All kinds of iPad games use virtual joysticks either one or the more well known dual stick shooters. Ten One Design has created The Fling Analog Joystick for iPad which gives you a physical joystick that suction cups to your iPad. You can get one for $19.95 or a two pack for $29.95, and they come with a little carry bag to fit two in your pocket.
It sounds great to have a joystick to give you tactical feedback when controlling fast paced action that usually is involved with joystick games. They are supremely easy to apply as you just press them down, and they suction cup solidly. They leave no residue when removed, and stick so well as to make it a bit tough upon removal.
The actual physical joystick feels very good and natural on your thumbs which is a welcome addition albeit surprising. Now they do get the job done, but they don’t feel as precise as your thumbs touching the screen. You get better and better using the fling controllers as you play, but it’s never quite as precise as your thumbs, and it’s quite contrary to the product statement of being more precise than your thumbs.
There are a few problems with the joysticks themselves with the first being placement. When choosing a spot to place them you want them in a comfortable position because they’ll be there for awhile. If you want to change the position in the middle of the game you need to pause, and pull them off, and then put them in a new spot you think will be better, but aren’t quite sure.
With just your thumbs you can move them all around while playing, and not miss a beat, and move them in infinitesimal increments throughout. Also the suction cups don’t stick around the home button, so on one side of the iPad it either needs to be below, above, or precisely on each side of the home button. Also once you place them you need to stay in the game, because they really get in the way if you want to go into another app.
They only work for games that have virtual joysticks, and $30 is a lot to spend especially when considering the number of games you could get for that price. Of the games with virtual joysticks they don’t work well with all of them because the fling controllers only shift so far. Certain virtual joystick games require you to push the controller to a sharper degree in a given direction, and the fling controllers can’t do it.
Also when you lose a life in some games it takes a few taps to recognize the fling controllers again, while the action is continuing on screen. While playing, a few times there was an interruption in the game from recognizing the Fling controllers as the iPad is meant to recognize fingers, the Fling controllers mimic that sense, but just aren’t the same.
Now there are three types of iPad owners; those who like using the touch screen, those who still have a love for physical input, and those who don’t like playing games on their iPad. I happen to be in the first category, and find my thumbs directly on the screen to be the best controllers, but the thing about the Fling controllers is that it really depends on you. If you’re considering getting these you really need to try them first, and that is quite a tough proposition.
Every person will react different to them, and because of that they’re worth considering. They work well on some games, not so well on others, and aren’t applicable to the rest of the games. They still seem to be a bit less precise than your thumbs directly on screen.
*Note with the Fling controllers I tested on the following games: Minigore HD, Max Adventure, Robokill, Guerilla Bob HD, Age of Zombies, Infinity Field, Geometry Wars, Meteor Blitz, Super Mega Worm, Death Worm, NOVA 2, Etolis: Arena, and Pirate’s Treasure.