When I was first asked about reviewing a gamepad attachment for my iPad, I was immediately skeptical. I’ve owned my ‘Pad for quite a while and I never experienced a game that would both benefit from a traditional gamepad and run smoothly on my device. While I typically don’t use my iPad Air for gaming, I was intrigued by the idea of having analog sticks, a directional pad, face buttons, and triggers at my disposal when I do pick up the odd mobile game.
My excitement was quickly overwhelmed by frustration as I attempted to find games that actually supported my new ‘toy’. This should be a painless and simple process, but the app that’s used to find available games (Gamevice Live) is not very well optimized and is lacking a fair bit of polish. The first issue I noticed was the fact that there are ‘ads’ for their own products within an app that would indicate that the user already has the product they need. It’s as if I’m being sold a product I already own. I forgot all about this when I tried to find games and was met with a system that could have easily been made so much more user-friendly.
While it is easy enough to pick a genre and whether you’d like to sort by “Name”, “Highest Price”, or “Lowest Price”, this does not fix the fact that game prices, ratings, or downloads are not made immediately available. I understand that scrubbing for this information is not the easiest task, but without any of this knowledge, I often ran into subpar games and cash-grabs instead of worthy downloads.
Beyond all of this, the most egregious issue I ran into included games that were no longer available or did not truly support the Gamevice. I know it probably seems a bit silly to continue talking about the app, but this is supposed to be the player’s way of finding games to use with their £75 iPad attachment. Eventually, I did find a handful of free games that worked well enough with the device, but nothing I found made full use of the available buttons.
Since mobile games are not generally created with gamepads in mind, it’s not surprising that even the titles that do work with the Gamevice don’t do so very gracefully. For example, many times I would try out a game only to find that multiple buttons either performed the same action or simply didn’t do anything. This is very frustrating because it makes the device feel a little pointless.
On the other hand, the sticks and buttons work wonderfully, doing exactly what they need to do when they need to do it. I was able to slowly test out each part of the gamepad by finding games that supported the various inputs. Doing this, I tried out the analog sticks on a classic platformer, the directional pad on a puzzler, face buttons in a rhythm game, and the triggers on a (particularly awful) first-person shooter. In every case, the controller did what I had expected it to do and I was pleased enough. I do find it important to mention that using the Gamevice will drain your device’s battery rather quickly and the port that allows you to charge your iPad while the Gamevice is attached didn’t work all that well for me, meaning I’d have to completely remove the attachment to charge my device.
My entire time with Gamevice can be summed up fairly easily. The actual hardware works really well and makes my issues with the gamepad that much more upsetting. Between the less-than-stellar companion app and the pure lack of easily-accessible games (that fully support the Gamevice), I simply cannot recommend this to anyone except the ‘hardcore’ mobile gamer. My main issue with this is that if you already play many mobile games, you’ve probably found a solution that fits your needs better than the Gamevice. Although, I will say that if you are considering getting into mobile gaming, the Gamevice would be a great start if you don’t mind the rather steep price point.
While this attachment seems like it would be great for someone that is getting into mobile gaming, I can’t recommend it to those that either don’t play that much or don’t plan on buying many mobile games. The hardware does its job rather well, but it simply doesn’t make sense for anyone other than a hardcore mobile gamer to pick this up.