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KinoConsole Windows Phone Lumia 1520 Microsoft Surface Pro MOGA Pro Controller
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KinoConsole review: Stream and play PC games on your Windows Phone

A few weeks back we reviewed TouchFox, an app that allows Windows 8 gamers to play PC games using touch screen virtual controls. Control issues aside, being able to play computer games on a tablet is pretty impressive. But you know what's even more likely to knock someone's socks off? Playing PC games on a phone.

That's just what KinoConsole makes possible. Kinoni, makers of the Kinoni Remote app (no longer published), have just released a gaming-specific version of that app called KinoConsole. By installing both the Windows Phone and PC apps, players can stream and play big-screen games to their phones. KinoConsole provides (iffy) virtual controls and even supports MOGA controllers! The app is free and works with 512 MB phones.

Preparing to play

After installing KinoConsole on your Windows Phone 8 device, you'll need to get free Kinoni Remote Desktop program for your Windows 7 or Windows 8 computer or tablet. Yes, the Remote Desktop works on the Surface Pro – although the first Pro is not the beefiest gaming device.

KinoConsole Kinoni Remote Desktop PC

Having installed the computer program (making sure to check the "Gaming extension" box), you'll need to manually launch it. The KinoConsole setup guide mistakenly claims that the program's menu will appear on its own during installation. Nope! But launching it will bring up the menu, where you will set up a password for the remote server.

KinoConsole Kinoni Remote Desktop PC

Next, select Quick Launch from the same menu. Here you will scan for Steam games, populating the Quick Launch list with any Steam games installed on your computer. Not all of those games will actually work with KinoConsole though, so you'll want to disable anything you can't play (or just don't want to play) with the app.

Note that the computer program is slightly too tall to fit on the Surface Pro's screen and can't be resized. How about shrinking it a bit, Kinoni?

KinoConsole compatibility

Kinoni doesn't lay out the compatibility guidelines very plainly, so here goes. KinoConsole only works with controller-compatible games that support XINPUT (Xbox 360 controllers). Many modern games do support controllers, so it's not an unreasonable requirement.

Second, a game must be run in Windowed mode in order for its video to show up on your phone. If the game hasn't been set to Windowed yet, KinoConsole will only display a black screen (with or without virtual controls) on your phone. Unfortunately, a few PC games like Sonic Generations don't support Windowed mode. But mostly it's not a problem.

KinoConsole Windows Phone

Using the KinoConsole app

With your Quick Launch list properly set up, it's time to launch the phone app. KinoConsole can connect via the same local network as the PC, or connect remotely. The first you launch, you'll need to input the password that you set up on the computer.

From the KinoConsole "Games Library" screen, you should now be able to scroll through all of the games you set up on the PC's Quick Launch menu. The game selection process could be a lot better. For one, the menu only displays in portrait mode. Every single game you launch will be in landscape mode, and MOGA controllers hold the phone in landscape as well. Kinoni needs to add landscape support to the menu.

Speaking of MOGA, the controller can't control the menu, forcing players to touch the screen and get it dirty. A common issue with MOGA-enabled emulators as well, but it would be nice for developers to design their UIs around the controller. Especially with an app like KinoConsole that's almost worthless without a controller (we'll get to that shortly).

Many people own hundreds of Steam games. Even after removing non-compatible games from the Quick Launch list, you could still end up with a ton of games to scroll through. Game selection is simply too cumbersome at present, requiring the user to swipe through the list one title at a time. The option to display multiple titles at once or a text-only list would make things a lot easier.

KinoConsole Windows Phone

Launching a game

After selecting a game, the phone now displays a remote view of the PC desktop. At that point, you manually select a game from Steam and then hit the Play button on the Steam UI to launch it.

This part of the process has problems big and small. Small: selecting games from the Steam list is difficult on a phone (even the Lumia 1520) because the text is so tiny. As a workaround, you can opt to manually launch the game from the PC. But we really need the option to zoom in the phone's desktop display.

