PowerA unveils MOGA Bluetooth controller for Android devices, we go hands-on

PowerA's best known as a company that crafts controllers and accessories for console gaming systems, but at E3 this year the firm is announcing its first foray into the mobile space: a Bluetooth controller for Android. Called the MOGA, its got dual analog sticks and shoulder buttons, along with a fold-out, spring-loaded center portion that holds phones of all sizes in place while you get your game on -- not unlike Gametel's controller we saw at CES. The front of the device is glossy black plastic, while the rear is swathed in rubber, with ribbed portions on the grips to keep it firmly in hand.%Gallery-156556%

A companion app, available for free through the Google Play store, is also a part of the Moga experience. Called the MOGA Pivot app, it scans your phone for games compatible with the controller, lists them, and lets you launch them direct from the app. Not only that, it'll periodically update the games list as new games are acquired and it'll download patch kits automatically for existing games as they become compatible with the controller. Additionally, it's got a store (powered by Google Play) that'll let users download new compatible games, and titles in the Play Store will have a badge to let folks know which games work with Moga. Currently, the company has 14 games on board -- including Duke Nukem 3D, Virtua Tennis Challenge and Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode II -- and are in talks with some other big publishers, so more titles will be supported in the coming weeks and months. We got a sneak peek at the MOGA ahead of E3 and talked with the folks from PowerA about their newest bit of kit, so join us after the break for our impressions.%Gallery-156553%

In our time with the MOGA, we found that it fit well in our hands, and our sweaty palms appreciated the rubberized grips round the back. The controller is solidly constructed, and its spring loaded clamp worked quite well holding a GSII in place while we played. MOGA's buttons have a shorter throw than we'd like and that results in a hollow clicky feeling when pressed -- as opposed to a satisfying snick you get from say, a Sixaxis unit. That said, we had no problem timing our ground strokes while playing Virtua Tennis. The analog sticks are shallow as well and will feel familiar to anyone who's used the nub on a PSP Go, and we had no issue tracking enemy planes in our Sopwith Camel in Sky Gamblers: Rise of Glory. In short, we found the MOGA to be a good option for folks looking for some tactile controls to use while gaming on their phones. As we said above, it's currently an Android-only peripheral, but PowerA has plans to put it in the hands of iOS and Windows Phone users as well. We don't have an official price for the thing just yet, but we do know it'll be available during this year's holiday season, when it'll be joined by the MOGA Pro -- the MOGA's bigger, more console-like cousin. Good news is, that gives you plenty of time to peruse our gallery of photos while you wait.