How to make your iPhone play more like a Switch

December 17, 2021
How to make your iPhone play more like a Switch
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Nothing kills the holiday cheer like a hefty layover or a grueling cross-country flight. A good book and an e-reader might keep you entertained, and perhaps you’ll be lucky enough to nab a free in-flight, but what about longer journeys? You could lug your Nintendo Switch along with you on your travels without dragging your bag down too much, but it’ll still take up a good amount of space, and it’s one more thing to keep track of while you’re away.

Instead, a few good games and a solid phone controller, like Razer’s Kishi could be the perfect solution to boredom while you’re on the go. Below, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite controllers and controller-friendly iOS games that’ll make gaming while you’re traveling (or even at home) more enjoyable.

Why should I use a controller with mobile games?

While it’s true that many mobile games rely on your phone’s touch screen for controls, some developers have included support for gaming controllers like an Xbox or Playstation controller, so you can get a more console-like experience on the go. Alternatively, you can snag a custom controller like Razer’s Kishi or the Backbone One, which can turn your phone into a Switch-like console that has controls on both sides of the screen.

These controllers may add a bit more cost to your setup, but there are benefits to using a controller instead of touch controls. First, touch controls, even at their best, require your fingers to rest on the screen and block some of it. It’s always nice to have your full display at your disposal.

Controllers are also a lot more responsive to your movements, and you can be more precise in your gameplay. Additionally, they’re designed to be more comfortable to grip than your rectangular slab, which will make it easier to play for extended sessions.

What are the best mobile games to play with controllers?

Slay the Spire

Credit: Mega Crit Games

Slay the Spire’s roguelike nature makes it as punishing as it is entertaining, but you’ll be grateful for the journey when you build a winning deck combo.

With all the humdrum of travel— from flight attendant instructions to tedious TSA checks—you may benefit from a game that lets you stretch a single game over multiple sessions. Slay the Spire, a roguelike deck-building game is extremely fun, but as is common with the genre, it sends you back to the beginning when you die. However, this particular game has a fast mode that speeds up turns and animations to cut down time on each play-through. That time saved will help you hone your techniques with different decks without each game taking an hour or two.

You can choose from four different character types that have different forms of combat and require different strategies, plus a starting relic and an additional perk to start with. As the game progresses, you don’t have to worry about it getting too monotonous, either. Its unique system of cards, potions, and relics lets you build a new strategy with different configurations for each play-through.

It works fine without a controller, since most of your interactions are just tapping a few buttons to make decisions or dragging cards across the screen during your turn, but the controller makes those interactions faster. Rather than having to tap each card and drag it onto a target during combat, you can simply tap the joystick and then press a button to lock-on, all without obfuscating the screen at all, which helps since the card’s text can be pretty small and tough to read sometimes.

At its most challenging, Slay the Spire’s punishing roguelike roots make the losses tough to swallow, but the reward for building a killer ensemble of cards and relics gives it a replay value that you’ll be happy to have on hand when you have some time to kill.

Stardew Valley

Credit: Concerned Ape

Stardew Valley blends exploration, farming, and relationships into a delightful, charming simulator that’ll surely bring a smile to your face.

Perhaps your gaming goals are a little more aspirational than having a powerful stack of cards to defeat your enemies. If you get just as much pleasure from ticking things off your to-do list as you do from playing a fun game, Stardew Valley, a farming simulator available on multiple platforms, including iOS, is the game for you.

The premise is simple: you’ve inherited a farm and decided to ditch your cubicle for a life on the farm. From there, the world’s your oyster. You can get started right away on planning your fully-automated corn and pumpkin farm, dive into the mines for ores and treasures (plus maybe a ghost or two), or maybe just flirt around town a bit and find a villager to court.

Once you’ve found your groove, you’ll be able to blitz through your daily obligations like tending to your farm or helping out the local bartender with a few chores. Whatever you choose, you’ll be able to walk away from each session feeling accomplished and a little more in touch with your inner DIY hobbyist. We recommend a controller for this game, especially for longer sessions, as the touch interactions can be repetitive and strenuous without the extra hardware.

