Today I’m lucky enough to present a review of the Phonejoy, but not the Phonejoy you may have become accustomed to seeing in my Youtube videos – this time its the all new revamped design replete with dual analog sticks.
Is it the cure to what ails you in emulator gaming? Read on after the break to see!
Lets face it, most of you know the hardware already – its essentially a Playstation controller.
For those who have been living under a rock for the last 17 years the controller has two analog sticks, a D-pad directional control on the left of the controller, four control buttons on the right of the controller, four shoulder buttons, and Start and Select buttons. That’s a lot of buttons, and frankly if you know anything about emulator gaming, you’ll know that you will need all of them at times.
The device I had to review was a prototype, so naturally its difficult to say anything definitive about the build quality and so forth (you may notice the charging port is a bit misaligned in the prototype sample, this will be fixed on the release version).
What I can say is that even at this stage of development the controller feels great in the hand, which shouldn’t come as any great surprise, given it is near-identical to a genuine Playstation controller. Its lighter than a PS3 controller, but heavier and more solid than the original Phonejoy, which is definitely a positive.
Getting set up
There’s a few steps to getting your Phonejoy to run on your Android handset, firstly you’ll need to get the Bluez IME keyboard from the Market – the QR code on the left will take you straight there. Bluez IME isn’t compatible will all Android handsets, however in addition to the handsets mentioned on the Market I can confirm that it also works with the Galaxy SII, HTC Sensation, and any handset/tablet that is stock Android or using Cyanogenmod ROMs.
After that you’ll need to pair up your Phonejoy and go through the setup steps in the Bluez IME app. Fortunately the app itself will guide you through the process, so even if you’re not that technically minded it shouldn’t be too difficult to work out what to do. There is a Youtube instructional video below to supplement what I’ve written here, so check it out if you’re feeling lost.
Once you’re all done with that you can open your emulator and configure, or map, the Phonejoys buttons to the controls for the emulator. In YongZH’s emulators you’ll need to enable Use Input Method in Other Settings, then go to Input Settings, turn off Virtual Keypad, and then go into Key Mappings and set up the controller how you’d like it to work. In Android’s Playstation emulator par excellence, FPSe, go to Settings, Input, Hardware keys, and map the buttons there, then enter the Touchscreen settings and disable the onscreen controls. Obviously FPSe has an advantage over the Nintedo emulators, since it emulates a system that uses a controller exactly like the Phonejoy.
After that, you’re ready to experience some gaming – and what an experience it is!
So, after all that, is it worth it?
In a word: Yes.
I’ve not had a better emulator experience on an Android phone, or any other device for that matter. Playstation emulation is obviously going to be fantastic, I’d go as far as to say the experience is essentially identical to playing an actual Playstation. Nintendo emulation isn’t quite as authentic an experience as that, but nevertheless, the addition of the analog sticks is a truly wondrous advance to the quality of the gaming experience. I found this particularly true for racing titles, and some of the systems most revered classics like Mario 64, Zelda, and Banjo Kazooie.
Obviously you’re going to need a reasonably high-end handset to get the best from this, because while the Phonejoy will work with many handsets, only higher end ones are going to cope with emulating an N64 or Playstation very well. If you do have one, be prepared to be transported to 1994 (surprisingly a very good place to be transported to, for gaming at any rate). If you have one capable of mirroring its display to an external monitor or television then the experience becomes truly immersive. MHL capable handsets are the main beneficiaries here, there are also a number of other handsets that are capable of similar connections – the original Galaxy S, the Xperia Arc, the LG Optimus 2x, and Motorola’s Atrix to name but a few (here is a more complete listing).
During the use I’ve had so far the only minor quibble I’ve had is that controls that rely heavily on the pressure-sensitive control sticks that were present in the N64 don’t play quite so well. The Phonejoy only has on/off type directional controls as far as I’m aware, and because of that there isn’t a way to have graduated directional control. Goldeneye 64 is the main game where I’ve found this an issue, but it doesn’t take too long to start getting to grips with it, and I suspect that once I top the learning curve I’ll be just fine with it.
Finally, Gamevil titles also work with the Phonejoy if you follow the instructions here. They’re for a Zeemote, but also work perfectly well for the Phonejoy. Hopefully we’ll see an increasing number of games vendors adding support for external keyboard inputs as we go forward, something like NOVA 2 from Gameloft with a Phonejoy would be something else.
But enough words, check out a demo video here showing off just what I’ve been talking about:
It’s no surprise that I’m a fan – this is THE controller to get if you care at all about emulator gaming. If you’ve never cared about emulator gaming in the past, then I really think now is a good time to try it. The phone hardware and emulator software is finally up to the task, and now you also have a great control experience to top it off. If you have an Android with mirroring capabilities, then you basically have a Playstation and a Nintendo 64 in your pocket (and a NES/SNES/Gameboy/GBA etc). If you stop and think for a minute about the massive back catalog of quality games on those systems, I think its clear that a few minutes of configuring the Phonejoy is a small price to pay indeed.
Regarding the availability of the Phonejoy: You may note that I have mentioned a few times in the past that the Phonejoy has been very limited in availability. With the imminent release of the revamped model this is set to change, and while they still won’t be massively abundant in number, production is projected to ramp up from here on out. If you keep an eye on this space, I believe Clove may even have an announcement about the Phonejoy quite soon…