iPhone Life magazine

New bugfix: BluTrol (Bluetooth game controller utility) + Reckless Racing 2 (a great, new racing game)

With the release of jailbreak-based BluTrol and untethered jailbreak for all iOS devices (iPhone 3GS, 4, 4S; iPad 1, 2; iPod touch 3rd, 4th gen) running the most current iOS version, 5.0.1, if you are seriously into iOS gaming, you can't afford NOT taking a closer look at either the iCade arcade console (if you have an iPad 1/2) or iControlPad (if you don't have an iPad and/or want something portable).

 

BluTrol makes it possible to “inject” screen touches originating from a Bluetooth game controller like the above-mentioned iCade or iControlPad. It works just great – with some glitches. One of them has just been fixed by me. (A great configuration video of BluTrol is available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9K78M-hpkiw&feature=player_embedded ; more information and a compatibility list: http://www.icontrolpad.com/blutrol/ )

 

One of the biggest iOS game releases of the last week is Reckless Racing 2. Having loved the first installment, I've purchased it at once, right after having read TouchArcade's raving review ( http://toucharcade.com/2012/02/07/reckless-racing-2-review/ ).

 

Unfortunately, the title doesn't support Bluetooth gaming controllers natively, albeit the developer certainly promises it (see http://forums.toucharcade.com/showthread.php?p=2119857#post2119857 ). That is, for the time being at least, you'll need to use BluTrol to control it with your hardware game controllers.

 

Of course, I wouldn't have played the game without my beloved iControlPad. At first, I've used the BluTrol in the standard configuration I've outlined in my forum post at http://boards.openpandora.org/index.php?/topic/6735-blutrol-for-iphone-add-controls-to-any-app/page__view__findpost__p__124414. As you can see, I've mapped the d-pad (and a separate button) to the (digital) direction controls and the brake/gas. Later I've modified this setup to completely separate gas/brake to the X and Y buttons on the controller, respectively, but, of course, kept the D-pad mapped to the left/right arrows.

 

Everything went well, unless... I started noticing something isn't exactly right. Particularly in some stages (mostly curves) of most tracks, BluTrol simply wouldn't deliver the left/right presses. This happened using both the digital D-pad and the left analogue nub in the latest (v3) beta 2.2 firmware available from the post at http://boards.openpandora.org/index.php?/topic/5137-new-icp-test-firmware-v21/page__view__findpost__p__123646. Incidentally, you can safely flash the new beta to your iCP – it works just great, has all the goodies of the official, previous firmware – the new AYX mode; the immediate on-screen keyboard showing etc. - and, in addition, also makes the left analogue nub usable in addition to the traditional D-pad in the standard digital modes. (Of course, it's simply a digital emulation; that is, it won't magically deliver analogue data. That is, you won't be able to control, say, Death Rally, which uses analogue controls, with all possible acceleration values. You'll need to wait for the official analogue support to debug in BluTrol for that – the dev certainly has been promising it (see http://boards.openpandora.org/index.php?/topic/6735-blutrol-for-iphone-add-controls-to-any-app/page__view__findpost__p__121560))

 

I've made a demo video of all this:

 

 

 

The problem is visible particularly in the second part of the video, where, while I've continuously kept either the Left or Right arrow pressed, RR2 hasn't received this continuously. (The left/right icon flashes while, as can also be seen on the video, its direction is certainly pressed on the iCP's D-pad.)

 

Unfortunately, this seems to be a common problem. I've reproduced the problem on a completely clean (no other jailbreak apps except for BluTrol; my iPad 2 has some other Cydia must-haves like RetinaPad, Display Recorder, FullScreen for Safari, BTstack GPS and Infinidock) iPad 1 too. (Note that, of course, both my BluTrol and RR2 are legal purchases.)

 

My solution

 

After some testing, I've realized the non-D-pad buttons don't exhibit this particularly unreliable behavior. That is, I needed to find a way to map the left/right directions to something other than the physical D-pad.

