iPad gaming has been pushed to every boundary… or so we thought. Duo, the company that turned iPad into an arcade and a pinball machine, has now turned iPad into a gaming console with their latest creation, the Duo Gamer. The Duo Gamer includes a wireless bluetooth controller for iPad and a docking stand too.
The Duo Gamer is really all about the controller, which includes two analog joysticks, a d-pad, four buttons, and two triggers. Powered by two-AA batteries, the Duo Gamer Controller has the features of an XBox or PS3 controller but can connect to iPad, iPhone, or an iPod Touch via Bluetooth. Regardless of its boring rectangular shape and non-ergonomic design, it’s still pretty usable for gameplay, small hands or big. The range is on par with other gaming controllers, as is the weight. If you’re used to PS3 or XBox, it’s a very easy transition and gameplay feels very natural.
The pairing process is the same as pairing any other Bluetooth device in your iOS settings. The controller can only pair to one iOS device at a time, and the iOS device can only pair one controller at a time.
The Duo Gamer includes an iPad stand which can prop a naked iPad in portrait or landscape. There’s a slot to hold the Gamer Controller and a cutout to feed a charging cable through the stand. The stand is all plastic and is a decent means to play games or neatly store iPad and the controller. Chances are if you have a case with a built-in stand, you’ll use that to prop iPad rather than taking it on and off every time. The games seem to all be in landscape.
Only Gameloft games are supported, the controller will not work outside of supported games. The controller only needs to be paired with iPad once, it will work in-game as soon as it’s turned on. There’s no way to set up a first-time pairing in-app. Gameloft has a ton of games, but have announced compatibility for 5 games, 3 of which are currently out. They are:
These games are all something you could expect from a console: first-person shooters, role playing, and racing games. They’re full-fledged games, over a gigabyte in size, and can be played for hours on end. There’s not a lot of variety at the moment and it sounds like Duo will not be licensing out their technology to other app designers. While the games are pretty awesome, I’d like to see some more basic games; give us Tetris or Super Mario! While anything under $10 is laughably inexpensive for a console game, $6.99 is still on the pricy side of iPad games, especially when you already paid for a device. Asphalt 7: Heat was the only one priced at 99 cents, so who knows what future games will cost.
The graphics and gameplay of these games, N.O.V.A in particular, is phenomenal on the iPad 3. Killing aliens in a decrepit San Francisco has been a fun experience that really makes you take notice of how far tablet gaming has evolved. If you like Halo, you’ll definitely like N.O.V.A, it’s a very legitimate game. It also looks pretty amazing on the big screen TV using Apple’s HDMI-out adapter. The coolest part about outputting A/V to the TV is that it converts the iPad screen into an additional display. In Asphalt 7, the iPad screen functioned as a map while the TV was full screen racing. On the TV, the graphics are still extremely impressive, but the frame rate isn’t as amazing as an actual console.
It’s definitely fun to have tactile buttons and a joysticks as part of the iPad gaming mix, and it’s even better that we can play from the couch. The response rate of the controller is fantastic; it might as well be wired. The controller’s very usable, it’s just not especially comfortable. We’re still unsure why Duo went with the design that they did. It’s great that with just one cable you can add a fully capable gaming system to almost any TV. You don’t even need to plug anything into the wall! We’re waiting for a larger variety of games, which we imagine are coming soon. The games all have multiplayer capabilities, over the network or online, but it’s a mini-letdown that two controllers can’t be synced to one iPad.
Is the Duo Gamer a game-changer? It could be, but in its current implementation, it’s not quite. Right now it’s a fun way to play console like games on an iPad. It’s even more impressive when you hook it up to the big screen. Let’s be realistic: even though iPad can run just about anything, touch-controls aren’t meant for all games, but that is where the Duo Gamer comes in. For $79.99, it’s a lot cheaper than buying an actual console, and games are a lot cheaper too. We’ll admit it’s still kind of a pricey investment considering there’s only 3 games (with plans for 2 more) and the controller’s not egornomically shaped. Still though, we did have a lot of fun with it. The Duo Gamer is compatible with iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch and is currently on backorder from Amazon.com.
The Good: Wireless Bluetooth Controller, Great Controls, Perfect Response Rate, Quality Games, Included Stand Mounts Controller, Video-Out Capability, Batteries Included
The Bad: Only Works With Select Games, Games Sold Separately, HDMI-Out Sold Separately, Controller Not Ergonomic, Can’t Sync Multiple Controllers, Controller Not Rechargeable, Not One Free Game Included/Available