With the addition of the Nintendo Switch, I now have five video game consoles connected to my television. That means a lot of HDMI cables, but it also means a lot of controllers laying around. When you start adding second (or third, or fourth) controllers for multiplayer games, things add up quickly.
The team at All Controller think they have the solution. The small group is working on what is essentially a universal remote, but for game consoles. It looks a lot like an Xbox One gamepad, but it works with a range of devices, including PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC, Mac, iOS, and Android. (Support for the Switch and Wii U is also in the works.) This week, they launched a Kickstarter campaign to help fund production, with the goal of launching next May, and it’s already breezed past its initial funding goal.
I’ve had my hands on a prototype of the All Controller for the last few days, and it’s a surprisingly robust gamepad, especially considering it’s not the final product. For one thing, it’s very solid. Third-party controllers generally feel cheap and, in almost every instance, are a step-down from what comes packed with the console. But the All Controller doesn’t feel like that all. It’s like a cross between a Dual Shock and Xbox One pad, marrying the design and functionality of the two in a sturdy frame.
But the most important part of the All Controller is something that you won’t see on other controllers: a tiny LCD screen. It’s here where the power of the device comes out. For starters, it’s how you connect the controller to the various devices around your house. The All Controller includes a number of preinstalled drivers for all of the platforms it supports. The actual syncing process differs between platforms. To connect to iOS, for instance, you load the iOS driver on the All Controller, and then hop into your iPhone’s Bluetooth settings to find and connect the controller. On console, you simply plug in a provided USB dongle, and then load the appropriate driver. It’s a fairly seamless process.
The screen also lets you noodle about and alter some aspects of the controller as well. For instance, on a platform like PC, which supports both keyboard and controller, you can choose which one you want your controller to emulate. If you pick a keyboard, you can then pop into the menu to tweak which controller buttons represent which keys. You can also do things like adjust the sensitivity of the sticks or swap around the button placement.
For the most part, the controller worked great when I played around with it, whether it was getting in some time with Cave Story on my MacBook or digging more into the PS4 remaster of Final Fantasy XII. But it does have some niggling design issues. While the LCD screen is incredibly useful, it also adds an extra step to everything; the controller doesn’t function when the LCD is lit, so you’ll need to keep remembering to turn it off to play. Similarly, a toggle switch on the top is used to turn the All Controller on and off, and there were multiple times when I picked up a dead controller because it was never switched off. It’s not something I have to remember with any other controller, so it was very easy to forget.
But even with some slight issues, a more polished version of the All Controller could be just the thing for those of us who own a huge range of consoles. When it does launch, the wireless version will cost $110 Canadian (about $87 US). You can check it out on Kickstarter now.