This week at 148Apps.com things got a little bizarre, as Jennifer Allen spotlighted the various iOS projects that have risen since Bizarre Creations was disbanded: “In January 2011, British games developer Bizarre Creations was closed by Activision. Looking through the games that Bizarre were responsible for, it’s no surprise that many fans were hugely disappointed to see its closure. Racing titles such as the Project Gotham Racing series were seen by many as the pinnacle of racing games, with similar successes coming from the retro shooter Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved and the cartoony Fur Fighters. Unfortunately, despite the release of arcade racer Blur and James Bond 007: Blood Stone in 2010, it wasn’t enough and Bizarre Creations was dissolved.
What happened next, though? And why am I talking about console games on 148Apps? Because a number of new gaming studios rose from Bizarre’s flames, many of them iOS focused. Recently, I got the chance to see how things are progressing for a few of them.
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2011-06-10 :: Category: Games
GiggleApps.com got all mathematical on us this week with a review of Squeebles Fractions. Writer Amy Solomon says, “Squeebles Fractions is an interesting app to help children to understand fractions, creating a bright, colorful world in which to practice their math skills. I admire the cake theme found throughout this app, as players are able to, within the first section of this app, serve pieces of a cake to waiting monster-like Squeebles characters which correspond to a fraction seen on the screen, really helping children visualize the fractions they are working with.”
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Released: 2012-09-09 :: Category: Education
And on AndroidRundown.com, Joseph Bertolini focused his KickStarter spotlight on iMpulse Game Controller. He writes, “Welcome, iMpulse, a tiny rectangular controller that is small enough to comfortably fit on any keychain. iMpulse was specifically designed to go onto keychains because they are with the player constantly. Anytime they leave the house their keys must go with them along with the phone; meaning that at anytime, gaming with a controller is possible. At about the width of an average palm iMpulse is small but it does not seem too small where it would be frustrating or unusable. Oh, and did I mention that it will help locate lost keys? For me, as forgetful as they come, this is almost more than worth the price of the whole device, gaming notwithstanding.”
With that, we’re done with this week’s wrap-up. Join us on Twitter and Facebook for the latest news, reviews and contests, and check out this post every week for a recap of the stuff you need to know. Ciao!
iPhone gaming and mobile phone gaming in general are poised to take over the entire handheld gaming market but there is still one big thing holding them back. Touch controls can be great but they are no replacement for responsive, dedicated, physical buttons. Plenty of hardware manufacturers have tried to fix this problem with varying degrees of a success and now a new challenger, Bladepad, is trying to enter the fight.
Bladepad is a slim, protective case that adds a directional pad, two analog sticks, four shoulder buttons, and four face buttons to an iPhone all with full back-lighting. Like a PSPgo or Xperia Play, players can slide the buttons back underneath phone when they are not needed or just easily remove the case entirely. The case and phone can be simultaneously charged over USB and “the battery life is competitive with both the Nintendo 3DS and Sony PS Vita.” Bladepad, LLC says that the product will work with any iOS device using Bluetooth 4.0 including the iPhone 4S, the new iPad, and presumably whatever new iPhone comes out this fall.
However, the project is still in need of funding. Those interested should check out the Bladepad Kickstarter page where one can pre-order at reduced prices along with shirts and other prizes. Bladepad is currently slated for release this holiday season for $99.
Developer: Ion Audio
Price: $69.99 MSRP
Hardware Tested On: iPod touch 4
Re-use Value Rating:
One of the new iCade models that ION Audio is putting out is the iPhone and iPod touch version of the iCade, the iCade Mobile. The controller repurposes the iCade’s joystick into a d-pad, the left 4 buttons into face buttons, and the right 4 buttons into shoulder buttons. The controller is overall about as wide as the iPad’s screen without the bezel. It fits both the iPhone and iPod touch, though it isn’t wide enough to fit even a thin case. All device keys and buttons (except for the home button) become inaccessible due to the hardware design. The holder can be spun around to be viewable in both landscape and portrait though.
