Review: PowerA Moga Controller from Verizon Wireless
Touchscreens are perfect for most casual smartphone games, like Angry Birds or Temple Run. But Android developers are continuously bringing much more complex games to the platform. Games like Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto: Vice City or EA’s Need for Speed: Most Wanted are titles that we are used to seeing on the PC or home consoles where players have access to better methods of interacting with the games. Touchscreen controls can make playing complex games like those frustrating and the experience simply isn’t the same without buttons. Thankfully, PowerA has came out with their Moga (Mobile Gaming) Controller, which might just offer the perfect solution for playing complex, console-quality games on your mobile device.
Verizon Wireless offers the Moga controller on their website, and they were kind enough to provide us with a demo unit for this review. Read on to see what we think about this mobile gaming accessory.
For the most part, the PowerA Moga looks like you would expect it to look, it’s a video game controller and anyone that has played a home video game console in the last 10 – 15 years will be familiar with the design immediately. As far as the button layout and overall feel goes, I would say it most closely resembles the Xbox 360 controller, although it is quite a bit smaller and lacks the directional pad found on Microsoft’s controller.
On the front of the Moga controller are four face buttons (X,Y,B,A), dual joysticks, Start and Select buttons and a Moga sync button. The back of the Moga controller features two trigger buttons, as well as the doors for 2 AAA batteries, which are located on each side of the device.
All of the buttons worked and felt great, I was also impressed with the responsiveness from this controller. I was worried that there may be some noticeable lagginess due to the Bluetooth connection, but that wasn’t the case. All of my inputs were reflected on screen instantly.
A retractable arm in the center of the controller securely holds your phone in place while you play and lifting the arm exposes the controller’s main power switch. I tested the arm with several Android smartphones and didn’t find any that wouldn’t fit. Even the huge Samsung Galaxy Note II will work with the Moga controller. It will also work with Android tablets, but you’ll have to find a way to prop the screen up, or connect the device to your television to see whats going on.
Overall, I like the design of the Moga controller. The buttons work and feel great, the arm placed my phone’s screen in the perfect viewing position and the entire thing feels well built and sturdy. The only complaint I have with the Moga’s design is the AAA batteries. I would have loved to see this feature and internal, rechargeable battery, along with a USB port for charging.
In order to use the Moga controller, you’ll need to install the Moga Pivot app from the Google Play store. The app will explain how to get the Moga controller paired with your Android phone, as well as allow you to view and download Moga enhanced games. As for games – the controller comes with 2 free titles, Pac-Man and Asphalt 7: Heat HD, and there are currently 63 Moga enhanced games listed for the controller with more being added all the time. So there is quite a bit of games that will work with this device.
Unfortunately, the Moga Pivot app will only allow you to play Moga enhanced games. That rules out all of the emulators that are available on Android. But there is a solution to that problem in the Google Play store. A 3rd party developer has created a Moga Universal Driver that will allow you to use the Moga controller with pretty much any Android game. I understand that PowerA needs to play by the rules and partner with developers to make games work for this controller, and I’m not sure how they feel about this work around, so I wont link to it in this post. But I thought I would at least mention it, because the unofficial drivers really make the Moga controller a great device.
The Moga Controller will work with any Bluetooth enabled, Android 2.3 or above smartphone or tablet and it will last for around 18 hours of gameplay from a fresh pair of AAA batteries. It is well built, includes a great selection of responsive buttons and feels good in the hands. Basically, its everything you would want or need from a video game controller and I recommended it to anyone that spends a lot of time gaming on their Android.