Moga Pro controller hands-on review: better Android gaming

Power A is at PAX East this year showing off its latest gaming concoction: the Moga Pro. If you feel like you’ve heard that name before, it’s because you have. The original Moga controller, now known as the Moga Pocket, was a Bluetooth controller with a bracket for holding an Android phone as big as a Galaxy Note 2. Its successor has the same MO, but sports a build like an Xbox 360 controller.

Moga Pro controller review

Why a second stab at the same sort of device? If the number of mobile titles at the PAX Indie Showcase is any indication, there’s something of a Renaissance going on in the Google Play and App Store. We’d even say that some of the games on phones and tablets are good enough to steal your attention away from console and PC titles, for a while, at least.

“More platforms” coming soon

Of course, not every game that works on your Galaxy S3 will cooperate with the Moga, but Power A has gotten a solid roster of titles to go Moga compatible. You can peep a full list here. It’s grown quite a bit since the first Moga, and includes some of our favorites such as Grand Theft Auto: Vice CityAsphalt 7: Dead Heat, and Modern Combat 4: Zero Hour. We have to say that the lack of iPhone and iPad support is a bummer, but Moga reps promised that “more platforms” are coming soon. When we pressed, they wouldn’t confirm whether this meant iOSWindows Phone 8 or evenBlackberry 10.

Moga Pro controller review

On the PAX East show floor, we put the Moga Pro to the test with the zombie splatter title Dead Trigger. As we mentioned, you could easily mistake the new Moga for an off-brand Xbox controller, and that’s a good thing. Its dual thumbsticks and triggers setup will be immediately familiar to any gamer.

Moga Pro controller review

Good enough to kill zombies with

Right off the starting line we were blasting the undeath out of reanimated corpses, zeroing in for headshots with the left trigger and letting the lead fly with the right. Console instincts served us well, and couldn’t detect any latency between the Moga and the Android devices we tested it on. Thank goodness for that, since any lag would have killed the experience faster than a pair of rabid zombie jaws.

Moga Pro controller review

Mogas also play with Android tablets in way that nicely emulates the console experience. Something as big as a Nexus 7 won’t clip onto the controller. Instead the wireless Bluetooth connection makes your slate feel a portable television.

Improves on the original in almost every way

While we much prefer the gaming experience on the Moga Pro to that of the old Moga Pocket, the loss of portability is something to consider. As the name suggests, the Pocket is easy to carry. It can slip into any jean pocket, skinny hipster cut or not. It’s low clearance thumbpads made it safe to toss into a bag without fear of it snagging, and made it look like the lower half of a Nintendo 3DS.

Moga Pro controller review
The Moga Pro next to the Moga Pocket

The Moga Pro is bigger, but not anything you couldn’t bring in your bag. It’s light, definitely lighter than an actual Xbox 360 controller with a pair of double A’s in it. Hauling it would be no problem, but we’re not sure how we’d feel about using it in public.

Early Verdict

Loss of portability aside, the Moga Pro bests its predecessor in every way. It’s familiar, comfortable and really improves the mobile gaming experience where touchscreen controls tend to be a glass ceiling.

You might feel a little silly whipping this thing out on the bus, but with a battery rated at 14 hours, it’ll last the whole trip. And as far we could tell, when the public transportation gets bumpy, that tight gripping bracket will keep your phone from taking a tumble.

This article by Alex Roth originally appeared on Techradar, a Burn Media publishing partner.



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