Mobile gaming. It has certainly become a prevalent aspect of the industry, one that was expected to die of within the next gaming generation. But over the past few years there has been an incredible rise in the amount of people who are gaming on their mobile phones and smartphones. Since it’s inception the mobile gaming platform has been one plagued with problems. Be it technological limitations or poorly designed products coupled with bad advertising, it’s easy to see why gaming on the go has been problematic. Technological limitations are no longer an issue, thanks to the PS Vita, and advertising was rectified with Nintendos amazing 3DS campaigns. Both systems support great titles and are fully capable of delivering a fantastic experience. But gaming on a phone has always been held back by on factor, regardless of the performance or advertising. That problem being, that you’re playing a game on a phone.
Nuvo Gadgets aims to change that with their new product, the “Nuvo Pro Game Grip.” The Pro Game Grip is a fairly solid product all round, but nothing that I would call revolutionary. I went into the review of the Pro Game Grip fully expecting an experience that could further legitimise the mobile platform as a firm gaming platform. Unfortunately, the experience I was left with was really rather mediocre.
Packaging: The Nuvo Pro Game Grip comes packaged in a very sleek and well-designed box made of a semi glossy/matte card. It prominently features a picture of the grip itself on the front, and has all the key information that you need to know on the front and back. It also has a list of 10 recommended games to try with the Pro Game Grip, which is a nice little addition. Inside the box, in a cardboard holder underneath a soft foam slate is the grip itself. In a bracket beneath that is the Mini USB lead which you will need to charge the Pro Game Grip. In 4 slots around the grip itself are the arcade style buttons that you can use with the grip instead of having to use the on screen digital buttons, a great idea in concept although flawed in execution, more on that later.
Product: The Nuvo Pro Game Grip is designed to space your hands wider apart, thus delivering a better sensation of comfort while you’re playing. It accomplishes this by being 16cm across, which I found to be the perfect size (just a little bit wider than the Nintendo Gameboy Advance). The Pro Game Grip is however, only compatible with the iPhone 4/4S and iPod 4th Generation, with no current compatibility for the iPhone 5 yet. In order to use a 4th Generation iPod there is a rubber sleeve that you must remove from the inside of the Pro Game Grip that allows it to fit inside, this can later be replaced very easily if you wish to switch it to your iPhone 4/4S. The product itself is a strange shade of red, similar to the red silk. The planned iPhone 5 case however Is a much more appealing matte black. There was one problem that I had with the product and it was that it feels very cheaply made. It feels as though it is made from an inexpensive ABS plastic which does not feel very nice to hold. Tapping the grip itself makes it sound hollow and cheap which was rather disappointing given the £49.99 price tag. Also, the name Pro Game Grip is also a misnomer, as there is no real grip to speak of. The very slightly textured body work offers no grip what so ever and as such, it makes the device somewhat tricky to hold. And at this time of year, whilst wearing gloves the last thing you need is to drop your iPhone.
Features: As I mentioned before the Pro game Grip is 16cm across, giving it a very good feel in the hands. On the top of the grip there are four clickable buttons: Battery charging, LED assisted battery check, Volume and a Power switch. Out of the four buttons, only 3 really respond when you press them, the battery charging function seems to depress with no audible click, this may bother some people who like to know when they’re pressing a button. On the bottom of the grip is a standard headphone socket to allow a more in depth gaming experience on the go, a standard feature that’s in most products nowadays that is for some reason a box quote saying “Give you gaming privacy via a built in socket for earphones”. Next to the headphone socket is the Mini USB port which is used to connect and charge the grip. It also features a rumble, similar to that found in a Dual Shock controller. Although, in the demonstration video it shows the players hands visibly vibrating, I found the effect to be considerably less impactful, but still a nice addition to the grip. On the back side of the grip there are 2 speakers. They are positioned near the shoulders of the device, and because of this I often found myself muffling the sound quite a lot, so much so that the sound was better and clearer without the grip. The quality of the speakers is a bit of a let-down though, they tend to rattle when tasked with an extremely loud game or when there is just a lot of separate sound happening in game. But they certainly do make it a little bit louder. Like I mentioned before, there are four arcade style buttons that you can use to replace the on screen digital counterparts. It’s a great concept but its execution was poor. The buttons are held in place by their base, it’s a small rubber disk that just about adheres to the screen without using or leaving any kind of residue which is nice. But sometimes the buttons don’t register in the game and they have a tendency to fall off. I spent 5 minutes just searching for one that rolled beneath my seat, if this happens on a bus or train then it’s bye bye little button. Furthermore, there is no place to actually store the buttons apart from the box they came in or your pocket, which is dusty, thus increasing the likelihood that the buttons will not adhere to the screen properly.
Overall experience: The Nuvo Pro Game Grip is indeed a good little gadget. It definitely does make the iPhone much easier to hold and game with, but that’s about it really. I felt that the rest of the gadgets were tacked on and somewhat superfluous in the grand scheme of the device. The wider aspect of the grip made it a joy to hold, but the cheap feeling materials used in its construction and the lack of any textured handles made it seem cheap a lot of the time. If you only use your iPhone for playing the likes of Angry Birds or chess, solitaire and a plethora of casual games, then I couldn’t justify telling you too buy the grip. But if you prefer to play the more high end games, that are a bit more refined and require better reactions like racing sims or the FPS games on the market, then the grip certainly makes them much easier to play and a lot more comfortable. So all in all, it’s a good product, nothing ground breaking or game changing, but worth a look if you have the spare cash to drop on it. Going back to twenty a point scale, I will give the Nuvo Pro Game Grip a 5.5/10. A good product but it won’t change your gaming life.
“It’s certainly good at what it does, but it kind of overstretches itself by having speakers and buttons, if it was cheaper and was just the grip, then I would probably buy one.” – Paul O’hara, GAME