Category Archives: Controller Support

E3 2014: A Roundup of the Many MFi Game Controllers from the Show

I expected we'd see a lot of mobile gaming stuff at E3 this year, as even though mobile still plays second fiddle to all the console and PC gaming stuff at the show, its presence has only been growing year after year. What I didn't expect is the ridiculous number of MFi controllers that would be on the E3 show floor. After the initial announcement of the MFi controller program at WWDC last summer, and the long lead-up to them finally being available later in the year, we really thought that controlling your iOS games with physical controllers would be the next big thing. Well, whether it has to do with the fairly high prices of the controllers that have been released thus far, the spotty build qualities, or that people just plain aren't interested in them, MFi controllers have not taken off like we thought they would...

These days, developer 5th Cell is most famous for their huge break-out hit series, Scribblenauts. Although that series started on the Nintendo DS, it saw an iOS release more than two years ago in the form of Scribblenauts Remix [$0.99], which still regularly hangs in the top selling paid apps. Offering players a great deal of personal input into solving the game's levels, it's easy to see why it appeals to so many. However, that wasn't 5th Cell's first foray into games that allow players a way to express their creativity. That honor goes to Drawn To Life [$4.99], released in 2007 for Nintendo DS, a platformer that asks the player to draw various objects into the world, not the least of which being your main character. While it wasn't the mega-hit Scribblenauts would become, it was a very successful game that kicked off its own series, and it's now available on iOS courtesy of publisher 505 Games (Terraria [$4.99]) and developer WayForward (Shantae: Risky's Revenge [Free])...

I'm sure, like me, you've seen many RPGs market themselves as having 100 hour quests or something outrageous like that, only to find that unless you delve into side-content, it's less than half that in almost every case. Record of Agarest War [$14.99], the latest port from HyperDevbox, makes a similar claim, but they're not shoveling manure. Though I finished my first, and I might add quite rushed, pass through the game under the 100 hour mark, it wasn't that far off, and I think it's entirely believable the average player will eclipse the century hour mark before seeing the ending. Add in the side content, and you're probably looking at 130-150 hours, if not more. If you're determined to get your dollar's worth out of a game on sheer length, you'll be hard-pressed to beat Agarest. Of course, a game running that long can be a double-edged sword, and that's definitely the case here, but I'll come back to that later in the review...

Developer Radiangames has released a few cool puzzle games recently, but it's been a while since Radiangames last visited the shooting genre on iOS. Since their twin-stick shooters are among the best available on the App Store, it's a more than welcome return. Of course, JoyJoy [$1.99] represents a return in more than one way, since it's actually a revamped version of one of the developer's oldest games. You would think that would put the game in a hard position, launching among its successors and all, but it does enough to differentiate itself to make it worth owning for any fan of the genre...

'Wind-Up Knight 2' Review - As Tightly-Wound As A Grandfather Clock

The original Wind-Up Knight [Free] was a great game and a fine example of how platformers, a genre many thought couldn't get along with touch controls, can work just fine on mobiles provided they're designed properly around the hardware. The mechanic of constantly moving forward while asking you to manage jumps, swings, rolling, and the shield gave you plenty to worry about without having to fuss around with a virtual directional pad, and the game made sure to test your skills at all of those things to the hilt. It boasted tons of levels, an assortment of collectibles, and plenty of goals to shoot for during play. It also apparently struggled at its initial price, because it was later retooled as a free-to-play experience, albeit a fairly generous one, since you could still unlock pretty much everything without paying a cent if you were skilled enough at the game...

I find it kind of interesting that although one of the appealing aspects of flying is the freedom from our earthly bindings, a great deal of games built around the concept opt to set themselves up like a dark ride at Disneyland. You get in your ship, or on your dragon, or into your fighter jet, and are pulled along a rail while all kinds of craziness unfolds around you. Usually you're more the gunner than the pilot, since you can really only move yourself around in the little one-way tunnel the game has set up for you. There are a lot of good reasons for this kind of set-up, including a desire to guide the experience for the player to create more cinematic scenes, technical limitations of one sort or another, or a simple lack of the resources required to create a full, free 3D world. I suspect with Star Horizon [$3.99], the new space-themed rail shooter from Tabasco Interactive, it's that first reason more than anything else...

Mad Catz C.T.R.L.i Bluetooth iOS 7 Controller Revealed at Mobile World Congress

Historically speaking for iOS gamers, despite being among the largest mobile conventions in the world, Mobile World Congress hasn't ever yielded much we'd be interested in. It's a conference filled with ten million variations of every nearly identical Android device, the hardware that powers cellular networks, and a bunch of other highly technical stuff that has nothing to do with iOS games...

BeaverTap Games have updated their two main "Mikey" games, Mikey Hooks [$1.99] and Mikey Shorts [$1.99], with official support for MFi iOS 7 controllers. Owners of Mikey Shorts may have noticed that the game already received a controller support update early last week… and then again over this past weekend. Well, there was some wonky issues with the controller support in those first two updates, but today's update seems to be right on target. As such, the sequel Mikey Hooks has received the same controller support update...