The important thing to understand is that the iCade Mobile is technically the same as the iCade, so developers do not need to add specific support for their games to make the iCade Mobile work. Two issues that pop up though are that first, some games do not have iCade enabled on the iPhone side despite supporting it on the iPad, such as Super Crate Box.
Second, games that have chosen non-protocol uses for the buttons have odd control schemes on the iCade Mobile. For example, Mystery of the Japanese Werewolf, a fun platformer that has iCade support, has controls configured for the original iCade where the right 6 buttons alternate between jump and attack, and the red buttons on the left column are pause. On the iCade Mobile, this means that the bottom and left buttons are pause, and the top and right face buttons are jump and attack respectively. These issues are ones that will need to be addressed by developers via simple configuration tweaks.
The iCade Mobile succeeds not in that it makes the iPhone into an arcade machine, but that it makes it into a capable handheld system. It feels like now I’m playing some lost Game Boy Advance games, especially in landscape mode. The d-pad and buttons work very well for platforming and action games, especially the kinds of retro games that beg for controllers. While it’s a wide controller, it’s still ergonomic. The controller handily still turns off after a few minutes of inactivity, and it actually has a dedicated on/off switch.
The inaccessible hardware buttons would be a problem solved by the addition of Bluetooth system keys like the ones on Bluetooth keyboards. This would make it possible to adjust volume, and call up the soft keyboard. The latter functionality would be perfect for downloading more iCade-compatible games.
That’s the great thing about the iCade: it’s become the de facto standard for external controllers with a wide array of support. There are more games coming on a regular basis with iCade compatibility. Heck, this could even be used as a controller for an iPad. This is definitely the iOS external controller to get.
Those rascals at ThinkGeek are at it again, today unveiling the iCADE 8-Bitty, a physical controller for use with iOS games. The 8-Bitty sports a traditional d-pad, as well as four face buttons, two shoulder buttons, and start/select. The 8-Bitty is battery powered and connects to any iOS device wirelessly, and can be used to play any game that supports the iCADE API. Tired of tapping the screen to play Super Mega Worm? Well that won’t be a problem much longer.
ThinkGeek has announced that the 8-Bitty will retail for $24.99 and should go on sale sometime later this year. If you happen to be at Toy Fair you can get a look at the 8-Bitty up close and personal, just don’t try and steal it because I’m pretty sure ThinkGeek deploys at least three snipers at such events. If you are going to attempt a snatch and grab then please remember to run in a serpentine pattern.
Gaming on a touch screen is pretty effective. As our gaming review archives show, countless titles demonstrate what works so well for iOS devices. However, options are good and many gamers used to physical game controllers prefer to use input devices such as the iCade.
The iCade serves the arcade gaming market perfectly with its chunky, retro appearance but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for a more traditional gaming controller. This is where Fructel’s Gametel enters the picture and is set to provide plenty of great functionality to gamers.
Previously only compatible with Android smartphones and tablets, the Gametel clearly has the pedigree to be a great addition to the iOS peripheral market.
The device is smaller than other iOS focused controllers while still offering a 4 way joystick with 4 face buttons as well as 2 shoulder buttons on the back. Comfortable to use with a snug clamp to keep the iOS device steady while Bluetooth does its connectivity magic, the Gametel is looking great hardware wise. A nine hour battery life just goes to back up that idea.
That’s no use without good software support, however. Fortunately, it’s looking good for the console style controller with all iCade suite titles already supported as well as other iOS games such as No Gravity, Silverfish, Super Crossfire HD and Terra Noctis also covered. Regular 148apps readers will note that all these titles are great examples of quality iOS games making it an ideal starting point for such a device. It’s looking pretty attractive to gamers in need of a more console style control system.
No solid release date has yet been given for the GameTel in the US. While it’s available in selected European countries, at the moment it doesn’t support iOS while the relevant app works its way through the approval process. We’ll be sure to keep up to date on any release date for the device.
