Mobile gaming, whether you are a fan or despise it, is a thing and it's growing fast thanks to advances in cellphone technology. Mobile games have come a long way from simple ports of classic arcade games, and Facebook games with games now having 3D graphics and offering a portable console experience for the cheap. However there is one thing that consoles, and even portable consoles, have that smartphones don’t; proper control buttons.
Sure you could use the virtual buttons, but nothing beats having the feel of a solid controller in your hands. Having a controller also makes gaming on mobile devices easier and more precise in some games. This is where companies like Nyko and products like the Playpad come in.
SCREW THE TOUCH SCREEN
Small and Compact - When mobile gaming started to get more complex as devices started to become more powerful, users started to complain that the virtual pad on their device wasn’t good enough and didn’t offer the same tactile feedback that a physical controller had. So they turned to Bluetooth controllers such as the DualShock 3 and other similar Bluetooth-enabled controllers. While it was an improvement in controls, carrying around a DS3 does look a bit ridiculous and isn’t very convenient. Enter the Nyko Playpad. The Playpad is a few inches shorter than the standard iOS and Android smartphone so it doesn’t take up much space and it makes it easy to stash it in your pocket, backpack or purse.
Familiar Design - A majority of gamers are either used to the DS3 or the Xbox 360 controllers. They are both comfortable, easy to use and easily recognizable to casual gamers that they can understand the controller layout. With that in mind, Nyko designed the Playpad to look similar to a 360 controller, with the exact same button and stick layouts, just smaller. As mentioned before, with this smaller sized controller it is much easier to take out and put away, a feature that the regular 360 or DS3 controller does not have.
Programmable Modes - What I really like about the Playpad is that is has four different modes that serve as different functions depending on the game/app. These three functions are iCade, mouse and HID. ICade mode is used when those games that are compatible with the iCade controller thus allowing for a quick setup. Mouse mode has the Playpad emulate mouse controls and will let users click, drag and drop, just like a real mouse. The Playpad also has an HID mode. This mode is found in a majority of newer games and allows for traditional gamepad support. This will let the Playpad play those games with ease. The last mode is App mode. Now most mobile games, MMOs for example, do not have controller support. With App mode users can map touch screen commands to physical button presses on the controller. As I said, this is great for games/apps that are not compatible with a game pad.
Rechargeable Bluetooth - This may be a small thing to mention, but I love the fact that the Playpad is a Bluetooth device that has an internal battery and could be recharged via micro USB. Other devices that I have seen use batteries, which kind of defeat the purpose of mobile gaming if you have to be constantly changing batteries.
Perfect for Small Hands - My nieces love to play games on their mom’s phone and. on occasion. on my Galaxy Note 10.1 tablet. Since their hands are little, they have no problems being able to play on my sister’s phone, however, when they ask to play on my tablet, their hands are too small to be able to get a good grip on it due to the tablet being wider. So I let them try out the Playpad and it fits really well in their hands. After I programed the controller to their favorite games, they were able to play their games with no troubles at all. For kids, the Playpad is a really good alternative for them to use. It is also a comfortable fit for adults who have much smaller hands as well.
NOT PAD PERFECT
Too Small for Full Sized Adults - On the other hand, for adults and kids that are a bit bigger than most, the controller is a bit on the small side. While the Playpad doesn’t feel cheaply made, it does feel small, say compared to a regular controller. The buttons, D-pad, and triggers are all scrunched together to make room for everything. With everything so close together my hands would cramp up a bit.
Awkward Thumbstick - This might be a bit of a nitpick, but as a console gamer I enjoy the analog sticks. They give a bit more precision than the traditional D-pad and are pressure sensitive. For example, if I push the stick slightly forward, the character on screen will move slowly. If I push it all the way forward the character will move faster or run, depending on the game. The Playpad uses some type of circle pad sliders instead of proper analog stick. FPS, shooters, driving games and platforms all need precision control that a circle pad cannot provide.
The Nyko Playpad a good companion to the mobile gamer. It’s small and compact so that it can be stashed easily when not in use, has a familiar design that users are accustomed to and it’s great for kids and those who have little hands. Unfortunately, it’s a bit small for adults who have large hands and the thumbsticks are circle pad sliders and not the traditional analog sticks.
Personally I’m not into mobile gaming, I have a Vita for that. But for those who love to play games on their smartphones/tablets or have kids who like to play games on them, then the Playpad would make a nice stocking stuffer.
*This review was based on a review sample provided by the manufacturer.