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What if you could just slap a joystick on your iPad anytime you wanted to play a game and get a tactile response and control precision that fingers alone can’t provide? It sounds like some visionary prototype of a distant future, but they exist today, and that futuristic voodoo magic is really just suction cups. Even better, these stick-on accessories can actually improve your iPad gaming experience—or at least one of them can.
The Joystick-It is a retro option with a delightful shiny chrome finish and crosshair etchings. Unfortunately, it doesn’t feel as good as it looks—stuck on an iPad, the heavy stick feels wobbly and insecure. Plus, a surprising oversight makes them almost perfectly unusable for games with floating virtual contols (the kind that appear wherever you put your finger down). The Joystick-It’s suction cup is in the center of the accessory, which means there’s never a constant, centered point of input. If the game has floating controls (most games do), your first input—say, pushing the stick to the right—gets interpreted as the center, meaning you can’t move right. We know, it’s confusing. But suffice it to say that unless the game has a constant onscreen control, Joystick-It just won’t work. But plenty of games do feature static ’sticks (or at least have an option for them), and the Joystick-It works great with those.
Joystick-It: Flashy, but with major limitations.
On the other hand (literally), is the fantastic Fling by Ten One Design. The Fling is made of clear plastic, which means it doesn’t obstruct your view, and it features a patent-pending snail-shell spiral design. The harder you push the joystick in any direction, the more resistance it gives.. In our testing, the Fling performed admirably with every game that uses virtual ’sticks. A pair of small suction cups stick it to the screen, but even with double-suction, it still popped off or slid around with intense gaming more than we’d have liked. Still, if you’re serious about iPad gaming, the Fling will inevitably lead to higher scores and less touchscreen frustration.
Fling: Disappears into your screen.
The bottom line. As much as we love the look of an iPad with two chrome joysticks, the Joystick-It doesn’t deliver enough precise control to be a viable option for hardcore gamers. Meanwhile, the Fling offers sweet control, obstructs less of the screen, and costs less. Game, set, and match.
Price: $24.99 for one, $39.99 for two
Pros: Chrome. Awesome retro look.
Cons: Expensive. Doesn’t work very well with floating controls. And by “very well” we mean “at all.”
Ten One Design
Price: $19.95 for one, $29.95 for two
Pros: Works with floating controls.
Cons: Suction cups pop off too frequently. Rubbing plastic on our iPad makes us cringe.