Big problem: if the Steam window isn't currently active or on top of your desktop, you won't be able to see or interact with it. Somehow I got switched over to my web browser while playing in a different room and I simply couldn't get back to Steam.

KinoConsole desperately needs a way to zoom out the display so that we can access the system tray at the bottom of the Windows desktop. Until that gets added (or revealed, assuming there is a way that they just don't advertise), forget about actually logging in from a remote location and starting up a game.

KinoConsole Windows Phone Street Fighter IVStreet Fighter IV (some latency)

Virtual controls

The virtual controls end up being KinoConsole's most disappointing feature. See, the app emulates an Xbox 360 controller – cool. But the virtual controls are missing half of the inputs found on an Xbox controller! No d-pad, no right analog stick, no bumper buttons, and no Back and Start. All we get are the left analog stick, the four main face buttons, and two triggers.

Talk about a design mistake! You can hardly play anything with KinoConsole's virtual controls because most games need those missing buttons and the second stick. Even a game that only uses the face buttons probably uses Start to pause, save, and/or quit. It's almost as if the virtual control designer doesn't play games.

KinoConsole does allow some mild control customization from a menu accessed by pressing the phone's Back button. You can move any of the available on-screen elements to new positions, either to make them more comfortable to press or just get them out of the way. The control editor has a bug in which it swaps the locations of three of the face buttons when you open it, which needs to get fixed.

KinoConsole Windows Phone Broken AgeBroken Age

One important option that is missing: adjustable transparency. The virtual controls have no transparency and they're large, so they cover a lot of screen real estate. Players should be able to adjust their transparency in order to be able to see the game behind them.

Finally, the phone's Back button menu can also launch the phone's keyboard. You wouldn't do this as a form of game control since the phone keyboard lacks arrow keys and such. But it could be useful for inputting text in games that allow it.

Note that neither virtual nor MOGA controls are capable of pressing Shift + Tab in order to close certain persistent Steam dialogs. This could be bothersome when playing far from the computer.

KinoConsole Windows Phone Fable 3Fable 3

MOGA controls

Ah, the real reason to use KinoConsole right now: MOGA controls! Start up a game after connecting the controller and launching the app and the controller should work, just as if you were holding an Xbox controller attached to your computer. The KinoConsole people got the in-game MOGA support just right. You can play shooters, driving games, fighters, RPGs, whatever and enjoy the pitch-perfect controls of the MOGA controller.

A few games I tested successfully:

  • Breath of Death
  • Broken Age
  • Cthulhu Saves the World
  • Fable III
  • Magicka
  • Retro City Rampage
  • Street Fighter IV

KinoConsole Windows Phone

Switching games

When you're ready to quit playing a game, press Back and choose to Disconnect. This returns to the KinoConsole Game Library menu so you can choose a new game. It does NOT close the game you were playing on the computer. You can resume the game if it's still running, which will be helpful if KinoConsole ever gets disconnected and has to reconnect.

To actually quit a game, you'll need to exit using the game's native menus (most games allow this) or manually close it on the computer.

KinoConsole Windows Phone Retro City RampageRetro City Rampage

Free versus Pro

The free version of KinoConsole displays banner ads on the main menu. It also throws up full-screen ads during gameplay every now and then, which annoys quickly.

Paying $4.99 to unlock the Pro version will turn off the ads, enhance security, and improve performance. I'd like to know about the performance improvement. Does Kinoni throttle the streaming speed for free users?

KinoConsole Windows Phone Fable 3Fable 3 (latency issues)

Streaming issues

KinoConsole's actual streaming performance can be hit or miss. At times, the video and sound render beautifully and it's just like they squeezed a real PC game onto your phone. Other times, the games I played would suffer from horrible artifacting, making them nigh unplayable (see Fable 3 image above). The sound usually continued to stream perfectly (it sounds great by the way).

