Sometimes, using a single button — or the Gear VR trackpad — to play virtual reality games isn’t much fun, or limits functionality.
The recommended SteelSeries Stratus XL is $54 on Amazon — more than half the price of the Samsung Gear VR headset itself. So I went looking for something a little less expensive, and wound up buying this IPEGA controller for $18 on Amazon, instead.
The price seems to have a changed a little bit from when I bought it, but it’s still in that same general ballpark. If you want to do a little comparison shopping, GearBest also carries it, currently for $23.
To activate it, hold down the “X” button then, while still holding it down, press HOME. That makes the “Search” LED start flashing. While it’s flashing, to to Settings>Bluetooth on your Android smartphone and select it from the list to pair it.
With Gear VR, the left controller stick seems to work like the track pad, letting you move around your home library. The “A” button seems to work as the “Enter” button.
It worked great with Eve:Gunjack — much better than the trackpad did, especially when it came to reloading weapons. It did take me a little experimentation, though, to find which buttons did what. Specifically, the “A” button was the “Enter” button and also shot the cannon, the “X” button reloaded my ammunition, and the “Y” button loaded up new weapons. The “B” button worked as the “Back” button.
I also used it for HeroBound: First Steps. Again, it took a little bit of playing around with it during the tutorial session to find which buttons did what. To save you a little time, the left joystick moved me around, the “A” button did a jump, the “X” button slashed the sword, the “B” button did a forward roll and the “Y” button brought up the map. The big R1 and L1 trigger buttons switched weapons, the “Start” button left the game.
On the Google Cardboard, so far I’ve only used it to play End Space VR. The “A” button was the fire button.
Overall, I have to say that using this controller was a lot more comfortable and natural than pressing a button on a headset.
This particular IPEGA hadset also has a cool velvety feel, which I like a lot.
My only quibble with — and it is a minor one — is that the “X” button is a little too closely placed to the right-hand joystick.
The other feature this controller has is that there’s a little tab on top you can pull out to hold a phone in place for playing non-VR games. It also has media buttons — play, fast-forward, reverse, and volume control.
I could not get it to work with my iPhone 5S no matter what I did, even though my phone did recognize and connect to the device by holding down the “B” button and pressing “Home” at the same time. I tried a variety of iCade and MFI-compatible games and couldn’t find any that worked, and neither did any of my VR games. If anyone has any ideas, please let me know in the comments!