The iCade is an accessory for the Apple iPad line of devices which functions as a miniaturised, portable arcade cabinet, including a physical joystick and buttons. The iPad is inserted into the iCade and connects to the device using Bluetooth, allowing it to be used as an arcade-style controller for compatible games.[1][2]

An Apple iPad rests within a portable wooden arcade cabinet decorated in a bright, retro style.
An iCade with Apple iPad inserted
ManufacturerION Audio
TypeDesktop arcade cabinet
Release date
  • US: June 27, 2011
  • 1× joystick
  • 8× digital buttons
Power2× AA batteries

Overview edit

The iCade's input devices include an 8-way ball-top joystick and eight digital buttons. When placed inside the iCade, the iPad is positioned vertically, while a groove behind the inputs accommodates landscape-mode play.[3] On the front of the device is a "coin slot", which lights up to show that the iCade is powered on,[4] and flashes when its batteries are running low.[2] Power can be sourced from either two AA batteries or an AC adapter. It is also possible to run an iPad docking cable through the underside of the iCade, in order to charge the iPad during play.[5]

Internally, the iCade is essentially a Bluetooth keyboard—the joystick and buttons are simply mapped to 24 different standard keys. Since the iPad natively supports Bluetooth keyboards, it is able to receive inputs from the iCade without any requirement for special software beyond games designed to respond to the inputs that the iCade sends.[6] This system also allows other Bluetooth input devices, such as the iControlPad, to use the same protocol in order to control applications designed for iCade.[7]

Development edit

The iCade was originally announced by ThinkGeek on April 1, 2010 as an April Fools' Day prank,[8] however, it was widely covered in electronics media as a potential product,[9][10] and ThinkGeek responded to this speculation, saying a real iCade was "a possibility".[11] The April Fools' iCade was stated to connect via the standard Apple dock connector,[12] which was noted as a potential blocker for release due to licensing fees and restrictions placed on dock connections by Apple.[9]

Shortly after the revelation of the iCade gag product, ThinkGeek were contacted privately by ION Audio, with a proposal to develop the concept. ThinkGeek and ION staff worked in tandem on the project, and were able to secure support from Atari, rightsholders to a large catalogue of arcade games.[5] Thus, a working iCade, produced by ION Audio, was demonstrated running 1979 arcade title Asteroids at the Consumer Electronics Show in January 2011, with a projected release in "late spring".[13] This version replaced the dock connection with a wireless Bluetooth one,[14] sidestepping potential issues, and the completed device was released on ThinkGeek on June 27, 2011.[15]

ION Audio provides a document which covers the information necessary to add iCade support to applications. This document also includes guidelines for acceptance from Apple, such as avoiding references to the "iCade" name.[6] In addition, iOS app developer Stuart Carnie of Manomio has freely released an unofficial SDK, which application authors can use to speed up implementation of iCade controls.[16] Outside of iOS development, a library has been made available for adding iCade support to Adobe Flash games.[17]

Pairing edit

As the iCade presents itself as a standard Bluetooth HID keyboard, a numeric passcode must be entered via its buttons and control stick when pairing. While the mapping used for this code entry is quite straightforward, it is not readily apparent on the iCade itself. Thus, it is included here for reference. To put the iCade into pairing mode, hold down the bottom 4 buttons and the top white button (6, 8, 0, and both Enter buttons) simultaneously for 4 seconds, then release them.

iCade button mapping reference
Button Key
Stick Up 1
Stick Down 2
Stick Left 3
Stick Right 4
Top Red 5
Bottom Red 6
Top Left Black 7
Bottom Left Black 8
Top Right Black 9
Bottom Right Black 0
Top White Enter
Bottom White Enter

Supported apps edit

Official iCade list: Archived 2018-08-08 at the Wayback Machine [page no longer exists]