I experienced both conditions while playing from the same location on my home network. The problem could be my router (it does suck), or the app itself. Even in the best conditions, the farther away from the router both components are, the more severe the artifacting will be. I wouldn't play from an outside network unless both networks are amazeballs.

Almost there

KinoConsole has a lot of similar issues to TouchFox. It feels like nobody actually bothered to play a game (certainly not multiple games) with the virtual controls. They probably just got them working and then moved on. The menu needs a major overhaul, and launching games and navigating the desktop from the app must be made easier. Let's not forget adding a way to press Shift + Tab somehow.

Still, the app itself is pretty amazing. Kinoni already had a working desktop streaming app; implementing Xbox controller emulation adds so much to that core concept. MOGA support is brilliant as well, basically justifying the existence of the app. Hopefully Kinoni will fix the issues we discovered and make KinoConsole a worthwhile app even when used without a physical controller.

  • KinoConsole – Windows Phone 8 – 1 MB – Free – Store Link

QR: KinoConsole

Thanks to "Doubting" Thomas for the tip!

512 MB supported

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Reader comments

KinoConsole review: Stream and play PC games on your Windows Phone

103 Comments

I think it just streams the computer's screen to mobile, so playing a video should not be problem. What I doubt is that my computer will handle this and a heavy game simultaneously, it'll give some fps drops as any screen recorder does.

IMO San Andreas performs quite well with touch screen. GTA 4 would be identical. But at least with this app, you could play GTA 4 with a MOGA controller.

Finally a proper game controlling app for windows phone. Definitely gonna give it a try......

I was waiting for something like this because splashtop on windows phone doesn't have onscreen buttons or moga support...
So I hope they improve... well everything you said in the video but mostly the onscreen buttons need improvements!

I think the onscreen bottons are too large,are they removable???

Does it support COD and SplinterCell Black List?

It's not your phone rendering the graphics, your PC is, and streams it to your phone. All of which is covered in the article.

Don't recognize my PC, so I can't connect. Have made the setup and tried everything - no hope! May someone help me?

This kinda sorta begs the question... Will Microsoft implement something similar and allow you to play your Xbox One games on your phone? Use the Moga controller or find a way to use the XB1 gamepad.

As described in the review, a MOGA controller is highly recommended. Nothing else is needed, other than both devices preferably being on the same network.

Microsoft should make this baked in functionality of Windows and WP. Remote Desktop functionality has been around in Windows for years, for consumers this is an evolution of its application. If they want to find features to get the Windows 7 users to move to latest version, this could be one of them.

Word to Microsoft, buy this company. Then make it support streaming from XBox in addition to PC. Your gaming issue would be gone on Windows Phone. XBOX Live is back!

All, this is Sami from Kinoni. If you have any questions or comments I'm more than happy to answer. We are very committed to improving the product, version 1.0 is far from perfect as Paul comments in his excellent review. Next version will have many bug fixes as well as better support for running games in fullscreen mode and improvements to on-screen controls. We are working hard to push it out next week.

I seem to be having an issue where the remote desktop program is crashing my gaming PC. It is Windows 8 if that had anything to do with it

When I try to run a game, it crashes on my Windows Phone, but on the pc it is running. What could be the cause?

Games only work in windowed mode its a trick to make the game run in window mode ..... Assassin creed 4 BF worked smoothly (Lumia 630) but lack of buttons is a bit annoying .... It's missing start,select,LB,RB,d-pad and one analog stick .... You can play with rest of the buttons .... Right now you can only use to show of to your friends

This app is amazing! I'm just wondering if the compatibility can be as good as the article says,I mean I have not tried all my games,but so far so good!

If there were remote servers,I'm gonna pay for the games that I play! But the question is will you or your team do that?

You can already share your PC games with friends and vice versa. Can't promise if and when we will have deal with publishers to stream their games.

