Editorials

Review: Rotor Riot Wired Video Game and Drone Controller

The experience of playing a game on a mobile device can sometimes lead to frustrating results. Many games are perfect for the platform. Looking at the Apple App Store, most games utilize point-and-click or simple touch-based controls. However, as the processing power within the iPhone evolves, so too must the games. Full console experiences have begun to make their way to the App Store, and each begs to be played with precision. Which is why I wanted to spend a bit of time with the Rotor Riot Wired Video Game and Drone Controller.

When playing a game on an iPhone, you lose that tactile feel of a controller. Sure, mobile games will offer onscreen thumbsticks and buttons to press, but it never feels quite right to someone who primarily plays a game with a controller in hand. That experience is an unfortunate loss if picking up the iPhone for a quick game during some downtime.

Rotor Riot offers a solution to all of that by providing mobile users with an alternative to onscreen controls. The wired video game controller has a familiar design if you are accustomed to a console experience. In addition, the controller can also be used to control drones through an iPhone as well. 

Inspired by the model of the Xbox One controller, Rotor Riot’s controller features asymmetrical thumbsticks with four small grips on each. The height of the thumbsticks is near identical to the Xbox One controller. The size of the thumbsticks themselves is slightly larger flatter when compared to the console counterpart. Rotor Riot’s controller follows the same design for the rest of the controller. From following the A, B, X, Y button layout to having shoulder buttons and triggers on the back. It also features L3 and R3 inputs which were a nice touch however under underutilized in most mobile games. Rotor Riot’s D-pad is a bit lacklustre. The response time is a bit unforgiving and is the only aspect of the controller I took issue with.

Upon unboxing the controller, the first thing you will likely notice is the lightning cable hanging off the rear. The Rotor Riot controller can only be used when plugged into your iPhone or iPad’s lightning port. Since the controller does not have a battery built in, expect the controller to drain the additional battery when playing your game. For the context of this review, I used the iPhone XS Max. I was able to run the controller and phone with full brightness for roughly five hours before depleting a large portion of the phone’s battery. You will also notice how light the controller is. The body of the controller does not feel as sturdy as your run of the mill controller. Considering the $49.99 price point, you may understand why.

In addition to the controller, you’ll find a mount that will screw on to the top of the controller. The mount is quite easy to set up. While the size of the mount may raise concerns, it can expand allowing larger smartphones to be used while in their case. Although the expansion of the mount is quite forgiving, I did have to take the iPhone XS Max out of its case in order to securely mount the device. The same can be said when I used my iPhone 7 Plus while in a Spigen case. Users with iPhones such as the XS, X, and 8 may not run into the same issue, but it is important to keep case size in mind.

Using the controller on any of Apple’s iPads, you can disregard the mount as the tablets are unable to fit. Instead, the lightning cable is long enough to plug into an iPad and use while on a desk or near a coffee table. Having a tablet mount for the iPad will definitely enhance this experience to avoid slouching over the screen in order to see.

It is worth noting that not every mobile game will be supported by Rotor Riot’s controller. In order to use the device, you must download the Ludu Mapp companion app from the App Store. Within the app, more than 1000 games are listed, indicating controller support. Titles such as Fortnite, Storm Boy, NBA 2K19, Asphalt 9: Legends and Life is Strange are all currently supported. If you are curious to see if your favourite mobile game is included, the search function will quickly filter through all titles. Unfortunately, if you are itching to play PUBG with the controller, you may be disappointed. As of writing this review, PUBG is one of the major titles omitted from the support list.

Much to my surprise, Rotor Riot’s controller is one of the few that supports PlayStation 4’s Remote Play app. While I had tested Remote Play upon release, the experience was lacking. Having a controller at my disposal has made the experience quite enjoyable.

If you are solely playing mobile games using the controller, some experiences may be hit or miss. While playing, the response time was quite minimal. All inputs feel natural and there seems to be no major input lag. That being said, a few games are not completely optimized for a controller experience. In many instances, you may have to swap between the controller and touching the screen in order to navigate menus.

The barrier of entry for this device is quite minimal. The Rotor Riot controller is currently sold for $49.99. The price is quite appropriate when considering the practical use. With more than 1000 supported titles, users looking for a tactile supplement when playing mobile games should find comfort when using the Rotor Riot controller. If you are looking to invest, best download the free Ludu Mapp app and check the current offerings before purchase.

[This item was provided to us for review purposes]

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Steve is based in Toronto, Ontario. His enthusiasm and adoration of the video game industry go back to the days of SNES. Find him on Twitter and join in on the escapades.

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