HANDS-ON: Mad Catz M.O.J.O Android games console preview

Mad-Catz-MOJO-2.JPGOuya excited. Ouya launched. Ouya failed, with critics and owners complaining over stuttering performance and shocking controller input lag. Does that mark the untimely death of the newborn Android games console scene?

Hardly – Mad Catz are ready to pick up the baton, with their forthcoming M.O.J.O. Android gaming console. We went hands-on at a recent Amazon “Christmas in July” press event, and came away impressed.

The console itself is fairly unassuming, a black wedge with the red Mad Catz logo on top and a small power indicator light around the front. Powered by a Nvidia Tegra 3 mobile processor, it has a HDMI output on the rear (supporting 1080p resolutions), two USB ports, a 3.5mm headphone jack and a microUSB port. 16GB of built-in storage features, which can be supplemented by memory cards in the console’s microSD slot. Though unassuming, it’s not unattractive, easily fitting in the palm of your hand.Mad-Catz-MOJO-1.JPG
Mad Catz are probably best known for their third-party console controllers, and their expertise in this field is clearly evident in the M.O.J.O.’s controller. Riffing off the standard Xbox 360 controller design, the “CTRLR” feels reassuringly weighty in the hand, with rugged analogue sticks that have just the right amount of sponginess and give when pushing away from the deadzone. Though frustratingly battery powered, the wireless Bluetooth 4.0 connection employed by the pad should eke plenty of energy out of a pair of AAA batteries – as much as 77 hours according to the Mad Catz employee we spoke with.

As well as the usual array of triggers, bumpers and face buttons, the CTRLR also features dedicated media playback controls near its top edge, as well as a “mouse mode” letting you simulate finger input with the left stick for Android games that don’t support pads. A central glowing button lets you jump between open applications and the Android homescreen. Being Android-based, all manner of Bluetooth powered computer mice and keyboards (including, but not limited to, Mad Catz’ own) will also be compatible with the M.O.J.O..

M.O.J.O. runs a near stock version of Android (the precise version has yet to be revealed), another advantage over rival Ouya in that it allows players to quickly install any games already purchased with and tied to their Google Play accounts. Navigating the mobile interface with the controller is a little clunky, but not broken, and Mad Catz promise an improved interface with better shortcut support ahead of launch.

As for gaming performance, the M.O.J.O. looks more than capable at present. The demanding Riptide GP looked great and played smoothly on the console, feeling right at home with physical rather than touch controls. Of course, visually even the best Android games sit some way behind current-gen console titles, let alone what’s set to be offered by the Xbox One or PS4. But considering the M.O.J.O. console will sell for closer to £100 than the £300+ asking price for the next-gen machines, such performance differences and hardware discrepancies are to be expected.Mad-Catz-MOJO-3.JPG
What may prove to be the Mad Catz M.O.J.O.’s true trump card will be its emulator support. While ROMs are still a legal grey area, emulator gaming is a key draw to the open platform of Android, and even more so when Android is used within a home games console environment. And the M.O.J.O. hardware seems more than up to the task – we played through a quick opening level of Mario 64 on the system, and while some frame skipping seemed to be in effect, it was still a great trip down memory lane. Emulating other hardware on Android phones can be a massive battery drain, but with the M.O.J.O. running off the mains, hours of emulated gaming will be possible. Though it’s not a feature that Mad Catz will find easily (or even legally) marketable, many Android die-hards will already be well aware of the potential the M.O.J.O. has here.

Interestingly, though the M.O.J.O. was in a playable state at the hands-on event we attended, and though it’s approaching its “Autumn/Winter 2013″ release window, the console is likely to go through another design revision before hitting stores.
Mad-Catz-MOJO-4.JPG
What will this redesign include? Speaking to the Mad Catz reps at the Amazon event where the console was being showcased, they teased that a processor improvement was on the way. Though they didn’t give any specifics, with the current version of the machine featuring a Nvidia Tegra 3 processor, the implied upgrade seems to be to a superior Nvidia Tegra 4 chipset. To accommodate that jump, the console is expected to become slightly larger, with more ventilation ports on the rear. For those looking to emulate more technically advanced games, such as N64 or PlayStation titles, this could make a massive difference, not to mention improving already-solid performance for intensive Android games.

For now though, even in its current state, the M.O.J.O. is looking like the best realisation of an Android-powered mini console to date. We’ll have more on the promising new machine ahead of its launch later this year.

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About the Author

Gerald Lynch





Gerald LynchHANDS-ON: Mad Catz M.O.J.O Android games console preview
  • http://www.modsuperstar.ca/ modsuperstar

    This console will go nowhere. Ouya at least built a community out with their Kickstarter campaign. Ouya has an active Reddit community devoted to it, while the MOJO isn't anywhere on the radar. There isn't any userbase sitting and waiting for this. The company has the stigma of 1) a horrible 1990's name and 2) being known as the company that makes the crummy controller you stick your cousin with when you play video games. And if they don't ship until Winter they are absolutely DOA. People complain about Ouya's Tegra 3, wait until the MOJO launches with one 6 months after the fact.

