Skip to main content

iCade, the iPad or Android tablets best friend


Lifesperience is now Raycommend, which can be found here:  Ray Commend 

Long before the rise of the uber powerful technology of today, I grew up in an era where arcade machines were just about everywhere.  Pac man, Donkey Kong, Galaga, Street Fighter, etc.  Video games were an integral part of my youth.  There was a time where the best graphics and sound were outside of the home in dimly lit places that you had to travel to called arcades where quarters were your best friends as you fed them to arcade machines for just two more rounds against Dhalsim.  While there are still arcades around, most of them tend to be places like Dave & Busters where the games are a few dollars a piece and the games are more like family activities than the arcade games of decades ago.

As home consoles and PC's became more and more powerful, arcades started to die out and go the way of the dinosaurs.  With today's tablet technology and a customized arcade style shell, can the feeling be recreated?  In a word.  Yes.

The iCade started as an april fools joke created by Thinkgeek.   What wasn't funny was that from that joke came thunderous demand from game geeks everywhere to release such a device.   A few months later, Thinkgeek obliged and partnered with ION to release the iCade.  A bluetooth arcade controller with 8 buttons and an arcade stick attached to a solidly built faux wood cabinet.  Please note that when you open the box there will be some assembly required.  Expect to spend at least 15 minutes putting the iCade together depending on how savvy you are with simple tools.  If you are an expert of all things ikea then you will be right at home.

Left side view

The iCade has a solid feel that feels like the machines of old
The bluetooth joystick and buttons are powered by two "AA" batteries

There is also a 5V DC port but no adapter is included for it in the box.

The iCade thoughtfully includes a hidden opening to attach your tablets power cable
These instructions are for the iPad but those savvy in the ways of Android will have no issues pairing the device under Androids own bluetooth settings.
The iCade pairs to your existing iOS or Android tablet via the bluetooth protocol.  Even though it is bluetooth be warned that it is a proprietary keyboard layout, however the iCade provides very clear syncing instructions underneath its top hood as shown in the picture above.

Once synced, there are many games that are compatible as per ION's website.  Fire up your app and depending on the game it may either auto-detect the iCade or you may have to toggle it on in the app settings.


The iCade also has a small indent in front for landscape play.  The charging port is not easily accessible in this mode.
Loading up my copy of iMame (unfortunately pulled from the app store. You'll have to jailbreak to use this app now) I tested some of the classics.  Playing Galaga, Donkey Kong, Street Fighter, Metal Slug, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles with a physical stick was great.  The buttons themselves feel just like the old school arcade machines while the joystick felt nice and clicky as you rotate it on its axis.  It's a little loose for my liking but very usable and some may prefer it that way.  After months of use my iCade still looks fairly new and the joystick and buttons look no worse for the wear.

Little details like the light up "coin slot" provide a look of authenticity.
On the Android side of things the Play Store has Mame4droid as a free app with no restrictions.  Physically, most android tablets are widescreen so they may be too tall for the iCade but that does not affect gameplay in the least.  The top of the iCade is adjustable and can be moved out of the way.  Smaller Android tablets like the 8 inch varieties from Samsung should fit just fine.  The HP touchpad that I tested fit perfectly, so if you happen to have one then it will work seamlessly.  If not having a perfect fit is a serious issue to you then there is another version of the iCade that supports most screen sizes.  Be warned that it is not as pretty nor nostalgic looking.

Overall for $99 or less if you do some searching, the nostalgia factor can't be beat.  Touch screen gaming is acceptable but for the old school fanatic nothing can replace the physical feel and response of physical controls.  If you have the room for it, the iCade is an excellent addition to your man/girl cave.

And if worse comes to worst, it makes a great conversation starter when entertaining company.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Clean up your Facebook activity log with Absterge

Lifesperience is now Raycommend, which can be found here:Ray Commend

Facebook is a platform that tends to elicit many different reactions from people when asked.  Whether you love it or hate it, every day millions of people from all over the world and all walks of life log on to the site or one of its various apps to catch up with family and friends.  As the years go by, one tends to build up a lot of content and in the case of many, some embarrassing content can be buried deep within your timeline. The fact that Facebook's settings can be confusing, even though they have tried to simplify them does not help.

We're now in a day and age where many employers look at Facebook accounts long before they consider hiring you, so how does one clean up without spending hours manually clicking on on timeline icons?  Enter the Absterge script.



According to the Absterge page:

"Absterge works such that a user logs in to the Facebook Timeline, and navigates to the 'Activity Log'…

Retron 5 hacked to launch RetroArch and play ROMS off your SD card

It appears that a someone going by the screenname of RetroN Labo on Youtube has successfully hacked the Retron 5 console to run the full version of  Retroarch.  In the video shown, various emulators that are not part of the original firmware are playable including the PC Engine, Playstation One, Nintendo DS, and Wonderswan.  As the stock firmware from the Retron 5 is programmed to load games from an original cartridge when it is inserted, this hack appears to run ROM and ISO files, most likely from the SD card slot built into the back of the console.




In most of instances shown in the video, emulation appeared to run smooth, and the games previewed looked playable. Currently, Hyperkin (Retron 5 manufacturer) is in hot water with Retroarch's creators due to using their emulator cores without permission.  After being discovered, Hyperkin has shared their code, and claims that they have removed any infringing code from their console.  The Retroarch group feels differently.  Details o…

Your Wii's second life as an emulation and media center powerhouse

Lifesperience is now Raycommend, which can be found here:Ray Commend

While the Wii was initially a very popular console for Nintendo, for most people, it has gone unused for years gathering dust.  More powerful consoles and devices have taken its place and even Nintendo themselves have practically abandoned it with many of their own channels going offline over the last year.  Chances are that by this point, your Wii is long out of its warranty period.  If you're willing to take about an hour of your time, you can turn your old Wii into a great emulation station and decent media center for the kids.

The things that you will need to get the most out of your old Wii console are:

An SD card (up to 32gb)An internet connection The first thing that you will need to do is softmod your console which will allow it to run unsigned software outside of Nintendo's ecosystem.  Yes!  One of the great things about the Wii (for our purposes) is that you don't need to buy an additional hardwa…