Got an iPad? Like games and wish you could use a real joystick to play games instead of a virtual touch screen controller? I have a potential solution for you. It’s the JOYSTICK-IT from ThinkGeek. It’s a small stick on joystick that has been designed to work with any device that features a capacitive touchscreen. Let’s take a closer look.
Note: Most of the images in this review can be clicked to see a larger picture.
The JOYSTICK-IT is made of solid milled-aluminum with a laser etched crosshair design on top. It is a little less than 2 inches tall, with a 1.25 inch diameter base.
Attached to the base is a spongy pad with a small suction cup in the center. The pad is made of conductive material so that when it makes contact with the capacitive display, the iPad will think you’ve touched it with your finger. In a way, the JOYSTICK-IT is like a large capacitive stylus.
The JOYSTICK-IT is designed to work with games that feature a virtual on-screen control pad of some kind. If the game uses swiping or multi-touch gestures, the JOYSTICK-IT will not be able to control it.
To use the JOYSTICK-IT, you just stick it directly over the on-screen controller and press down to activate the suction cup. At that point, you can play the name as you normally would, only now with a real joystick.
I tested the JOYSTICK-IT with a handful of arcade style games like Edge from Mobigame, Ms. Pac-man from Namco. At first the controller worked great and then I noticed that it would start failing to register my moves. Upon closer inspection, I found that the joystick would ‘drift’ on the screen. It would start sliding to the right so that it would no longer line up correctly with the on-screen controller. I thought it might be due to fingerprints and oils on the screen, so I cleaned the display and the JOYSTICK-IT’s suction cup with a little bit of Windex. Bingo! Cleaning the screen and keeping the suction cup on the bottom of the JOYSTICK-IT clean is a must. The only other thing to keep in mind is that if you’re an over enthusiastic player, you might accidentally pop the controller off the screen by breaking the seal of the suction cup. Every so often, I press it down to make sure it’s still attached as tightly as possible.
One thing I did not test is how well the JOYSTICK-IT works with a screen protector. Since most of the on-screen controllers are located in the corner of the display, there may be a potential for the JOYSTICK-IT to accidentally lift the protector after constant sticking and unsticking of the suction cup. Just something to keep in mind.
Playing games with the JOYSTICK-IT is very enjoyable and takes me back in time to my days with the Atari 2600 and Commodore 64. Fun times back then, and fun times now. Thanks ThinkGeek!