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8/25/2008
07:06 PM
Marin Perez
Marin Perez
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Making iPhone 3G Games Better

Since the launch of the iPhone 3G and Apple's App Store, it's clear that video games are going to be a big part of its appeal. With a touch screen, strong graphics, accelerometers, and a quick and easy distribution channel, the handset is sure to battle with Nintendo and Sony for portable gamers, right? Not quite. But, an upcoming accessory may give it a fighting chance.

Since the launch of the iPhone 3G and Apple's App Store, it's clear that video games are going to be a big part of its appeal. With a touch screen, strong graphics, accelerometers, and a quick and easy distribution channel, the handset is sure to battle with Nintendo and Sony for portable gamers, right? Not quite. But, an upcoming accessory may give it a fighting chance.During the WWDC conference, the touch screen and accelerometer were touted as a big selling point for games on the handset. And Sega's Super Monkey Ball has utilized both of those to become the most-downloaded application from the store. But the need to control through motion can also be limiting -- if you've ever tried playing Super Monkey Ball on a bus you'd know how frustrating it can be. The folks at iControlpad are trying to give mobile gamers a more conventional way to play games, and they recently showed off a prototype.

The controller/case would connect to the iPhone or iPod touch via the dock connection, and provide multiple tactile buttons and a full D-pad. For users with unlocked devices, this control pad could be a godsend for playing those (legal) ROMS on the iPhone NES and SNES emulators. For normal (read: non-unlocked) users, the controller would open up some real estate on the screen, and make you not have to wave your phone around like a crazy person any time you want to play a quick game on your iPhone.

Here's a picture of a prototype, courtesy of iControlpad:

If you're worried about the ugliness of the controller accessory, rest easy, as the final version should look something like this:

Of course, this accessory from an unknown company will have very little impact on the entire market, because the amount of people who buy this will be miniscule. Additionally, developers would have to put in extra time to ensure games work with and without the accessory.

But, if Apple ever gets serious about taking on the big dogs in portable gaming, an officially sanctioned control pad accessory could go a long way. If the recent price cut rumors turn out to be true, the iPod touch could be a great platform for Apple to up the ante in the gaming war.

Admittedly, this idea is probably a bit far-fetched, and the iControlpad will probably delight a handful of users while flying under the mainstream radar. Besides, not having traditional handheld gaming controls may just make developers become more creative in order to provide a great gaming experience. I know I'm looking forward to Star Wars: The Force Unleashed:

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