'R-Type II' Review - Don't Bydo More Than You Can Chew

Seeing the Irem logo come up when starting a game still makes me a little sad. We've seen a lot of important game companies go softly into the night, but somehow, seeing Irem give up game development to focus on pachinko machines hurts a little bit more than the usual. At the time they made the decision, it stung all the more because it resulted in virtually all of their games being pulled from digital services, including the original R-Type, one of the true classics of its genre. As a bit of a silver lining, though, Irem seems to be agreeable about licensing their older games out, and R-Type has slowly been making a return. Last summer saw DotEmu's enhanced re-release of R-Type [$1.99] for iOS, which offered the original game with a few new options. It's a great version of a game that's been ported to just about every piece of hardware imaginable, as long as you can't imagine an NES...

It's been more than three years since the generally well-received Ys/Zelda mash-up action RPG Across Age [$3.99] was released on the App Store. It was a surprisingly well-done adventure, developed by frequent Kemco collaborators EXE Create, that used a simple time travel mechanic to make it stand out. Well, we finally have a sequel, and in spite of it being rather a long time coming, it's more refinement than revolution, delivering an experience that's a little bit too familiar in many ways. Still, there's a great time to be had here, especially if you enjoy the genre...

'Duke Nukem: Manhattan Project' Review - The Best Duke Nukem Game Of This Millennium

I'm not sure if there's another character in the games industry that has achieved so much fame with so few noteworthy games to his name as Duke Nukem. I've got a lot of great memories of Duke, like many of you, I'm sure, but they're all pretty well exclusively tied to Duke Nukem 3D [$1.99]. I mean, I had played Duke Nukem 1 or 2 [$0.99] before that came out, but unfortunately for that version of Duke, I played it around the same time as Wolfenstein 3D [$1.99], and it wasn't hard to miss the merits of the choppy 2D action platformer in that light. I think I mentally filed the series under the same category as Jill of the Jungle and went back to shooting Nazis on my father's PC and getting my 2D shooter fix on my SNES and Genesis...

SteelSeries Stratus iOS 7 Bluetooth Controller Review: A Great Controller, Graded on a Massive Curve

When I first heard that SteelSeries was making an iOS 7 controller, I got really excited. Previously, we've looked at both the MOGA Ace Power and the Logitech Powershell, the only two kids on the proverbial iOS 7 controller block and while it's awesome to have physical controls in iOS games, they're each difficult to recommend. Logitech and Moga are both great companies who have both been releasing accessories for years now, but SteelSeries has been making products specifically targeted at the hardcore gaming crowd since they were founded in early 2001. I've been a huge fan of their products for quite some time, and hooked up to my gaming PC is the fantastic SteelSeries Sensei mouse and a pair of SteelSeries Siberia v2 headphones. SteelSeries is among the brands of gizmos I trust, if I need new whatever and they make it, chances are I'll just buy whatever they've got. So, it was with lofty expectations that I unboxed the SteelSeries Stratus iOS 7 bluetooth game controller...

'Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing Transformed' Review - An All-Star Sequel

It seems to be an unwritten rule that every major character gets their own racing game, and Sonic the Hedgehog is obviously major enough to have had a few in his history. The racing genre is a pretty good fit for the speedy character, so it's not surprising that we've seen a number of takes on the concept. The Game Gear Sonic Drift games were pretty mediocre kart racers that had Sonic and his pals shoehorned into SEGA's pre-existing Power Drift series. The games begged the question of why Sonic would use a car, and SEGA replied in kind with Sonic R, a game that had Sonic and company racing on foot to some of the greatest music ever to grace a racing game. Unfortunately, the game was pretty bad, so Sonic hung up his racing stripes for a while until the Sonic Riders series came about, which focused on hoverboard racing. It was popular enough to spawn a couple of sequels, but still didn't quite scratch the itch properly...

I'm going to get something out of the way up front so that I don't harp on it too much for the rest of this review. The icon for Clash of Puppets [$2.99], that image up and to the right a little bit? That is the most terrifying thing I have seen in ages. I've seen those unblinking plastic eyes in my nightmares every night for the last few days. I have no idea why the main character of this game is creepy, but he is. None of the monsters are as scary as he is. He's like Chucky's sick uncle. Then you play the game and he has a child's voice. This does not make him less horrifying, at all...

We're at sort of a strange time right now as more and more games are being updated with official MFi Controller support, which was announced as a new feature of iOS 7 back at WWDC, but there have yet to be any actual controllers released. We've seen a leaked image of what one of Logitech's iPhone controllers might look like, and it seems pretty likely that Apple will announce something to do with controllers at this month's media event. Of course we thought they'd surely say something at the iPhone 5s event, and there was nary a peep, so we'll see...

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