Standalone Wii U Gamepads Finally on Sale but Only in Japan!

Nintendo’s Wii U console is characterized by the tablet-style gamepad which allows you to keep playing while another family memory takes over the TV. Furthermore, certain games like Super Mario Maker can effectively use the device’s dual screen functionality to create a truly unique experience. However, the Wii U’s hardware is flawed as third-party support is non-existent and developers rarely invested the time to properly use the gamepad’s screen. This is such a shame as the gamepad has a great deal of potential. Nevertheless, most people purchase a Nintendo console to play first party titles such as Zelda and Mario. One problem is the Wii U gamepad can only be purchased with a console unless you buy a second hand unit from eBay. This is a nightmare as consumers have to buy a brand new console just to find a replacement.

Thankfully, the Wii U gamepad is pretty reliable and Nintendo hardware doesn’t fail very often. As of today, you can now buy a standalone Wii U controller directly from Nintendo Japan for ¥12,800 ($104). This isn’t just for replacement purposes as Engadget reports the Wii U will support dual gamepads in the near future. Unfortunately, there’s no indication if standalone gamepads will arrive in the west, but it’s a possibility. Please note, do not import the Wii U gamepad from Japan unless you have a Japanese console. Nintendo in their infinite wisdom have decided to region lock the gamepad, which means it will not work in western territories. Also in the UK, prepare to be stung with customs duty, and a Royal Mail handling fee.

Perhaps, Nintendo sees a future with the gamepad in their next console, but only time will tell.

Steam Hardware Available Now!

It’s a day we’ve all been waiting for, the official launch date of the Steam hardware! For those that just wanted to wait for reviews before committing to purchase, it shouldn’t be long now. I’ve personally been eyeing up the Steam Controller as a viable alternative to the Xbox controllers with a more innovative interaction design.

Steam is the multi-platform gaming service that allows PC, Mac and Linux users to use the same service to download and play games and now they can do it wherever they are (assuming there is a strong internet connection). The hardware is split up into a Steam Controller, Steam Link and Steam Machines:

“Steam Controller — An innovative input device that allows you to play games from all genres, including traditional gamepad style games as well as games usually reserved for play with a mouse and keyboard. Steam Controllers are wireless, completely configurable, and available for a suggested retail price of $49.99/?54.99/£39.99/$59.99CAD.”

“Steam Link — The Steam Link allows Steam gamers to easily expand the range of their current gaming set up via their home network. Connecting any TV to your Steam host PC or Steam Machine, the Steam Link allows you to stream your games anywhere via your home network, and is available for a suggested retail price of $49.99/?54.99/£39.99/$59.99CAD.”

Sadly no video on the Steam Machines due to the diverse nature of each manufacturer.

“Steam Machines — Available from Alienware, Zotac, Cyberpower, and other manufacturers, Steam Machines can serve as a stand-alone device for enjoying the Steam gaming experience in one box, with more than 1,500 titles available for native play. In addition, Steam Machines have the ability to broadcast and receive In Home Streaming, allowing you to stream your games to a Steam Link, or receive a stream from another Steam Machine or PC. Steam Machines will vary in price, offering a range of hard drive sizes, graphics performance, and more. Starting at $449.99.”

The Steam Controller and Steam Link will be available direct from Steam and Amazon, while the Steam Machines are currently only available from the dedicated manufacturers website. More information on the products can be found on the official Steam Hardware website.

Make Your Own Mario Game With “Mario Maker” in September

Some awesome news for Mario fans just came out of Nintendo during its live stream. In September “Mario Maker” will be launched, it is a game that allows players to create their own Mario levels.

Players will be able to create the levels that they have dreamed of for so long using styles from across the Mario series history.  A really nice feature that should see a lot of use is the ability to share user-created levels with the community. The levels are able to be easily created using the Wii U GamePad touch screen interface. Unfortunately it seems that the levels will be limited to the side scrolling variety and not the 3D open world types, but nonetheless still should be very enjoyable.

Source: Nintendo

Mad Catz Starts Shipping the C.T.R.L.i Gamepads

Mad Catz announced that the shipping of the Mad Catz C.T.R.L.i and Micro C.T.R.L.i Mobile Gamepads have begun. The only difference between the two models is that the micro is about 20% smaller and better fit for young gamers or people who just have smaller than average hands.

