iCade Mobile Pushes All The Right Buttons For Retro Gaming: A Review

| Thursday, July 12th, 2012

I never thought I would be so excited to play a game originally released in 1991 on my iPhone 4S, which ironically, has a higher resolution than the original arcade cabinet on which it debuted. I’m talking about Total Carnage, one of the many games in the Midway Arcade app for iOS. But back to the point here, it wouldn’t have been half as fun without the help of my new-found partner in crime, iCade Mobile. Get ready to meet the controller that will change the way you retro-game…

I’ve had iCade Mobile for a few weeks now, and it’s really been quite a joy. Before you start asking questions, no it won’t work with Modern Combat 3 or Asphalt 7 — it’s meant for something simpler than that. iCade Mobile is designed for you to play old, crummy-looking games on a beautiful Retina display! Well not exactly…

Truth is, there are many great games compatible with iCade Mobile (and the rest of the iCade family), but first let’s take a look at all the goodness packed into this handheld iOS driven controller.

Functionality

iCade Mobile pairs with your iPhone or iPod touch via Bluetooth. It actually tricks your device into thinking it’s a keyboard, which allows any game developer to easily implement controls through in-game keyboard commands. It’s quite brilliant actually.

During gameplay you’ll notice there’s absolutely no lag. I was impressed with how well it handled multiple buttons at once without hesitation. I’ve experienced this issue with other game controllers in the past, but iCade Mobile really shines here. The controller is powered by two AA batteries, which seem to have held up throughout my three weeks of excessive gaming.

According to IONAudio, iCade Mobile’s creators, there are 100+ games compatible with iCade’s controller scheme. The ironic part is that most classic games from the early days of gaming like Sonic, NBA Jam, and Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 lack iCade compatibility. However I can’t ding iCade Mobile for this flaw, since it’s up to the developers to take the initiative and implement the compatibility.

Design

In your hand, iCade Mobile has the weight and feel of almost every other handheld gaming system. The buttons are positioned nicely, and overall it doesn’t feel any cheaper than my daughter’s Nintendo DS. The controller consists of eight buttons and a D-pad, giving you more than enough buttons for all iCade compatible games.

Getting your device in iCade Mobile is a bit of a nuisance. The “glove” that holds your iPhone or iPod touch in place is made from rubber and has no slots or openings. For lack of a better term, you  just “wiggle” your device into it.

This “glove” also allows 360 degree rotation of your device — not that full rotation is necessary — but it ensures you hassle-free portrait and landscape gaming. It also comes with a small rubber pad-type adapter for the iPod touch. The rubber adapter makes up for the width difference between an iPod touch and an iPhone, giving it a snug fit for either device.

The Verdict

Honestly, there isn’t too much I can complain about iCade Mobile. I think it would a nice luxury if it had speakers or even a built-in rechargeable battery, but that would more than likely raise the price past something I’m willing to pay for. For $69.99 you really get the ultimate, all-in-one, classic gaming controller. It definitely has a reservation in my backpack for road trips, and has earned a spot on my desk for lazy Sundays. It’s not for everyone, but if it’s for you, it will change your iOS gaming experience.

Drop your opinions in the comments!

Below is a list of iCade-compatible games I really enjoyed over the past few weeks.

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