The PS3 Sixaxis controller has been our go-to game controller for Android for a while, because the app that lets you connect it wirelessly (if you have root) – Sixaxis Controller – can emulate touch input, and in doing so both work with pretty much any game with on-screen buttons and have functional analog sticks (rather than glorified d-pads). A couple of weeks ago, the developer of USB/BT Joystick Center stopped by the comment section of our post of the app’s new update to let us know that an add-on was coming out to allow USB/BT Joystick Center to do touch emulation as well. As of today’s update, the add-on works with my tablet, so I can happily report to you that it does what it says.
The reason why this is a big deal is that USB/BT Joystick Center is an all-in-one solution for game controllers, not limited to PS3 controllers. While touch emulation still requires root, you can now get touch emulation on things like Xbox 360 controllers. I posted a bug report last night with a touch log from my 7.0 Plus, and coincidentally or not, this morning I woke up to a new version that worked perfectly. Minutes later I was playing Super Mario 64 with an Xbox 360 controller with a fully functional analog stick.
The way it works is that you set up your controller via the main app, then activate the add-on using the switch in the main app. In a game you then hold down four fingers on the screen to enter edit mode, where you push a button (or stick) and (while holding it) hold down on the screen where you want to place it (over the on-screen buttons, naturally). It confused me a bit as it’s much easier than the Sixaxis Controller system, leading me to think I was doing something wrong, but the analog stick “simply worked” once I placed it – while Sixaxis Controller had Mario crawling in circles for fifteen minutes while I calibrated it.
The add-on is still in alpha stages, so bugs are to be expected. The developer is one of the most responsive I’ve seen though, and his forum (linked to in the Market app description) has a forum where you find both help and bug reports, as well as tools to help submit more detailed bug reports. I sometimes feel like I’m the only one out there who is even aware of how well game controllers work on Android devices, as I see all these other sites suddenly go bananas when they discover that the Transformer Prime sort of kind of slightly works with some game controllers and games. At this point I’ve had game controllers from all the three big consoles working perfectly on my Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus, while none of them work “out of the box”, and I sincerely hope that more people start realizing the usefulness of this. The main app still only has “1000+” downloads, which just goes to show exactly how few people use this. Then again, considering the Market comments that reflect how people expect something as advanced as this to be as easy to set up as Angry Birds, perhaps it’s best that it remains a niche.[Android Market (main app) | (add-on)]