The mobile gaming market has exploded in recent years, but awkward touchscreen controls often get in the way of a good time. If you can't stand accelerometer steering, or your clunky fingers refuse to work with onscreen D-pads, there are real options available to you right now. These add-ons will finally have you playing games on your mobile device the way you want to play them.
Not feeling generous? Get yourself off the hook (no guarantees) by gifting the Sixaxis Controller app for Android. It only costs $1.60 from Google Play, there's a free compatibility checker, it has a high user rating, and it will keep your gift recipient busy for hours just trying to set it up. Prerequisites: compatible Android device, root access, original Sixaxis/DualShock 3 controller, PC and miniUSB cable for pairing, lots of patience. Ideal for the know-it-all Android fanboy cousin.
Give the gift of increased precision with this mini joystick from ThinkGeek. It doesn't use batteries, never needs recharging and is completely wireless. You just open the game you want to play on your phone or tablet, push the joystick over the on-screen control pad and then start playing. It works with "thousands of different games", and it's compatible with any device that has a capacitive touchscreen. Ideal for fat-fingered retro-gaming enthusiasts.
PowerA's MOGA controller boasts two analogue sticks, shoulder triggers, four buttons, rubberised grips and up to 18 hours of gameplay on two AAA batteries (not included). It works with any Bluetooth-enabled Android 2.3+ device, and the flip-up arm resizes to grip even really big phones. There are 40 games currently available, including N.O.V.A. 3 and Gangstar Rio: City of Saints. Ideal for the travelling gamer with eclectic tastes and lots of spare batteries.
The Duo Gamer has two analogue joysticks, a D-pad, four buttons, two triggers and connects to iOS devices via Bluetooth. The big caveat is that it only works with Gameloft games from the iTunes App Store, but there are a plenty of those already and more being released all the time. It's available right now from Apple's online store in Australia for $49.95. Ideal for spoiled brats who don't know what Gameloft is.
Money to Burn
Don't let the name confuse you — the Steelseries FREE controller will hurt your wallet. It's designed for games that require more precision and control than what your touchscreen can offer you, but it only works with a range of games that you may or may not want to play. It's compatible with PC, Mac, Android and iOS, connects via Bluetooth, has a classic controller layout with remappable buttons and up to 10 hours of play before it needs to be recharged. Ideal for older gamers who can appreciate the ergonomics of retro classic controller.