It’s not uncommon for Windows Phone 8 games to require 1 GB of RAM at launch, only to later be updated to run on devices with 512 MB of RAM. This happens because optimizing a game to work with less RAM takes extra time. Games don’t have the phone’s full bank of RAM to work with. On a 512 MB device, they can only access 150 MB. Sometimes a game can be crammed into that space, sometimes not.
Gameloft’s Dungeon Hunter 4 launched without 512 MB RAM support back in December. Yesterday’s update added that support, allowing the game to run on low-memory phones like the Nokia Lumia 520. The update also brought another benefit we didn’t expect: MOGA controller support! It even turns out that the most recent Asphalt 7 (a game that already worked with 512 MB phones) update added MOGA support as well. Exclusive screenshots, hands-on video, and impressions after the break.
Dungeon Hunter 4
Like nearly all of Gameloft’s games, Dungeon Hunter 4 uses a virtual analog stick and buttons for its touch screen controls. The publisher has made a name for itself by bringing console-style experiences to mobile, after all. But some gamers crave a physical stick and buttons, hence the MOGA controller support.
The MOGA experience in Dungeon Hunter 4 closely resembles that of playing the Windows 8 version with an Xbox 360 controller (and probably Dungeon Hunter: Alliance for Playstation 3 and Vita too). Players can move their warrior of choice with either the left analog stick or d-pad. Pressing the right analog stick in any direction will attack in that direction, not unlike a twin-stick shooter.
The A, B, and Y buttons perform the same functions as the three virtual buttons on the right side of the screen. Players can assign various skills and abilities to those buttons including attacks and dodge maneuvers. The L1 button (left bumper) uses healing potions, whereas the R1 (right bumper) button performs a special move.
Both the Select and Start buttons go to the menu, normally accessed by pressing the phone’s Back button or tapping the player’s character portrait. From here, the cursor controls are mostly natural. The left and right triggers (L2 and R2) move through the top-most options/pages, while the d-pad or analog stick select individual choices within those pages.
Things get slightly more confusing on the World Map, where players can select levels to play as well as exit the game. On the world map, the Left and Right triggers still scroll through the top-most options. Moving the left stick or d-pad will select options from the left and right side of the map screen, such as Multiplayer, Challenges, Social, and Gameloft Live. To actually select levels, you’ll need to use the right analog stick.
Playing Dungeon Hunter 4 with a controller feels very much like the console version of Diablo III. You can’t hotkey quite as many attacks and abilities, but the combat is just as fast and fluid as you’d want from an action-RPG. I’m a sucker for twin-stick controls.
It’s a shame that the Windows Phone and Windows 8 versions of Dungeon Hunter 4 apparently don’t share save data, but at least you can play on the go without a touch screen and then plug in to the MOGA controller when you’re at home for an even better experience. And thanks to the version 1.01 update, all Windows Phone 8 users can now get in on the fun.
- Dungeon Hunter 4 – Windows Phone 8 – 958 MB – Free – Store Link
- Dungeon Hunter 4 – Windows 8 and RT – 1,066 MB – Free – Store Link
Asphalt 7: Heat
Asphalt 8 (which launched in November) supported MOGA from the get-go, as I understand it. Its predecessor Asphalt 7 actually picked up controller support later that same month in the version 1.1 update. Gameloft didn’t advertise that support, and I only recently picked up a MOGA Pro Controller, otherwise we’d have noticed sooner.
On top of the new control option, the version 1.1 update brings a couple more new features. On the main menu, you’ll find two new options: Special Events and Lottery. Special Events are basically themed races for players to participate in. Not bad if you’re looking for a break from Career, though I can’t say whether Gameloft actually updates the Special Events with any regularity.
The Lottery is just what you’d expect: a daily lottery to keep players coming back to the game. This Lottery actually has some cool visual flair, as it involves a car driving around a circle full of prizes. Players can swipe left or right to determine which way the car spins. My first spin got me 50,000 game dollars. Not that much, but it would probably help a lot when you’re just starting out.
Speaking of which, I am unfortunately just starting out again. The update actually wiped out my save file. Asphalt 7 supports cloud saves (and even sharing progress between the Windows Phone and Windows 8 versions). But the phone game won’t find my Windows 8 save; it just pulls up the fresh save that replaced my original, nearly complete save.
And now for the controls. Surprisingly, Asphalt 7’s menus actually work better with the MOGA controller than the Windows 8 version did with an Xbox controller. On Windows 8, the controller emulates a mouse for some reason during menus. On Windows Phone, the d-pad and analog stick simply jump between menu selections as you’d expect. Much better.
The racing controls also work great, for the most part. Steering with either the d-pad or left analog stick feels quite natural.
Curiously, the left and right triggers do not controls acceleration and braking as they do on Windows 8. Instead, players can either use the A button or Up on the right analog stick to accelerate. X, L1, and down on the right stick handle braking. B switches camera angles, R1 activates Nitro, and both Start and Y pause the game.
Races get pretty hard later in Asphalt 7’s career, so the extra precision afforded by the MOGA controller will come in handy. I won’t be playing through Career another time, but anybody with a MOGA who still has a save file or has yet to start the game will want to take this game for a drive.
- Asphalt 7 – Windows Phone 8 – 911 MB – Store Link
- Asphalt 7 – Windows 8 and RT – 0.99 GB - $1.99 – Store Link
More MOGA from Gameloft?
Now that three Gameloft titles support MOGA controllers on Windows Phone 8, the natural question is whether Gameloft will go back and add support to previous releases. Modern Combat 4, N.O.V.A. 3, Six-Guns, Amazing Spider-Man, Dark Knight Rises, and (to a lesser extent) Order & Chaos Online all practically beg for controller.
Windows Phone Central asked the publisher about the possibility of future support. According to a Gameloft representative, the addition of MOGA controls in Asphalt 7, Asphalt 8, and Dungeon Hunter 4 was not completely intentional. The Android versions of those games support MOGA, and somehow that code made its way into the Windows Phone 8 versions as well.
That’s a curious explanation, considering that the Android versions of Asphalt 7 and Dungeon Hunter 4 worked with MOGA long before the games were even ported to Windows Phone. Why would the controller start working after an update instead of when the games launched? That’s a mystery… Unless reader reports that neither game initially worked with MOGA were erroneous. I couldn’t get Dungeon Hunter 4 to recognize the controller a few days ago, but I’m still kind of new to the accessory.
The best case scenario would be for Gameloft to start wearing MOGA support in its Windows Phone 8 games loud and proud. MOGA controllers may be a niche accessory, but anybody who invests in one is going to want more games to play. Gameloft only wins by adding MOGA support to these games’ store descriptions.
MOGA updates for the other games I mentioned are probably a pipe dream, but everyone should take to Twitter and let Gameloft know we want the feature anyway.