PowerA Moga Controller hands on review: console-like gaming on the go

I think we are at the beginning of a boom for smartphone/tablet controllers. With the console showing signs of decline, all eyes are on on the mobile community. There are two elements that need to be met in order for mobile to take over. First, you need quality games, and second, you need good controls. Each and everyday we are getting closer and closer to console-like games, but what about the controls? We already have a number of controllers available, and nothing has excited me too much until now. The problem with controllers is that there’s no place to put your phone. If you try to put it on a table, it’s awkward, and it just doesn’t work. The PowerA MOGA Bluetooth controller takes care of this problem and gives you a complete portable mini-gaming system for $49.99 (available October 21). Does it live up to the hype and is it worth your hard earned dollars? Hit the break to find out.

Design

As soon as I took the MOGA controller out of its case, I noticed the build was exceptional and that it felt comfortable. It has all the stuff you could want in a controller. It has two analog sticks, one towards the top left and the other towards the bottom right. Above the right stick, you will find the standard A/B/X/Y buttons and just below the left stick, you will find a PowerA button, as well ones for start and reset. They also included right and left triggers to the front of the controller. All in all the controller feels comfortable to hold and the buttons and sticks are very responsive.

The top center of the controller houses the arm, which will hold your phone. You simply lift it up and extend the extension arm to place your phone (up to 82mm wide) in it. I’ve tested it with an HTC One X, a Samsung Galaxy S III, and a Samsung Galaxy Note I. All of them fit nicely in the holder without any struggles. The holder itself feels solid and it locks into place nicely when you’re not using it. The only issue that you might have is that your phone could have volume controls that are in the spot where the holder hugs your phone. PowerA designed the holder to be as thin as possible, but they can’t control every phone out there. You can place your phone slightly off center or flip it the other way to avoid any issues.

You will find the power button after you have lifted the extension arm. This is a nice touch since the MOGA won’t accidentally turn on when it’s not in use. The bottom has a textured rubber-like feel that’s non-slippery. You will find two battery compartments, one to the right and the other to the left. Each compartment houses one AAA battery. This is probably my biggest complaint with the MOGA, which is the lack of a rechargeable battery. It’s not a deal-breaker, but it is disappointing. Depending on customer feedback, it’s very likely it will be added with the next version.

 

 

Performance

The MOGA performed very well. As you will see in my hands on video below, the controls were responsive and there was zero lag, which is the most important.

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Battery

As I mentioned earlier, my only real gripe is the lack of a re-chargeable battery. The good news is that it only takes two AAA batteries so that’s not a huge deal. PowerA says that you will get 18 hours of playing time, which is very nice. When your batteries are close to running dry, the PowerA button will start to pulse red. That will be the initial warning, and as things continue to drop, it will flash more rapidly.

Software

There is no software in the MOGA itself, but you need the MOGA Pivot app to use and pair your controller with your phone. Since you can only play games that are compatible with the MOGA, this app will help you easily find those games. You don’t purchase or download anything through the Pivot app as it will send you to the Google Play Store. It will also list the games that you already have installed with quick links to launch them. You can look up titles by category or by letter.

There is a decent number of games already available with more to come. Games that are compatible now include Asphalt 7: Heat, Doom GLES, Dungeon Hunter 3, Final Freeway 2R, Galaxy NGC3D HD, Gangster Rio: City of Saints, GnarBike Trials, N.O.V.A 3, PAC-MAN, Riptide GP, Rocket Fox, Six Guns, Sky Gamblers: Rise of Glory, Sonic CD, Sonic The Hedgehog 4: Episode II, Stealth Chopper 3D, The Dark Night Rises, and Virtua Tennis Challenge.

If you want to remap your controller’s buttons for certain games, you can do it if the developer put the code in for it. I noticed there wasn’t an option for Asphalt 7, but Riptide GP did allow for it.

Closing

I was really excited when PowerA announced the MOGA controller and now that I got my hands on one, I’m happy to say that it lives up to my expectations. There are a couple of disappointments like the lack of a rechargeable battery, but there’s always something. Since I can get 18 hours of use, it’s a minor inconvenience  The most important thing is comfort and responsiveness, and the MOGA tackles both with ease. It truly gives you better control with the feel of a portable gaming system, and it has me excited for the games that I didn’t try before because they lacked decent controls. Priced at $49.99, I think it’s a steal since it’s not only a high quality controller, but it can be used with future phones. Let me know what you think and happy gaming!!

 

 

» See more articles by Robert Nazarian


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  • James

    This thing is so sick. I’ll definitely be getting one of these.

  • Glakkkor

    $49.99 really isn’t that bad for a bluetooth accessory. I just wish it was more widely supported

  • http://twitter.com/BottleRocket_ BottleRocket

    I no longer play many games on my phone, I typically do that on my Xoom or N7 now, but this has me considering turning my GNex back into a gaming machine.