Fling Game Controller Review: Cool concept, lame controller

Ten One Design recently shipping their Fling Game Controller for the iPad. The Fling is an interesting concept that attempts to give the iPad physical analog sticks, supplementing the virtual analog sticks used in many games. The intended advantages of using the Fling are that is provides a tactile controller and stick resistance while playing games. In theory this is a very cool idea; in practice, it flounders.

The Fling Game Controller

The Fling Game Controller is a coiled bit of plaster which attaches to your iPad screen using two suction cups. This design allows the Fling to be placed anywhere on the iPad to accommodate any game’s analog “hot-spots”. Two Fling controllers may be fitted to an iPad to accommodate dual-stick shooters.

The coil allows the stick to be pushed in any direction for precise control, with resistance increasing the further you push the stick. The stick returns to center automatically when pressure is released.

In all honesty, the design is very clever. And as a nice perk, the Fling includes a drawstring pouch for storage.

Playing Meteor Blitz with the Fling

My two Fling controllers having arrived earlier in the week, I quickly set about gaming. Unfortunately, my experience with the Fling has been somewhat disappointing …

As cool a design as the Fling is, there is one MAJOR flaw: the stick has no grip. The analog sticks on the PlayStation 3’s DualShock controllers feature a rubber coating that prevents your finger from slipping off the stick when playing. The Fling has no such coating, and I constantly find my fingers slipping off of the stick as resistance increases as I push it further from center.

That’s not the only problem I have with the Fling, however. The amount of the resistance is also too high, I think, such that I find it difficult to use the sticks with any of the promised precision. Rather than controlling my in-game avatars, I feel as if I am fighting with them to move.

In several of my play tests, I have found that the range of the stick is insufficient for playing the game. And as you might expect from having coils of plastic attached to the device’s display, the Fling often obscures other interface elements.

As examples, I began with the games featured in the imagery on Ten One Design’s website.

To get up and running with Meteor Blitz, I first had to go into the options to realign the game’s controls, as the default stick positions placed one of the Fling’s suction cups directly on the iPad’s Home button. Getting the sticks to align with my attached Fling was a bit of a chore, but manageable. In game, however, I quickly found that the Fling’s resistance was too high and that it was a struggle to maneuver my ship with any precision at full speed, full speed being at the extreme range of the Fling’s movement capability. A drag, but I find the game easier to play without using the Fling.

And so I moved on to Across Age.

Playing Across Age with the Fling

At first impression, the coil seemed a perfect fit for the game’s analog control area, and I thought this was going to be good. And because fast reactions are less imperative in Across Age than in Meteor Blitz, I assumed the resistance would be less of an issue. Sadly, I was mistaken on both counts. The coil is indeed a good fit for the game’s analog control area, but it obscures dialogue during conversations. The stick resistance also made it very difficult to maneuver my characters, whom I constantly steered into and snagged onto environmental objects such as trees. Aiming my attacks also became a chore, as I found it difficult to differentiate my input between attacking in a straight line or on the diagonal.

After these two disappointments, I was actually surprised when I found the Fling to be rather enjoyable for playing Super Mega Worm. Likewise, Death Worm proved to be fairly entertaining with the Fling.

My hopes thus bolstered, I moved on to Chaos Rings HD only to be let down once more. The range of the Fling is insufficient for playing Chaos Rings, as it is impossible to move your character at speed any faster than a walk.

Meow Meow Happy Fight HD was my next test subject, and while I maintain that I am better at the game whilst NOT using the Fling — again Fling resistance vs. maneuverability and precision — the game wasn’t bad to play, and was definitely better than playing Meteor Blitz.

I decided to fling my Fling at a few more dual-stick shooters. Geometry Wars performs well with the Fling, as the controls are loose enough that the Fling’s range and resistance don’t really become an issue. Also, you can double-tap using the fling to detonate bombs, so there’s never reason to reach beyond the Fling to trigger the screen.

Infinity Field, a newer dual-stick shooter closely resembling Geometry Wars, was slightly less comfortable to play with resistance becoming a minor issue in maneuvering the ship, but certainly not a deal-breaker.

Isotope revealed a new shortcoming, though. While in Geometry Wars and Infinity Field the objective tends to be to avoid collision with swarms of enemy ships, Isotope prominently features enemies that shoot back at you, requiring you to maneuver between bullets. Such maneuvers often require very fine movements, and while stick resistance wasn’t much an issue, I found it difficult to make small movements using the Fling as I would often have to overcompensate for the resistance it offers. Weaving between bullets it not easy with this thing.

Red Nova was like nightmares on ice, with the Fling crapping all over its unique (and pretty sweet) control scheme.

For my final round of initial testing, I decided to ply the Fling to some Gameloft titles.

Dungeon Hunter 2 HD: Playable, but once more the Fling’s resistance made the game uncomfortable. As maneuverability is not crucial to the game it wasn’t really an issue, but it was less than ideal for moving my character at full speed and I just found the Fling to be a hinderance.

Avatar HD: The Fling was pretty decent for playing Avatar, with the game being from an over-the-shoulder 3D perspective. While I did not feel the game was improved in any way, the Fling at least did not seem to hamper my enjoyment of the game as with other titles.

Hero of Sparta 2 HD: Starting off, the Fling was honestly great for playing this game, and as I rushed through the first stage of the game I only wished that it had some type of rubber coating to provide a better grip on the stick. But as I engaged the Serpent in combat, things quickly fell to pieces. I began tapping skulls for a focus kill, only to find that the skulls would sometimes appear beneath the Fling’s coil where they were difficult — and sometimes impossible — to reach, leading to my death. That’s a deal-breaker.

My best experience with the Fling was also my last, that being N.O.V.A. HD. Of all the games I tested, N.O.V.A. HD was the only title for which the Fling felt truly appropriate and fully enjoyable to use.

I may continue to experiment with the Fling in coming days, but my impression at this point is that the Fling Game Controller is a curiosity and an interesting conceptual piece, but nothing more. While it worked out pretty well with N.O.V.A. HD, it did not prove itself to be a necessity and in most titles actually became a hinderance to my enjoyment of the game. At this point, I cannot think of a single game that I would rather play with the Fling than without, and I say with confidence that my two Fling Game Controllers will be spending the bulk of their time in that cloth pouch they came with.

The Fling Game Controller may be order from the Ten One Design website, $19.95 for one or $29.95 for a set of two.

Have you got a Fling? Share your thoughts, and tell us what games you think it works particularly well or not at all with in the comments.

One thought on “Fling Game Controller Review: Cool concept, lame controller

  1. My experience is very different from the author. I bought the Fling primarily for RPGs. I had attempted to play Prince of Persia for a couple of weeks on the virtual joystick. One room had several climbs, jumps and fights. I literally attempted this room and failed 25+ times. I cleared the room on the first attempt using the Fling. I had similar results with Robokill – a dual-stick shooter. Much better control, movement and aim.

    The absolute best thing about this controller is that it allows me to stare at the action on the screen rather than attempting to locate my virtual joystick because there is no tactile feedback. Final comments – I have had no instance of finger slipping due to a slick button. If I lost my Flings tomorrow, I would immediately order replacements.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *