The iOS platform is home to some great input methods. Developers have utilized multitouch, tilt, and, in some cases, even the gyroscope and microphone for some incredibly creative games that would only be possible on iOS devices. But what about more traditional games that can't be controlled this way? As many of you know, that's where the highly debated virtual joysticks and buttons come into play. The problem with these virtual controls is that for as great as multitouch input is, no iOS device can offer any kind of tactile feedback for virtual controls.

Depending on how adept you are with working with them and how cleverly developers design them, the effect of virtual controls ranges from being largely game-breaking to not that big of a deal. Still, over the lifespan of the App Store, it's not hard to think of several games that would be much better using a real controller regardless of how good (or bad) the virtual controls may be. This is a problem that Ten One Design hopes to solve with the Fling Game Controller for iPad.

The Fling is a cleverly designed device with two suction cups on one side connected to a plastic ring. Inside of the plastic ring is a spiral that suspends an electrically conductive joystick in the center. This spiral works like a spring, always returning the joystick to the center, and providing more resistance the closer you get to the edge of the plastic ring. It's made out of clear plastic with a Fling logo that comes in three different colors: black, blue, and purple.


NOTE: The preview units are from the initial prototype run, the final units will be made of completely clear plastic, not the slightly yellowish material these are made of.

Using the Fling is as simple as loading a game that you want to play that uses some kind of virtual control, and sticking it on the device with the attached suction cups. If you're playing a game with floating virtual joysticks like most dual stick shooters, all you've got to do is position it wherever is most comfortable to you, press down both suction cups, and you're ready to roll. Games with controls that are static take a little bit more fiddling around. Sometimes you need to get creative with which direction you're going to have the Fling facing in order to hit the center of the touch point while still having ample room for the suction cups to stick.

The build quality of the device seems sturdy enough to do the job, but the way the internal spiral is constructed makes me a little nervous to just haphazardly pocket it or throw it in my laptop bag. I'm reluctant to really do any durability tests since these are preview units, but according to Ten One Designs, the Fling is made of a type of resin which very difficult to break and they've subjected it to "major torture" without issue. Still, there is no escaping the fact that the Fling feels like a piece of plastic, which doesn't exactly inspire confidence when considering the price at which they are selling them.

Ten One Designs is currently taking preorders of the Fling for $25 each, or $38 for a pair, which seems expensive for a piece of plastic. The price, however, is probably in line with what most iPad accessories cost. Either way, Ten One Designs is expecting the Fling to begin shipping towards the end of this month.

The good news is, for many games, the Fling is absolutely outstanding. Playing dual stick shooters using the Fling is, in a word, glorious. I easily decimated my Geometry Wars [99¢] high scores. With real joysticks, Max Adventure [99¢] is a joy to play. Age of Zombies [$2.99] feels like it was made to be played with the Fling, with the secondary weapon buttons positioned perfectly outside its plastic ring.

First person shooters work great as well. In fact, I almost felt like I was cheating in N.O.V.A. 2 HD [$6.99] my overall accuracy improved so much. It's really incredible just how much of a difference it makes, almost making N.O.V.A. 2 feel like an XBOX game with a real controller. Similarly, the Fling works really well in every Gameloft game I tried, as the ability to move the various on-screen controls around allows you to perfectly position the Fling wherever you're comfortable, while also placing the buttons within reach.

Games that use a single virtual joystick also work awesomely, as expected. LEGO Harry Potter [$4.99] and our own game of the year's iPad counterpart Space Miner HD [$4.99] are both great with a real joystick.

As far as what doesn't work so well: any game that relies on swiping instead of a virtual stick with both a center point and a maximum that are inside of the Fling's range of motion. Aralon: Sword and Shadow [$9.99] was on my short list of games I really wanted to try with the Fling, and while the movement joystick works fantastic, camera controls don't. Positioning a second Fling on the left side of the screen only moves the camera as much as moving your finger around would, so you hit the limit of where the Fling can move, and that's as far as the camera goes.

Games that you can't move interface elements around that have buttons close to the virtual joysticks also don't work. I was really excited to try Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light HD [$9.99] following our not so positive first impressions but by default, buttons are positioned under the Fling's spiral, making them impossible to press. It seems like you might be able to move them around in the game's settings, but it crashed 100% of the time when I tried.

I suppose now it comes down to the inevitable question of do I recommend preordering the Fling? Well, it all comes down to what you do with your iPad. If you're the kind of person who loves dual stick shooters and FPS games, and do the majority of your gaming at home or somewhere that needing to fiddle around with accessories is not out of the question-- and if you can swallow the $38 --I say go for it. However, if you primarily use your iPad as a ultra portable tablet that you also game on, I'm not so sure I'd want to cart my Fling(s) around wherever I go.

The beautiful thing about both the iPhone and iPad is you don't generally need to haul around extra junk. They do so much as is that all you might ever need is a pair of headphones for most outings. Also, it really comes down to how much of an issue virtual controls are for you. If the inherent lack of precision generally found in virtual controls doesn't really bother you, then you likely won't see much of a benefit from using the Fling. Also, don't bother buying a Fling if you don't have an iPad: it's too wide to attach well to the iPhone and obscures over half the screen.

Personally, all too often I find myself saying, "This is good, but it would be so much better with real controls." A Fling still isn't a substitute for a real analog controller, but it sure is a step in the right direction... Assuming you can put up with yet another accessory, of course.

Product Page: Fling for iPad

TouchArcade Rating

  • The Bat Outta Hell

    Only 38 bucks to improve my dual stick game's high scores? omg ill take 20

    • http://twitter.com/NoSuperMan ImNoSuperMan

      Not high scores. But the experience. I saw it on kotaku and completely dismissed it as overpriced and useless. But looks like it does work well enough. But ya, it still feels a bit overpriced in a market where a game is considered too costly at $1.99 :P

  • Lxebell

    If I had a iPad :(

  • LBG

    A solution to the problem? What problem? I suppose some people prefer real joysticks, but I myself find virtual joysticks to be perfectly adequate.

    • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

      Congratulations, you're the type of person I mentioned in the second to last paragraph!

    • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

      Congratulations, you're the type of person I mentioned in the second to last paragraph!

      • LBG

        Yeah I know. I really don't like physical control add-ons or controllers for iOS devices. The touch screen is pretty unique and much more versatile than physical controls, which is something that I thought I'd never say but I guess I've just got used to touch controls. I understand that some people prefer physical controls and that's fine.

      • NoThanks

        Wow, the reviewers at Touch Arcade are douchebags. This is the fourth or fifth snotty, high-school-y reply I've seen to a comment by a review author. Where do they recruit these idiots, picking pimples while they wait for the short bus?

      • Anonymous

        I hope you appreciate the irony of your comment.

      • http://twitter.com/OfficialSato Sato

        "NoThanks" is right. ;) Don't get butthurt.

      • Chrishandlebar

        First of he's not being a douchebag, you Douchebag!. He clearly says in his second to last paragraph that it might not be for all. I use my ipad for many things.. Gaming is a big part of it as i spent a lot of time commuting. There was NO NEED for the comment from LBG... a solution to a problem? what problem? shut up dude.. if its not for you .. i don;t need to know about it.. LBG is probably one of those people that repeats what someone else just said to make himself sound important.. Thanks for the Review Eli.. My buddy picked me up a pair at MacWorld and I destroyed my MiniGore score on the first try.

      • ChrisHandlebar

        and what is a high-shool-y reply .. how old are you 12 ?

      • ChrisHandlebar

        and what is a high-shool-y reply .. how old are you 12 ?

  • SunriseMoon

    THIRTY EIGHT DOLLARS FOR SOMETHING THAT COULD QUITE EASILY IMPROVE THE PLAYABILITY OF SOME OF THE GAMES I CURRENTLY OWN? I'll take it!

  • SunriseMoon

    THIRTY EIGHT DOLLARS FOR SOMETHING THAT COULD QUITE EASILY IMPROVE THE PLAYABILITY OF SOME OF THE GAMES I CURRENTLY OWN? I'll take it!

  • Anonymous

    I think this is a pretty good quasi-solution. I actually wouldn't mind a pair myself. I'm usually pretty okay with virtual controls and can adjust more or less okay, but I frequently find myself drifting off-center in some games, and these would be perfect for solving that problem. Sign me up, I'll take a pair.

  • Anonymous

    I think this is a pretty good quasi-solution. I actually wouldn't mind a pair myself. I'm usually pretty okay with virtual controls and can adjust more or less okay, but I frequently find myself drifting off-center in some games, and these would be perfect for solving that problem. Sign me up, I'll take a pair.

  • Anonymous

    In for tiny one's on the iPhone lol.

  • EastsideStompers

    I feel another Haiku contest coming on; )

  • G-money

    my solution is dont play games that have a virtual joystick

    • LBG

      Then you're missing out on lots of great games.

      • G-money

        I barely have time to play all the ones I do have
        none of them are with virtual joysticks

  • Leslie Nnanyelugo

    Now this is why i love toucharcade. They always go in depth to whatever they talk about compared to pocket gamer or stp. If only there was a mini version for iPhone & iPod touch users.

  • Rasterico

    Kinda pricey although they do look like they do a cool job as a thumb pad, I don't think I'd personally buy them as I don't play that many virtual joystick games that I struggle with but I can see the appeal for others, maybe if they were $20 a pair they'd be more of an impulse purchase but I can't see it at that price.

  • andrzej raczynski

    nice engineering. terrible price.

  • Revolutionary Concepts

    Very cool! A+ for innovation and an elegant design. Do maintain that Fling can only address part of the issue (slippage) though - the biggest variable is down to how responsive/sensitive devs can make their controls. Needless to say we'll be grabbing some, keen to see how Karate Champ plays with. Now all we need is a huge headgear / neckbrace contraption so we can play gyro/tilt games hands free :D

  • Lukwtwz

    Now that's one possible explanation of what's been happening to the GWT leaderboards that never would have occurred me. I figured that some people might be playing it projected on a wall or on an iphone 1, but not this. Like many things, one person's kludge is another's edge. If it helps revive interest in games that people already own but no longer play, then so be it.

    • Shenmansell

      Maybe the top high scores on GWT are just idiots hacking the submission process to make fake high scores.

      That seems to happen on a lot of games, especially with openfeint scoreboards.

  • gila

    This is very smart! However I think I'd wait for a price drop or the inevitable chinese knockoff.

  • Ripoff

    What a rip-off of a similar add-on controllers by a Japanese manufacturer.

    Oh well, I suppose it's their mistake for not releasing it to the international market.. And that's where Fling comes in.

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    • Anonymous

      Go away.

  • Anonymous

    Am I the only person who thinks they look like two condoms stuck to the screen?

    • fluffehgoaway

      yes

  • Geronimo7

    This seems very innovative but overpriced for what it is.

    Make it $10 and I'm in.

  • Seishu

    I think I'll take some time to make a pair of these on my own with some cheaper materials...

  • Me

    You Blew It covers any part of the screen.

    Sliding plastic back and forth across the screen is asking for all kinds of scratches. Let's face it, iDevices need a Apple supported snap-in physical controller like the prototypes we've seen in the past. That's the only way Gamers/Developers will take the platform seriously for more than just ports of old games or casual games like Angry Birds.

    • http://twitter.com/Dd3m Chris Flores

      While I agree that real physical controls would be better, I just want to point out that Ten One Design are the same people who make the Pogo Stylus and Pogo Sketch stylus for capacitive screens. They don't use any old plastic for their styluses, and I would imagine that the analog stick part of these is made of the same material.

      Still overpriced though.

    • http://twitter.com/Dd3m Chris Flores

      While I agree that real physical controls would be better, I just want to point out that Ten One Design are the same people who make the Pogo Stylus and Pogo Sketch stylus for capacitive screens. They don't use any old plastic for their styluses, and I would imagine that the analog stick part of these is made of the same material.

      Still overpriced though.

    • Anonymous

      I totally doubt those would scratch an iPad screen, unless the suction cups and the spiraling plastic were made of diamond.

  • Twobobwatch

    I've never been happier about being an iPad gamer!

  • Conner_36

    anyone for a mini iphone fling?

  • TheTheory

    If I had an ipad I'd be all over these.
    Wonder if it is realistic to hope for a smaller size for iphone/ipod touches. Because that would be lovely.

  • Vidkid72

    I was excited and went to pre-order a pair until I saw 24.99 for shipping to Canada. I mean, seriously? They need to fix the shipping to Canada to have any hope of selling any here.

  • Dave

    WAY over priced. $15 for two and they'd sell 10X more.

    • Peter

      Are you a market analyst? Or are you just pulling figures out of your ass?

  • http://twitter.com/overbo overbo

    I need one of these. For my iPhone.

  • Henrylkr

    iPhone version and I'll gladly buy it. :(

  • http://twitter.com/ihatemattgreene Matt Greene

    Can't anyone just make a good bluetooth PS3ish controller? For that I would pay $38.

  • Jenny

    How does it work?

    • E_Domina

      the plastic bends to move and there's a conductive bottom for your finger

  • http://twitter.com/iPad140 iPad app reviews

    Intrigued by the road junction game picture... Max Adventure!? Wow - how did I miss that one?

  • crampy

    Something I've been doing for awhile when I've been really going for a high score is sticking a little dot of masking tape the the screen over the controls. It's amazing how much that little bit of tactile feedback can help with certain games. Works on an iPhone/iTouch. Cheap too. Try it on Pix'n'Love Rush.

    • Adam of Troy

      that's a damn fine idea (and a hellu'va lot cheaper)... good show

  • Adam of Troy

    Show me the 'Hadouken!' (or a a Tiger-Knee) and I'm so there...

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Rafael-Debes/1065965117 Rafael Debes

    40 bucks for this ? really ?

  • http://headcaseGames.com Ron_headcase

    This sounds very solid. I can't argue the price for the amount of playability it sounds like you get for so many games. No mention above how well it works with the Gameloft games, but if it does as one would expect, I think that alone should merit the purchase. After the (overall) glowing review written above, I do feel it's a bit excessive to say the price is such a roadblock - I am hoping the market will sympathize with this feeling.

    I still look fwd to a time when someone releases a fully external controller for the iPad (kinda defeats the whole point, but the gaming experience would improve greatly for those who purchased it for that reason!!). So long as it's kept as an option, I don't think it's destructive to the culture.

  • Ed

    This is an impulse-buy type of item, but the price is not right with this one.

  • Projectmoonlightcafe

    Just tried it out at CES. When I first read the TA entry I went to their website and saw the price and dismissed it as well. After trying it out I ordered three 2-packs (as if you order 3 the shipping is free to Canada). I'm sure I can find 2 buddies to buy the other two. It feels amazing and the games are so much easier to play. It may look weird, but it's really got a pretty interesting resistance system on the knob. It really feels like you're using a PS or Xbox thumbstick.

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  • Jim
  • Juz

    I picked up a couple when they dropped the price, just got them yesterday. Gotta say, I love them. Works beautifully with excellent control positioning games like METERO BLITZ, and they are also good for arcade-y style games with crap built-in controls (looking at you Pac-Man). Tried them for Real Soccer 2010 also, and works well for direction.

    The feedback is great, but so is the fact that your range of motion is limited, and tense sweaty game session doesn't cause slips.

    Recommended!

  • yang nacy

    I have got it from http://www.ownace.net/ten-one-design-fling-tactile-game-controller-for-ipad-p-1068.html , Only $9.45 , work perfectly , very cool

  • http://twitter.com/realSLIK Real Slik

    This is for gamers. If you're a "High schooly" angry birds type of guy then don't get it.