MogaPro Power Controller Zaps the Competition

24 Mar

By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)

MOGA-Pro-Group

I’m the type of person who carries a lot of tech and when I’m getting ready for a convention, I also want some games on the go to enjoy. Emerald City Comicon is right around the corner and I need to do something while waiting in line! When I carry a tablet, smart phone, Bluetooth headphones, a dedicated digital camera and portable gaming device, reducing the load is a must. When I have everything with me, one of these devices is guaranteed to be nearly drained by the end of the day.

With MOGA’s Hero or Pro Power Controller for Android devices made by Power A, an all-in-one smart phone is all I need. It can keep running like an Energizer Bunny thanks to MOGA’s Boost technology; the controller doubles as a spare power charger. As a bonus, the company now has the MOGA Rebel which works for Apple devices. That took a while to come and I’m glad, but for now I will focus on the Android version to review. They all operate similiarly, because I feel that they all can can recharge not only my smart phone but also my Bluetooth headphones. Not every device that uses a USB cable for recharging can be charged with the MOGA, but I feel that since they can, and I’ve tested it with my tablet and headphones, my life is made all the more simpler than to carry different chargers with me during my trips.

I find the MOGA good for up to two recharges before being inefficient, and all I have to do is economize when either of my devices needs a lifeline. The only shame is that the Pro Power model is designed more for home use than to take on vacation. It will last for weekend trips though. The best part is that this gaming controller can be put in a backpack’s corner pocket where a drink bottle normally goes and can be pulled out with ease. During those long rides, it can be connected to a mobile (measuring up to 3.2 inches in width).

123252_b1Syncing software, however, is done via Bluetooth, and when a charge is needed, the cell phone’s USB charging cable needs to be attached. During this time, the extension on the controller does a good job at keeping everything snug. But I pondered over whether or not small 7″ tablets can fit into the arm. I have a modified Android enabled Nook and its lightweight enough to support being held by the MOGA Pro if the arm can be upgraded to an aluminum construction to just keep it sturdy.

When I’m traveling, a stable surface is not always going to be available. Quite often the tablet will be on my lap or sitting flat on a table. Anyone who thinks they can play a game with the tablet perched on the provided stand while on a plane, train or automobile is out of luck. The stand is not sturdy enough to keep the tablet stable when the vehicle hits turbulence. A ferry ride is better, but when the boat hits a swell some things will fall.

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At least the engineering of the controller is very solid. I found that the feel of this controller is very familiar; it handles very much like a PS3 controller even though the layout is that of an Xbox’s along with a few added buttons. The response time is very good, and it can handle my button smashing in shooters without any delay. The next model up has rubberized grips.

My only quibbles lays more with the lack of documentation provided with the games, MOGA approved or not. Not all the games reveal what buttons do what. Players may well have to push every button just to find out. Four Seasons Hunt 3D was one where I had to figure out which button represented the ‘store’ so I can buy extra bullets, and to get back to the menu in Tank Recon 3D meant touching the tablet screen than hitting start on the controller. I was a bit dismayed that this game did not make use of the two analog sticks, so it would feel like Atari’s Battlezone, but perhaps a massive update in the future will change that. Software integration issues aside, fortunately the onus is with the game developers than MOGA. Not many downloaded games for any platform comes with full documentation these days.

At least the games that uses the Human Interface Device (HID) that the MOGA supports can be coded to a player’s personal taste. That also includes in-game pointers, which no controller has been able to fully emulate well. On a computer, a mouse’s tracking speed can be adjusted and to see something similar in a MOGA preference panel can help immensely. Even a slider to adjust the amount of time required before the controller goes to sleep can help. Fortunately, a wake button exists on the controller, but I prefer to customize when it goes to sleep myself. I also like to have a graphical icon on my tablet / smart phone screen to show how much power is left in the controller. The PS3 has that feature on its main screen and there will be times where I may not notice the indicator light on the controller to tell me how much charge is left. That way, I know when I have to fully charge the unit before embarking on a long trip.

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But smart phone users should be warned: the full MOGA Pivot application weighs in at about 32mb. Some gamers may not be packing a mobile with a lot of space left and they may want to economize by using Ryan Loebs’ MOGA Universal Driver. Unfortunately, it’s designed for the older MOGA products and it does not work with the Pro. Hopefully the company will consider a driver-only release. I can see why Pivot is favoured since it lists what games are MOGA enhanced and shows new releases, but that is one big package.

When most of the games listed on Google Play says which game is MOGA supported or not, the need to have a special installer is not necessary. And with companies like Bandai Namco, Gameloft, Atari and Sega behind this product, the library of games still to be released will be vast. What’s provided now is impressive. New owners of the MOGA get Pac-Man free and I am anxiously waiting to see what Atari titles will appear in the coming months. Hopefully there will be some upgrades to some classics, like the MOGA enhanced version of Asteroids 2012 3D. As for whether Defender, Space Invaders, Missile Command or Tempest will appear will depend on whether or not Atari’s Greatest Hits for Android gets an upgrade or not. I am not a fan of virtual controllers. To have a MOGA enhanced version on this game package will change what I will want to play on my smartphone. It’s no longer for simply texting, taking photos or watching videos.

PROS:

  • Good for at least two charges.
  • Select iOS 7 Games are supported!
  • The extension arm has a great grip on smartphones measuring up to 3.2 inches in width.
  • Has the feel of a PS3 controller despite being built like an Xbox one.
  • Plenty of free and pay-for games to choose from.

CONS:

  • The provided cables and stand are easy to lose. A cloth bag could have been be provided to keep everything in.
  • There are no icon indicators on the Android device to show power levels.
  • Stand can only support small-sized tablets.
  • Installer package and a game leaves a sizable footprint.
  • Not every game will feature instructions to how the MOGA controller is mapped out.
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