The iPad 3 and iPhone 5 are both backed up with serious graphical hardware, considering how relatively little power both devices consume. Since the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch are popular gaming devices, it was only a matter of time before a developer released physical controls for Apple’s portables. Like the iCade. Okay, maybe another set of… fine. It’s been done before. This time around Gameloft Games has released a controller for the iPad that will be available in Apple retail stores.
The Duo Gamer looks to be a pretty standard, if not unusually rectangular, twin analog stick controller. There’s a d-pad, 4 face buttons, and a pair of trigger buttons at the back. Unlike the other iOS compatible controllers such as the iCade or the iControlPad, the Duo Gamer seems to be exclusively compatible with iOS devices (minimum specs: iPad 1, iPhone 3GS, or 4th gen iPod Touch), further limited to Gameloft‘s own titles. This means you would be able to play games like N.O.V.A. 3, Brothers In Arms 2, and Asphalt 7 with full controller support on your iPad. Unfortunately you’d be playing little else.
While it’s possible that we may see homebrew support for the Duo Gamer (and homebrew Gameloft support for the iControlPad), this single-publisher exclusivity is a nail in the coffin for my interest in this accessory. Though not officially endorsed by Apple, the iCade-based controllers are compatible with a modest backlog of official app store games (current list here), while the iControlPad adds on additional support for GBA, SNES, and MAME emulators available in Cydia. Meanwhile the Blutrol Cydia tweak allows button presses from the iCade and iControlpad to emulate on-screen taps, allowing many more unsupported games to be made ‘compatible.’ Factor in support for Android and other platforms (the iControlPad 2 is literally made to be ported to other platforms) and the sheer amount of breadth available for the other mobile game controllers leaves the Duo Gamer in the dust.
The Duo Gamer is also hurting in terms of pricing. The plastic controller costs $79.99 according to Forbes. A full iCade cabinet is only $89.99 on ThinkGeek, while the original iControlPad is currently being given to Kickstarter backers at the $49 reward level. We can only recommend the Duo Gamer if you are a huge fan of Gameloft’s titles. If you prefer emulation and retro games, back the iControlPad 2 Kickstarter project.
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