If you’ve used HippoRemote Pro before you’ll know how effective it is at controlling your computer, either Mac or PC, over Wi-Fi. The app allows users to control their computer as well as a host of popular applications using its multi-touch trackpad and built-in keyboard. HippoRemote also offers a web browser and Twitter client. If all these features weren’t enough, however, the latest update to HippoRemote turns your iPhone into an advanced games controller too.
With many Mac and PC games requiring control via the mouse and keyboard, controllers like those found on consoles aren’t compatible and therefore tie the user to their desk in order to play games. HippoRemote 2.2 offers freedom from this traditional setup by replicating mouse and keyboard control from your iPhone. Whether you’re playing a full on RPG, an intense shoot ‘em up or just a simple Flash game on the web, HippoRemote allows you to customize the control layout and use only the keyboard buttons you need for a particular game. Controls can be set for different games with either a trackpad or a button pad and game-specific profiles can also be downloaded from the HippoRemote website. At present, HippoRemote is compatible with the iPhone and iPod touch but we’re excited by the possibilities introduced by the iPad and look forward to a compatible version in the future. If you love your PC games but want that console feel, you might well have already bought the best controller, you just need HippoRemote to take advantage of it.
I’m an iPhone purist, I’ll admit it, I love my phone just how it is, stable, fast, non-glitchy. Sure from time to time I’ve wished I could customize my text message tone or set a new wallpaper behind my icons, but in the end it’s not worth it. At least that’s what I tell people most days. I confess however that today, for the first time since 1.1.2, I gave serious consideration to jailbreaking my iPhone. What could lead me down this dark path again? How about controlling a game on my iPhone using a Wii Remote!?! The BTstack project has managed to pull it off!
If you’re not familiar with what the BTstack Project is, it’s an open source project focused on expanding bluetooth device support far beyond what Apple is currently allowing. A lot of the above information comes to us from this article via Zodttd.com which also includes a statement from the developer saying his next target is the PS3 controller. Upon reading, I was almost giddy with anticipation and immediately started spreading the word. But one of my colleagues, being the glass is half empty type that he is, quickly pointed out why I shouldn’t get too excited.
“For one,” he said “theres nothing comfortable about hunching over a table, looking straight down, just to keep your hands free for use on a controller…”
I quickly pointed out that an iBend would be a quick, easy, and cheap solution to that. He conceded this point but continued.
“Secondly and much more importantly [BTstack] is hacking their iPhone to use them, no major developer is ever going to spend the time and money making a game that needs a hack to be used fully.”
I hated to admit it but he had a point, however it may not be a relevant one for much longer as I know of at least one legitimate controller being developed for the iPhone, the GameBone Pro.
The GameBone Pro has amazing potential as 22Moo states it will be fully compatible via bluetooth or dock connector, fully functional D-pad with 4+ action buttons, and a built in speaker/mic, etc. While there is no official price listing or release date yet, we know they are targeting an early 2010 release. Gratefully they are making their developer’s kit free to anyone who wants it.
The free SDK is an important point I’d like to touch on momentarily. While I’m certain more than one developer has a controller under development, it’s my hope that in some circle somewhere there is a committee working on a set standard of controller code. Without a set basic standard we will end up in a market where a game may work with one joystick but not another. Resulting in another BlueRay vs. HD DVD war, only with more players. A war that would most likely end up with game developers ignoring the idea of external controllers all together simply because of inconvenience.
With a set standard though I can already see what the future may hold for iPhone gamers. I can imagine sitting at an airport with a friend waiting for our redeye flight to arrive and needing something to do. Out of my pockets I pull three things, my iPhone, GameBone Pro, and a Pico Pocket projector. Out of his pocket he grabs his controller and within a minute we are playing Marvel vs. Capcom (not currently released for the iPhone) dreamcast style on a 60″ while being totally portable and wireless…I’m getting giddy again.