Product Review – Mad Catz C.T.R.L.i Gamepad (iOS)

I will be the first to admit that I am generally not a fan of mobile gaming, however it is hard to deny the ever growing popularity of gaming on tablets and mobile phones, as they begin to eclipse traditional portable gaming devices. With this market on the rise, traditional console accessory manufacturers have stepped in provide consumers with a more traditional control scheme for those interesting in gaming on these devices, but are put off by the inaccuracy of motion controls. Mad Catz, normally known for its fight sticks and headphones, have come up with their C.T.R.L.i gamepad to help fill this need, but does there controller have what it takes to make these games more enjoyable? Let’s find out!

 

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The Mad Catz C.T.R.L.i Gamepad for iOS devices

Setup

The setup of the C.T.R.L.i was fairly painless and surprisingly easy. After inserting the included 2 AAA batteries into the back of the controller and turning it on, it was simply a matter of pressing down the Bluetooth button for 3 seconds, putting it into ‘pairing’ mode and then choosing the controller from the list of available devices in the iPad’s Bluetooth section. We were then prompted to download the required Mad Catz C.T.R.L.i app and setup was then complete. Simple.

In regards to the Mad Catz app, it is also a fairly simple, no fuss program that contains only the required features (and thankfully no ads) needed and is also easy to use. The home screen provides a percentage of the gamepad’s remaining battery life along with the controller’s current firmware version and also confirms if a firmware version update is required. The ‘Gamepad’ section of the app allows you to test out the buttons, analogue sticks and the d-pad to confirm that everything is working as required.

Finally we have the ‘Gamesmart’ section, which is the main feature set of the program. Included here are Product FAQ’s, GameSmart (a catalogue of all of Mad Catz mobile gaming accessories) and Featured Games which includes a list of app store links to all of the 826 games that are currently supported by the C.T.R.L.i gamepad. This brings us to an extremely important note:  if the game you wish to play is not included in this list, there is an extremely high chance that it will NOT work with the gamepad. For testing purposes, we tried using the controller with Activision’s Anthology app, which is not included in the Mad Catz app list of games, and we were unsuccessful in getting it to work.

 

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The C.T.R.L.i app is a no nonsense application with minimal features and free of bloatware.

Build Quality

When coming up with the design of the C.T.R.L.i gamepad, it’s obvious that Mad Catz have taken cues from Microsoft’s highly regarded console controllers, as its shape of the C.T.R.L.i mirrors those of the Xbox One & 360 controllers. Anyone who uses either of those controllers on a regular basis will feel right at home with with C.T.R.L.i. Ergonomically, it is extremely comfortable to hold and will fit well in your hands, with a ‘weighty’ feel that is not too light.

The dual analogue sticks on the C.T.R.L.i have a very similar feel to those of the Xbox One controller, with an amount of tension that does not feel overly loose and will snap back to the centre once released. The face buttons also feel extremely responsive and not stiff, with the shoulder buttons & triggers also feeling responsive. Finally, and probably the most important factor for those looking to do some retro gaming on their Apple devices, the d-pad feels quite tight compared to most modern controllers and did take a little getting used to.

 

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The C.T.R.L.i (left) definitely takes some cues from Microsoft’s Xbox One controller (right).

 

To truly put the controller through its paces, we took to the iTunes app store to download a couple of the supported games. To get a more accurate feel of it’s performance, we settled on a two games from entirely different genres:

Bloo Kid 2

Bloo Kid 2 is a classic, 2D retro inspired platformer from winterworks GmbH which is very much in the vein of Super Mario Bros. 3 & Super Mario World. With an assortment of tricky jumps and enemies, responsive buttons are essential and the ones on the C.T.R.L.i were more than capable to the task. The d-pad also held up really well and we were able to make all of my jumps and bop all the enemies in our path, with ease.

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Bloo Kid 2, a charming platforming game from winterworks GmbH

The King Of Fighters ‘98

Whilst Bloo Kid 2 was chosen to test the C.T.R.L.i’s button responsiveness, nothing puts a controllers d-pad through its pace like a 2D fighter, particularly the King of Fighters series from SNK Playmore. Whilst we weren’t originally expecting much from the d-pad, we were pleasantly surprised with the way it performed. Fireballs & dragon punch motions were able to be executed with ease, as were charge motions, however ‘super’ motions (double quarter circle forward & quarter circle forward to quarter circle back) proved to be a little more difficult.

 

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The King of Fighters ’98 from SNK Playmore

 

Final Impressions

With mobile phones & tablets quickly growing in processing power, big name developers such as Capcom & Nintendo are looking to iOS & Android to extend their player base. With this growing market, it iss great to see accessory manufactures such as Mad Catz bringing fully fledged controllers like the C.T.R.L.i to these platforms and proving gamers an alternative to native touch controllers. With a build quality and feel similar to those of their console counterparts, it is easy to recommend the C.T.R.L.i to anyone that is looking for a well made controller for their mobile device. It is disappointing though that compatibility is only limited to certain games and that the controller cannot be used between multiple mobile operating systems.

Pros:

Excellent build quality & feel.

Buttons & d-pad feel great.

Cons:

Not compatible with all games on the iPad App Store

Platform specific. The iOS controller will not work with Android devices or vice verser.

Score: 8 out of 10

Mad Catz C.T.R.L.i  gamepad kindly supplied by MobileFun.co.uk. You can find this and a ton more accessories at:

http://www.mobilefun.co.uk/mad-catz-c-t-r-l-i-mfi-bluetooth-controller-for-iphone-ipad-and-apple-tv-black-p57135.htm