Let’s face it, touch controls are terrible for many games. Have you ever tried playing a platformer game on a touchscreen? It’s an exercise in frustration. The good news is that you can connect a game controller to your Android device and play games the way they were meant to be played, whether they’re controller-enabled Android games or old games played via an emulator.
We’ll be using a wired Xbox 360 controller for this. It’s the most popular controller used by PC gamers for a reason, as it offers a standard USB connection and can be used with both Android devices and PCs with no additional configuration required — just plug it in and go. We’ll also offer some tips for using other types of controllers you may have lying around, including Wiimotes, PlayStation 3 Sixaxis gamepads, wireless Xbox 360 controllers, and Bluetooth controllers.
Connecting an Xbox 360 Controller to Android
Using a game controller with Android is actually pretty simple. All you’ll need is:
A wired Xbox 360 controller.
A USB OTG cable, which can be purchased on Amazon and elsewhere for under $2.
USB OTG stands for “USB on the go.” It’s essentially a tiny adapter cable that contains a full USB plug at one end and a micro USB connector on the other end. It allows you to plug standard USB devices into your Android phone or tablet, including USB drives, mice, keyboards, and Xbox 360 controllers.
You can now fire up games that support controllers and play them with the controller. Some games may have a settings screen where you can select between controller and touch controls, while some games will respond to the controller immediately. For example, Riptide GP offers such a configuration screen, while Sonic games respond to the controller immediately.
The controller works surprisingly well with Android. You can even use it to navigate through your home screen and launch games and other apps, something that can’t be done with an Xbox 360 controller on the Windows desktop. Some games won’t respond to the ABXY buttons and will require you to depress the right thumb stick to perform an action — such as jumping in Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1 — while some games work fine with the A/B/X/Y buttons — such as Sonic CD for Android, which allows you to jump by pressing A.
The controller even works with many games that offer no indication they support controllers. For example, the controller works well with Super Hexagon, which was a pleasant surprise. Be sure to experiment with the controller in your games — you never know what games it will work with. You can also look for lists of games that support controllers online.