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GDC Swag: Zeemote for Android (Hands-On)

Tony Hannides Mar 7, 2012 1
2.5 out of 5 Rating

One piece of swag from GDC I was looking forward to trying out was the Zeemote for Android. One of the coolest thing about the swag was that it came with charged batteries! For a second, I wasn’t sure if it even came with a manual but lucky Rad showed me the flyer/handout with the instructions. The Zeemote is a bluetooth controller for any Android smartphone or tablet which works with over 100 games in the Android Market. Once I turned on the controller, I then had to download a specific app  called ‘Zeemote.’ This app enabled the bluetooth pairing, tested the connection and directed me to the specific Zeemote controlled games.

I downloaded a free game called Hyperbowl. This arcade style bowling game was a past-time favorite of mine that I used to play at the SF Metreon arcade center. You can use the touchscreen to play the game, but with the Zeemote connected, it’s pretty fun. The concept of the game is like any other bowling game, but there’s a twist. It’s not a standard bowling alley. Your bowling lane is a city street where you avoid cars. It’s a lane in the middle of the forest where you have to jump over a creek. There’s also a level where the lane is on a pirate ship.

First of all, the controller feels cheap; like those knock off controllers you can get for $20 at the flea market. It feels like it’ll fall apart and not a solid product. I checked the retail prices of this device and it’ll cost you about $30. If you remember our coverage at CES 2012 we looked at another controller called Gametel. I’ve got to say, that controller felt solid. Also, the Zeemote feels a little too small to use for more hardcore games; I feel it’ll slip out of my hands and should have some rubber grips.

The controller has 4 buttons and a joystick.  One button on the top of the controller, two at the front and one more underneath. Depending on the game, the buttons can do different things ie jump, shoot, dodge. It’s an okay design considering the point of the controller is to keep on hand free to hold the phone/tablet. The hardest buttons to use are the two buttons on the front. Because of the size of the buttons and the small surface area, they are cumbersome to use. Plus, when I was playing the game, the screen turned off because I wasn’t touching it. I’m not sure if that’s an issue with the game I was playing or if it happens often.

If you’re a game developer for Android, you’ll be happy to know that there’s an SDK to download at their website.

At the end of the day, I would not recommend this device for gaming. There are other options out there. I wish I could give this device a good review because I’ve been looking forward to trying it out. Since it was given to me for free, I’m not going to complain. But if you buy it, realize that it’s not the best option for you. Best of luck.

  • Charles Doty

    I also was quite surprised to find the Zeemote in the GDC pack. It works nicely with Robert Broglia’s set of emulators: 

    I was able to play through a complete game of NHLPA 93 on the Mega Drive emulator.