The Nyko Playpad is a Swing and a Miss
During E3, I was lucky enough to get my hands on a Nyko Playpad. This handy little peripheral claims to be great for use on your mobile devices, turning them into portable consoles. But are they worth the $40? Let’s review.
First things, first. If you’re a beginner when it comes to hooking up devices via Bluetooth, you’re going to have a grand ol’ time trying to set this baby up. It’s definitely not just “plug and play”. Although there are certain things you can do with it right off the bat, to really utilize the Playpad, you’ll also have to download the application through the Google Play Store.
There are four modes that the Playpad has, including “mouse” and “controller”. Switching between the four is not always seamless, and may require unpairing the devices, updating firmware a couple of times, turning the whole thing off and on, and re-syncing the Playpad with the software that you’ve downloaded from the Play Store.
After you finally get all set up, you can select your game. For testing purposes, I did use the mouse function for some of my more casual games on the tablet and it worked great. Control isn’t as smooth as a mouse would be, and not nearly as friendly as just using your finger. However, that’s not really what this controller was made for. So, I used a classic console game that I really enjoy for the controller input — “The Bard’s Tale”.
Not only is this game fun, but I knew that it would really test the functionality of the control features on the Playpad. I have to admit, it took me quite a bit of time to get the controller to actually function with the game, even though it’s listed as one of the games you can use in the Nyko Playground app. Immediately I felt the difference. The control is not very fluid, but it is functional… up until one point in the tutorial.
In “The Bard’s Tale” you summon monsters to help you fight, and one of the tutorial instructions is to change its demeanor to “aggressive” by pushing down on the left thumb stick. You can’t do this on the Nyko Playpad (though I think you may be able to on its big brother, Playpad Pro). I could not advance in the tutorial without this control, so I ended up loading my save prior to this and skipping the tutorial entirely just to move on in the game. Needless to say, this is a major conflict with the control experience.
Overall, this experience would lead me to rate this peripheral as average. The Playpad is functional, but only barely scratches the surface of what it could do. There are other similar peripherals that work more fluidly, don’t require most of the hassle of the setup process, and have full control of the games that are recommended. There are even some, like the Phonejoy, which actually let you clamp the controller around your device, so that you don’t have to find a flat surface to set up your mobile device on. I could see maybe using it on a plane, or in a coffee shop or something, but I think just using the touchscreen might be more of an enjoyable experience.
TL:DR – Overview of Scoring
2.5/5 Control – Clunky but mostly functional
Setup – Intensive — definitely not “plug and play”
Feel – Smaller than Playpad Pro, which may be hard to hold for people with larger hands, but perfect for children or people with smaller hands (Think SNES controller versus XBox controller)
Look – Sleek and smooth, very straightforward control labels