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In a way, the iCade could best be described as a joke gone awesomely right. After all, it started as nothing more than an April Fool’s Day prank -- a fake product created by ThinkGeek, a company known for unbelievable (and most of the time, real) products. Yet here we are playing the thing. Unlike the pranks we’re used to (do high-schoolers still give swirlies?), the iCade was met with heaps of enthusiasm. ThinkGeek knew it had stumbled upon something wonderful as fanboys flooded their comment sections. If you listened closely, you could almost hear the zeitgeist whisper, “Build it and they will come.” And so they did.
A little arcade never hurt nobody.
ThinkGeek teamed up with Ion to make something wonderful: a solid, well-constructed gaming cabinet for your iPad. In short, it’s everything you hoped it’d be. All the functions and details of the iCade have been meticulously and lovingly perfected. The controls are fast and responsive, Bluetooth setup is a cinch, and a 30-pin slot on the bottom allows you to charge your iPad while you play. The buttons look and feel authentic, down to the clicks of moving the joystick. This is both good and bad as mashing buttons can be a bit loud.
Unfortunately, at press time the iCade only supported one app: Atari Greatest Hits. It includes one free game, and 99 other Atari arcade and console titles are available for in-app purchase. So $100 is a steep asking price to play a limited number of games, but there’s a light at the end of the tunnel: the iCade SDK lets other developers support the device, though only time will tell if it catches on.
The bottom line. Everything about this arcade cabinet feels genuine and well-made, but for a hundred bucks, it’s going to take more than nostalgia to get us to bite. We love the iCade, but our advice is to wait until more developers are on board before you drop 400 quarters into this machine.
iPad; Atari’s Greatest Hits iOS app
High-quality construction. Perfectly responsive. Easy to set up.
Costly. Only one app supported at press time. Noisy. So much for your iPad being sleek.