Versa Game Controller Review
One of the most unique devices to be released by Verizon so far this year is the LG Versa. This is mainly due to it being a touchscreen phone that also accepts detachable modules. The first, which comes included with the Versa, is a clamshell QWERTY keyboard attachment that also acts as a case for the phone. Other modules have been rumored, such as stereo speakers and Wi-Fi, but currently the only other one to be released is a game control pad.
Interesting enough, this accessory is manufactured by USAWireless Solutions (www.usaws.com), and not LG or Verizon, even though it can be purchased at Verizon stores or through their web site for $29.99.
Connecting the game pad to the LG Versa is done in similar fashion as the keyboard, but it doesn’t give a nice “click” sound to know that it’s fully attached. We had to try it a few times, as it didn’t feel securely connected to the phone. We found that pushing on it harder locks it into place.
Once it’s attached, the overall thickness of the Versa is 0.80”, which makes it slightly thicker than when using keyboard. The sides and back are finished with the same espresso brown soft touch paint that is used on the battery cover. We also like the fact there is a cut out for the Versa’s camera and flash, but the flash is obstructed if the game pad is slid open.
Sliding it open is easy enough, but you can hear the plastic parts rubbing next to each other. Located on the left side is an 8-way d-pad for up, down, left, right, and diagonal movement, with a start and select button in the middle, and function buttons (x, y, a, b) on the right. Most gamers are familiar with layout, but we weren’t able to find any use for the function buttons during testing. The internal game pad itself is a nice metallic blue with white lettering.
The display shows a new “Game” home screen, where you can add links for up to 5 games that you’ve downloaded, but you can’t drag them around the display like you can with the “Shortcuts” home screen.
We used the control pad with three games: Pac-Man, Monopoly, and Need for Speed. It worked well with Pac-Man, as you can change the options between accelerometer (default), swipe, and d-pad (recommended while using the game control pad). The response was good, and we could move around the board and eat up points. We found this method easier than using the accelerometer.
Next we tried it with Monopoly, but found the controller wasn’t necessary for game use. You have to shake the phone to roll the dice, and pressing on the screen to buy a property is not an inconvenience.
Lastly, we tried Need for Speed Undercover. We found that this game is more accurate and works better with the accelerometer acting as the steering wheel, instead of pressing the buttons on the control pad.
For the price, the Game Controller isn’t a bad investment for the hard core gamer that likes to play games on the Versa, but you have to keep in mind that while some titles work well with it, other don’t. A few improvements we’d like it to see is an LED backlight for use while in dark environments, and the possibility of using the game d-pad in conjunction with the HTML Browser for navigation and selecting links.