Update: Gameloft has lowered the price of the Duo Gamer to $39.99. In addition to the five original games that support the Duo Gamer: Asphalt 7: Heat, Modern Combat 3: Fallen Nation, Order & Chaos Online, Brothers in Arms 2: Global Front, and N.O.V.A. 3 – Near Orbit Vanguard Alliance, Gameloft also announced support for two more games: NFL Pro 2013 and Wild Blood.
Everyone agrees that mobile gaming is the new hotness. Gameloft is on the forefront of this trend by creating iOS games that in many ways rival next-gen console titles. The one problem so far with playing games like N.O.V.A. 3 – Near Orbit Vanguard Alliance or Modern Combat 3: Fallen Nation is the control scheme that forces users to control the game via virtual thumb sticks on the screen of their iPad. While it works, it's not necessarily the best way to enjoy your gaming experience.
While controller options are already available for Android devices, in typical Apple fashion, it's taken awhile to have one available for iOS devices. Enter the Duo Gamer from Seattle-based Duo Games.
Designed to work with the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch, the Duo Gamer sports dual analog thumb-sticks, six buttons, a D-pad and connects with your iOS device via Bluetooth. Shipping with two AA batteries, we powered up the Duo Gamer, turned on our iPad's Bluetooth and the two devices were immediately talking to each other.
Since N.O.V.A. 3 – Near Orbit Vanguard Alliance is the Gameloft title we're most familiar with we decided to start off with that title. The game detected the controller immediately and playing instantly became more enjoyable.
The controller is solidly built and the recognizable button layout will be immediately familiar to anyone who uses an Xbox 360 or PS3. The Duo Gamer ships with a docking stand that serves the dual purpose of holding the controller when not in use but also propping up the iOS device during gameplay. Since most iPad owners already have a stand you'll probably just use that one instead of the Duo Gamer stand.
Seeing that the Duo Gamer turns your iOS device into a full-fledged gaming console, we connected our iPad to an HDTV via HDMI and actually played N.O.V.A. 3 from the comfort of a couch 10-feet away.
According to Gameloft and Duo Games the Duo Gamer is designed to work with several Gameloft titles including Asphalt 7: Heat, Modern Combat 3: Fallen Nation, Order & Chaos Online, Brothers in Arms 2: Global Front, and N.O.V.A. 3 – Near Orbit Vanguard Alliance. That said, during our testing we were only able to get it to work with N.O.V.A. 3 and Asphalt 7: Heat. We imagine that this will change as more users report issues with certain titles and updates are issued.
While we really enjoy using the Duo Gamer it doesn't come without some serious drawbacks. Most notably is the device's limited compatibility. The fact that it only works with Gameloft titles seriously limits its usefulness. Add to that, it's extremely expensive at $79.99 (£50).
The classic button layout makes the Duo Gamer instantly accessible, and using it immediately improves gameplay on all compatible titles. It's easy to sync, maintains a fine connection through bluetooth, and the inclusion of a stand and two AA batteries is thoughtful.
The price, combined with the fact that it works with so few games. At $79.99 (£50), it's very tough to recommend given how few titles it supports.
Simply put if you're a dedicated Gameloft fan then you'll probably be pleased with the Duo Gamer. That said, others will no doubt be put off by it's high price and lack of across the board compatibility.