How To Transform Your iPad Into A Classic Arcade Machine

Your iPad is NOT a toy. The important thing to remember though is that it CAN be! As gaming becomes more and more popular on Apple’s sun-hot tablet device, developers are taking bigger and bigger risks. The latest zany iPad gaming enhancement comes to us today from the good folks at ThinkGeek. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the iCade!

While the miniature-sized arcade cabinet knockoff is a fully equipped charging dock, it is also much, much more as you can plainly see in the above image. Those game controls actually do work, though there is, as always, a catch.

The iCade is specifically designed to work with an iCade MAME Emulator app, which ThinkGeek states is already approved for App Store sales and will be available by the time the cabinet launches on April 3. MAME stands for Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator; it started life as a piece of computer software designed to bring the coin-op arcade experience to home PCs but has since been adapted for use on other platforms.

There’s no telling what sort of price points we’ll be dealing with for any of the games, not to mention how the legal issues surrounding the selling of those games will pan out, but there are a couple of issues here that I can see. For one, the cabinet is designed to only allow for the iPad to be inserted upright. This isn’t a big a deal as it could be since many of the classic arcade games sport a 4:3 aspect ratio, meaning they’ll look the same no matter what the tablet’s orientation is.

The price is also pretty restrictive. While the iCade looks like a well-made piece of hardware, $149.99 is a lot of money to spend on a peripheral, one which will itself likely come packing required microtransaction costs for those who want to grow their game collections. We’ll have a better idea of that value of this buy once the iCade app has been revealed and futzed around with. I still think it’s a cool piece of hardware — peripheral developers take note: alternatives to virtual control sticks are ALWAYS WELCOME — but I’m not sold yet on how worthwhile a purchase it is.