Apple has positioned the iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch as gaming devices. The device lends itself to some unique control schemes, such as gyroscopes and camera scans and multi-point touch screen controls that the Nintendo DS hadn’t come up with. With the amount of games rivaling the full libraries of other consoles in quantity (if not in quality), and iconic titles such as Sonic The Hedgehog, Street Fighter IV, and Pac-Man making the jump to iOS alongside new legends such as Angry Birds and Cut The Rope coming out of the indie scene. Still, some just want to hold it like a Game Boy, with the d-pad or joystick on the left, and buttons on the right. Fling hopes to replicate the d-pad with a unique spiral pad that suctions to the device. Does it reach the levels of Nintendo controllers, or will you want to fling it across the room?
Fling hails from Ten One Design, the guys behind the Pogo stylus that almost defined how to use a stylus on iOS devices (and even modern MacBooks). The packaging is a standard cardboard box with a window that is honestly twice as big as it needs to be. There’s only one piece of paper included, which is half advertisement for games that work well with it, half instructions that you won’t read. This isn’t a problem at all, as you’ll end up throwing out the package. The Fling controller comes with a nice pouch that doubles as a screen cleaner, allowing you to keep the controller and the means for attaching it with no problem.
Installation is absurdly easy… for the most part. Theoretically, you’re to swipe clean the device to ensure a good connection. The Fling device connects to the iPad via suction cups alongside the bezel. Almost annoyingly, though, you have to reposition it for whatever game you’re playing, since there’s no unified location for a controller pad. Super Mega Worm works fine in one position, but attempting to play a blown-up version of Street Fighter IV on the device means moving it onto the screen; admittedly, this isn’t the ideal situation for the Fling, but it’s worth a shot.
Fling simulates somewhere between a Nintendo 3DS’ circle pad and a PSP analog nub. The concentric design forces the actual “nub” to recenter when relaxed, and provides enough tension to not let you slide around without cause. Some games allow for “dual analog” support, but we didn’t get a chance to see how that setup worked. While an analog pad works nice (especially for games like Super Mega Worm), the fact is that there’s no physical buttons replicated on the other side. There have been other companies producing physical button solutions for the iPad, and the lack of a pair makes it somewhat uneven.
The Fling is designed well, using anodized aluminum for the pad and clear resin for the rest of the build; the clear design is to help you see through the pad, but that’s not something I’ve found myself looking for or paying attention to (and the fact that there are color-highlighted models even lessons the impact). The included pouch is also well-made, but it’s a pouch. None of these components feel like they add up to the $20 price point.
The Fling is not a bad product for what it is. Still, the lack of button partners or an analog partner for dual-analog games shows at times, and the $20 price point is a hampering on a single device (they do offer an extra pad for $10 more when you order one). If you’ve got a good game that it works with, Fling will be perfect, but it won’t be setting the bar like the Pogo Stylus did.