Customer Reviews: Ion iCade Core Arcade Game Controller for iPad and iPad2 (ICG05)
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Style: For iPad and iPad 2|Product Packaging: Frustration-Free Packaging|Change
Price:$49.99+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime
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This is a great controller that provides the most realistic experience that we had playing the real thing in bowling alleys, arcades, and other places kids went to before there were malls.

The joystick operates flawlessly. The buttons are large and loud, just like they were back in the day. I also prefer those to the ION iCade Arcade Cabinet for iPad. Not only is it about 1/3 the cost but it also is easier to put somewhere when I'm not using it.

The thing I want to point out is that even if you have a "new iPad" (one with a lightning connecter instead of the old 30-pin thing) you still probably don't need to buy the more expensive version. Here's why...

The controller connects to your device via Bluetooth. The only thing the connector is used for (in either model) is to charge your device while playing. However, if you want to do that then you'll want the external power supply, which is not included with either version.

Regardless of which version you get, this is lots of fun and makes the many compatible games much more enjoyable.

BTW, I feel that honest, effective reviews can take the place of first-hand experiences that are lacking in online shopping. I've always appreciated the help I've received from other reviewers and work hard to return the favor as best as I can. I hope you found this review helpful and if there was anything you thought was missing or unclear leave a comment and I'll do what I can to fix it.
22 comments|53 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on February 26, 2015
Basically you pay $12-19 for 8 x Round Arcade Buttons and a Joy Stick controller! As an added bonus you can also use the wires and Bluetooth controller for other projects. I have a raspberry Pi and wanted to build a low lost retro game rig.
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on January 3, 2013
Interesting little add-on. I've only played a couple games so far but it's a big improvement over the touchpad controls, especially for ported games that were originally intended to be played with physical joysticks and buttons. It's a cinch to set up out of the box. Directions were easy to follow.
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on January 29, 2015
Hookup to my iPad went just fine. The instructions say to go to a website which redirected to There was nice list there, but the various games I kept selecting to try were not available in the US Store. I suggest you try this website first and see if you can download the games to your iPad before buying this product.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon October 5, 2013
The price for this fluctuates (depending on the seller and shipping, etc.) and I was lucky to get it for 2 1/2 rolls of quarters shipped (using my Prime membership). I've only had it for less than 48 hours and it's already paid for itself in the sense that I feel I've already gotten my money's worth (compared to when in the 80's grandpa here lived in SF and would drive to the arcade in the Cliff House basement at Lands End on the Pacific, look for and sometimes pay for parking, then feed quarters into machines).

I use my new iCade Core with my 1st generation iPad (which I sometimes pair with a Bluetooth speaker for better sound when using it with the iCade), and it works nearly perfectly* with the games I've used it with so far (e.g., everything in the Vectrex suite of apps, the Lite versions of Pac Man and MS Pac Man, Temple Run, Mos Speedrun, Space Inversion 2 HD, Emerald Mine, Hungry Master, the cool Berzerk clone Retro Robots, and the games that are free with the free versions of the Midway Arcade, Activision Anthology, Atari Greatest Hits apps, and the Sinclair ZX Spectrum HD Lite app).

I've so far had the most fun - by which I mean totally insane fun - playing Space Inversion 2 HD and Velocispider Zero. Space Inversion 2 HD is such a great game paired with the iCade that for what I paid for the iCade, if it was the only game I could use it for it would be worth it. And though I can do okay playing Temple Run without an iCade, I do significantly better using its joystick and buttons (one to jump, one to slide) than I do swiping the screen when playing without it.

It only took seconds to get it paired with my iPad once the included batteries were installed.

*I said it works "nearly perfectly" with the games I've played. The exceptions are Pac Man Lite and MS Pac Man Lite, which I've found tricky to pair with the iCade Core. It seems that I have to re-pair the iCade with the iPad right before playing one of these two apps (despite that, now that I have the iCade Core and know how much fun it is to play Pac Man and MS Pac Man with it I will definitely purchase the full versions). Another thing that is less than perfect when using the iCade with these two apps is that sometimes the joystick isn't perfectly responsive. (Though I wouldn't characterize myself as a hard-core Pac Man player, I agree with this line from "Best iCade Compatible Games" at appadvice regarding the Pac Man app and iCade: "The controls are good enough for the casual gamer, although hard-core Pac-Man aficionados will find the iCade's joystick lacking in responsiveness.") But I consider these cons relatively minor. The only other con with the iCade Core is that when the iPad is seated in the slot that holds it, if I play the least bit roughly (and I do tend to get carried away), my iPad flops forward and once fell out.

