Duo Gamer Controller Review

Some gamers just can’t get over the lack of physical controls on iOS devices. Players who are used to console gaming still say they need a physical joystick and buttons to fully enjoy their mobile videogames. Discovery Bay Games has a solution for them, but it’s expensive and works with only a handful of Gameloft games, making it a less than ideal option.

It’s called the Duo Gamer, and it’s a Bluetooth controller with two analog joysticks, a D-pad, four face buttons, a central start button, and two shoulder buttons. At launch, it’ll be compatible with just five Gameloft games: Asphalt 7: Heat, Modern Combat 3: Fallen Nation, Order & Chaos Online, Brothers in Arms 2: Global Front, and N.O.V.A. 3. We’ve rated each of these games as Good or Must Have, so they’re all high-quality fun on their own. Newer Gameloft games like The Dark Knight Rises and Wild Blood are not currently supported, but we’re hoping they will be soon.

Setting up your Duo Gamer is a snap– you just turn on Bluetooth, and your device will instantly sync with the controller. The two games we used to test out the controller, N.O.V.A. 3 and Asphalt 7, both let you navigate menus entirely with the controller, allowing us to plug our HDMI out cable into the TV for the most console-like gameplay experience yet on the iPad. The Duo Gamer also comes with a plastic stand for your iPad.

Using the Duo Gamer in online multiplayer games gives you a definite edge. With your thumbs on the joysticks, it’s a cinch to run, jump, aim, and fire all at the same time in games like N.O.V.A. 3. The advantage we had over other players is practically unfair, and if you’re serious about winning matches online (or if you’re participating in a league game) the Duo Gamer is worth your consideration.

But, it’s not cheap– the Duo Gamer costs $79.99, which you could use instead to buy dozens of new iPhone or iPad games. Plus, the lack of support (and Gameloft exclusivity) means that you won’t be able to use this controller with games from any other company, or even the latest and greatest from Gameloft. Unless you’re still playing N.O.V.A. 3 on a regular basis, we recommend waiting until more compatible games are announced.

We have a few other concerns with the Duo Gamer. The square shape is not very comfortable for extended play sessions– it lacks the curved edges that you’ll find on all console controllers. Plus, if you’re going to go through the effort to set up an online match with N.O.V.A. 3 from your couch, you might as well just play Halo instead. iOS games blown up on the big screen just can’t compete graphically with the best Xbox 360 and PS3 games, and using the Duo Gamer controller with HDMI out just highlights the mobile platform’s weaknesses.

We would love to see a dedicated console-style controller that works with our favorite iOS apps, but the Duo Gamer’s limitations and high price mean you shouldn’t rush out and buy one right away. Wait to see if the price comes down, or if Gameloft drastically expands the number of games that it’ll support. Like the iCade and iCade Mobile, the limited app support means that this controller, while groundbreaking, will work well with a few games and not at all with the rest.

Score: 2 out of 4

Pros: Gives you an edge in online Gameloft games; easy to set up and use; enables a very console-like experience using HDMI output

Cons: Expensive; only works with five apps to start; uncomfortable shape; you might as well just play the Xbox 360 or PS3 versions of the games that Gameloft is mimicking

Bottom Line: The Duo Gamer controller is a great idea, but its limitations and high price mean that you shouldn’t buy it right away unless you’re serious about winning every N.O.V.A. 3 deathmatch.

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