10 iOS games that are crying out for controller support

The Untouchables

10 iOS games that are crying out for controller support

We've all grown accustomed to smart device gaming by now, and only the gaming traditionalists / luddites will deny the fact that the touchscreen is as valid a gaming input as the control pad.

Equally undeniable is that some game types are simply better to play on a physical controller.

The iPhone and iPad have technically had controller support for some time now, but it's all been very haphazard and needlessly awkward for developers to adopt. That's thanks largely to Apple turning a blind eye to it all.

With the release of iOS 7, though, Apple is actively encouraging the use of custom-built physical controllers, complete with purpose-built APIs to allow developers to implement controller support into their games.

Yes, even controllers with twin analogue sticks. You know, like those you get with your home consoles. The possibilities are exciting, to say the least.

Out of control

With that in mind, we've been returning to a repeat daydream we've been having since iPhone gaming took off in 2008.

'Which iOS games would really benefit from controller support?'

Any FPS, 2D platformer, and console port is the easy answer. But let's break that lot down into ten prime examples.

Do let us know which iPhone and iPad games you think would benefit most from controller support in the comments section below.

By 505 Games - buy on iPhone and iPad

One of the finest indie games of recent times surfaced on iOS recently. And much of its wide-open DIY charm remained intact.

However, Terraria on iPhone and iPad is a bit of a dog to control, taking a considerably amount of sheen off this world-building 2D platformer.

Add controller support to this game and Terraria would return to something like its essential best.

Street Fighter IV: Volt
By Capcom - buy on iPhone and iPad

You could argue that any 2D beat-'em-up on iOS would be improved immeasurably by controller support, but we'll go with this subtly revamped version of Street Fighter IV to represent them all.

It's a fine brawler with multiplayer support, but Capcom doesn't quite go as far as it did with Street Fighter X Tekken in remoulding the game for the touchscreen. The precision and certainty of a good D-pad would elevate this dramatically.


Deus Ex: The Fall
By N-Fusion - buy on iPhone and iPad

Deus Ex: The Fall is a hugely impressive action-stealth game with top-notch production values, interesting multi-approach gameplay, and a brooding plot.

However, it's also weighed down by touchscreen first-person shooter controls which, as we all know, sit on iOS about as comfortably as an invasive mechanical augmentation.

Just a little Deus Ex-themed joke for the fans there.

Call of Duty: Strike Team
By Activision Blizzard - buy on iPhone and iPad

Call of Duty blasts onto iPhone (minus zombies) here. Funnily enough, though, it's the most recognisably Call of Duty-esque elements that 'prevent' this game from being something special.

And that's largely due to the lack of physical controls.

Call of Duty: Strike Team is one half squad-based tactical game and one half FPS. The tactical bit works brilliantly on touchscreen. The FPS bits do not.

Real Racing 3
By Firemonkeys - buy on iPhone and iPad

Yeah, tilting your iPhone to steer your beautifully rendered car around Real Racing's pristine tracks is just like using a steering wheel, isn't it?

That's what many of us tell ourselves as we plough the hours and IAPs in. Let's face it, though: it's not quite the same.

Through the lack of resistance, that vital layer of sensory feedback that can put you fully in the Vettel-zone is removed. A decent set of physical controls might not help you replicate the full steering experience, but it would lead to a much tighter brand of racing.

By EA - buy on iPhone and iPad

Of all the console-style genres that are ill-suited to mobile play, we can't think of any to top the footy sim.

FIFA 13 wasn't bad at all, of course, and represented one of the most sympathetic smartphone footy treatments yet.

But it's all relative, and if you stack it up against even the somewhat half-arsed PS Vita FIFA, well, it's a little embarrassing to tell the truth.

FIFA needs physical controls like Arsenal need a striker.

Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars
By Rockstar Games - buy on iPhone and iPad

All this kerfuffle over Grand Theft Auto V led me to think about the only Grand Theft Auto I've ever finished: Chinatown Wars.

Its lighter tone, more focused gameplay, and broader sense of fun resonated with me in a way that no other GTA entry ever has.

Of course, I played it on the Nintendo DS with its (mostly) physical controls. The iOS version is excellent, sure, but it's inevitably compromised by a lack of physical inputs. Add controller support and its all-conquering aceness is restored.

Sonic The Hedgehog 2
By Sega - buy on iPhone

Numerous iOS developers have found ways to make 2D platformers work with virtual controls.

But this nearly always involves stripping away the need for split-second reactions and pinpoint precision. Oh, and lowering the game's speed and the complexity of its level design.

All of which means that Sonic The Hedgehog 2, one of the greatest platformers ever, is a barely playable mess on iOS. Controller support would be like a bowl of refreshing milk for this particular erinaceid. Or does milk hurt hedgehogs? I forget.

Gunstar Heroes
By Sega - buy on iPhone

While we're discussing classic Sega conversions with less-than-optimal controls, let's throw in a mention of Gunstar Heroes.

It remains one of the best platform-shooters ever made (courtesy of legendary developer Treasure), with stupendously imaginative level design and solid blasting.

Solid, that is, with a decent set of physical controls under your mitts. Without them, it's a bit of a mess. Controller support, please!

Ms. Splosion Man
By Twisted Pixel Games - buy on iPhone and iPad

Ms. Splosion Man is another console conversion. This time, however, it's from the current generation.

Originally released on Xbox 360, this charming side-scrolling platformer involves your detonating the title character again and again with the dual purpose of gaining some air and destroying your enemies.

It looks and handles fabulously on iOS - much of the time, at least. The one element that 'holds it back' is that virtual control setup, which renders certain sections explosively irritating.