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Last Updated: July 15th, 2014

A few months ago, I reviewed Mad Catz's first console, MOJO. While I came away with mixed feelings about stock Android with nothing more than controller input, C.T.R.L.R. itself left me impressed (the name, on the other hand, is terrible). It's packed with useful buttons a-plenty, including full navigation, media, and volume controls.

Now, Mad Catz has released a standalone version of CTRLR that can be used on any Android device (or Windows PC) over Bluetooth. It's essentially identical to MOJO's controller, save for some very minor aesthetic differences and a slight Bluetooth tweak.

wm_IMG_2684

Pros

Cons

  • Good build quality.
  • Several useful buttons, makes controlling Android via the controller much easier.
  • It connects instantly. It's scary-fast.
  • Can be slightly touchy, making precision control difficult.
  • No way to gauge battery life until it's almost dead.

If you read my MOJO review, then you may remember I had some issues getting the original CTRLR to work with other Android devices. The reason for that is simple: MOJO's controller uses Bluetooth Smart (4.0) only. This version of CTRLR uses "classic" Bluetooth, which essentially makes it compatible with the majority of Android devices. In addition to that, Mad Catz plans to release a firmware update for CTRLR that will enable BT Smart, as well, making it compatible with essentially everything.

For testing purposes, I used CTRLR on SHIELD and my Nexus 7. You may be asking yourself why I'd use a controller on a device that already has a built-in controller. The answer to that is simple: console mode. When SHIELD is attached to a TV, an external controller is absolutely essential. I've been using the Nyko PlayPad Pro on SHIELD for the longest time (it's one of the few controllers with both home and back buttons), but the CTRLR feels a lot better to me so I couldn't wait to try it out.

wm_IMG_2674 wm_IMG_2678 wm_IMG_2679

It worked beautifully on both devices, playing native games and with emulators. The full media and volume controls at the top of the controller are a very nice touch, as it made quick song changes or volume adjustments a snap without the need to actually touch the device. Brilliant.

Just like its MOJO-specific counterpart, this version of CTRLR has three different modes to work with: gaming, mouse, and PC. Here's a quick recap of what they do:

  • Game Mode: This is used to play any controller-compatible game on Android. From Dead Trigger 2 to Shadowgun, GTA, and emulators, this mode speaks the universal language of fun. Or something like that.
  • Mouse Mode: As its name suggests, this essentially turns the controller into a mouse. Game mode can also be used to navigate the OS, though it's awkward and not as intuitive as mouse mode. That said, Android is cumbersome to navigate using a controller no matter what, so it's kind of a moot point.
  • PC Mode: PC mode is for using CTRLR to play games on Windows machines, as if you couldn't already guess that. Unfortunately, I couldn't get it to work. At all. Bummer.

Update: Mad Catz got in touch about the PC issue - basically, it requires the CTRLR's desktop software (which I wasn't aware of at the time). If a game isn't supported, the buttons can be mapped, so it essentially supports all games.

On the build quality front, CTRLR isn't a tank, but it seems to be built well enough – not quite Sony Dualshock or Microsoft-branded Xbox-level, but damn solid for a mobile controller. It's laid out a lot like an Xbox controller, which is often considered the most comfortable and intuitive layout. I'm not a big fan of the glossy plastic shell, as it's a fingerprint magnet, but I just generally don't care for glossy plastics on mobile electronics. It looks cheap to me.

CTRLR also ships with a clip-on attachment that allows a phone to be placed in the arm, a la MOGA. I like that this component is removable instead of actually being a part of the controller itself, as it allows for a traditional gamepad layout (and more buttons), and if you don't plan on using it with your phone, you don't have the extra bulk on it at all times.

wm_IMG_2695 wm_IMG_2693

Aside from the fact that I couldn't get CTRLR to work with my PC games, I think it's an overall great controller. It doesn't have the ability to charge mobile devices like PowerA's MOGA Power controllers, but the addition of full OS navigation, back/home buttons, and media/volume controls makes it a winner in my book. In fact, I think CTRLR is the controller to buy if you're looking to grab one for Android right now.

Of course, it's worth keeping in mind that not all Android games support controller input, and without some sort of gamepad mapping software, you're still left with a limited selection at the end of the day (for the time being, anyway – eventually games should get controller support for Android TV). I think it's still worth having one around if you play mobile games in any sort of regular capacity. And for $50, it's hard to beat the CTRLR from Mad Catz.

Buy: Amazon

Cameron Summerson
Cameron is a self-made geek, Android enthusiast, horror movie fanatic, musician, and cyclist. When he's not pounding keys here at AP, you can find him spending time with his wife and kids, plucking away on the 6-string, spinning on the streets, or watching The Texas Chainsaw Massacre on repeat.

  • Aaron Hafitz

    Looks nice ... i have a moga pro power. Just wish more games supported controllers

    • Bryan Pizzuti

      What we need is OS-level support for button->touchscreen mapping.

      • primalxconvoy

        I hope that this will come with Android TV. Most android level menus ARE compatible with controllers but the gui of most launchers is not....

    • primalxconvoy

      Most of the ones that don't are old. The latest ones do, though.

