Fling iPad Joystick Review: Just Like A Real Controller... Sort Of

Hardcore gamers often dismiss the iPad and iPhone platforms as being for "casual players only" or not having the depth of traditional console games. However, it's becoming more and more relevant as a gaming platform due to the sheer volume and popularity of titles available--along with the technical capabilities of the platform.

One technical capability the iDevice family does not have, however, is a joystick (or joysticks.) You're left with only a capacitive touchscreen, which, though usable, can often be pretty miserable for gaming. Especially for those of short fingers, like yours truly--effective dual stick gaming on a touchscreen usually ends up being a painful. achy affair.

Fling to the Rescue

This is where Fling comes in. Made by Ten One Design, the Fling can be purchased alone or in a pair. Its construction is pretty ingenious, actually... a center thumbpad is mounted inside a plastic circle so it can rotate freely. This circle is attached to a springlike plastic coil that moves with the thumbpad and creates tension--so it will revert back to neutral when no pressure is applied. The bottom of the thumbpad is a capacitive surface, stepping in as stunt double for your digits.

Attaching Fling is pretty easy, simply press those octopus-like suction cups to your screen (no, it won't hurt it at all) and position it where you like it. I usually try to ensure that I'm putting it directly over the controls for each game.

Is it any good?

In short, yes... it's pretty cool. I've been gaming on my iPad for years now, and this is a welcome respite from often frustrating finger futzing, especially in dual stick shooters. They feel very well made and provide stunningly accurate control, as well as being simple to attach and remove, and available at an attractive price point--I paid less than $30 for mine.

Drawbacks of the Fling Joysticks for iPad

The problem with the Fling joysticks isn't with the product itself, but rather, with the software you are attempting to use them with. For example, it works beautifully with Geometry Wars, flawlessly actually, resulting in a whole new play experience. However, it was rather non-functional with Rise of the Triad and some other FPS titles, as it wasn't very comfortable to navigate the touchpad to the extremes of the control area. I had to move... slowly.

Plus, the Fling joysticks aren't really made to work with games that will superimpose the control surfaces wherever you place your fingers. This results in much more comfortable play without the joysticks, but renders them useless. (There are some exceptions--such as Geometry Wars, which I mentioned already.) They also have to be moved depending on which game you're playing, and leave suction marks on the screen when you do so.

Finally, it seems definitively non-Apple-like to have these sea-creature like snail-looking joystick-things sucking on the front of your screen, and it's annoying to have to remove them when closing your case or what not.

So, should I buy them?

If you're into gaming on your iPad more than just a casual play for a few minutes each week, then I say go for it. They're reasonably priced and work as advertised, although mileage varies by title. For folks like me, who love iPad gaming and have an investment in many apps, it's a no-brainer.



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