Wolf Man Avatar Posted on 11/16/2012 by Wolf Man
Tech
Gaming

I have to commend Discovery Bay Games for releasing the Duo Gamer Controller, as such a product is certainly needed in the growing world of iOS gaming, as so many otherwise great games have been damaged by wonky touch controls. The controller feels solid and, for the most part, using it with select games felt as natural as any home console experience. But the steep price and extremely limited software support right now makes it a missed opportunity for all but the most curious, at least until there's a bigger compatible game list. Here's hoping Discovery Bay can either release the Duo Gamer's abilities to developers other than Gameloft or develop one that every iOS developer can take advantage of, as right now $80 is too much to pay to play a handful of games slightly better.
Manufacturer: Discovery Bay Games
Model Number: 8102373
Price: $79.99
Written by Chris Mitchell (senior editor)

Those plagued by imprecise touchscreen controls on iOS devices may find their salvation with frequent iOS accessory maker Discovery Bay Games, the minds behind the Atari Arcade and Duo Pop, with the Duo Gamer Controller. As Iíve stated in many of my iOS game reviews, most times touchscreen controls just donít cut it, especially for certain genres like platformers and first-person shooters, as they lack the precision needed for a lot of the action/adventure titles that litter the App Store.

Naturally, Gameloft is a great partner in this effort as the developer has always supported similar efforts in the Android world of gaming (most notably Sony's X-Peria and Power A's MOGA), so porting over existing mapped-controls should be a cinch. At least that's the plan, though a curious lack of support and a surprisingly high price may end up scaring gamers away more than wonky touch controls ever could.

Everything you need to get gaming right out of the box is here, as thereís a stand for the iPad (or other iDevice), two AA batteries (nicely included), and the controller itself, which features two gray analog joysticks, a blue d-pad and four face buttons, a central start button, and two shoulder buttons. I was a bit skeptical about the controller at first glance, but itís actually a pretty solid device with just the right amount of weight to not feel cheap and not too bulky. Using the Duo Gamer is pretty easy, as you just enable Bluetooth on your iPad and pair the device with it, download any of the compatible games, start them up and get your controller-aided gaming fix on.

While the Duo Gamer does what it promises, namely adding 'real' controls to select iOS games, there are a few issues that truly keep it from being your go-to device for mobile gaming in Apple's world. While it is nice to have a physical controller for iOS games, it only works with Gameloft titles, and only a select few at that. At the time of this review thereís only five you can use it with: Asphalt 7: Heat, Modern Combat 3: Fallen Nation, Order & Chaos Online, Brothers in Arms 2: Global Front, and N.O.V.A. 3. Of these I was able to test out Asphalt 7 and Modern Combat 3, and both performed as though I were playing them on a console, with no kind of lag from the controller. I did experience a bug with Modern Combat 3 in which the game occasionally didn't recognize the device, but this is something that can be easily patched.

Some others gripes I found is that the square shape of the Duo Gamer can easily make your hands uncomfortable when playing for long periods of time, as it lacks a contoured shape that other standard controllers feature. Thereís also the lack of a normal on/off button; the middle button does turn the device on, but it only shuts off automatically after leaving it alone for five minutes.

Another issue is using the Duo Gamer with Apple's AirPlay feature, especially with an Apple TV. This gripe really isn't directed at the controller itself, which performs as promised, but the illusion that adding one to your Apple World might be enough to dump your current home console for the setup. AirPlay, while a nice concept, isn't nearly as smooth or controlled as a true console experience right now. Games like Modern Combat often produced choppy framerates and less-than-HD quality visuals (which are streamed, by the way), meaning you'll often have control issues while playing, even if they aren't the fault of the Duo Gamer.

Then thereís the steep $80 price, which is quite an investment for an obvious niche product that has so little support behind it right now. I was surprised to see that many of Gameloft's newer titles (as of Summer 2012) weren't available, even bigger ones like The Dark Knight Rises and Wild Blood, some of which already support controller support with Android devices. Hopefully these and more will be added to the list soon.

I have to commend Discovery Bay Games for releasing the Duo Gamer Controller, as such a product is certainly needed in the growing world of iOS gaming, as so many otherwise great games have been damaged by wonky touch controls. The controller feels solid and, for the most part, using it with select games felt as natural as any home console experience. But the steep price and extremely limited software support right now makes it a missed opportunity for all but the most curious, at least until there's a bigger compatible game list. Here's hoping Discovery Bay can either release the Duo Gamer's abilities to developers other than Gameloft or develop one that every iOS developer can take advantage of, as right now $80 is too much to pay to play a handful of games slightly better.







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