    • http://technutty.co.uk/ Nicholas Griffin

      Nowhere* Sorry I'm a bit of a spelling nazi, completely agree with you however, in my opinion, the only small console that will work completely is the Steam box, I mean who really wants an OUYA or even this Mad Catz thing, I'm not sure many do.

      • mikoras

        You are in fact both geeks, so at least you got something right.

        • http://technutty.co.uk/ Nicholas Griffin

          Well yeah, that is basically what I said, thanks for repeating that parrot :).

    • shaurz

      At least they have some experience making controllers, unlike the piece of crap controller the Ouya comes with.

  • http://www.modsuperstar.ca/ modsuperstar

    This console will go nowhere. Ouya at least built a community out with their Kickstarter campaign. Ouya has an active Reddit community devoted to it, while the MOJO isn’t anywhere on the radar. There isn’t any userbase sitting and waiting for this. The company has the stigma of 1) a horrible 1990′s name and 2) being known as the company that makes the crummy controller you stick your cousin with when you play video games. And if they don’t ship until Winter they are absolutely DOA. People complain about Ouya’s Tegra 3, wait until the MOJO launches with one 6 months after the fact.

    • http://technutty.co.uk/ Nicholas Griffin

      Nowhere* Sorry I’m a bit of a spelling nazi, completely agree with you however, in my opinion, the only small console that will work completely is the Steam box, I mean who really wants this Mad Catz thing, I’m not sure many do.

      To be honest though, I’m not sure many want an OUYA either, its great for geeks like us, but I think it has been placed a little too high for what it actually is.

      • mikoras

        You are in fact both geeks, so at least you got something right.

        • http://technutty.co.uk/ Nicholas Griffin

          Well yeah, that is basically what I said, thanks for repeating that parrot :).

    • shaurz

      At least they have some experience making controllers, unlike the piece of crap controller the Ouya comes with.

  • Clive Mclean

    I'm dying for it. If the price point stays around 200 I'm getting it. Gameloft and others have some android shooters I've been waiting to play with controllers on my TV. The majority of games on the big boys over the last ten years IMO have been mostly ornamented crap and the entire community of shooter fans have been corrupted by COD,Halo or BF. Even the developers of titles like Ghost Recon have lost their identities opting to go with the money formulaic and jettisoning their fan base. Bring on Android gaming because I'm done with the big twin greedbags.

  • Clive Mclean

    I’m dying for it. If the price point stays around 200 I’m getting it. Gameloft and others have some android shooters I’ve been waiting to play with controllers on my TV. The majority of games on the big boys over the last ten years IMO have been mostly ornamented crap and the entire community of shooter fans have been corrupted by COD,Halo or BF. Even the developers of titles like Ghost Recon have lost their identities opting to go with the money formulaic and jettisoning their fan base. Bring on Android gaming because I’m done with the big twin greedbags.

  • Tom

    Seriously, most IOS and Android mobile and tablet games are utter garbage, horrible touch controls, rubbish graphics and boring repetitive gameplay, they don’t compare to current gen console games, let alone the next gen PS4 and Xbox1 games. Why anyone would want to play these games on a big screen TV is beyond me, the 'mobile console' concept is just rubbish. The only ppl that play mobile games are little kids and adult casuals, or ppl with low IQs who are ‘entertained’ by simple things. The millions of core gamers, who want an AAA experience and a competitive online community for multiplayer, will stick with Consoles and PC. A lot of the little kids with high IQs who play mobile games will grow up and soon get very, very, bored of crappy cheap mobile games and will graduate to play proper next gen AAA games on the PS4 or Xbox1 which have mind blowing graphics on large screen TV, with immersive gameplay and AI and a proper controller.

    Dumb mobile gamers can have Angry Birds 10, I'll be playing Watch_Dogs and BF4 on a PS4 this Xmas!

  • Tom

    Seriously, most IOS and Android mobile and tablet games are utter garbage, horrible touch controls, rubbish graphics and boring repetitive gameplay, they don’t compare to current gen console games, let alone the next gen PS4 and Xbox1 games. Why anyone would want to play these games on a big screen TV is beyond me, the ‘mobile console’ concept is just rubbish. The only ppl that play mobile games are little kids and adult casuals, or ppl with low IQs who are ‘entertained’ by simple things. The millions of core gamers, who want an AAA experience and a competitive online community for multiplayer, will stick with Consoles and PC. A lot of the little kids with high IQs who play mobile games will grow up and soon get very, very, bored of crappy cheap mobile games and will graduate to play proper next gen AAA games on the PS4 or Xbox1 which have mind blowing graphics on large screen TV, with immersive gameplay and AI and a proper controller.

    Dumb mobile gamers can have Angry Birds 10, I’ll be playing Watch_Dogs and BF4 on a PS4 this Xmas!