At the tail end of 2013, a new accessory for mobile enthusiasts managed to soar past it’s $100,000 funding goal on Kickstarter with a promise to deliver a wearable sub-woofer to the masses. Less than a year later, Woojer is here. But is it any good?
The team behind Woojer sent Gamezebo a demo unit to play around with in recent weeks, and I’ve dutifully kept it strapped to my belt and shirt during many of my mobile gaming sessions since.
The results have been mixed.
When placed on the chest, Woojer ends up feeling fairly isolated. You know that feeling you get when you put your foot against the side of a sub-woofer? It’s like that, but contained to a four or five inch area. I found that placement on my belt was much more effective at giving me that total body feeling that the company is going for. It’s not “total” total, but it definitely felt much more immersive.
It’s worth noting that the original Woojer Kickstarter page suggested that “one Woojer on the clothing is awesome,” but two is going to deliver the full effect they’re going for.
At $99 a pop, I just don’t see many people buying these in pairs.
Still, even with just one Woojer, the feedback that is delivered is spot on with the games you’re playing. It manages to capture every low frequency thump, bang, and bump in your playing experience.
For example, I’ve been spending a fair amount of time lately with the soft-launch version of Marvel: Contest of Champions. Every single punch and block in the game is accompanied by a body-shaking Woojer effect. And as silly as it might sound on paper, it really does add something great to the experience.
In Hitman: Sniper (another Canadian early release), the effect is even greater. When Agent 47 holds his breath, you can feel his heart beating. When he lets loose a shot, it feels like you’ve fired a rifle.
With the right games, Woojer is a hell of a product.
The problem, though, is that the right games aren’t nearly as common as the wrong ones. Woojer does nothing to add to your experience in Threes!, for instance, or Run Sackboy! Run!. The Woojer is aimed at action-packed gaming, and that’s something that simply doesn’t dominate on mobile.
If you’re a big fan of console-style games on mobile, Woojer is for you. If not, you can probably stop reading here.
The shift towards casual gaming isn’t the only reason you might want to think twice before buying a Woojer, though. While the device is portable by nature, it’s not something you’re going to want to wear out in public very often. The Woojer clips onto your belt or shirt, and is no bigger than that pager you had on your hip back in ’94. It sounds like it should be comfortably portable – but the cords are going to make you feel a little tangled up and / or make you look like an early-stage cyborg.
You’ll need to connect your iPhone to the Woojer, and your Woojer to the headphones. So if your phone is in your pocket, your Woojer is on your belt, and your headphones are around your neck, there are cords kind of… everywhere. If you’re at home playing games, this isn’t a problem. But wearing it around town might make you look a tad disheveled and silly.
I was also a little disappointed to find that the Woojer acts as a sub-woofer, but not a speaker. If you prefer to play games without the headphones (as I often do), the Woojer becomes useless. Hooking it up in that scenario would give you force feedback, but no sound.
The price point is going to be a sticking point for a lot of folks, but lets face facts: if you care enough about bass to want to feel it on your chest as your playing Dead Trigger 2, you probably won’t care about how much you’re spending. Still, I think if this were marketed at the $29 price point instead of $99, it would be an easy recommendation as a stocking stuffer for your favorite mobile gamer.
The value you’re going to find in Woojer is going to depend almost exclusively on what kind of a gamer you are. If you’re a mobile gamer who spends most of their time with simple tap and touch fare like Candy Crush Saga or The Simpsons: Tapped Out, this just isn’t the device for you.
If, however, you prefer more action-packed, console-style gaming on the go, Woojer does a fantastic job of delivering the force feedback that gaming on-the-go otherwise fails to deliver. It’s just a shame that you probably won’t want to wear it out of the house.