 

This is a solution that works 100% of the time. To avoid having to get used to a completely new button layout or even “swap hands” (that is, start using my right one for steering and left one for gas/brake), I've decided I would just turn the controller upside down so that the four-button (AXBY) section becomes the “new D-pad”. To keep the original layout (again, to avoid having to learn a new one), I mapped gas/brake to the D-pad, which, now, is on the right on the iCP turned upside down.

 

Therefore, I've created the following mapping:

 

 

Note that, for this setup, I've also reconfigured the original layout in the game by moving the “brake” icon (down arrow) on the top of the “gas” icon (up arrow) because of the inverted iCP. Also note that the “E1” and “0” icons are for the “B” (“right”) and the “A” (“left”) buttons in the (new) AYB iCade mode of the iCP, respectively.

 

You can, of course, come up with a different mapping scheme for Reckless Racing 2; the only thing you'll need to keep in mind that you won't want to use the D-pad for steering, only for gas/break. You can also use the shoulder buttons for the latter two, should you want to completely avoid having to use the D-pad. In practice, I've found it won't really be necessary as I haven't really encountered problems resulting from the D-pad's gas/brake event injection; however, should you encounter them, just assign other hardware buttons to these functions.

 

UPDATE (12/02): after having played some time, I've found out the D-pad can't be used for acceleration / brake mapping either as the above-mentioned bug also results in unreliable screen touch injections. Therefore, I've decided to completely un-map the D-pad and, instead, map „brake” to the right shoulder (so that I can access it with my right hand, while using the left, as usual, for left/right control). It's „6” in the new AYB mode.

Some other remarks on the game. Fortunately, you won't need in-app purchases. The total time to achieve the maximal car configuration with all upgrades took me about 5-6 hours pure playtime (with the iControlPad, of course) on my iPad 2. During this, I've purchased (and every time max'ed) the following two cars: Binga 400 and Trumper M2 (and, of course, the Tector V2-R). You won't need to purchase anything else in multiplayer – as opposed to, when taking into the price of IAP multiplayer upgrades into consideration, Death Rally. In my tests, (remote) multiplayer worked just fine.

UPDATE (12/02, later): at http://boards.openpandora.org/index.php?/topic/5137-new-icp-test-firmware-v21/page__view__findpost__p__125032, I've continued elaborating on the latest (v3) beta firmware for the iControlPad. Let me cite myself:

"Thoroughly tested the new firmware in both ABY and AX (analogue aka Vertex Blaster) mode. Reconnects just fine in both modes without any human interaction (incl., firing up Settings, removing the prev. pairing, re-pair it etc.) in both modes - all you need to do is long-pressing "Start" to boot into the last-used mode. In ABY mode, you can dis/reconnect the controller even during playing - even in non-native games requiring BluTrol. (Tested in RR2.)

In addition, it co-exists just fine with natively supported (read: not the first (white, large) Apple Wireless Keyboard) BT keyboards. Both can be connected to the same iDevice at the same time. In games, you can make use of this, should you want to do something strange - for example, make a direction or a key "sticky", like making the guy jump all the time in Mos Speedrun. Of course, there isn't much point in all these right now that controllers still(?) don't support two-player modes. They could consider adding a new, "two-player" mode with different keypress emualtion for the second mode and with a special key combination to switch to be the second (non-standard) controller. It doesn't seem to be very hard to implement either and, unlike with the WiiMote (the only controller supported in multiplayer mode and only in iMAME4All), it would work even without JB.

All in all, I HIGHLY recommend the upgrade to this firmware. The lack of having to remove the pairing / re-pair every single time you want to play is a BIG advantage."

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Werner Ruotsalainen is an iOS and Java programming lecturer who is well-versed in programming, hacking, operating systems, and programming languages. Werner tries to generate unique articles on subjects not widely discussed. Some of his articles are highly technical and are intended for other programmers and coders.

Werner also is interested in photography and videography. He is a frequent contributor to not only mobile and computing publications, but also photo and video forums. He loves swimming, skiing, going to the gym, and using his iPads. English is one of several languages he speaks.