Touch screen gaming will always be looking for ways to best offer controls that are as close to physical controls as possible – look at the Xperia Play, which is all about offering physical game controls on a phone. We’ve seen devices like the Joystick-It pop up recently, and another similar mechanism for physical controls on a touch screen is the Fling Joystick from Ten One Design. The Fling works by way of having 2 suction cups that stick to the bezel of the iPad, and a joystick mechanism in the middle. It is slightly raised, so touching it presses it against the screen. This is what makes it more useful than the Joystick-It – this registers a center point on the screen, which properly allows virtual floating joysticks to work, as you can move from a consistent center point defined by the joystick, and you get analog movement.

The Fling design is great – the mechanism is transparent, so you can see around where you have placed the joystick. Tons of games work great with the Fling as well – Super Mega Worm‘s d-pad works wonderfully with the Fling – about as well as one could hope. Archetype HD‘s movement controls work great, making you feel like you’re playing an actual console game about as much as possible. Dual-stick shooters are incredible – you move and fire with remarkable precision. Your high scores on Age of Zombies are no longer safe if I’m your Game Center friend. Max Adventure is a revelation with the Fling, feeling smoother than the game has any right to be. Red Nova’s movement is great with the Fling, as well. Also, it’s easier to stick the Fling and get it stable on the iPad thanks to the Fling’s bag that also serves as a microfiber cloth to clean the screen. It is exceptionally convenient, and helps make the Fling remarkably stable.

Not all games will work perfectly with the Fling – some games’ joysticks will be too large, so you may not move as fast as you want in some games. Games with swiping controls won’t work with the Fling – because of the way the joystick works, it snaps back to the center point, so moving the joystick in a direction returns it to the center, so it registers as a swipe in the direction you swiped in, and then in the reverse direction, so it won’t work properly. If you want to play Silverfish with the Fling, use the d-pad controls. Aiming in Archetype HD didn’t quite work properly due to this mechanism as well. Fixed controls are a trickier proposition, as you have to position them exactly correctly to play them properly, so Gun Bros. might be a challenge. The joysticks also have very stiff resistance – this may be part of the engineering of the device, but it is stiffer than most controllers’ joysticks.

Is the Fling useful? Yes, very. It makes playing games with virtual joysticks much easier, and the games that work properly with it are wonderful. Is it necessary? Maybe not, and there are a few problems with it, so it’s not perfect. However, there’s plenty of times when the Fling just feels like an ingenious solution, and well worth checking out. If you play a lot of games with virtual joysticks, this may be what you’ve been looking for.

The Fling Joystick is currently available for $19.95 for one unit, and $29.94 for two.