The new range of controllers is designed for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch and are the first controllers in the company’s GameSmart mobile product range designed for iPhone 5 to 6 Plus, iPad Air, iPad mini 2 and 3, and 5th generation of the iPod touch (running iOS 7 or iOS 8).

With mobile gaming becoming more something that actually can be considered gaming, a high-quality gamepad is a welcome product. It features pressure-sensitive action buttons and D-Pad. Using low-power Bluetooth technology, the gamepads should provide up to 30 hours of gameplay via two AAA batteries.

The Mad Catz C.T.R.L.i app will allow you to update the firmware and provide input diagnostics for battery level, buttons, and axis input as well as displaying you a list of gamepad compatible iOS games. The price starts at £49.99 via Amazon UK.

Thanks to TechPowerUp for providing us wit this information

Image courtesy of TechPowerUp

Speedlink Xeox Pro Analogue Wireless PlayStation 3 & PC Gamepad Review

Introduction


It was only a few weeks ago that we brought you a review of Speedlinks affordable PlayStation 3 controller the Strike FX-6, I loved that budget controller so much that after over a month after testing it, I’m still using it for all of my PlayStation 3 gaming, especially since it’s trigger are exponentially better than the official PlayStation ones.

Speedlink have a solid history of creating third-party peripherals and the Strike FX-6 was proof that they could do it well. The product I have with me today is for the PlayStation 3 and would have been included in our Strike FX-6 review had I read the box and realised this is not an Xbox controller, no matter how much it looks like one! It is in fact every bit a PlayStation 3 controller, but its design is focused to look like an Xbox controller, just swapping the b for an e to become the Xeox.

With official controllers still costing in the region of £35 from most major retailers, you have good reason to shop around for a lower cost controller and with a price tag of just £16.99 + 3.91 shipping from Overclockers UK the Xeox is a very tempting option for both PlayStation 3 users and PC gamers alike. The question is, is it any good? Well if its performance and quality are at least on par with the last Speedlink controller I reviewed, the simple answer is certainly yes. So let’s get right to it and take a closer look at what the Xeox has to offer.

The controller is nicely packaged and on the front you’ll see a quick run down of the major features, this includes 10m range and 2.4GHz technology, force vibration, rapid fire, rubberised coating, ergonomic stick layout, Li-polymer internal battery and analogue sticks / triggers.

In the box you’ll find everything you need is included; the controller, the wireless adaptor USB dongle, a mini-USB charging cable and a quick install guide.

Speedlink Strike FX-6 Bluetooth PS3 Gamepad Review

Introduction


Speedlink are well-known for making 3rd party peripherals for games consoles and have done so quite successfully for many years now, offering (in most cases) a lower cost solution for consumers than you would find with first party solutions. This is a great thing consumers, especially when you see that official controllers for consoles often cost upwards of £50-60 and PlayStation 3 controllers still cost around £35 at most major retailers even after the introduction of the PlayStation 4. The Speedlink Strike FX-6 that I’ll be taking a look at today costs just £25 and while that doesn’t sound like a huge difference, I know there are a lot of people who would rather have the extra £10 left in their wallet after a trip to the shops.

There are many reasons for wanting a lower cost controller, the first one is obviously a financial reason, sometimes you just need a spare controller for the kids or a backup one should yours break. Of course cheaper is often associated with lower quality too, and as many of you will know, there is a reason that the official controllers cost more, they’re high quality and guaranteed to be compatible with your system. Today I’ll be looking for nothing less than on par or better performance than the official controller and expecting all features (or more) than you would find on the official controller, despite the lower cost.

Most 3rd party controllers are wired, most often in a bid to keep the cost down and make them a financially attractive option compared to their more expensive official counterparts, but the Speedlink Strike FX-6 is fully wireless using the same Bluetooth technology that you’ll find in the official controller, it also features 6-axis, rumble, a USB rechargeable built-in battery pack. Basically, it has everything that you’ll find on the official controller, the only two minor differences are that this doesn’t come with the USB cable and it also comes fitted with a rapid fire mode.

The controller comes packed in one of those awful blister packs that takes a chainsaw to break into, but at least the clear plastic gives you a good view of the product should be looking at it in a retail outlet. On the front you’ll see a few badges detailing the major features such as 6-axis support, Bluetooth and vibration.

First Official Apple Certified Wireless Controller Released By SteelSeries

SteelSeries has launched its first wireless controller for iOS 7 devices, making it the first fully wireless controller for iDevices certified by Apple. The Stratus looks like a smaller version of Microsoft’s Xbox 360 controller, and features a directional pad. There are two analog sticks and four face and shoulder buttons. All buttons are pressure sensitive, and the controller comes with a single micro-USB port at the bottom for charging. The controller connects via Bluetooth 2.1, and works with the iPhone 5S, iPhone 5C, iPhone 5, iPad Mini, iPad Air, iPad 4th gen and the 5th gen iPod Touch running iOS 7.

SteelSeries claims that the device has a full charge endurance of 10 hours, with the controller taking 2 hours to fully charge. Currently, not all games recognize a wireless controller, but more are starting to work with external controllers, so it should not be too long before every game in your catalogue works with the Stratus. Newer games like Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, for instance, work just fine with the Stratus.

Other wireless controllers like the MOGA Ace Power and the Logitech Powershell connect using the Lighting port, and as such aren’t the best solution if you’re looking to use the Lighting port for HDMI out. In that way, the SteelSeries Stratus is significantly better. However, the diminutive size of the controller is a drawback, and we for one cannot see the Stratus as the ideal controller for extended sessions of Infinity Blade 3.

Another major issue with the Stratus is its price, which is at $99.99. This is astronomically high considering Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3 and PS4 controllers cost $59.99 and are leagues ahead both in terms of build quality and comfort.

Thank you VR-Zone for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of VR-Zone

Wii U GamePad Reverse Engineered To Stream From PC

A few people have already been tinkering to use the Wii U GamePad as a PC controller, of could this doesn’t include the use of the screen, but the basic functionality such as face buttons, triggers and analogue sticks work just fine. But simply controlling a PC game with the cool Wii U tablet controller isn’t that much fun, an Xbox 360 controller does a much better job in that respect. A small team of hackers have pushed the controller even further in a new hack that allowed them to not only use the GamePad as a controller, but also allowed them to stream games to the screen, much in the same way that you can do with the Nvidia Shield.

The displayed their hack at the 30th Chaos Communication Congress, where they detailed how they broke through the firmware  and the peak of their efforts was to show a Gamecube emulated session of classic Zelda game Wind Waker on the Wii U GamePad. The software was a little buggy and did crash a few times, but overall worked pretty well as a proof of concept and the team say that their code is primarily aimed at developers. Now the group who to plan on new tools using the hack, building features that are compatible with Windows, OSX and Android, perhaps even using a standard Android tablet as a replacement Wii U controller by porting the firmware.

[youtube]http://youtu.be/m8YgVVtNRjg[/youtube]

Thank you Engadget for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Engadget.

Archos Release GamePad 2 – Nvidia Shield Rival

Android device maker Archos has just unveiled its latest Android gaming device – the GamePad 2. The Archos GamePad 2 is a big rival to Nvidia’s Tegra 4 based Shield Android gaming device and is the second revision of their gaming handset. The Archos GamePad 2 features an updated display which is now 1280 x 800 across a 7 inch IPS panel. It also features improved internals with a 1.6GHz quad core CPU and 2GB of RAM. Archos are initially offering only an 8GB model but a 16GB model is expected to debut later this year. The GamePad 2 does of course retain the microSD card slot of the first Archos GamePad so storage can easily be added that way.

For those who do not remember the first Archos GamePad that used a 1024 x 600 display, a 1.6GHz dual core processor, Mali 400MP quad core graphics and ran Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. The first Archos GamePad came to market with an MSRP of £129.99 but can currently be had for around £100-£110 from competitive retailers. That said the GamePad 2 will most likely come in firmly above the original GamePad in terms of pricing to ensure that it does not price its predecessor out of the market until all remaining inventory is cleared. I’d estimate a price of around £150 GBP. More details are expected to arrive soon.

Image courtesy of Archos