App Store edit

Title Developer Release date Notes
Devils Peak Rally Game-Fun inc. November 2014 Supported since version 1.8.
Expander All Civilized Planets July 2013 Supported since launch
B-Squadron : Battle for Earth R2MobileStudio January 2013 Supported since version 1.6.
Akane the Kunoichi Haruneko June 2012 Supported since version 1.0.
Super Lemonade Factory Initials March 2012 Supported since version 2.35.
RPG Quest - Minimæ P1XL Games Nov 2009 Supported since version 1.4.
Super Crate Box Vlambeer Dec 2011 Supported since version 1.0.
DynaStunts DanLabGames Nov 2011 Supported since version 1.0.
Minotaur Rescue Llamasoft 5 Jan 2011 Supported since version 1.02.
Minotron: 2112 Llamasoft 2 Mar 2011 Supported since version 1.01.
Atari's Greatest Hits Atari 06 Apr 2011 Supported since launch.[18]
Compression HD Little White Bear Studios 17 May 2010 Supported since version 1.3.[19]
HungryMaster xionchannel 02 Jul 2011 Supported since version 1.12.[20]
IronStar Arena Appracatappra 6 May 2011 Supported since version 02.00.[21]
Mos Speedrun Physmo 06 Apr 2011 Supported since version 1.4.[22]
GhostRacer Physmo 29th Nov 2012 Supported since version 1.0.
Shuttle Scuttle Embraceware 17 May 2012 Supported since version 1.1.
Sideways Racing Bjango 23 May 2011 Supported since version 1.0.2.[23]
Velocispider Retro Dreamer 31 May 2011 Supported since version 1.2.[24]
Warblade HD EMV Software AS 11 Aug 2011 Supported since version 1.46.2.[25]
Match Panic Chaotic Box 09 Aug 2011 Supported since version 1.1.[26]
GoatUp Llamasoft 13 Sept 2011 Supported since version 1.01.
Phoenix HD Firi Games 12 Aug 2011 Supported since version 1.1.1.
Box Cat Rusty Moyher 23 Nov 2011 Supported since launch.
Treasure Runner Gabor Szekely 29 Nov 2013 Supported since version 1.1.
Lep's World Run nerByte GmbH 15 Aug 2014 Supported since version 1.1.1.
Wacoon Jump! Play Fripp 17 Apr 2012 Supported since version 1.6.4.
Vectrex - GameClub GameClub 21 Oct 2019 Supported since version 1.0.3.
The Invaders RI Productions 04 jun 2014 Supported since version 1.0
Astro Command/ Scramble Retro! Rob Wilmot 02 Apr 2014 Supported since version 1.0
Invader From Space Retro 80s Rob Wilmot 22 Jul 2013 Supported since version 1.0
Ms. PAC-MAN for iPAD Lite BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment America Inc. 06 Apr 2011 Supported since version 4.0.1
Space Inversion FREE merlyn lear 24 Nov 2010 Supported since version ??
Astro Wars Rob Wilmot 31 Aug 2013 Supported since version 1.0

Jailbroken apps edit

Title Developer Release date Notes
MAME4iOS David Valdeita 16 Aug 2010 Supported since version 1.7.[27][28]

Google Play edit

Title Developer Release date Notes
Plasma Sky - rad space shooter Spikepit Games 18 Mar 2013 Supported since version 2.7.[29]

Future releases edit

App Store edit

Title Developer Release date Notes
Commodore 64 Manomio 05 Sep 2009 Support expected in next update.[30]
iAmiga Manomio TBA Support expected at launch.[30]
No Gravity Realtech VR 24 Mar 2011 Support available for HP webOS, iOS and Android.[31]
Super Ox Wars Llamasoft July 2012 Supported at launch.

