iCade: "Does it Work?"

It started out as an April Fools joke. Shortly after the original iPad came out, a web site called "Think Geek," created a mini-arcade cabinet called the i-Cade. It looked just like a miniature arcade game cabinet from the 80s, using the ipad as its screen.  This spoof product allowed players to play retro games using a joystick and arcade buttons. "Think Geek" has been making up "April Fools" products for years. But demand was so high for this one that they decided to make it. And a year later, the iCade became a reality.  Joe Terrell was one of the suckers who initially inquired about buying one...and this week, he puts the iCade to the "Does it Work?" test.

The makers are not kidding when they say there is assembly required. Lots of pieces in this box, but the first time you touch a piece of it, you can tell it's quality stuff.

The iCade is a beautiful table top piece when you're done. Retro gamers will want this just for the looks if nothing else.

First thing you'll need to do is download the Atari Greatest Hits iPad app from the iTunes Store. The games are available for purchase inside the app. You can buy them in packs of 3 or 4 for a few bucks a piece or you can buy the entire suit of Atari 2600 games plus all the Atari Arcade favorites for $9.99.  There are about 99 games in all.  Great deal!

Looking at the iCade, you'd think the iPad plugs into the bottom of the box, like so many other peripherals do.  Not so.

The iCade is just a holder for the iPad.  The bad news about that is, the iPad doesn't charge when setting in the iCade. The good news is, you can play games that require vertical positioning and horizontal positioning of the iPad. So how exactly do the buttons and joystick control the iPad?  You pair the iPad's Bluetooth signal with iCade with a press of the arcade buttons, and you're ready to play.

We start with the classic--Asteroids. Thrust, fire, hyper space...it's all here. And it's true to the original.  The buttons do feel like the real thing.

Centipede is just like you remember it, but without the trackball. The joystick is very responsive, maybe too responsive.  But with a little practice, you'll be posting your initials on the leader board and humming Olivia Newton-John tunes in no time.

If 80s retro is not your thing, a growing number of developers are writing new games that work with the iCade. One called Match Panic is awesome.  It's just 99 cents.

Some games are better suited for the iCade than others. But many games are much more playable with buttons and a joystick than they are with taps on the iPad's glass. Besides that, it's just cool.

"Does it Work?"  We give the iCade a yes.

The iCade is available in limited quantities at Best Buy stores. It's also sold online and Toys-R-Us carries it too. It's not cheap.  The iCade is usually priced at just under 100 dollars, but we've seen them on sale for 80 dollars.