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Moto Gamepad Mod Review

Moto Gamepad Mod Review

Developer: Motorola

Release Date: August 25, 2017

For Use With: Moto Z Smartphones

As we move forward in the age of technology we find ourselves in these days, there continue to be more ways we gamers can enjoy doing what we love on the move. There have been actual handheld consoles like the Game Boy series, many options of games to play on mobile phones themselves, and even controllers that connect to your phone via Bluetooth.

The latter has traditionally been a bit of a letdown for those of us who like to take our console games to our computers and phones through emulators, as most commercial controllers released to this point have lacked the ability to work with all apps, particularly the aforementioned emulators. I remember buying one for myself about 5 years ago, planning to load up my catalog of classic NES and SNES games to play from my phone only to be disappointed when the device itself would only work with apps from the Google Play store designated for use with such a peripheral.

In 2016, Motorola released the Moto Z series of phones, which came with a really neat feature. This feature allows for attachments, called Mods, to supplement the normal functionality of your phone in several different ways. The first wave saw a digital camera with a high zoom capability, a speaker with a kickstand, a battery, and a projector that allows for projecting whatever is on your phone to make up to a 70in screen on the wall. These attachments are particularly neat because they don’t require any special software or apps, they simply attach via magnet and can be easily removed when not in use.


When these were released, I saw a lot of potential for the future and thought some kind of game controller would be a perfect fit. Thankfully, the creative minds at Moto answered my prayers because on August 25th, 2017, the Moto Gamepad Mod was released!


Of course, my initial question was, “will it support Android emulators” and I’m very happy to say that the answer was a resounding “yes” as I am now able to play all my retro games right on my phone!

The unit itself is set up like most modern controllers with analog sticks on both sides along with a D-pad on the left and A, B, X, and Y on the right. There are also 4 shoulder buttons on the top corners, a home button, Select, and Start. This is everything you’ll need to play any console game. The Moto Z line of phones come with a 5.5in screen, which is more than enough to not have to strain your eyes while playing.

The feel of the Gamepad is solid. I would say my hands are average size, and I have no trouble reaching any of the buttons, but they are a bit close together on the right side. Lack of a bigger grip to hold onto the unit does lead to a little thumb soreness after extended playing, but I feel like making it any bigger might have led to difficulty with transportation.

This is what it looks like to hold

As I mentioned, there is no additional software required to use the Gamepad, and because it’s connected directly to the phone, there is less of a concern about lag that you might encounter with a Bluetooth connection. As long as the emulator you choose supports button mapping, it is supported, as well. I’ve loaded my library of NES, SNES, and Genesis into the device and played several titles of each. Overall, I have good things to report:


Super Mario Bros. was the first game up. From the start, it doesn’t appear that there is any significant input lag, which was my #1 worry. I will say that the D-pad leaves a little to be desired with a game like SMB that requires a lot of back and forth on the left and right directions, as well as up and down for crouching and entering pipes. The D-pad feels like it needs a lot of pressure applied to the directional button when trying to make precise movements making platforming games a chore of sorts.

The screen looks way better in person than in this photo

Thankfully, the analog stick doesn’t require any special mapping and tends to be much smoother, but it’s still hard not to naturally go for the D-pad at first. The other buttons seem fine, though I do feel like they need just a bit more pressure to press down than on an original console controller and do give a rather audible click, which might annoy some people.


I don’t play fighting games on old consoles too often, but in the interest of being thorough, I gave Street Fighter II (SNES) a try. One thing I will say right from the start is that if you’re going to play a fighter with the Moto Gamepad Mod, use the analog stick for movement and stay away from the D-pad. It doesn’t respond well enough to the kinds of input combos you need for special moves, but the stick does pretty well. The other buttons seem to perform just fine.


The only sports title I tried was Little League Baseball: Championship Series (one of my all time favorites, be sure to check out my review) and this one was definitely playable with the D-pad. I didn’t encounter any major issues, but if playing something like Super Tecmo Bowl that requires a lot more 360-degree movement, again, use the analog stick.

A few other neat features of the Moto Gamepad Mod are the built-in 1035 mAh battery for extra gaming time without killing your phone battery, an external charging input, optional wrist strap for those who are more prone to dropping, and 3.5mm headphone jack. When you first connect it, there is also a prompt to download the Moto Game Explorer app, which is a portal to download hundreds of games from the Google Play store, many of which are free. The price point of $79.99 USD for the controller itself makes this one of the best Moto Mods for the money.

Overall, you can play games well with the Gamepad, but it’s tough to compete with original controllers. Thad said, I think this product is by far the best controller for emulated gaming on mobile and if you’ve got any of the Moto Z phones (which are now available on multiple major US carriers) and are into emulated gaming, this is a must have!


Written by InfiniteKnife


My personal favorite games are those in the Survival Horror and Sports (baseball) genres, but I can find at least a game or 2 in just about any category that I love to play.

I grew up on Nintendo consoles (NES and SNES) and have been an Xbox guy since the first one was released in the early 2000s. It’s hard to stay away from the classics as the 16-bit era is probably still my favorite overall.


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