Whether you’re an iPhone or Android smartphone user, gaming on these platforms is consistently a disappointment due to poor touch controls. It’s only in recent years that developers have started to smartly innovate their titles to make use of the technology on board. However, this still leaves a huge back catalogue of games in a sorry state, especially on iOS. Welcome the Gamevice for iPhone, the best controller accessory I’ve used on the platform yet. That said, it unfortunately still suffers from numerous limitations.
The Gamevice for iPhone retails regularly for $99.99 USD, a problem for many thinking that this product was going to be an easy investment. Opening up the box reveals the core unit that will attach onto your iPhone, along with numerous postcards, decals and manuals to create a fuller package. Unfortunately, I feel Gamevice has left out an opportunity to provide some value to their consumer by not providing a simple $10 gift card to purchase a couple of quality compatible titles off their marketplace.
The Gamevice’s core unit features a great design. It safely secures to the iPhone, via the lightning port, and it doesn’t feel poorly balanced or unwieldy. Essentially the unit transforms the iPhone into the weird looking cousin of the PlayStation Vita family, while still featuring all of the functionality and buttons of a modern controller. While not in use, the core unit can detach and collapse into a portable state that will easily fit into a small pocket of a backpack. A smart design choice by Gamevice was to make the unit have it’s own dedicated rechargeable battery, instead of making it into a power sucking fiend. However, my largest criticism for the Gamevice’s design is that it only supports one line of iPhone’s, the 6 and 6S (there are other versions for iPhone 7 and iPad devices). Already proven to not support the iPhone 7 or previous models, including the 5 family, the Gamevice has quickly become an outdated peripheral for most enthusiasts.
The catalogue of compatible games offered by the Gamevice Live app extends to 870 titles, but many of them feel like shovelware that no one would ever try despite them being free. This leaves users with some classic gems to try out like Grand Theft Auto: Vice City and Max Payne, but don’t expect the quality pool to be as deep.
To test out the performance of the Gamevice I went through a selection of retro SNK classics, including Metal Slug 2 and Garou: Mark of the Wolves. The purpose of these tests was to see how accurate and responsive the Gamevice could be while handling precise input motions. The results turned out to be great – the D-pad kept up with my character’s movement, supers and special moves came out with relative ease and I never felt like my performance was hampered by input lag.
The Gamevice is a mobile gaming peripheral that is hampered by its lack of future proofing. iPhone 6 users who want to put the $100 entrance fee up front will enjoy the feeling of a controller in their hands while playing their games, but the lack of a powerful compatible catalogue means that not all genres or fields of interest may be covered depending on the players needs.