Reception edit

The reception to the iCade itself has been mostly positive. Ars Technica called it "an attractive, capable piece of hardware that does exactly what you want it to do."[1] IGN referred to the iCade as "surprisingly functional", saying it was "certain to please" its target market.[4] TouchArcade felt it was "an absolute must-have iPad accessory for the serious retro gamer."[2] In Engadget's coverage, the accessory was described as "well constructed" and "an awesome addition to your gaming collection."[32]

Feelings about the iCade's controls have been mixed to positive. IGN described the joystick and buttons "responsive", however, noted the input configuration was "a little cramped, but not unbearably so."[4] Ars Technica's reviewer, Ben Kuchera, felt the joystick was "a little looser than [he] would prefer" and the buttons "require[d] a heavy finger to push", but said the controls "held up under [his] heavy hand".[1] TouchArcade praised the buttons, finding them "exactly like those that you'd find on an old Defender cabinet."[2]

The widest criticism for the device has been the small library of compatible software, with many early reviews drawing attention to the fact that only one iCade-compatible title, Atari's Greatest Hits, was available at launch.[1][33] While speaking positively about the hardware, CrunchReview felt the limited software availability made the device a "one trick pony".[34] IGN opined that "you'd have to be a pretty passionate Lunar Lander, Centipede, or Missile Command fan to not feel disappointed that there isn't more to play on your new $99 iCade."[4]

Spin offs edit

Following the iCade Atari and Taito has released their respective versions: the "Atari Arcade" and the "Invadercade".[35] The Atari Arcade connects through a standard dock connector instead of through Bluetooth.[36] The Atari Arcade only works with the Atari's Greatest Hits app which offers 99 games for $10, although it has been criticized as having flimsy controls.[36] Taito's Space Invader themed Invadercade functions as a charger while the iPad is plugged into it.[35] Additionally, the Invadercade has built in speakers and a dedicated volume knob, and can function as a general media center with its iTunes and internet radio functionality.[35] Compatible with both the iPad and iPad 2, the Invadercade similarly requires the Taito's Space Invaders HD app to run.[35]

Icade Jr is a smaller version of the iCade, apps currently are somewhat fully supported yet (see Ion's compatibility list). Runs for about $50 via ThinkGeek and uses either iPhone or iPod Touch.

