There are lots of game controllers for mobile devices out there now, even for iOS devices. What none of them do that the GameDock wants to do, however, is to put it into a game console-like package. The idea here is to combine controllers and a device dock into a package that gives you more of a game console feel. Instead of pairing multiple wireless controllers and plugging in an HDMI cable, you connect the dock to an external screen (or use the device screen), dock the device, and then use the wired controllers to play compatible games. The controllers themselves are designed to look like original Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) controllers, which adds to the retro feel.
There will be a dashboard style app that will work like a game selector, letting you choose games with the controller. The dock itself connects via Bluetooth, freeing up the dock connector for HDMI output. As for games, anything compatible with the iCade and limited to the buttons available on the controller will work.
While this is a neat product, the iOS focus and price is its biggest issue. It won’t necessarily fail funding, but that compared to Android the capabilities of the iOS platform for controller gaming is just outright pathetic, and this product shows that very well. On Android you have modern games and emulators compatible with multiple controllers, allowing you to play titles like Mario Kart 64 with a true analog stick, on an external monitor, with four player support. Root your device and you have compatibility with more or less any game out there through touchscreen emulation. Such a dock made for Android devices, with four controllers equipped with analog sticks, now that would have been something. Take away half the controllers, 80% of the buttons (including the analog sticks), and release it for such a limited platform, and there’s simply too many issues for me to get excited about this.
Now you might say that retro is cool, but exactly how cool? Because this will cost you $150, and that doesn’t even get you the second controller. You can get 4 Phonejoys and an MHL (common microUSB to HDMI standard) adapter for that price, trading the dock and the NES look for four times as many, and more capable, controllers. Heck, you can get a brand new Wii for that price!
All in all a neat concept, but I think they’ve missed the spot on what platform to target and what price to sell it at.[Kickstarter]