updated 07:55 pm EDT, Mon June 27, 2011
Product started life as an April Fool's Day joke
ThinkGeek, best known for their digital novelties that appeal to the power-user crowd such as the 8-Bit Tie and the Wi-Fi Detector t-shirt have made what was a little over a year ago an April Fool's Day joke into reality: an iPad-based iCade gaming cabinet that turns an iPad into a retro-styled 80s arcade machine, capable of playing many of the best games of yesteryear with a genuine joystick and buttons ... even a (non-functional) slot for quarters.
The product started out life as a 2010 April Fool's joke on the site, but demand for the product mae the company realize that it was a viable idea. GeekLabs partnered with ION Audio to make the device, which features a slot opening at the top large enough to accommodate either an original iPad or the iPad 2, even in a case (as long as the screen and docking port is exposed). The iPad connects to the system via Bluetooth, and the iCade itself is powered by two AA batteries.
Retro game maker Atari has adapted over 100 of its classic video games for use with the iCade, which is available through a free app called Atari's Greatest Hits. The app features 18 arcade classics as well as 92 adapted Atari 2600 video games, all of which are available for in-app purchase.
The app includes "Missle Command" for free, and most games are sold either in packs of three or four for $1, or players can buy the full in-app games package of 100 games for $15. The games are playable without an iCade, though of course the tactile feel of an authentic 80s joystick and buttons is not replicated.
The iCade itself sells for $100 and is available in limited quantities. A software development kit (SDK) for the iCade has been released for free to allow other iOS developers to adapt their games for the iCade.