While Gamevice has been around for a bit, their new Minecraft Bundle launched the other month to give mobile gamers the best experience possible, with a solid game to go along with it. They were kind enough to send one my way to test out, and I'm happy to say the controller is a great add-on that makes mobile gaming much easier.
To be entirely honest, I've never been a big fan of mobile games. Don't get me wrong I've lost plenty of hours to puzzlers and a variety of Angry Birds, but most never stick. Ultimately I end up downloading a new game, playing it incessantly for about a week, and then completely forgetting it; letting the app wallow in loneliness on my phone's screen.
The reason isn't necessarily about the quality of the games themselves; I mean, I've done the same with ports of major games I've liked (i.e. Knights of the Old Republic). I've just never cared for the control schemes utilized on a fully touch-screen device.
While others have managed to adapt to the controls for all manner of mobile games, it's something I've always struggled with. Sure, there have been a number of controller peripherals released over the years to account for this problem...but none of them felt right to me. Whether they felt too cheap/plasticy, or simply felt awkward to use with the phone attached in odd places, something never worked for me.
When I first saw Gamevice's controller design, however, I was very much intrigued. Instead of making a controller work alongside the phone, this works directly on the phone itself, encompassing it within the controls itself. It's very reminiscent of the Nintendo Switch, where two halves of the controller sit on opposite sides of the screen/mobile device.
The Minecraft Bundle they sent my way comes with the latest Gamevice controller, a swanky carrying case, and, of course, a download code for Minecraft on the iphone. To be honest, I was initially struck by how small the package was. Typically, when you think of gaming devices, compact isn't generally the first thought. The Gamevice however, is designed to fold up and be super portable. Even when put inside the case, the whole thing fits nicely in your hand, making it easy to carry around with you wherever you go.
I mean, the whole idea is to be able to game, comfortably, on your phone whenever you feel like it. That wouldn't work so well if the Gamevice were any bulkier. As it stands, it's ridiculously portable. While it isn't small enough to fit in your pocket, it will sit comfortably in any bag, purse, briefcase...etc.
So it's portable and looks cool, but how does it actually play? Once I got my hands on it and started playing, I was surprised at how smoothly it works. There are two halves like I mentioned, but they're connected by a foldable strap that lays along the back side of your phone. This straps holds everything in place and you can adjust it to fit your specific phone (everything from iPhone 7 to the 8 plus). This gives it a more solid feel in your hands and doesn't seem like it's going to wiggle off during intense play sessions.
Solid really seems like the best way to describe it. Too often, peripheral controllers have a plastic/flimsiness to them that detract from the gameplay. They either don't work correctly thanks to sticky buttons, or they feel like they're going to fall apart in your hands that you're afraid to game with them.
Gamevice has no such issues and I was pleasantly surprised by how great it felt when I started playing. It doesn't feel cheap, and every button press feels like it gives the right amount of feedback. They click the right way and aside from the shoulder buttons being a bit "squishy," it's almost like picking up your regular controller to play.
Best of all, there's no charging or batteries necessary to make the Gamevice work (some of their tablet models do,however). The device connects to your phone via the lightning port, and uses some of the power from your phone to keep itself working. The power it uses is fairly minimal, and when playing for extended periods of time, I didn't notice a big difference in how quickly the battery drained. This means you'll be able to play to your heart's content without having to constantly worry about the device killing your battery.
While the Minecraft Bundle comes with that specific game, you can use the controller for any game you want to. It's easy enough to get going and you'll soon be playing just like you were at your home console. I won't talk much about the game itself, as Minecraft is pretty well known at this point. The mobile version is pretty solid, but using your finger to craft things is a pretty frustrating endeavor. You can't get the same amount of detail/precision as you do with a controller, which is why it's the perfect game to couple with Gamevice.