Customer Reviews: ION iCade Arcade Bluetooth Cabinet for iPad
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on May 26, 2011
Update: I got one of the very first iCades when it was released and back then, the Atari app was the only compatible one. There are a lot more now. Also, since the third generation iPad isn't shaped all that differently from the iPad 2, it's most likely compatible.

First I should mention that the iCade cabinet design may look like the picture on this page, or one with a more rainbow look to it. Don't worry though, it looks great. Very 80s.

The hardware itself is excellent. The joystick and buttons are super-responsive, just like a real arcade machine. Assembly was a little annoying; the screws and holes didn't always line up too well. Once you get it together, though, the construction is solid.

It uses two AA batteries for power, and comes with them, which is nice. There's a port for an AC adapter, too, but it doesn't come with that and the manual doesn't give its specifications. It says you can buy one on ION Audio's website, but even now (March 2012) it doesn't appear that you can. I asked ION about this and they said that batteries provide 70 hours of use, so the lack of an official AC adapter isn't a big deal. They also told me the AC adapter you need is 5V DC, 110V AC, 500 mA pin negative, so if you want one you may be able to find one on the internet somewhere.

There's no power switch, you turn the iCade on by pressing one of the buttons or moving the stick. There's a lighted coin slot on the front that acts as a power light. When you don't use the iCade for a few minutes, it turns off automatically, which is nice for conserving battery life.

The iCade connects to the iPad over Bluetooth. It works fine, though you'll want to turn the Bluetooth on the iPad off when you're not using a related app, since the iPad thinks it's a keyboard and won't display the on-screen keyboard in other apps, like Safari, while it's connected.

The only software that supported the iCade on launch was the Atari's Greatest Hits app, which comes with one free game. At first it was Pong, but now it's Missile Command. It may change to a different game later. The app has 18 arcade games and 82 Atari 2600 games. You can buy a 4-pack of related games, like Centipede and Millipede for both arcade and 2600, for $0.99, or you can buy all 100 games for $14.99.

I bought all the games for simplicity's sake, though they're not all gems. Most of the arcade games are good or at least OK, but frankly, most of the 2600 games suck. Backgammon? Circus Atari? Concentration? Really? Some surprised me, like Battlezone, which is almost better than the arcade version. Some classics like Adventure are here too, plus unreleased prototypes like Combat 2. A lot of the arcade games are vector games, like Asteroids, Battlezone, and Tempest to name a few.

The iCade supports portrait and landscape mode, though the iPad is a lot more secure in portrait. In portrait, you place the iPad between two ridges that make up a stand, the front of which is notched so you can access the home button. In landscape, you place it in a little groove in front of the portrait stand, and unlike in portrait, it can slide around in there. For either position, if you have an iPad case, you'll probably have to take it off in order to get it to fit.

Whichever orientation you choose, you can fiddle with the settings in Atari's Greatest Hits to have it display the way you want. For most games you just have to change the "Orientation" option, but for other games you have to change the "Control type" to Arcade. It would be nice if there was an option that changed it globally, but it does save your options for each game, so you only have to change it for each one once. I tend to like portrait mode better; the iCade was obviously designed for this mode, and the arcade games look more authentic.

Unfortunately, you can't adjust the joystick sensitivity in the app, so it's much more difficult to control games with paddles, like Pong, Warlords, and Breakout. I actually prefer to use the touch controls for those games. For most of the other games, though, the iCade controls are far superior.

There are plenty of third-party games now. The most recent, updated list is at [...]. For some reason, iCade-compatible games can't be listed as such on the App Store. I haven't tried too many of them, but if your iPad is jailbroken you can get iMAME4All, which supports pretty much every classic arcade game imaginable. If you know what MAME is, that may be enough to push you to get this.

Overall, I don't think it's worth buying an iPad specifically for this, since you could put together your own full-size arcade machine from various parts (cabinet, screen, PC with MAME, speakers, etc) for not much more. Still, if you have an iPad already, it's great fun and very worth the price of the iCade. I got it for $100 right at launch and that was probably too much, but I couldn't resist. Even when I'm not using it, it makes a great conversation piece. If this were $50, I'd give it five stars.
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on December 27, 2011
After waiting for someone to buy it for my Birthday or Xmas I finally broke down and bought it for myself. I've had my eye on this since before I even owned an iPad. I can now say with confidence that this is the greatest thing I've bought myself this year, second only to my iPad 2.

The cabinet is very well constructed and solid with little rubber feet to prevent sliding. The buttons and joystick are good quality and make that clicking sound when used. The Bluetooth syncing took several seconds the first time I paired them, but now it connects really quickly.

