In the years since the phrase “don’t you guys have phones” became a Blizzard-joke, I’ve honestly found myself playing more video games on my smartphone. (but not diablo immortalWhich gave rise to the meme.) Notably, Xbox Cloud Gaming, Google Stadia, and other cloud-gaming services flashed as options on my phone when Wi-Fi or 5G reception is good.
While select games on these services have on-screen buttons as an option, I wouldn’t play with anything less than a physical gamepad. Until this month, I relied on a standard, slim 8bitdo gamepad, especially when traveling, but it required a phone-to-gamepad plastic harness—and, god, those things would have fallen apart when thrown in my bag. Huh. There must be something better, right?
Enter the Razer Kishi V2. At a somewhat steep price of $100, this clamp-to-your-phone gamepad isn’t a slam-dunk recommendation for anyone who doesn’t regularly play console-style games on their phone. But it’s closer to earning that price than the 2020 version of the Kishi.
A Brief Primer on Last-Gen Kishio
Technically the first Kishi is even bigger than that. Razer’s first Kishi model was a rebrand of the GameVice gamepad, which was launched in 2017 for the iPhone 6 generation. When Razer and Gamevice collaborated on a controller, it came in two versions: Android, with a USB Type-C port, and iOS, with a Lightning port.
In either case, users are expected to put their smartphone aside, then connect half of the gamepad’s port. Pull off the other half of the gamepad, and a tension-based mechanism will stretch it to fit the other side of your phone. Once fully clamped, you have a makeshift switch-like option for your smartphone: joystick, trigger, and “bumpers” on either side, a D-pad on the left, and an ABXY button array on the right.
Like other Gamevice controllers, the best benefits of the 2020 Kishi V1 included solid joysticks and an easy-to-fold split design so you can keep parts of it disconnected from the phone to fit it more easily in a crowded bag. be able to join together. But the rest of its buttons left me quite awestruck; The tension on the analog triggers felt cheap, and its D-pad and ABXY buttons were meaty in the array.
Worse yet, the first Kishi’s expandable strap system adds a certain amount of plastic bulk that isn’t compatible with some phone models (notably the “camera bumps” found on new Pixel phones) or to support larger smartphones. is not sufficiently expanded.
A Different Kind of Portable Gaming “Switch”
This month’s Kishi V2, which was made without Gamevice’s involvement, addresses every single complaint on the list above (with the exception of only one Android model available as of press time). My favorite part about Razer’s new models is the upgrade to clicky microswitches, which honestly aren’t common enough in modern gamepads. If you’ve ever used the Neo Geo Pocket, you know exactly what I’m talking about: They’re responsive and noticeable.
This leads to a dramatic improvement in responsiveness and comfort thanks to the D-pad, ABXY array and bumpers. As someone who loves to pack some favorite 8- and 16-bit games on Andy, I’m happy to report that the feeling of tricky 2D platforming challenges in the choice. Mega Mann These new buttons benefit from a balance of size, spacing, and button-press travel. The Kishi V2’s analog triggers have also been modified, and while they get nowhere near the satisfying default tension of an Xbox or PlayStation gamepad, their somewhat hollow pressing sensation is a take on the previously tense-yet flaky triggers of the Kishi. Notable improvement.
Despite liking the button correction, I do have a nitpick. The Kishi V2’s ABXY array is 1.5mm closer to the joystick on the right than the similar arrangement on the standard Nintendo Switch Joy-Con. As a result, one might expect an adult-sized thumb to accidentally touch the Kishi V2’s right-side joystick, while the old-school ABXY button focuses on tap—unless you rotate your thumb’s location to compensate. are not. Adjusting for this felt a little unwieldy for me, and I could see it as a deal-breaker for some hands, but I still prefer the Kishi V2’s ABXY use case over the original Kishi.
Beyond that, I prefer the Kishi V1’s joystick, which is just a little smaller than most you’ll find on an Xbox gamepad, but otherwise mimic the thumb feel and tension of those solid joysticks. The Kishi V2’s joystick switches look and feel similar to those found on the Joy-Con, right down to small notches in each cardinal direction. So far, they’ve been perfectly useful in first-person shooters that require careful aiming and constant joystick-pressing clicks. But my testing isn’t comprehensive enough to determine whether Kishi V4 owners should expect mechanical failures akin to the dreaded Joy-Con drift issue.