      Here's my list of recommended ones:

      - Cordy 2
      - Meltdown
      - Neon Shadow
      - Repulze
      - Age of Zombies
      - Riptide GP 2
      - Indy 500 Arcade
      - DraStic (NDS emulator)
      - Every other emulator out there
      - Soulcraft 2

      That should keep you going.

      • Aaron Hafitz

        Thanks!!! Had Indy 500 and didn't know it supported controller ...loving neon shadow and age of zombies is crazy fun. Thanks for the tips

  • kpjimmy

    Been using the Drone from Kickstarter and love the small frame. But the add on looks nice and for 50 bux, not too shabby.

    • OniKyanAE86

      FYI there is a new firmware update for the Drone that fixes some issues with it that some people were having like the bluetooth lag and other things, very easy to do. I love my Drone controller the most from all other bluetooth controllers I have, and I have just about every bluetooth controller out there......

      • kpjimmy

        Already have it. Thanks!

  • Bryan Pizzuti

    I'd like to see a comparison between this, the iPega with the media controls, and the Moga Pro Power. I own those two, they're both good but not perfect. My fav so far is actually the Moga Hero Power, with the iPega a close second.

    Seems like that clip might be a little annoying, what happens if you forget it or lose it?

    • genevajjones

      like
      Jacqueline implied I'm taken by surprise that a mom can earn $8130 in 1 month
      on the computer . see post C­a­s­h­f­i­g­.­C­O­M­

  • Matthew Fry

    Can this fit the Note 3 or G3?

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Cameron Summerson

      Should be able to, yep.

  • Matthew Fry

    T.H.I.S. C.T.R.L.R. L.O.O.K.S. P.R.E.T.T.Y. G.O.O.D.

    • alexcue

      I think you mean....
      T.H.S. C.T.R.L.R. L.K.S. P.R.T.T.Y G.D.
      ;-)

  • Simon Belmont

    Does this "just work" out of the box with Android's Bluetooth? Or does it use an app to set up the BT connection?

    I guess what I mean is it "plug and play" (yes I know it's using BT)? Thanks for any insight.

    • gwald

      Works without an app in all modes!

  • ReyMaxwin

    ... Can it hold a tablet, are the L2 and R2 mapped in analog? What about r3 and l3, do they exist??

    • gwald

      Tablet, mine holds my 7inch, L2 R2 yes in gamesmart no in PC mode.
      R3 L3 yes work fine

  • gwald

    Good review...
    The PC mode requires Bluetooth.. like a laptop or mobile.. and yes it works fine.
    Just saying as most desktops dont have BT.

  • black

    This probably is the most ridiculous invention ever. Who's it targeted for? Rich spoiled 18 yr olds?

    • Alan

      Considering the WIDE variety of high quality games (ala emulators) available for android, why exactly is a reasonably high quality controller ridiculous? A good controller will turn any moderately powerful android device into a full game console.

      But I guess you have a point... its not like other consoles charge fifty bucks for their controllers...

    • primalxconvoy

      These types of hardware are targeted at the growing market of mobile phone users who wish to play hardware controller supported games on their phone, plus users of Android/ios devices who wish to play games available at Google Play and the App Store on their monitors and/or TVs (via dedicated microconsoles, android stick computers, hdmi cables attached to their devices, mirrored via Chromecast/Apple TV, etc).

      You mean, you didn't get the memo about this perfectly normal and quite recent but ongoing part of the tech and gaming world?

      Where have you been? Living under a bridge and scaring goats?

      • black

        Where have YOU been? There aren't any goats under bridges anymore.

  • tintin.92

    AP, could you update the review if PC mode starts working (through a firmware update, of whatever)? My Xbox Controller needs replacement, so if that works, its an instant buy for me.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Cameron Summerson

      So Mad Catz got in touch with me about that. Basically, you need to download the CTRLR's desktop software, and if a game isn't supported by default, you can map the buttons yourself. A little cumbersome, sure, but once it's set up, it's good to go.

      • tintin.92

        Thanks. So does that mean it supports both Xinput AND Direct Input?

    • gwald

      It doesn't need drivers for windows & linux, it detects as a standard controller.
      If a game has controller mapping configurations then there's no need for mapping software.
      What you do need is BT on your PC, so you might need a BT usb dongle

  • Bryan Pizzuti

    Question: how smooth are the analog sticks? I've noticed with a lot of cheaper controllers such as Nykos and iPegas the "analog" sticks are really more like two-stage digital buttons.

    • gwald

      They are good quality, just like any other first party analog stick.

  • primalxconvoy

    I like the design BUT if you're using it while on the move, I recommend the Moga over this as you'll save time looking for, fishing out and connecting the phone clip on the Moga (as it's built in).

    Is the Mojo controller compatible with PS3 and other consoles? That's one thing that the Moga didn't have (which seemed bad, for an 80 dollar controller).

    • gwald

      Does the moga have a mouse mode? does it work on a PC?

  • Danilo Viana

    I think MS doesn't pay attention AT ALL to those controllers. Most of them mimick very closely the 360 controller and I've never seen MS take action against a single one of them.

    Not that I WANT them to take action (I prefer it stays that way) but for a company so protective of their IP it's strange to see they being ok with this.

    • gwald

      you mean the controller layout... they can't patient it because it's based on older layouts from other consoles.

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