I am a PC, console, and Android (sometimes iOS,) gamer. On FPSs, with a mouse I’m a sniper, not the best but usually never the worst. With an XBox or Playstation controller I can deftly navigate around incoming rockets and sneak up on someone and take them out. On Android and iOS I can sometimes avoid walking into a wall.
The issue isn’t that the Android/iOS games are bad, it’s that I need a controller or a tactile response zone in order to keep my fingers in the right position during intense gaming. I’ve had things you put on the screen, carried additional controllers, had a clamp that held a bluetooth controller, but nothing’s actually made me want to invest time like the Gamevice.
I’ll be writing about my experiences with the Gamevice for the Samsung Galaxy Note 8, but it should be noted they list them for the S8,S8+,Note8, S7, S7 Edge, most iDevices. I can’t answer specific questions on anything but the Note 8 (and potentially my wife’s HTC 10 I’m going to see if it fits in tonight).
I’ve had this a couple of months now, I received this for review sometime before CES and have been playing with it on and off for I’m guessing two months now.
First thing to note is this is not a Bluetooth controller. There is no lag. There is no pairing. On the Note 8 version the Gamevice is powered from the phone, and you can power the phone through a pass through USB-C as well. I can’t tell any particular battery drain on the thing, but I’m not actually sitting there metricing battery draw. My guess is it’s not particularly much.
There’s a stretchy back piece that covers up the main cameras, fingerprint sensor, etc. The Gamevice also adds about three inches to the width of your device while it’s in landscape mode, is it’s pretty wide now.
It has dual analog sticks, four directional buttons, a d-pad, start, select, and something else with their logo I’m spacing on but it’s another button. It also has right and left bumpers and triggers (R1, R2, L1, L2).
I got this and installed the Gamevice Live store. This is an app that just lets you know some of the things that work well on Android (and assuming iOS,) with the Gamevice. I tried out a few things but they sort of felt like mobile games more designed for someone who, like me, can’t position their fingers particularly well on a slick glass screen. I played a runner game that seemed to consist of me pressing one of four buttons in order to do something. I wasn’t particularly wowwed with the selections, but that’s not Gamevice’s fault, there may be some great ones there I haven’t tried yet.
So I got an emulator. Should be noted these are probably going to be more popular in the Android realm as on iOS last I checked you had to sideload emulators due to the Apple app store not letting any in.
So yeah, that’s the way to go. Emulation has come a long way since I last checked in on it.
Before you get into it,in the United States emulators aren’t illegal. Making a backup copy of a game you own is not illegal. Downloading a ROM that someone else backed up, even though you own the game is, however, illegal. Devices specifically designed to copy ROMs are illegal. Good luck getting your stuff legally, it’s going to be a challenge.
So I played emulated versions of games I own. No discernable lag in controller response. Emulators like PPSSPP have layouts for the Gamevice configured already, although I did have to re-map the D keys. They also have a homebrew store in case you want to download some user created games.
So at 600+ words we’ve got that I enjoyed the controller. It’s probably not a review unless I can find something to complain about, here’s what Serious Gamer Paul has issues with.
Palm connection. Most console remotes have something that sits in your palms. I don’t know what it’s called, but it’s why most controllers look like an upside down U. Rando piece of plastic sits in your hands, spaces things out so you’ve got the correct angle grip on the thing. Like a little handlebar. The Gamevice doesn’t.
Now, from a space saving angle I see what they’re going for, but this means the thing doesn’t rest in my hands like I like a controler to rest.
Trigger warning. I’m more of an Xbox controller fan, I like my triggers triggery. However I’m happy with the PS controllers I’ve used as well. I do not like the positioning of the triggers here. They’re extremely close together unlike most console gaming which separates them by at least a few CM. I can accidently press R1 instead of R2, or both at the same time with one finger. There’s very little I can feel as to which one I’m on. I mean this can be solved by scuffing the top ones, but they’re still annoyingly close together.
Weight. Something I never thought would be an issue became an issue. Everything combined is too light for me. I mean this is personal preference obviously.
Static buttons. It comes with a standard XBOX ABYX configuration. (that’s A bottom, B right, Y top, X left). To contrast, the SNES and Switch are BAXY, and the Playstation is XO^ (X, O, triangle, square). As there are no Xbox emulators this seems like they’ve chosen the only thing that you’re not going to use this for. Maybe include a sticker pack or button caps. Why no PSP emulated game, I meant to hit X not square.
The case of the missing case. Getting my phone out of it’s protective sheath is a pain. It’s something I have to do to get the Gamevice on the phone however. I wish besides the vice of the stretchy band they incorporated a clamp-on system as well so I could have my case on as well.
TL;DR – doesn’t feel like a console gaming controller although it is the best mobile attempt that doesn’t use bluetooth that I’ve run across.
There are some things they did really nicely with this. The two halves of the controller will magnetically stick together so they don’t rattle around as you carry them. The speaker on the Note 8 has a hole that directs sound at you rather than toward the person to your right. If you receive a phone call mid-gaming you can pop the thing off extremely easily. The analog sticks and d-pad seem to be just about perfect. I like where they positioned the USB C and audio out.
Overall, I think the thing is pretty great. The emulated games are perfectly controlled by this beast. Now I just have to find some Android apps that will utilize it properly, and that’s not anything that Gamevice has control over (other than finding better suggestions for their “store”).
Where can I get one?
Why Amazon of… what, they don’t sell the one I have on Amazon? Oh well, you can get the iOS versions over on Amazon and make us 6% commission, they range in price. Or you can get the S7 and S8 models on the Gamevice website for 49.95 and 59.95 respectively.