2o2p Hardware Review | Moga Pocket & Pro Android Controllers

2old2play scored a couple of MOGA Android controllers at E3. Apparently, most of our writing staff must be firmly in the Apple, Windows, or Crackberry camps since I scored both of them to review. Here’s a quick look at the MOGA Pocket (~$35) and MOGA Pro (~$50).

MOGA Pocket
The Pocket, launched in 2012, was MOGA’s first foray into the market for Android controllers. It’s lightweight and fits comfortably in my hands. It runs on two AAA batteries and features two flat analog sticks, four buttons and left and right triggers. It reminds me of a Sega Saturn controller or maybe an Atari Jaguar controller (at least in shape). Saying it fits in my pocket is a bit of a stretch, though the same can be said about my phone.
I have the world’s largest smartphone, Samsung’s Galaxy Note II (aka the “phablet”). It’s actually bigger than the MOGA Pocket so I was shocked that it fit in the mount (although I did have to take off my even bigger Otterbox case to get it in there). The Pocket is irritating with a giant phone. To get it to stand up and not flop over when you put it down you must push the screen all the way forward instead of at a normal viewing angle. The mount also makes the volume button hard to reach and I usually hit it trying to get the phone out of the mount.
Setup was not an ideal experience. You need to download the MOGA Pivot app from Google Play for both configuration and purchasing games. That went alright but the controller pairs via bluetooth and it and my phone apparently hate each other. I tried three times before it finally paired and it kept giving me some weird code I never seemed to actually need.
Once paired I pulled up PacMan (it’s free!) only to find the phone was upside down in the mount (it rotated fine in the MOGA Pivot app). I had to flip it around and in the process I hit some button that kicked me out of the game. Thankfully, it didn’t unpair or accidently purchase anything and I was finally able to get back in and start gaming.
PacMac looks and sounds great on the phone. I also played Sonic CD which looks better now than it did then. The controller is solid but I’m not really a fan of the flat analog sticks. Overall it's a decent controller, but it doesn’t really compel me to try and move any of my gaming time to my phone.
Final Verdict-Moga Pocket
If someone has one you can borrow it’s worth checking out. It’s not terrible but the Pro isn’t much more expensive and is far superior.  
Onward to the Pro which is much closer to a PS3 or XBox 360 style controller. It features two analog sticks and a D-pad as well as left and right bumpers and triggers. It weighs about the same as a PS3 controller and features a surprisingly decent rumble. The Pro also features a USB rechargeable battery and a large external kickstand that would be nice for gaming with an Android tablet.
The Pro actually has two different bluetooth modes-A and B. It paired on the first try for the “A” bluetooth mode but I had similar issues as with the Pocket getting “B” mode to pair. There was a lot of “have you tried turning it on and off again?” and I found pairing outside the Pivot app in native Android worked best. Mode A works for “MOGA enhanced games” which are games specially designed to work with the controller. There seems to be about 100 or so of these available in the Play store ranging from old skool console to original. Mode B, or HID mode, is the standard human interface design that works with most devices (supposedly you can pair over bluetooth to a PC in this mode). I couldn’t find a list of HID games but happened to own Zen Pinball which was supported so I fired that up.
Zen is definitely more fun with the controller. I was a little sad I couldn’t map the controls so I could use the triggers instead of the bumpers but it definitely beats swiping with my fingers. I actually broke down and paid for a few tables and kept playing “just one more game.” 
I’d say this is a pretty solid controller but I was underwhelmed with the list of supported games. I purchased Space Apes (monkeys and Russian puns such as “In Soviet Russia banana eats you!”) and was entertained for ten minutes and then bored (which is how I feel about most games developed primarily for mobile). If you are going to bring me over to the mobile camp I think I just want to play either old emulated games or current console and PC games. In the immortal words of Tina Turner: “We don’t need another platform!”  Mad Max was totally about the console wars right? 
There are a few old skool games available. The neatest one I saw was a Doom GLES port. It includes the original free shareware WAD files and allows you to bring your own purchased ones if you’ve got your old floppies lying around (which I think I do but I’m not sure I have a drive to read them). Grand Theft Auto: Vice City is also available but I didn’t check that one out.
I wondered about game size since my phone doesn’t actually have that much hard drive space Most of the ones I checked out were between 10 and 30 MB. Sonic CD was 262 MB-still not too bad to have a small collection on a phone.
Final Verdict-MOGA Pro
The Moga Pro is a solid controller. If I didn’t already have a Bluetooth adapter for an XBox 360 controller I’d probably hook it up to my PC and try it out with Steam Big Picture. I don’t see this being the killer device to get me to start mobile gaming. Maybe if the available library grows and begins to encompass the types of games I play elsewhere I’d give it another shot. For now its pretty much my overkill toy for playing Zen Pinball.

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