The iCade Core comes in a nice, sturdy, colorful box that would surely impress anyone receiving an iCade Core as a gift. Visit the ionaudio site for a list of games that are compatible with the iCade. Here's what it says on the site about compatible devices: "As of April 2012, iCade products are compatible with the following devices: ・ 3rd and 4th generation iPod touch ・ iPhone 3, iPhone 3G, iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S ・ iPad, iPad 2 and iPad (3rd generation)."

So much fun and I am very glad I decided to buy one!

UPDATE: Another iPad app/game that's fun to play using iCade is Another World 20th Anniversary Edition. I bought the full version of Pac-Man for iPad since writing the above (I paid full price and would rather wait till the full version of MS Pac-Man is on sale before getting that one too), and it works perfectly with iCade and I haven't had to do any resetting as I had to do with the Lite version, and is a lot of fun, just like in the 80's. And I discovered that Velocispider Zero shoots automatically without iCade though it can only fire with iCade by pressing a button (continuously), and that it is therefore easier and more fun for me to play it without iCade. But I'm still loving my iCade!
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on February 12, 2013
Setup was a breeze, and the build quality was great. My only complaint is that the buttons make a pretty loud clicking sound when you press them. Playing an old game like Joust makes quite a racket! Aside from that, this is a ton of fun and I'm glad I bought it.
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on July 6, 2013
I bought this to play with a Vectrex port and arcade ports. These are all very difficult to play without joysticks. It doesnt support everything. It is very well built and I expect it to stand up to 90s arcade level abuse, but if your game isnt supported (as many of mine are not) the unit will spend more time collecting dust. Can this be remedied??
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on December 6, 2014
Works excellent for the games that support it. Have tested it with Vectrex, Metal Slug 3, Plasma Sky, and Velocispider and they all rock with this controller. I looked around and decided on this iCade Core controller because it's cheaper than the regular iCade AND more portable. There is a slot on the top where you can run your charging cable so the iPad can be on charge while playing. Got this to take on road trips and to parties. I can even use it with my phone if I want :)

I have an iPad Air wrapped in Otterbox Defender and the iPad Air + case fit perfectly snug into the iPad slot on the top. I either use it the expected way or I use the Otterbox Defender shield stand that comes with my case to hold the iPad upright on a table and use the controller in my lap. Both ways work fine.

Note, when this controller 1st came out it was crazy expensive and supported 100+ App Store games. The 4 I have above still work with it, but I noticed others that used to work with it aren't available at the App Store anymore, so do your research on each game you consider for this and know that this controller DOES NOT WORK WITH ALL GAMES. The app developer has to code the game/app to work with this controller, so very few games do when you compare them to all the tons of games available.

Check out ION's website to verify compatibility, but I found several games they still list as compatible that don't exist anymore on the app store, so be careful and do your research.

That said, I see many clueless people leaving some negative reviews on the games I have mentioned above and they simply don't understand that this 4 games and others are meant to be used with an iCade Controller, not tilt or touch, etc.
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on July 16, 2013
The iCade Core does what it says on the box - provides you with an arcade quality joystick and buttons for iPad gaming. For the price, it's a pretty good product. The only quibble I have with it is the buttons are really hard to push and have a very "clicky" action. I found extended gaming sessions to be quite tiring on the hands. I bought some replacement buttons from an arcade parts dealer and swapped them. Much better now but it increases the cost a fair bit. I've heard that some people don't like the joystick and replace that too, but I haven't found it to be that bad.
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on May 29, 2015
I've wanted one of these since they came out, but couldn't stomach the $100 price tag on the fancy arcade cabinet version, this one was only $20, and it does something the cabinet can't, that's let your iPad sit in sideways, and there are a number of games that only work sideways that would not work in the cabinet version. The quality is great, the game play is fun, we posted a YouTube video of us un-boxing this, setting it up, and demonstrating an iPad game that support the iCade.

Check out the video:
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