Video games for the iPhone, iPad, and other touchscreen devices are big business these days. But anyone who has ever tried playing an iPad role playing game, first person shooter, or other game in a genre that was clearly designed first and foremost for a joystick will tell you what a pain it can be to use on-screen controls instead of real buttons.
A couple of companies are taking an interesting approach to that problem. While Apple clearly has no plans to put more buttons on the iPad, you can pick up a JOYSTICK-IT or Fling for about $25, stick it to your screen with a suction cup, and get a bit of tactile sensation while interacting with a virtual D-pad.
The Fling system is modeled on a real directional pad, while the JOYSTICK-IT is designed like a classic video game controller (Think Space Invaders, Pac-Man, or Galaga). Both are designed to solve a major problem with iPad gaming — your finger can easily slip off the on-screen controls, or you can hit the wrong button because you can’t actually feel the buttons beneath your fingers.
On the other hand, both joysticks are yet another accessory you have to carry around and connect to your device when you want to play a game, making the whole system a heck of a lot less portable. If you’re that serious about mobile gaming, maybe you should just get a PSP, Nintendo DS, or another handheld system designed for games.