Logitech PowerShell and Moga Ace Power: The first iOS 7 game controllers
Sooner or later, the theory goes, Apple will make its move. The company will flip the proverbial switch that turns the Apple TV into a tiny video game console and mop the floor with Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo.
But it looks like Apple still has a ways to go. The first two iOS 7 game controllers are here, and they’re not worth your money. In fact, they cast doubt on the idea that Apple really wants to build a console at all.
In June, when Apple announced its standardized game controller API for iOS 7 and a “Made for iPhone” certification program, it offered two templates for what a game controller would look like. Today, we have both. The $99.99 Logitech PowerShell follows Apple’s more simplistic design: it’s basically a really long iPhone case that adds four face buttons, two shoulder buttons and a directional pad to an iPhone or iPod touch. Meanwhile, the $99.99 Moga Ace Power swings for the fences with Apple’s more complex formula, adding twin analog sticks and twin triggers to a compact gamepad that stretches apart to accommodate your iPhone.
Setup is simple. There’s no clunky Bluetooth radios to pair or anything of the sort. You simply slot your iOS device into the PowerShell or Moga frame so it seats on the Apple Lightning connector, and you’re done. As soon as you jump into a compatible game, things should just work. Sadly, the Logitech PowerShell and Moga Ace Power don’t feel like $100 game controllers. The Ace Power’s latch and spring-loaded mechanism do manage to securely hold a phone in place, but the device feels too much like a toy. It’s a hollow black plastic contraption with a glossy finish that scratches at the slightest provocation, and rough seams and pointy corners that poke me whenever I try to retrieve my device. The heads of the analog sticks feel loose, like they might break off. The Logitech PowerShell’s grippy rubberized surfaces feel far better at first, much more like a case than a controller, but it has its issues too. The power button toggle to wake the screen doesn’t work on an iPod touch. If you want to use headphones, you’ll need to carry around a special headphone adapter dongle — one issue that the Moga sidesteps by routing audio through the Lightning jack itself.
FEW IOS GAMES WERE A BETTER EXPERIENCE WITH CONTROLLERS
As of today, there aren’t. I went looking for all the iOS 7 controller games I could find — which isn’t an easy task since the App Store doesn’t call them out — and out of the handful of titles I found, few were actually a better experience with controllers, and many that claimed to support the devices didn’t do so very well. Even with a controller, for instance, action flight sim Metalstorm doesn’t let you use analog sticks to fly the plane. While Air Wingsautomatically detected my gamepad, I had to set it up in a menu to actually use it in the game. Though Riptide GP2 and Prince of Persia: The Shadow and the Flame generally support game controllers, they couldn’t recognize these. Most worryingly, popular racer Asphalt 8: Airborne detected the Logitech but not the Moga gamepad. Many games I tried let you play with the controller, but not navigate menus to start your game, and many, like The Walking Dead andScribblenauts Remix, still depend so heavily on the touchscreen that it’s not worth bothering with a gamepad. Still, Dead Trigger 2 is absolutely better with a pair of analog sticks – you can actually aim – and I found games like Limbo and Asphalt 8far more immersive without my fingers cluttering the screen. King of Fighters-i 2012and Trials Xtreme 3 are much easier to play with a controller, allowing you to pull off more crazy stunts, and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas really cries out for a gamepad. A couple of games even combine the capabilities of the iPhone and the gamepad for more precise control. Sky Gamblers: Storm Raiders lets you use both of the Moga’s sticks and the iPhone’s accelerometer to control a plane’s throttle, ailerons and rudder simultaneously. But with these controllers, even those experiences are subpar. None of them felt remotely as responsive as a console, or even an Android gaming device like the Nvidia Shield.
INTERNAL BATTERIES CAN’T JUSTIFY THE $100 PRICETAG