Review: The Joystick-It from Thinkgeek

When the Ipad first hit the market it opened a floodgate of possibilities for third party accessory developers based on its gaming capabilities alone. You can’t get more nostalgic than playing Atari’s greatest hits, dig dug, or Pac Man on the tablet device, but even with these classics from my childhood something always felt like it is missing. It does not completely simulate that experience you have in a good old arcade. Thinkgeek looked to address this issue with a stick-on accessory, the Joystick-it.

The way it works is it has a suction cup at the bottom of the joystick to attached to your Ipad or touch screen device. Right out of the box this looks amazing. It is not some cheap plastic material but solid metal and the attention to detail is rather incredible. I would say as far as looks go this is a beautiful little piece of retro goodness. Unfortunately that is the extent of the Joystick-it’s qualities. Though it certainly looks pretty, apparently someone forgot that it also needed to be functional.

Naturally the first game I tried was Ms.Pac Man. After following the simple instructions on the side of the box I was ready for some old fashioned, arcade-style, action! Everything seemed to be going fine at first, until I became stuck in a corner and no matter how much I jiggled the Joystick-it to the left, Mrs. Pac-Man would not budge and was horrifically murdered by a ghost right before my very eyes.The Joystick-it’s suction cup will slip and slide out of position if you move it around too aggressively.

So I tried again but this time pressed firmly down on it while playing to make sure it stayed in place. This time Ms. Pac-Man wasn’t killed because of the Joystick-it sliding out of position, she was killed because the Ipad simply was not registering the Joystick-it’s movement upward. Next she died because I pushed the joystick too hard and to came off the Ipad completely. It was a Ms. Pac-Man massacre I tell you! I tried “Galaga” next and I experience the exact same problems. This thing even screws up in a game where you only go left or right, how is that possible!?

Get used to that "Game Over" screen...

I decided to try the Ipad port of “DOOM” to see if it would give me the same issues. After adjusting myself to the Joystick-It’s sensitive needs I started to get the hang of it and was, for the most part, able to control the character. The problem is it would move extremely slow because the Josystick-It was not pushing the touch pad controller far enough. Push it any harder or further and I would be experiencing the same problems as before. It was faster, and funner, to remove the Joystick-It and just play with the normal controls.

It really pains me to put this product down so much. It looks great and there is definitely a lot of potential had they just spent more time tweaking the functions. I am sure there would have been some way to not only make it responsive but to keep it on the Ipad. When it is attached it feels loose like it will come off at any given moment during gameplay.

The Joystick-it retails for $24.99 (Even if this thing worked…ouch). As a ornament this at least looks awesome. However I cannot recommend it if you are looking for an accessory that will allow you to play arcade games the old fashioned way. I have to give this one 2 out of 5 Nerdzillas.

Not all hope it lost for all you retro enthusiasts though! Thinkgeek did come up with another nifty invention we will be reviewing next week and I can already tell you that where the Joystick-it failed, this one definitely succeeds!

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