The way we play games is about to change. Or, at least, that’s the claim from companies with cloud-gaming services. Using Project xCloud or Nvidia GeForce Now, you can stream console-quality releases to any screen, including your phone. But how is anyone supposed to hold both a controller and a phone at the same time? It’s not really gaming anywhere if the form factor discourages me from playing on public transit or even in bed. That’s where Razer is coming in with its Junglecat controller, which essentially turns your smartphone into something closer to a Nintendo Switch.
The Razer Junglecat is available now for $100. It’s a controller that looks a lot like when you connect two Nintendo Joy-Con to a gamepad base. And like the Joy-Con, the Junglecat separates so that you can dock each side onto the top and bottom of your smartphone. The end result is something that doesn’t look quite as slick as a Switch, but it’s close. And it works great for gaming.
Right now, the Junglecat is only compatible with certain phones. It comes with cases for the Razer Phone 2, Huawei P30 Pro , Samsung Galaxy Note 9, and the Samsung Galaxy S10+. The cases for those phones are a snug fit and ensure your device isn’t going to slip out. This is also what the Junglecat actually connects to. That puts the Junglecat at a slight disadvantage to the similar Gamevice in terms of support. A $70 Gamevice supports the Samsung Galaxy Note 8, S8, S8+, S9, S9+, S10, and S10+.
But once you have the controller and phone put together, you’ll just need to connect them through a Bluetooth connection. This enables you to use the Junglecat with Android games like Fortnite, which supports controllers on mobile. But you can also use the Razer Gamepad app to customize control profiles for other mobile games.
The Razer Junglecat helps cloud gaming make sense
And the controller works fine for mobile games, but I’m far more interested in using the Junglecat with services like Project xCloud and Nvidia GeForce Now. And it works flawlessly with both. Google Stadia doesn’t support third-party controllers on mobile yet.
But using the Junglecat and Razer Phone 2, I’ve had an excellent time streaming games from the cloud or from my local PC. I’ve used it to play Lonely Mountain Downhill, Hitman 2, and more. And everything works like you would expect.
The Junglecat does have issues, though. The D-pad isn’t very good. It feels cheap and wobbly. And while it’s nice that it has four shoulder buttons, the triggers are not analog. That means you won’t get precise control in driving games or something like Trials Rising.
You also have to charge each side of the Junglecat individually. And when you have the controllers on, you cannot charge your phone. So when the battery runs out, you’ll have to put it down. And if you need to charge the left and right controller pieces, that’s three different things that need USB-C power.
Still, ever since the Switch launched in 2017, I’ve wanted to use it to stream my PC games. That’s probably never going to happen. But the Junglecat is a decent alternative that is enabling me to play more games in more places.