Top critical review
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Depends on the Games
on 31 December 2013
My wife has bought me the iCade for Christmas and after a week of playing here are some views to help you make your mind up:
The iCade is basically a funky 2 foot tall retro arcade cabinet box with a joystick and buttons, which you set your iPad in and connect via Bluetooth to use the joystick and buttons to play games. It does work with the new iPad Air / 5. It comes flat pack but you'll put it together in 15-20 mins.
However the key thing to note is that it does not work on all iTunes apps/games. The individual app developers have to make their games iCade compatible. For example Sega have made Sonic the Hedgehog 1 compatible and I have been getting my nostalgia buzz off that all week. The control is reasonably responsive, but anyone used to the sensitivity of modern gaming consoles might still get annoyed that games sometimes don't respond to button presses.
Finding a definitive list of compatible games is proving difficult. Even if you go to the manufacturer's website (ionaudio) the list is not up to date. If you search for 'icade' in the iTunes Store you'll find games where the Developers have stated in the description that their game supports iCade - but that doesn't mean there aren't more games available, I just don't know how I'll find them. Apart from Sonic1, I know the Namco app (Pac-Man, Pac-Land, Rolling Thunder...) and the Midway app (SpyHunter) are also compatible.
Which brings me to the main failing. The product heavily promotes that it works with the Atari Greatest Hits app. Ignore that. The Atari app was always a turd and now doesn't work at all with iOS7. Atari went bust (again) in early 2012 and the app hasn't been updated since. If you were going to buy this for Pong or Asteroids then don't. Before I realised the app was the problem I contacted the iCade manufacturer whose attitude was 'we're not responsible for the app', which is true - but then don't splash 'Atari...' as a key feature on your website and in the retail blurbs when the app has been defunct for months. When I had finished putting it together, paired it with the iPad and downloaded the Atari app it was a real bummer when I couldn't get past the player select screen on any game.
So because of the Atari thing (maybe it will work again in the future?...), the failure to keep an up-to-date list of compatible games on the website and for not including a power pack (it can be powered from the mains but no power pack is supplied) I am docking the two stars.
One last thing, which is not a fault of anyone's I suppose, but is a minor irritation: When the iCade and iPad are paired the iPad keyboard will no longer appear. This can be mildly frustrating but you just have to flick off the Bluetooth on the iPad temporarily if you need the keyboard, it will pair again when you turn Bluetooth back on.
EDIT: The Double Dragon Trilogy also works with iCade