The Atari app is OK since you can download all the games for $9.99 (not a bad investment.) I've mainly been playing games through the iMAME4all app (available in the Cydia store for jailbroken devises). The iMAME4all app supports around 2000 classic arcade ROMS like Metal Slug, 1941, Gauntlet, Mortal Kombat, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Galaga, etc. That alone makes it well worth the price.

I've also used it with a Super Nintendo emulator and played games like Super Mario World, Super Castlevania 4, Mega Man 7, etc. I'm sure it will work with other emulators too, but these are the only two I've used thus far.

There are also several standard App Store apps that are now compatible:

Compression HD [Free]
Emerald Mine [Free]
Deflex [$1.99]
Freeesh [Free]
GoatUp [$1.99]
HungryMaster [$2.99]
IronStar Arena [$.99 / Lite]
Meganoid [$1.99]
Minotaur Rescue [$.99]
Minotron: 2112 [$1.99]
Mos Speedrun [$1.99 / Lite]
No Gravity [$4.99]
Plum Crazy [$.99]
Sideways Racing [$.99]
Silverfish MAX [$2.99]
Space Inversion [Free]
Space Inversion Puzzle [Free]
Super Mega Worm [$.99]
Super Mega Worm Vs. Santa [Free]
Super Drill Panic [Free]
Velocispider [$.99 / Lite]
Warblade HD [$2.99]

I can only see this list getting bigger with time.
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on September 7, 2012
Been using this iCade for a week now. Everything about it is great except for the buttons. Low quality, noisy and hard to press. I've been playing arcade games since the late 70's. I own an X-Arcade Tankstick, which I use a few times a week. As soon as I pressed the iCade buttons the first time, I went straight to google searching for any button mods. Right away I found other people complaining about the buttons. Changing the buttons to Sanwa OBSF 30mm Pushbuttons is what really makes this thing shine. Do a google search for "myglasseye icade". Read up on how to do the mod. I might upgrade the joystick too. The iCade joystick isn't as bad as the buttons, but it's still a bit noisy.
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on June 10, 2012
I picked this up on a whim, even though I didn't have an iPad; I figured it'd be a good gift for one of my iFamily/Friends. However, a bit of reading discovered that the controller in the device simply uses Bluetooth for communication, and of course the wonderful Android community has worked out a solution to that. A few minutes pairing the device to my Android tablet and downloading an app from the Play store and I was off to the races.

This thing is definitely a lot of fun. It's surprisingly well-designed (both in terms of aesthetics and technologically), and just works great. I think the only thing that would make it cooler would be integrated speakers that can also work off of Bluetooth...but maybe that's asking too much. Like I said, lots of fun, and if you were into arcade games in the 80s and early 90s, you'll definitely get your nostalgia's worth on this.
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on May 2, 2012
I fell in love playing Gridrunner and some other games on my iPad 3 with the iCade. Then I tried it on Mame4droid on my Galaxy Nexus, over 2000 games! I loved that so much I bought an Asus Transformer tf300 tablet to use as a Mame device with the iCade. This is the most awesome tablet accessory in history!

The build is quality. It has a better joystick response and button response than many standalone arcade "fightsticks." The cabinet is solid, it is easy to assemble, pairs with my iPad and android devices quickly and easily.

This is the most emphatic 5 star review I've ever given.
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on January 31, 2014
We are having great fun with this arcade. remember - you pay for what yu get. Takes about 30 mins to put it togethr and works perfectly with my ipad2. No problems and we are having a great time with the old games!
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on August 20, 2012
We got this for my husband, who practically lived at the arcade when he was a teenager. It's very easy to connect, and works great. It's like reliving a bit of his childhood, and is much cheaper than a sports car for a "midlife crisis"!

This has actually inspired him to start a new side business. He is now purchasing non-working classic arcade machines to fix up and resell. He is a happy man.
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on October 8, 2013
I read through many of the reviews on this product and decided to order. My husband and I love it! It went together fairly easily and it looks great! If you grew up going to arcades in the 80's you will love it too. The app is free and you get one game, Missile Command. The rest of the classic Atari games are available to purchase separately at individual prices or all together you can get 99 games for 9.99. Well worth it. When we played some of the games I noticed you can choose the setup for the buttons and joystick. If your iPad is sitting in the iCade in the portrait position you need to choose the setup that shows it in portrait as well so it displays properly. We are very happy with this purchase!
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on May 8, 2013
I downloaded PAC MAN and a few other games. Assembly was easy just read the directions on how to pair with the IPAD keep in mind the buttons are coded with numbers. No big deal just an FYI.

Works great and lots of fun. Have on my desk in my home office and good distraction every now and then. I would recommend this for the classic gamer.
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on April 26, 2014
The funny thing about this arcade cabinet is that it doesn't work as well in the games I grew up with in the arcade (Atari games, Midway, etc.) but works very well with most other brand games. So if you have a game that doesn't work well it's not the arcade cabinet, it's the developer of the game.
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