MOGA Mobile Gaming System Review: Controlling the Future of Android Gaming

You might know video game accessory makers PowerA as a novelty company of sorts. A quick scan of their website will reveal that they sell everything from Yoshi backpacks to sweet Batarang styled controllers. They’re obviously a company having fun with what they do.

You may, then, try to write off their latest creation, the MOGA mobile gaming console, an Android system game controller, as a novelty as well. After all, the entire point of having a touch-based system is the simplicity of the touch-based controls eliminating the need for traditional controllers. Understandably, it is easy to ignore the idea of buying an accessory for controlling touchscreen games.

Doing so, however, would be doing yourself a tremendous disservice. Compatible with over 40 titles and Android systems 2.3 and up, the MOGA is a battery-operated, bluetooth-enabled controller that essentially turns your touchscreen phone into more of a traditional handheld gaming device. It even works with tablets, remotely, by using a sync button. The reason it succeeds is entirely due to the design of the controller, which is perfectly sized to take into account both your hands and the size of the phone. The button layout is reminiscent of an Xbox controller, and immediately feels comfortable with the real highlights being the “nub” like joysticks that barely protrude from the controller and never intrude on your game experience, the responsive and well placed “trigger” shoulder buttons, and a nice rubber lining along the side of the unit, providing a firm grip.

Even better than the design of the controller is the fact that it really does work. I never once experienced a moment of lag or unresponsiveness while playing, which is quite impressive considering that these games weren’t designed with this controller in mind. The compatible games so far don’t necessarily use every button on the remote at all times, but the ones that they do work in some way to enhance each game significantly, whether it be true range of movement in the FPS “N.O.V.A. 3” thanks to the joysticks, or more accurate QB controls in “Madden 2013” on behalf of the face buttons.

It’s pretty clear that the list of available titles for the MOGA is far from random, and instead are carefully hand picked titles that don’t work on touchscreen gaming alone without some sacrifice, whether minor or seriously detrimental, going along with it. Rather than think of the MOGA as a superfluous touchscreen accessory, you should instead consider it a savior of a variety of genres and titles that at this time simply do not work well on a touchscreen, even if the games themselves are exceptional.

A great example would be the phenomenal “Sonic CD.” Never having had the chance to experience this classic during its release, using the MOGA I found myself incredibly addicted to it. Curious, I switched to the touchscreen controls and found it purely unplayable to the point where I questioned the integrity of releasing it in such a format. That’s one example, but it holds true for many of the compatible titles so far. The MOGA significantly enhances the value of the games it supports.

PowerA is already hyping new titles and developers that are set to jump onto the MOGA, and I hope it happens soon. The very idea of the controller opens up a missing link of sorts between mobile gaming and the rest of the field, and the actual functionality of the device immediately eliminates any doubts you might have regarding if the concept can truly work. I wish there was a greater range of motion on the actual dock (which can be set to three positions), but it does work for everyday use, as well as more unconventional playing positions like lying down.

Whether or not the MOGA justifies its $49.99 price tag is entirely dependent on a number of factors, such as how much you game on your mobile device, how many of the compatible games you play, and how much faith you have in a variety of developers continuing to support the device. Considering its ingenious design, though, in a perfect world we would see enough continued support for this device to call buying it now an investment. As it stands, the MOGA adds some kind of improvement to every game it works with and is easily one of the best all-around gaming accessories I’ve used this year.

  

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App of the Week: Devil’s Attorney

Developer:
Senri AB

Compatible with:
Android Devices

Requires:
Android 2.3 or up

Price:
$3.00

Available here

“If there were no bad people, there would be no good lawyers.” – Charles Dickens

You may find this quote close to fictional lawyer Max McMann’s heart, if not on a plaque somewhere in his seedy office or written for keepsake to tuck away in his cheap suit. He’s the start of the new app “Devil’s Attorney”, and he is not necessarily a bad man, just a damn good lawyer.

“Devil’s Attorney” is an app similar in concept to the successful DS lawyer series, “Phoenix Wright”. The twist here is that you don’t play a crusader of justice, so much as a chaser of ambulances, as it’s pretty clear that McMann became a lawyer for the specific purpose of making a lot of money, as his clients are almost exclusively of the guilty persuasion (though he would strongly advise they do not make a similar plea in court).

