I’ve been an Android user for a few years now. Both my phone and my tablet use the OS. One of the draws for me is that it allows emulators for old consoles, such as NES, Genesis, SNES, PS1, etc… Unfortunately, I’d only use them sparingly, since touchscreen controls are a steaming pile of shit when used for games outside of pinball, angry birds, or cut the rope. If you need a D-pad for a game, using a touchscreen will make you crazier than a burlap sack full of cats…and by cats, I mean those creepy fuckers from that broadway show who dressed up like furries and did show tunes, only to get freaky offstage. Anyways, this kept me from really wasting any time gaming on my devices, since the juice wasn’t worth the squeeze. This has now changed.
Awhile ago, when I bought my current tablet, I downloaded a game called Dead Trigger. It’s your usual FPS Zombie fare, but optimized for the Tegra 3, which is what my tablet runs on. It’s a pretty sick game, especially considering it’s free, but I couldn’t get past the touchscreen controls. I left it alone for awhile, but recently decided to take a look into controller options for the tab. I’ve used the wii controllers with it before, but that gets annoying, since you have to carry the remote AND classic controller to play most games. It’s also not a comfortable controller, and you have to keep replacing the batteries. I did some searching online, and decided to give the Nyko Playpad Pro a try. It got rather mixed reviews, but I figured I’d give it a whirl.
From here on out, this will be mostly a hardware review of a game controller. If that bores you, you can check out now and go read The Oatmeal or something else way more entertaining than me.
Many reviewers get into packaging and shit. I don’t care. It came in a box, and wasn’t broken. The packaging is fine. I unboxed it, charged it, and paired it to my tablet without any issues. For those interested, I have an Asus TF300. I immediately started up Dead Trigger, set it to use the gamepad, set my button preferences, and was off and running. Overall, it’s pretty typical of using a gamepad with a PC, and I didn’t run into any issues.
Playing the game was great. I actually lived, which is new for me considering the awful controls before. The buttons were responsive, felt good, and there was no noticeable latency between the button press and the action on the screen. One thing I did notice, is that the right thumbstick is kinda stiff, and though it moved without issues, wasn’t as loose as a PS3 or 360 controller, so fine tuning was more difficult. Not a deal breaker, by far, but will take some getting used to.
I played for a few minutes, and then quit and fired up my first emulator, Nesoid. Configuration was basically the same, and I was up and running quickly. I blew through a few classics, and everything was fun and functioned well. I repeated the process for GenPlusDroid, FPSE, and supergneslite. None had any issues. I also tried Droid2600, but that didn’t work. The direction buttons worked for movement, but since it was configured to let the entire screen register as the button press, mapping was pretty much impossible. I’ll try again if they update the app.
One thing people were complaining about was the Playground app, which lets you have controller profiles, and lets you map the buttons to touchscreen controls. I gave it a try, and it wasn’t nearly as bad as people made it out to be. I will say that it wasn’t completely intuitive and plug-n-play. If you paired your gamepad to your device before using the app, you have to unpair, and re-pair it using the app. Once done, though, it’s actually pretty decent. You can create custom launchers for games, in which you view a layout of the controller, and can see which buttons do what before launching the game. Games are launched directly from the app itself.
Another interesting this is that the controller can be used to navigate through parts of the OS, and can also be used as a mouse. Pretty cool when you wanna show people stuff, and don’t wanna keep tapping the screen in their field of vision. The battery is also rechargeable, and lasts quite awhile on a single charge. It uses a regular microUSB cable to charge.
In conclusion, I fucking love this thing. I’ve been wasting every spare moment playing video games on my tablet now, and it’s kickstarting my addiction all over again. I played Final Fantasy 7 for about 2 hours the other day, while bored at a project. This is way better than having a laptop with me, since it has a smaller footprint and better battery life. The only real downsides are A) It doesn’t come with a case, so I’m paranoid it’ll get fucked up rattling around in my bag, and B) it’s another thing to carry around. If these don’t bother you, then you’ll most likely end up happy with this controller. Now I’m gonna have to try and kick gaming again….oh video games, why can’t I quit you?!?!