Gaming on mobile devices has certainly
improved by leaps and bounds over the last years. Even mid-range phones are
powerful enough to run games that would have been exclusively console-bound in
the past. There are also plenty of wonderful console ports on both Android and
Everything about gaming on mobile is pretty great, except when it comes to the controls. Since smartphones and tablets don’t have physical buttons, the only interface is a touch screen.
That’s perfectly OK for games that have been designed for touch or are in a genre that works well with it. The (now sadly gone) Infinity Blade games and Civilization VI are both good examples of this.
However, there are many great games on mobile that are simply awkward to play using touch controls. This is where iOS really shines, thanks to Apple’s “MFi” orMade for iOS standard. This is a set of minimum requirements published by Apple for makers of iOS gamepads.
If a game and a controller both support the MFi standard then it will work perfectly. On Android controller support is much more fragmented, with some games supporting one brand or standard and other games supporting something else.
So which games on iOS are good enough to justify buying an MFi controller? We’ve picked five excellent titles that benefit so much from using a controller, you won’t ever want to go back to touch.
Sure, there are games like KOTOR that are both excellent games and have MFi controller support. However, their touch controls are so good that you don’t really gain anything from using a controller. We haven’t included those games in this list for that reason.
GRID Autosport is a milestone mobile game for a few reasons. The most striking is the game’s graphical presentation. This is almost exactly the same game we played on console and PC.
While graphical fidelity certainly had to be toned down a little, the game certainly looks as good or better than the previous generation of home consoles such as the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360. An incredible feat considering that it runs on a passively-cooled phone or tablet.
Playing the game with touch controls is
however a real chore. It’s borderline impossible to achieve the precise driving
you need to progress. Change over to a gamepad however and suddenly you’ll be
in the groove.
While GRID may be a little on the pricey side,
it’s absolutely packed with content. Featuring 100 cars and 100 tracks, you
definitely get value for money, but without a gamepad we couldn’t recommend
spending the cash.
Get it here.
Rush Rally 3
Our second game is a also a racing title, but it’s not the graphical bonanza that GRID offers. That being said RR3 looks pretty amazing given how small the developer is and is probably the best rally experience on either Android or iOS.
Despite rally racing being more technical and unforgiving than track racing in general, RR3’s touch controls are pretty well tuned, especially with the difficulty turned down. Which means it’s actually a decent way to kill a few minutes on your phone while waiting at the DMV or doctor’s offices.
If you want to settle down to some properly dirty fun however, you absolutely need an MFi controller. RR3 is almost a different game entirely freed from the limitations of touch controls. There are few things nas satisfying as sliding around a hairpin corner so fast you can’t believe the car’s not rolling into a tree already.
The game is also much more affordable than GRID, so you really have no excuse. It’s
predecessor, Rush Rally 2, is also still on sale for just a buck or two and was
also the previous king of rally on mobile. Grab both with an MFi controller of
your choice and you’ll be as happy as a pig in mud. Lots and lots of mud.
Get it here.
Nintendo’s stable of classic franchises have
enthralled gamers for decades now. From Mario to Zelda and everything in
between, there’s just a sort of magic to
the Nintendo family of games. Many developers who make games for non-Nintendo
hardware have tried to copy some of these games, attempting to capture what
makes them special.
Oceanhorn is unashamedly a take on classic
top-down Zelda titles such as A Link to
the Past. That’s some pretty hallowed ground to tread, but it turns out
that Oceanhorn’s makers know how to pay proper tribute while making something
great in its own right.
There’s also some real industry talent
involved with the game, such as the legendary Nobuo Uematsu. Probably best
known for making most of the Final Fantasy music. The game looks gorgeous,
gameplay is responsive and snappy with a perfectly serviceable story of a boy
searching a series of islands for his missing father.
Oceanhorn’s touch controls are OK, but in an action fantasy game like this you’ll often find yourself eating a boss’ damage or losing hearts for no reason other than a lack of precision and feedback.
Using an MFi controller will turn you into a hack-and-slash pro and takes all the frustration out of playing this wonderful little title. This game is now also (ironically) available on the Nintendo Switch, so that should tell you something about its quality.
Get it here.
Does Fortnite even need an introduction?
Following on the Battle Royale pioneer Player
Unknown’s Battleground, Fortnite took this fresh new formula and put a
unique gameplay spin on it.
In the most popular Battle Royal mode, 100
players drop from the sky with no gear or weapons. You must find goodies as
quickly as possible, last person standing wins! Fortnite is free-to-play, but
made a whopping $2.4 billion in 2018. That’s a LOT of weapon skins.
Things really started to pick up when Fortnite came to mobile devices. Predictably this move caused major disruptions in schools, as battle-hungry kids duked it out when they should have been learning history and algebra.
Having Fortnite on mobile has been great, but the touch controls really do make for a much inferior experience compared to console versions. It’s too easy to feel that you’ve just been eliminated thanks to bad controls rather than a lack of skill.
In early 2019 MFi controller support finally came to Fortnite and now you can’t blame the controls anymore. There really is no other way to play than having physical controls.
Get it here.
Sonic CD Classic
Even people who aren’t gamers are probably aware of Sonic the Hedgehog. Sega’s main mascot in the 90s while the competition between it and Nintendo was red hot. The first Sonic game on the Megadrive/Genesis was a smash hit and is still a very worthy retro experience today.
However Sonic CD, which worked with the Sega CD attachment, is quite likely the best Sonic game ever made. Thanks to the extra space afforded by the CD media the music is better, there are more varied assets and better sound effects. It’s also a brilliant Sonic game from a pure gameplay perspective.
The iOS port of the game brings a lot more to
the table. One of the biggest features is the inclusion of the original
animated videos that the lo-fi Sega CD versions were made from.
You also get both the American and Japanese
soundtracks and of course upscaled graphics.
If you don’t have an MFi controller though, things sour quickly. Sonic CD is a game that required precision and you can’t take your eyes off the screen for a second.
That’s a pretty bad formula for touch controls and to be honest the game loses all of its fun when using touch controls. Switch to a controller however and you’ll be zooming through time and space before you know it.
Get it here.
A Whole New World of Games
These are just five games, you can find lists of games with MFi support all over the internet. Some are better with MFi, but play just fine without it. Others don’t benefit from MFi support, but have it anyway and then there are games like these that really require a controller to work properly.
Whichever is true for a given game, buying an MFi controller sure does open up a completely new world of gaming on the go with smartphone or tablet hardware and you’ll never want for titles to play!