When Apple called the iPod Touch the "Funnest iPod Ever", it was clear Apple was talking about gaming. But using the touch sensitive screen on the iPod -- and iPad and iPhone for that matter -- isn't necessarily the best way to input commands. Especially for action games like NBA JAM or Madden.
Some companies make "joysticks" that try to bridge the gap, but it's still a far cry from having physical buttons like a Nintendo DS. One solution is the iCade, which started as an April Fool's Joke, but was so popular that ThinkGeek turned it into a real product. It's great, but not exactly portable.
Now, we have the iControlPad. It's a Bluetooth control pad that's been in the works for more than three years -- and it's finally shipping.
Now, the iControlPad is great in theory, but it's not exactly an answer to gamer prayers -- through no fault of its own. No, the problem is that there aren't many games on the App Store that support it because of the restrictions Apple places on how bluetooth devices interact with apps. TouchArcade explains:
While, due to the aforementioned restrictions, the iControlPad can only interface with un-jailbroken iOS devices by way of keyboard emulation, it can interface with other platforms, including Android and WebOS, via the more robust protocols and, thus, deliver its full range of capabilities. Keyboard emulation does allow all other controls on the device to work under iOS — but no analog sticks, which need to send a constant stream of positional data to the host device.
Jailbroken iOS devices, on the other hand, can take full advantage of the analog sticks:
While the iControlPad may be the controller that iOS gamers have been waiting for, the App support isn't quite there yet for non-jailbroken devices. The developers promise iCade emulation support in the future which so far appears to be generating the most App Store support for a 3rd party controller.