Mpad – Plane iPad Review

It seems like ever since the iPad was announced, people have been wondering what it would be like to use their iPhone or iPod Touch as a controller for an iPad game. Well, you don’t have to wonder anymore.

Mpad – Plane isn’t the first game to use iPhone/iPad integration. Scrabble for iPad has an optional Tile Rack app that can connect the two devices, and we’ve seen a video of the upcoming game Chopper 2 on the iPad being controlled by an iPhone. But the use of the Mpad – Controller iPhone app to play the Mpad – Plane iPad game represents the most direct control integration between the two devices that we’ve actually gotten our hands on.

Here’s how it works. You download Mpad – Controller on your iPhone or iPod Touch for $0.99. Then you download Mpad – Plane on the iPad for free. Open both apps and connect the devices over Bluetooth or Wi-Fi– a very simple process– and voila!, you’re ready to play.

Go to war against the evildoing asteroids.

The controller app offers three input options. The first is Keypad, which looks like an NES controller, with a D-pad and two buttons. We found the controls to be a little too close together for our liking, but it’s definitely workable. The next option is Joystick, which is the same as Keypad, but it uses an analog stick rather than a four-directional D-pad. And last is Motion, which has two big buttons fill the screen and uses tilt in lieu of a D-pad. Regardless of the setup you choose, the controller can vibrate and emit auxiliary sounds like a Wii remote.

The game Plane is little more than an Asteroids clone. You sail around the screen and pump bullets at the space rocks that appear. Occasional powerups pop into existence, granting you upgraded weapons or a shield. The controls suffer a little because they stick too close to the original Asteroids, but that’s not the Controller app’s fault. Pushing left or right turns your ship, and the buttons let you accelerate and shoot. Turning is sluggish, so when the screen gets crowded with asteroids it’s tough to do any quick evasive maneuvers.

Using state of the art technology to reproduce gadgets from the ’80s.

On the plus side, you can connect additional iPhones using the Controller app to have up to six other players onscreen at the same time. This puts more friendly bullets on the screen, making it easier to clear the asteroids. Also, in the options menu you can choose the frequency with which the asteroids and powerups appear.

So the game itself is nothing special, but the idea and implementation are wonderful. It’s a great proof of concept that using an iPhone or iPod Touch as a controller works as well as you’d hope. The developer, Play More Limited, is already working on two other free iPad games that will use the Mpad Controller, called Snake and Fish. Snake will be like the traditional Snake game, where you slither around and eat food. Fish will be a game in which you try to devour other fish of equal or lesser size in order to grow larger.

We’re really looking forward to seeing what kind of games developers produce using this technology. If nothing else, using Mpad Controller and Mpad Plane in conjunction is a fun gimmick, and worth the dollar just for the experience.

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