Forager

Credit: HopFrog

Forager is a task-oriented exploration game that’s somewhere between Legend of Zelda and Stardew Valley.

If Stardew Valley’s overarching story and vast number of tasks feel overwhelming, Forager is a great alternative. This is another mobile-friendly game that juggles engaging gameplay with a task-based system that focuses on the resources you can forage on your land, but it offers a bit more flexibility. It’s also less of a time-sink than Stardew Valley, so it’ll pair better with a busy schedule.

Your character starts with a plot of land and a pickax, which you use together to mine resources, such as wood and coal, off the land. Like Minecraft, you use those resources to build other things, which then lets you build even more things, so you can take a stack of stone and turn it into a furnace, and a few ores plus some wood will yield you a fresh shovel to start planting with.

You’ll also be able to level up as you progress, so you can gain new skills like magic and masonry, which will keep the game from getting too stale, though early stages can be a bit tedious. What makes Forager stand out from Stardew Valley is that while Stardew gives you a lot more space to play in and things to do, it also asks for more of your time. Forager is just as great for long sessions as it is for quick check-ins with your land.

Be careful, though: while Forager is an excellent game when paired with the right controller, its touch controls can be a bit frustrating, so be sure to have all your gear before taking off.

Tennis Champs

Credit: Jakyl

Tennis Champs has a few modes that let you hone your skills as a tennis pro, or just blitz through a few matches on your commute.

Traveling often means leaving your fitness gear behind for a bit. Sure, gaming isn’t the same as hitting the courts for an hour or two, but Tennis Champs is a fun tennis game that has enough flavor to scratch your itch while you’re up in the air.

You can play career mode if you want to watch your player progress through a full season, or play exhibition mode if you just want to play a few custom matches while you’re waiting. If you have a couple controllers (two Xbox or Playstation controllers and a Popsocket kickstand will do just fine), you can even play multiplayer with your partner once you’ve gotten situated.

Its controls are a bit tricky to get the hang of at first, but again, having a separate controller makes things much easier. Without the controller, you’re given two transparent buttons on the right side of the screen that can be tricky to differentiate between, and a joystick on the left to move your player around. When you’ve got a controller connected, you’ll be able to focus more on the game and less on tapping the right spots on screen.

Your first play-through of exhibition mode also offers a robust tutorial that’ll get you acquainted. It’s tedious to go through, but once you’ve done it, you can start landing perfect serves and make the next step to being a champ.

Dead Cells

Credit: Motion Twin

Dead Cells is a fun, colorful metroidvania game that shines on the iPhone’s Retina Display.

If you’re unfamiliar with the Metroidvania genre, it’s a blend of mechanics and characteristics from the Metroid and Castlevania series of games. Namely, they’re 2D side-scrollers that use non-linear exploration to navigate maps. Dead Cells, which originally released in 2017, is an excellent Metroidvania game that’ll get you through your most grueling moments with a bit of challenging fun.

Like Slay the Spire, it’s a roguelike game, so you’ll have to start over every time your character dies. That can be frustrating when you’ve hit a groove, but Dead Cells has a good amount of variety with its combinations of weapons and skills, so you can change things up when things start to feel stale. That, plus its uniquely difficult bosses, give this 2D platformer a bit of Dark Souls energy that will have you itching for revenge when a boss gets the best of you.

Dead Cells shines on iOS thanks to the iPhone’s Retina display, and its touch controls are fine, but its smooth and snappy controls are about as fun to play with a Kishi or Backbone One as it is on the Switch. The game also has multiple DLC packs available, so you can get a little more replay value out of it once you’ve mastered the game. But even without the extra game content there’s plenty of ground to explore and techniques to hone.

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Life is like a running cycle right! I am a news editor at TIMES. Collecting News is my passion. Because my visitors have the right to know the truth and perfectly.

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