii U; the gyroscope with a screen in hand is a practical way of making virtual reality happen without ruining your eyes and wallet. The 3DS also has a gyro, but I haven't tested it yet.

        "but anyway, i agree with you... I haven't bought a new console since the GCN, so i havent really been into new games. However, I just lvoe my old-school games so much. I love the age before DLC and online multiplayer especially, when you can actually count on having all the in-game features when you paid for it (unlike now, where you pay extra for the simplest of extra weapons, etc), and the ability to have good multiplayer together in your room." 

        I agree SO much!!!

      • Nicholas Jabbour

        Haha... honestly, it was YEARS ago that I touched a DS when I made that decision about the touch screen, and I wasn't at all accustomed to touchscreens at the time (I got my first android phone a couple years later). So maybe if I picked it up now, my opinion would change

        But then again, I'm still uncertain. you have to remember that the screens used by typical modern smartphones (capacitive) and the DS/3DS (resistive) are very different, so there is a flat-out different feel when using them... that is, with my phone, I just touch the screen softly as i wish, and slide my finger around. With the resistive screen on a DS however, actual pressure is required. The difference might not be much, but it's there.

        And I agree, smartphone touchscreen shooters are an irritant with your fingers covering up the screen, etc. But at the same time, I feel a touch-based aiming system works there simply because the entire system is touch-based, not just, you know, touchscreen for some things, physical buttons for another. I like to not have to constantly move my lazy fingers from the buttons to the screen, if you know what I mean. :-p

        Again, maybe you're right about all this and I'll change my mind once (if) I actually pick up a 3DS... but I really don't see why a second analog pad wouldn't work on a 3DS... like, at all. It's about the same size as a typical console gamepad, and as we all know, pretty much every FPS available for consoles relies on the PS3 or XBox360's dual sticks (or motion control, on the wiimote). So unless you're saying that dual analog pads wouldn't feel right cuz of their different design from analog sticks (which i can understand), im not sure what you mean.

        I do remember reading somewhere online recently that the second analog pad was actually considered, but couldn't be implemented cuz there wasn't enough time, but it was probably a rumor. idr where i read it.

      • Anonymous

        Capacitive screen is GREAT in iPhone and etc, but its not perfect. Both have their strengths. Resistive is cheaper to make, it uses less battery, eats less processing power(which again uses even less battery and affect to costs), but the main strength is that it is accurate to the sub pixel perfection. Fingers also stick to the glass in capacitive screens, unless you don't have very dry skin. Stylus and thumbstrap(thumbstrap is the reason, why I am so passionate about the DS controls, although I understand it is difficult to market) glide beautifully on resistive screen and they don't need pressure. 

        Capacitive is great because it doesn't require plastic pieces for smoother touch, but I have sometimes hard time to accurately move reticule in iPhone FPS, because at first the thumb might not move very smoothly in glass surface and then lifting it from the virtual controller jerks the aim a little, because the contact of pressed thumb is different than light touch of thumb(the touch surface is smaller). (but the gyro helps in those situation that require fine marksmanship. I only wish it was more common feature)

        I think it was combination of the time and money that designing those kind of features take, and cost of implementing them vs how much they give to gameplay. I think, that touch screen + gyro is ideal for handheld, and they should stick with that, and now that they have given up to the popular demand and Nintendos competitors lobbying in media, they would still use gyro at least as an option for those who want to have new game play experiences. Again the direct control is the thing I want to see more often in consoles. It would also prepare gamers for understanding the mojo of Wii U.

      • Nicholas Jabbour

        Interesting... I didn't know any of that (except for the price difference between capacitive and resistive)

      • Anonymous

        Oh and I forgot this:
        "Again, maybe you're right about all this and I'll change my mind once (if) I actually pick up a 3DS... but I really don't see why a second analog pad wouldn't work on a 3DS... like, at all. It's about the same size as a typical console gamepad, and as we all know, pretty much every FPS available for consoles relies on the PS3 or XBox360's dual sticks (or motion control, on the wiimote). So unless you're saying that dual analog pads wouldn't feel right cuz of their different design from analog sticks (which i can understand), im not sure what you mean."

        I think that 3DS is pretty full of stuff, and you couldn't just add another slider just like that. From designers perspective they are large components for this small device, that has screens, processors etc. If you were to add another slider, the design would have to be radically different.

        I don't think the Dual analog setup is ideal control method for FPS. In my view it was merely the only practical way of making FPS controls happen in living room some 15 years ago. But new technology opens new possibilities, not only in graphics, but also in game play, and for me its much more important and exiting. I am sorry that the media isn't so open to see games evolve and think out side of the box, as the last generation controllers have became a bottle neck in gameplay design and its one of the biggest reasons why games are so similar to day. It affects for the placement and speed of enemy and it requires automation in players controls, like auto aim. With direct controls you could introduce new kinds of challenges in gameplay. 

      • Nicholas Jabbour

        you're probably right.

      • Nicholas Jabbour

        btw, I got a ton of Christmas money, so I went ahead and bought a Nintendo 3DS on ebay... and you know what? i agree with you: The design of the buttons and touchscreen is phenomenal. I do still wish there was a second analog stick simply because that's what the majority of FPSs use, but otherwise the setup is awesome. Just thought I'd let you know you were right! :-D

  • superacht

    Is there a way to use the Apple BT keyboard with the games that have icade etc. support? I don't like to buy a new controler and if there is BT support in the games, why is there no way to connect the BT keyboard and use that?

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Werner-Ruotsalainen/685558551 Werner Ruotsalainen

      " Is there a way to use the Apple BT keyboard with the games that
      have icade etc. support? I don't like to buy a new controler and if
      there is BT support in the games, why is there no way to connect the BT
      keyboard and use that?
      "

      Nope, unfortunately. The iCade emits one character when you start pressing a button and another one when you release your finger. These characters are completely unrelated. E.g., right/up/left/down start is d-w-a-x and stop is c-e-q-z. While the first four do form a perfect set similar to the directions in question, the latter don't. Good luck pressing these buttons :)

      Native packet mode iCP (compatible with Vertex Blaster and the MAME emulator's Xcode, iCP-compliant version) is even "worse": it continuously emits two characters when you push the nub to a direction. That is, it's almost impossible to simulate on a native keyboard.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Werner-Ruotsalainen/685558551 Werner Ruotsalainen

    "Oh -- and it has a super feature: pressing Select and Start together
    instantly toggles in the on-screen keyboard, to enter high scores or
    search for an app to launch. It's an extremely welcome feature to anyone
    that's used an iCade, which lacks such functionality."

    So does the iCP. iCade / iCP devs, please add this functionality ASAP!

  • Anonymous

    Why can't Apple just make a phone similiar to Xperia Play?

    • Nicholas Jabbour

      Because *begin derp voice* "There's no logical reason anyone would need that" *end derp voice*... Same reason Apple stupidly withholds A LOT of other more basic features from its products.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_HPRGCCJOLFRMG52I74QO2MFENI NedS

    iControlPad gets my vote. I bought two of them (since you can use them for any bluetooth device, not just phones) and they're fantastic controllers.