iOS Game controllers have always seemed like a good (if niche) idea, providing powerful controls for games without covering most of your iPhone's screen. But they've mostly been unusably large, or just plain unusable. Razer's new Junglecat, however, looks like it might be one of the best options yet.
The $99 Junglecat, which comes in black or white, looks to the unsuspecting eye like any other plastic iPhone case. It just about doubles the thickness of the iPhone, though it's not terribly heavy. But the bottom half of the case slides out to reveal a four-way d-pad, ABXY buttons, and two bumpers for your index fingers — suddenly your iPhone looks a bit like a Nintendo 3DS or the Sony Xperia Play. It's small and comfortable to use, with slightly mushy but completely usable buttons, though I really wish the D-pad were a joystick instead. There's no battery inside the hefty case, but Razer says it doesn't use much power — and it has a Micro USB port that can charge your phone through the case. This is a controller you're meant to leave on all the time; it's for the hardest of hardcore gamers.
Like most iOS controllers, the Junglecat connects to your phone via the Lightning connector, and as such should be easy to set up. It supports the thousands of games Apple says are compatible with controllers, and there's even a Razer-made app that makes it easy to find those games and even map your controls however you want. I played Sonic, Limbo, and Asphalt 8: Airborne with the Junglecat, and all worked seamlessly — though it did take a second to figure out what button was what each time. And, unfortunately, there's still a fair amount of back-and-forth between the touchscreen and the controller as you scroll through menus and options, but that's a bigger problem than Razer.
There are still kinks for both sides to work out with iOS game controllers
The Junglecat is coming out in July, and it's an interesting proposition. It's one of the best iOS controllers I've seen yet, an attempt to solve or at least lessen the problem of constantly carrying an accessory you're only occasionally using. It's still going to be only for a small niche of intense gamers, but that's who Razer's always served better than anyone.