Hey Paul, you can even adjust the and size of any control. In edit control just hold down any control and there are options to adjust transparency and size

This has to be the most condescending reply I've ever seen on this site from one of the writers. Come on, you know about GOG and Desura. Steam isn't everything.

We are already working on adding games installed from Windows Store automatically. After that we will look at how to add games from other popular platforms like Origin and maybe Blizzard's games. Not promising support for GOG and Desura anytime soon but surely it is doable.

Is this only supported with Steam ? For years, even my newer games, I tend to buy boxed copies of most games (I dont know why, normally deals are plentyfull), some I have in steam.

So MOST of my games are of the retail games, not in steam, does this mean I can't play those games (or can I setup shortcuts in the PC app to the EXE files to run for each game if I had to ?

With current version you can add any game (or other application like Microsoft Word) to it. It works as you said; just use browse-button on configuration app and select executable (.exe-file) you want.

Steam games are added automatically, others you need to add manually as described above.

What's GOG? Just kidding. I love GOG. But it's extremely uncommon for PC gamers not to use Steam. I guess such gamers clearly do exist though.

We are planning to add support for Windows 8 and Windows RT tablets. You can even plug in Xbox USB-controller into Windows tablet and play with that.

Well you have a paying customer when that happens!. Thank you for answering my question. I appreciate the effort. Can't wait!

I'd be impressed if I could play Crysis 3 on my ICON in full detail (Ultra mode), that would be freaking epic...

Looked at the screen shots of the app on the windows phone store and found Hearthstone.  HEARTHSTONE!!!!!!!!!  I will be the envy of plenty xD

Not yet. But support for Windows 8 (and RT) tablets is planned. Those tablets do support Xbox USB-controller, that feature should be great for gaming.

Microsoft should definitely buy this company and make it fully work with PCs and Xbox (one and 360)
I dream of using my WP as a controller for my xbox with specific infos shown on my screen... Just like the WiiU and its specific controller...

And I have a question: does it work with emulators?
That would be fun to play some arcade games and........ What about BlueStacks ? ;-)
That would be a way to access all these games that are on Android and not on WP... (Simpsons tapped out, Candy crush...)

We haven't really tried it with emulators yet. Let us know if it works or not and how to improve the app for emulator use.

Current version only works if game is run on windowed mode. Next version will also support games running fulllscreen.

ok, Questions here...

Played with Steam Streaming on my Samsung Slate 7 (Windows 8 native tablet), with a Xbox 360 controller. This tablet does not support DX9, so even Modern Warefare 2 was a slidshow from the SSD but, with Steam streaming I could run Crysis 3, on Utltra mode with un real performance. I was blown away actually.

1. Does this app nativly support remote connections (LTE is fast and I have a crasy fast connection at home, this could be useable). or is it limited to home networks (like Steam streaming does).

2. When will we see full screen support ? As I dont want to change all my games to run in Window mode, as I will only use this when I have a gaming fix....

It was a great review and I look forward to progress on this app, and no question I will pick up a MOGA controller just for this app..

Thanks for the feedback. Answers to questions:

1) It does support remote connections, but at the moment you may need to set up port forwarding or use some DNS service. The plan is to have this feature greatly improved so that you just log in to same account on both PC and WP device and it just works from anywhere without further setup.

2) In best case within one week. Worst case, a few weeks. This feature is our top priority.

Awesome, thanks for the feedback, i will pick up the full version when full screen is supported. I'll be watching for the update !

You asked the same question three times, which is very bot-like. Also, all of your comments at the point I asked were questions, which is unusual. I'm glad to see that you're not a bot.

The review provides plenty of explanation of what the app is like to use. It doesn't get into specifics as far as playing Splinter Cell or other games I didn't test, but asking individual commenters questions that are already answered in the review is not especially productive. Sorry to fuss, I just wanted you to understand the reason for my confusion.

Of course. Windows applications don't distinguish between desktops and laptops. The computer just has to be running Windows and meet whatever minimum specs the program requires.