The MOGA Pro Should Have Lead The Android Gamepad Invasion

Last October, peripheral maker Power A made a bid for the Android gamepad market with the MOGA, a pocket-sized controller with a flip-up clip for holding your smallish Android gaming device. The idea was that this odd little controller, paired with a smartphone, was effectively its own handheld gaming system, a Google-powered Game Boy.

The basic MOGA is a fine little piece of equipment, though at the time I felt it could be a little wider, and the list of games supporting it had to grow much bigger than the initial 40 or so. Seven months later, the compatible game list has grown to 64 — a number I'm positive would be larger if Power A had released the MOGA Pro first.

Take a look at the original MOGA. It's a flat, small thing that only nominally resembles today's console game controllers. It functions well enough, but the average gamer wandering through a Toys 'R' Us sees this set up in a kiosk and goes "huh".

Now look at the MOGA Pro.

It's an Xbox 360 controller. A strange-looking Xbox 360 controller, but there's no mistaking it. In fact, it shares a bit of design with Power A's Fus1on controller, which I actually prefer over the standard wired Xbox controller for PC gaming.

When exploring new territory, like mobile gaming with a controller, it helps to give folks something familiar to ease them into the idea. Nyko understood this with its PlayPad Pro, though a flaky utility app sapped much of the momentum from the product.

Now we have the MOGA Pro, and it's a fine controller for the Android games it supports. The textured rubberised grips uncomfortable, but they're actually quite pleasing to the hand. The buttons and triggers are responsive, the analogue sticks smooth and satisfyingly clicky.

With a smart phone mounted in the unit's signature clip, the MOGA Pro is very nicely balanced — I tried it with both my HTC One and my Samsung Galaxy Note II. Used with a bigger Android device (the unit comes packed with a tablet stand) the controller is a bit light — the option to weigh it down for phone-free use would be welcome.

I used to think the success of an Android game pad would come down to game support — the more the better. Over the past year I've come to realise that a lot of game developers feel the same way Apple does about controller peripherals — the touch screen is enough — and as long as major players are creating games that rely solely on touch for controls, there isn't going to be an Android controller standard.

So check out the MOGA-supported game list, and see if there's anything that strikes your fancy. Then ask yourself if the addition of a traditional controller would make the games you want to play more enjoyable or easier to play. If the answer is yes, and I'm not expecting many of those, then you should consider dropping $50 on a MOGA Pro. It gets its incredibly specialised job done like a champ, and looks good doing it.


Comments

    you'd look ridiculous using these in public.

      How would you look any more ridiculous then, say, playing a 3DS or Vita?

        To start with you don't look like your trying too hard. Seriously these look like a kids toy.

    anyone know what the screen shot of the racing game is?

    as long as major players are creating games that rely solely on touch for controls, there isn’t going to be an Android controller standard.

    Only there is a Android controller standard in the form of gamepad API's that are baked into every version of Android since Honeycomb (3.1). From what I've read they are quite easy to hook into, as to why more devs don't leverage them as a control option I couldn't say, it seems like a wasted opportunity IMO.

    EDIT: There is even a app on the market that allows the Moga to use those APIs and work with more games than what's officially supported.

    Last edited 05/05/13 7:23 pm

      And there are a few apps that allow you to manipulate the touch screen with a controller anyway.

      I think the main reason people aren't getting the MOGA is because it's too pricy for something basically unnecessary. 'Hardcore' gamers have a PS3/Xbox controller which'll work perfectly well. And the strap system doesn't really make sense unless you have a really long commute (on public transport).

      Also, I think it's a good idea for devs to focus on making touch controls better than making a workaround. It'll never work for some games but there are plenty of examples in the Play Store of games that could've used decent touch controls if the devs didn't just hack on OSD ones

        Also, I think it's a good idea for devs to focus on making touch controls better than making a workaround. It'll never work for some games but there are plenty of examples in the Play Store of games that could've used decent touch controls if the devs didn't just hack on OSD ones

        The problem with touch controls no matter how well implemented they are is that you have your fingers taking up screen real estate.

        It's the main reason why I got an Xperia Play - the dedicated gaming controls. While I admit some games do the touchscreen stuff quite well, you still have your fingers in the way of the screen, and whenever I do play a touchscreen game it infuriates me. Unfortunately my XPlay is starting to get a little long in the tooth now, and I'm going to have to upgrade sooner or later, but I don't want to give up my control pad. Maybe this MOGA thing is what I need, provided the support it there.

      Only there is a Android controller standard in the form of gamepad API's that are baked into every version of Android since Honeycomb (3.1). From what I've read they are quite easy to hook into, as to why more devs don't leverage them as a control option I couldn't say, it seems like a wasted opportunity IMO.

      Not just that but Android supports bluetooth controllers. The game devs don't even need to make specific control options for controllers, all they need to do is support a bluetooth device, and allow the user to map their own keys. Done. I've been playing a number of games on my tablet using a bluetooth keyboard.

      I'm not sure exactly how the MOGA works but if it uses bluetooth (which I suspect it does) then the devs don't even need to support the MOGA specifically, just support bluetooth.

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