The rise of mobile gaming has been the most significant change to the industry since Nintendo handed us a white plastic stick and told us to wave it about like a fool. The ubiquity and relative cheapness compounded with the fact that almost all of us have a device already capable of playing games has given rise to new challenges for games and hardware manufacturers. Chief amongst these is the fact that touch screen controls are never, and will never be, as good as a tangible input method.
Gametel are among the first to rise to this challenge and have produced the Gametel Bluetooth Controller, which is roughly the same size as an iPhone and is capable of holding your phone in an extendable cradle and eliminating the need to touch the screen at all. Here’s a picture to look at with your eyes.
Though the packaging and much of the advertising has the squat little Android all over it this controller also works with the all-conquering iPhone, though the number of games which benefit from it are irritatingly low at the moment. Where the Gametel comes into its own is with its compatibility with all games which are themselves iCade compatible. If you were one of the lucky ones to snag iMame before it was pulled from the app store are in for a treat and though Apple are wary of emulators the Android market is flooded with SNES, N64 and PSX apps all of which are compatible and are hugely improved with the controller. In fact the small amount of retro gaming I can fit in to my day now takes place exclusively on my Xperia, the Gametel controller is a godsend for people who find the majority of their gaming taking place on a mobile.
Compatibility is an issue, but it’s perhaps the only issue. The iPhone certainly needs more games which take advantage of it, I only had a couple installed and one of those, the marvellously hectic swipe fest that is Temple Run, isn’t the right game to use a controller for having as perfect an application of controlling with gestures as I’ve seen. I would have loved to see games like Grand Theft Auto 3 and the excellent N.O.V.A. series able to take advantage of this controller, however the Android market has far more games, and importantly for me, works with most emulators.
Connection is easy once the process of holding down the START button and the corresponding button to select which device you’re using becomes habit (and this does take a while to wrap your head around) but the feel of the controller with the phone in its cradle is just right. The build is sturdy and the shoulder buttons, which is always a decent signifier of quality, are solid and easy to use. The d-pad suffers only from the comparison I always make which is to the SNES pad. There the design was effortlessly tactile and precise and has never been bettered, unless there are patents covering the exact nature of the pad quite why this design isn’t used more is a mystery.
The Gametel controller is a quality product, reliable and solid enough to be the answer to many gamers’ prayers. We need more games to be compatible with it, that much is certain, but if your phone is loaded with emulators or some of the games which can use the controller it’s a must-buy.
Find out more about it here.