External links edit

References edit

  1. ^ a b c d Kuchera, Ben (July 5, 2011). "The iCade review: your iPad as an arcade machine". Ars Technica. Retrieved 2011-07-12.
  2. ^ a b c d Patterson, Blake (May 24, 2011). "A Review of the iCade from ThinkGeek". TouchArcade. Retrieved 2011-07-10.
  3. ^ Stein, Scott (May 25, 2011). "Does the iCade prove that the iPad needs a controller?". CNET. Archived from the original on 2011-07-30. Retrieved 2011-07-16.
  4. ^ a b c d Lowe, Scott (June 16, 2011). "ION Audio iCade Review". IGN. Retrieved 2011-07-12.
  5. ^ a b Scott, Jeff (May 19, 2011). "iCade SDK Now Available – Add a Real Joystick to Your iPad Games". Retrieved 2011-07-16.
  6. ^ a b "iCade Developers Resource". ION Audio. April 20, 2011. Archived from the original on 2011-10-19. Retrieved 2011-07-10.
  7. ^ "iControlPad Review". Gadgetoid. July 9, 2011. Retrieved 2011-07-10.
  8. ^ "The ThinkGeek Newsletter!". ThinkGeek. April 1, 2010. Retrieved 2011-07-10.
  9. ^ a b Foresman, Chris (April 2, 2010). "How the fake "iCade" could become a reality for the iPad". Ars Technica. Retrieved 2011-07-10.
  10. ^ Davies, Chris (April 1, 2010). "ThinkGeek iCade arcade cabinet for iPad is fake with real promise". SlashGear. Retrieved 2011-07-10.
  11. ^ Quigley, Robert (April 2, 2010). "ThinkGeek: Real-Life iCade is "A Possibility." Can April Fools' Dreams Come True?". Geekosystem. Retrieved 2011-07-10.
  12. ^ "iCade - iPad Arcade Cabinet". ThinkGeek. April 1, 2010. Archived from the original on 2010-08-30. Retrieved 2011-07-10.
  13. ^ Lai, Richard (January 7, 2011). "Ion iCade hands-on: gaming on the iPad like it's 1979". Engadget. Retrieved 2011-07-10.
  14. ^ Sorrel, Charlie (April 21, 2011). "ThinkGeek's iCade Turns iPad into Retro Arcade Cabinet". Wired News. Retrieved 2011-07-10.
  15. ^ "iCADE for iPad Available Now at ThinkGeek". Globe Newswire (via Reuters). June 27, 2011. Archived from the original on July 4, 2013. Retrieved 2011-07-10.
  16. ^ Kuchera, Ben (July 13, 2011). "iCade support comes to more games, implementation only takes "hours"". Ars Technica. Retrieved 2011-07-13.
  17. ^ Rix, Matt (July 13, 2011). "Thoughts on the iCade (and on using it with Flash games)". Archived from the original on 2011-08-30. Retrieved 2011-07-13.
  18. ^ Foresman, Chris (April 6, 2011). "100 classic Atari games for iOS out now, iCade cabinet coming in June". Ars Technica. Retrieved 2011-07-12.
  19. ^ Dotson, Carter (June 30, 2011). "Compression HD Gets Support for iCade". Retrieved 2011-07-12.
  20. ^ "HungryMaster 1.12" (in Japanese). xionchannel. July 21, 2011. Retrieved 2011-07-21.
  21. ^ "IronStar Arena for iCade". Appracatappra. July 16, 2011. Archived from the original on March 27, 2012. Retrieved 2011-07-17.
  22. ^ "What we are up to". Physmo. June 25, 2011. Retrieved 2011-07-12.
  23. ^ "Version history for Sideways Racing, an iPad game". Bjango. Archived from the original on 2011-09-20. Retrieved 2011-07-21.
  24. ^ Bowman, Gavin (July 27, 2011). "Velocispider V1.2 Out Now". Retro Dreamer. Archived from the original on 2015-09-18. Retrieved 2011-07-28.
  25. ^ Vigdal, Edgar (August 11, 2011). "Warblade HD for iPad out now!". EMV Software AS. Archived from the original on 2011-09-05. Retrieved 2011-08-11.
  26. ^ Nicholson, Brad (August 25, 2011). "The iCade Angle: 'Match Panic'". Chaotic Box. Retrieved 2011-08-25.
  27. ^ Murph, Darren (July 10, 2011). "iMAME4All gains experimental support for iCade, iOS gamers gain infinite happiness". Engadget. Retrieved 2011-07-12.
  28. ^ Valdeita, David. "imame4all - MAME for ALL iOS devices". Google Code. Retrieved 2011-07-12.
  29. ^ "Plasma Sky". Spikepit Games. Retrieved 2013-05-18.
  30. ^ a b Patterson, Blake (June 17, 2011). "Manomio to Bring Support for ThinkGeek's iCade". TouchArcade. Retrieved 2011-07-12.
  31. ^ Nogravity iPad2 + iCade. YouTube. July 16, 2011. Retrieved 2011-07-17.
  32. ^ Honig, Zach (May 31, 2011). "Ion iCade Arcade Cabinet review". Engadget. Retrieved 2011-07-13.
  33. ^ Podolsky, Andrew (July 12, 2011). "iCade iPad Arcade Cabinet Review". Slide to Play. Retrieved 2011-07-13.
  34. ^ Biggs, John (June 14, 2011). "Review: ThinkGeek iCADE iPad Arcade Game". CrunchGear. Archived from the original on 2011-06-20. Retrieved 2011-07-13.
  35. ^ a b c d Martin, Rick. "New toys for retro gamers and wannabe rockers". The Japan Times Online. The Japan Times. Retrieved 16 October 2011.
  36. ^ a b Greenwald, Will. "Discovery Bay Games Atari Arcade". PC Mag. Retrieved 16 October 2011.