The iCade by Ion Audio started life as an elaborate hoax by the fine folks over at ThinkGeek. Real world demand was so high for this mini arcade wonder for Apple’s tablet that ThinkGeek paired up with Ion Audio to bring it to life.
I wanted an iCade even before I had an iPad. And after owning one for several months it’s become one of my favorite things.
The iCade pairs with your iPad as a BlueTooth keyboard. It has an extremely authentic and functional joystick along with real, honest-to-goodness analog buttons. Best of all, they nailed it on looks—the iCade cabinet looks like it could have come straight out of your local pizza joint.
Touch controls have ushered in a whole new UI for gameplay mechanics. These new controls aren’t necessarily the best for platformers or traditional arcade games; they still work best with physical controls.
As for games, the iCade is no slouch in that respect. At present count there are over 400 games with support for the iCade with more being added all the time. A complete list compatible games can be found here.
If you get an iCade your first download should be Atari’s Greatest Hits. It’s free and comes with a couple of vintage hits from their catalog. Classics like Asteroids, Centipede, Missile Command, Breakout, and more can be purchased in-app.
Another must-buy, Midway Arcade, recently added iCade support. For a $0.99 it comes with 10 games including such arcade staples as Joust and Defender. I spent the extra buck via in-app-purchase to add Gauntlet and Gauntlet II (“Red Wizard needs food, badly!”) and Wizards of Wor.
I’m happy to say that the iCade works as advertised. It’s a retrogaming powerhouse that takes me back to a time when I couldn’t get enough quarters to pump into the local arcade.
As much as I’d like to, I doubt I’ll ever own an actual arcade cabinet. For under a hundred dollars (plus the cost of an iPad) the iCade is the next best thing. You can buy an iCade from ThinkGeek.
What games would like to see on the iCade? Sound off in the comments below.
All images are from my flickr, unless otherwise noted.