If gaming on your iPhone or Android mobile is growing stale, or you simply want some cool new gadgets to enhance your mobile gaming experience, these three accessories will do the job.
Forget humping dog USB sticks and magnetic balls, this miniature arcade cabinet for the iPhone is the only desk toy you’ll ever need. Setup is simple. Search for ‘Arcadie’ on iTunes and you’ll find three compatible games (at time of writing) – Blasteroids, Alien Invaders and Ping (no prizes for guessing what famous games they ape) – which you can download for free. Start up a game, then pop open the Arcadie and slip your iPhone inside, and you’re ready to go. The joystick is perfectly responsive and you get two buttons for blasting your way through endless levels of nostalgic goodness.
The Arcadie is made from durable plastic and decorated with colourful stickers, while rubber pads keep it from sliding all over your desk during those frantic run-and-gun sessions. The games themselves are blatant rip-offs of the classics, and not quite as well implemented: the Alien Invaders all look alike, for instance, and don’t use the classic Space Invaders designs, presumably to avoid a massive lawsuit. However, that didn’t stop us wasting hours of our working day testing this out, and it’s guaranteed to get everyone in your office crowding around for a look.
For £15 it’s a bargain, and the website promises more games in the near future, including a proper Invaders clone and a Tetris-style puzzle game.
Creative Sound BlasterAxx
(www.creative.com, £79-£179 depending on size)
Our tiny smartphone speakers simply don’t do justice to the sweeping orchestral scores and funk tunes of games such as Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP and Infinity Blade II. That’s where this column-shaped wireless speaker comes in, connecting via Bluetooth to your smartphone or tablet to give your games a massive aural boost. Setup is simple: just plug it in, tap the Bluetooth button on the back, and you’ll see it pop up in your phone’s Bluetooth menu. You’ll be prompted to download the free Creative Central app (iOS/Android), which you can use as a remote control to fiddle with the speaker’s settings, play or pause your media and more.
Creative’s sound enhancement sorcery sounds incredible with action games – you can really feel the thwack of swords on shields, while gun blasts sound terrifyingly real. Music sounds just as great, with the Sound BlasterAxx coping admirably with our bizarrely diverse MP3 collection. Best of all, the speaker has a built-in mic so you can pick up calls without even touching your phone, and the background noise cancellation means your caller can hear you clearly even if you’re trapped in a noisy environment. Combined with the sleek look, and the fact that you can grab the Sound BlasterAxx in three sizes (including a cute dinky desktop version that ditches the Bluetooth for wires) and we have no hesitation recommending these speakers.
AppGear Elite Commandar iPhone gun
If you miss those classic light-gun games like Time Crisis and House of the Dead, this pistol accessory for the iPhone will bring back happy nostalgic memories. Slide your iPhone into the holder on top of the gun and stick in the audio jack, and you’re ready to play. For now there’s only one compatible game, Elite CommandAR , but it’s a decent little blaster. You play a futuristic soldier who has to save the world against a tyrannical alien threat – not the most original of plots, but who plays these games for the story? It’s an on-rails shooter, so your soldier moves automatically through the creepy lairs and rocky planetscapes, but you can look in all directions by pointing the gun around, and blast away at enemies using the trigger.
For the most part the gun controls are responsive, with only the occasional bit of lag when you pull the trigger. You can reload either by tipping the gun or pushing a button on the side of the barrel, where you’ll also find buttons for raising a shield or throwing out a grenade if things get really hairy. You’re rewarded for scoring headshots, and can replenish your health and ammo by shooting glowing orbs as you blast your way through each level. A bit more variety would’ve helped, and you’ll learn to loathe some of the baddies (especially the jumping spider things). Still, the AppGear gun is a fresh way to enjoy a bit of shooting action on your iPhone, and bound to please the kiddies come Christmas time.