The game is made up of over 50 cases where the player, as Max, has to out maneuver the prosecution and their witnesses. The court scenes are broken down into rounds, and you are given a certain amount of action points to spend on maneuvers like Cross Examination, Epic Speech, Mesmerize, and of course the always useful Tamper With Evidence. You’re trying to use your actions to “defeat” witnesses, and the evidence itself, by draining their hit points (call it “character assassination”) and taking them out of the game, making this very much like a traditional RPG. Once you run out of action points, your round is over and you have to weather the prosecutions attacks.

Appropriately, it’s not so much about the case as it is about the tactics.  You have to manage your action points well as you often either focus your efforts on one witness or evidence piece at a time, or spread the damage throughout. Win a case, and you’re rewarded with cold hard cash, which can be used to purchase new suits or furniture for your apartment, which in turn grants new abilities or enhancements to your current ones. So you could, for instance, swagger into your next case wearing a feathered pimp hat, zebra suit and monocle, while wielding a hammer for extra evidence tampering abilities.

The key to the entire game is its humor, which is strangely (yet successfully) rooted pretty firmly in 80′s pop culture. The actual court room mechanics works okay, but if it wasn’t for the insane amount of fun this game is having with everything from the bizarre cases, to the gut busting humorous dialogue, and the gaudy swag that doubles as upgrades, this might be a completely forgettable game. Instead it is that aspect that drives you to keep playing (and enjoying this game) until the final case is closed. It is a rare feature in a video game where you get to play the bad guy, and it is truly a welcome change of pace to be able to speak on behalf of some of the worst criminals imaginable all in the pursuit of the mighty dollar.

The constant amount of artistic style and comedy on display in “Devil’s Attorney” is a true joy. It’s a morally objectionable game that isn’t trying to be offensive, and instead milks a demented concept for all the black humor and enjoyment it is worth. I do wish the game were a bit longer, but what’s here is solid gold.

As your attorney I advise you to buy this game right away as well as check out the incredible 80’s style intro below. Afterwards, I don’t think I’ll hear any objections to this being the app of the week.

  

App of the Week: Organ Trail – Director’s Cut

Developer:
The Men Who Wear Many Hats LLC

Compatible with:
iPhone
iPad
iPod Touch

Android Systems

Requires:
iOS 3.1.3 or later

Android 2.1

Price:
$2.99

Available here (for iOS) and here (for Android)

“You have Died of Dysentery”

Nothing was worse than seeing this message pop up on the Apple screen at the library we used to play “The Oregon Trail” at in grade school. Maybe the first couple of people to fall to it got away without too much ridicule, but as soon as one of us discovered what dysentery was, we became unstoppable forces of mocking nature. There were many ways to die on the “Oregon Trail”, but the only one you truly feared was the dreaded dysentery. It’s not like it was ever your fault either. If there was a “wash your hands after using the bathroom” button, we would have used it.

If you can’t relate to what I’m talking about then I truly pity you, because you missed out on one of the greatest gaming experiences of all time. What made “The Oregon Trail” so great was the many gameplay options and features, and how even playing the game right wasn’t a guarantee for survival. Even better, the vaguely historical setting meant that it was a game you could play at school, and at the aforementioned libraries. It’s one of those games where you can tell right away if someone grew up with it or not, because if they did, all it takes is a mere screenshot to bring a grin to their face, and set them off on a bombastic recollection of nostalgic memories.

Well if you did, in fact, never get to share that experience, then developer The Men Who Wear Many Hats has your back, thanks to some funding by Kickstarter. Because they are bringing back the old school gameplay of “The Oregon Trail” but infusing it with the harsh reality of the zombie apocalypse. Now truthfully, I’m getting a little tired of the zombie genre, but every now and then something will pop up that resurrects the style much in the same manner as the decaying dead that populate those titles.

“The Organ Trail” (huh…clever) is one of those instances. From the menus, to the basic gameplay, to the perfectly recreated graphics and sounds, “The Organ Trail” shamelessly apes “The Oregon Trail” with admirable accuracy. The basic goal is the same. You and yours traverse the country in search of a better home, while battling the dangers of the untamed world. But rather than just throw a couple of undead sprites your way and port “The Oregon Trail,” the developers have completely re-imagined the experience of that classic as it stands in this new world, and along the way have managed to perfectly recreate the experience of the original, while still making sure that anyone who grew up on the original game enjoys the near flawless ratio of nostalgia to the joy of a fresh game experience.

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