It’s taken them the best part of two years, but finally the Rotor Riot team have been able to deliver their Rotor Riot Wired Game Controller in a form outside of iOS, with their latest model now fully playable for those in the Android army. The thing is, two years is a long time and whilst Rotor Riot were one of the first on the scene in creating a decent little accessory for mobile gamers – and those of us plying our trade on Xbox Game Pass and via Project xCloud – now there is a huge amount of competition in the market. Does this product have what it takes to compete?
With Razer’s stunning Kishi for Android, with GAMESIR and their X2 in both Bluetooth and USB-C form and with Nacon coming to the market with their brilliant MG-X controller, times have never been harder for the Rotor Riot team to make an impression. And as we know, it’s the first impressions that really count. With that in mind, a little bit of disappointment hits home here.
The Rotor Riot Wired Game Controller for Android is an all-black piece of kit, very much designed in the same way as the standard Xbox controller. That’s obviously an immediate win, but upon first putting hands on this device, it does feel a little too plasticky to the touch. With little in the way of any textured surfaces, this scratchy plastic piece fails to really excite. Granted, it’s cheaper than much of the competition, but I live by the motto of the more you spend, the better quality of product you’ll get. That certainly seems to be the case here.
But let that slide for one moment and you’ll find that the Rotor Riot Wired Game Controller actually belies that initial feel. It’s well designed, fits the hand decently and comes with a couple of thumbsticks that are an absolute joy to use. With a little bit of squish to the concave designs of these sticks, your thumbs will grip them like there’s no tomorrow, with them rarely ever giving off any form of slip. They are an absolute joy to caress and utilise in your gaming moments.
The same cannot be said for the D-Pad though. Again this just feels cheap to touch, clunky, chunky and rarely allowing for the precision you need. It sounds cheap too and isn’t a preferable way of gaming. Thankfully, aside from the likes of Boulder Dash Deluxe in which the D-Pad comes into its own, it’s the thumbsticks which will be the primary focus of many Xbox gamers – especially those making the use of the Rotor Riot for Xbox Game Pass and Cloud gaming.
Back onto the positives though and the standard ABXY face buttons are nice enough, even if it would be preferable to have a bit of colour injected into these. Black with a white/grey ish font, there’s absolutely no issues in you finding and hitting the button of your choice, no matter how manic things may get. The bumpers and triggers are both decent to use too and whilst these again feel a little cheap when compared to the competition, they absolutely do the job intended of them, allowing for a nice forefinger flow between the two options.
As a non-Xbox branded product – and remember, the Rotor Riot is compatible with a host of Android games, not just those through our beloved Xbox Game Pass – the home button and menu/start options are covered by Rotor Riot’s own unique takes. Again, they are easy to depress and cover exactly what is required of these type of buttons.
So then we get on to what makes the Rotor Riot really stand out as an option to consider for gamers utilising an Android device – the connected phone holder and integrated USB-C cable.
The latter of these comes out of the back of the controller, with a short wire allowing for connection to your Android phone. Now, this is a USB-C cable, so you’ll need to ensure that your phone is covered in that regard (although the vast majority of newer phones will be), and when attached provides power to the Rotor Riot controller. Connection is immediate, an absolute cinch to engage and allows you to scroll through your phone by making the most of those brilliant thumbsticks – all with no lag. The cable isn’t particularly long (some 65cm in length when unraveled) and so it rarely gets in the way of what you are doing.
With a USB-C port at the front of the controller too, even if your phone battery is getting low, the option to charge through the Rotor Riot with a power pass-through is an appreciated one.
And so, that holder. Screwing into place with a little grub screw type thing, once attached to your controller this is going nowhere in a hurry. Firm, solid and happy to hold your phone safely, the sliding mechanism this comes with will be able to cater for a decent amount of devices. We’ve tested with both a Pixel 4 and the XL version and have found it capable of holding both phones with ease. The mechanics behind the sliding hold the device nicely too, and with both a textured back and grips, shouldn’t ever cause any damage.
The thing is, this holder isn’t adjustable in any way. Rotor Riot have obviously seen fit to ensure it holds your phone in a fairly decent position, but it would have been extremely appreciated to be able to move through a few angles. It’s no massive deal for the majority of the time, but some movement is occasionally preferred – especially when you decide to take in some lengthy sessions.
On the whole though Rotor Riot know what you need from an easy to use product, and you shouldn’t let the cheap feel of the Rotor Riot Wired Game Controller put you off too much. This comes in with a pretty decent price point, is spot on in terms of connecting to your Android device and comes with some superb feeling thumbsticks. Yes, that plastic vibe comes to the fore a bit too often, but on the whole this does the job required – letting you game on Android, Xbox Game Pass and through the Cloud, with no lag, no fuss and no bother.
Huge thanks go out to the Rotor Riot team for providing us with the Android version of their Wired Game Controller. You can grab one for yourself by visiting Amazon.
And don’t forget, if you’re an iOS player, Rotor Riot have your back there too.