I seek to answer the question is it an iCade or just iCandy? 

On a hot summer day in 2014 my family and I set out for the Underground Retrocade in West Dundee, IL. It had been years since I was in a true arcade last, and the feeling of experiencing games that way again was nearly intoxicating. There’s nothing quite like those large buttons, full sized arcade sticks, and cabinet speakers, pulling you in and making your surroundings disappear.
After that I was determined to get a machine of my own, but to be honest there wasn’t really any room for one at my house of the time so I had to give that dream up temporarily. About a month later I heard the iCade being discussed on The Retro League, and I decided to look it up for myself on Amazon. Here was mini-arcade cabinet with an arcade controller and buttons, and all that had to be added was an iPad, which I did have. The only thing was it was going for about $100 at that time, and I decided I could wait till later or even go without. Than about a month later The Retro League, mentioned it again on their show, and that now Toy’s R Us was clearancing these beauties for about $30. The “Sold” flag went up in my mind and the first chance I got I took a lunch break to head over to Toys R Us, and pick one up. When I got there though I was a bit disappointed, yes Toy’s R Us was clearancing out iCade’s but it was the “Core” model which was pretty much just a stand the iPad went in, with arcade buttons and controller. I was tempted but I held out since I really wanted the mini arcade cab model.

ION’s iCade Core (photo courtesy ION)

Flash forward to February of 2015 and I’ve completely forgotten about the iCade. Than by chance a listing popped up on eBay for one with a price of about $45 CIB and unopened at that. I shopped around really quick and after noticing Amazon now wanted more then $100 for this particular item, I hit the “But It Now” button and on Valentines Day 2015 the postman bought it to my door.

iCandy

Putting the iCade together was actually a snap, it did require a screw driver but that was pretty much it. As for hooking it up to my iPad, that was also very easy and completely painless, the BlueTooth connection worked really well and the iCade gave off a very strong signal. Now comes the painful part, being a mini-arcade cabinet I wanted to use it as such, especially since the iCade was designed to be paired with the Atari’s Greatest Hits app available through the iOS app store. So I download the app and used the free Missile Command game within the app, it worked well but Missile Command can get boring quickly so I decide to just go ahead and spend the $9.99 for everything the app has to offer. So with the purchase complete I go to download Battlezone, and it doesn’t work, than I try Centipede, and than Major Havoc nope to both of those too. I write iTunes right away and after a few days of messing with them they credited my money back, and said they will send word on to the app developer. I take that with a grain of salt and happily great my $9.99 back in my account.To be honest I was a little disappointed after that, since a lot of the other games the iCade was compatible with at the time were merely rip offs of better more well known games. The iCade soon found itself sitting on a worktable near my gaming area collecting dust till I moved last summer, after that it sat in a box until just recently. Pretty much to me it was iCandy, and really had limited use.

iCade Arcade Model – side view

iCade

So fast forward again, now its mid-may of 2016. I’ve been in my new house nearly a year, and I’ve just recently added my first pinball machine and arcade cabinet. I have to admit I would like to add a few more of each but my pocket book doesn’t agree. Of course there’s always my Vectrex which is like a mini-arcade machine in itself, but than I remember the iCade. I debate getting it out of the box and messing with it briefly, but I stop to ask myself why. I had my doubts the Atari app had been fixed, or that the system added more games, and I quickly remembered they where probably clearancing them for a reason back in 2014. Than purely by chance I caught Lord Karnage’s review of the iCade on Classic Game Room, and suddenly I had a new appreciation for it. It seems in the year since I abandoned the device a lot more apps became available for play on it, and the review made light of several different things I didn’t even know the iCade could do, like its ability to support the iPad in landscape mode via a special notch on top. This made it able to support the Activision Anthology app, and many more. In addition to this, the list of apps supporting the iCade nearly exploded since I had used it last, including now supporting my recently purchased Raiden Fighters Legacy app which I had previously spent countless hours playing through touch.

iCade Arcade Model – front view
Featuring Ataris Greatest Hits app with Major Havoc

So I quickly dug through my boxes of gaming stuff and pulled the iCade out, bought it upstairs, and put my iPad in. To my surprise the Atari’s Greatest Hits app now worked pretty well and I was able to download the arcade games I wanted from the app easily. In addition to that I began to add a few more apps to enhance my iCade experience like Midway Arcade, and Spectaculator a ZX Spectum emulation app. I was also surprised how well it worked with my previously mentioned Raiden Fighters Legacy app, as well as my R-Type I & II apps, and Double Dragon Arcade app. To say the least it pretty much transformed from last years paperweight iCandy to its actual name the iCade, as the device has now received hours of play by my family and I.

With all that said I’m glad to have it now, and glad to have purchased it when I did. Now the iCade sells for about $150 new on Amazon, and eBay is dotted with a lot of used ones for $50 or more. If you have an iPad, and need a little arcade fix from time to time, you may want to pick one up.

If you have any questions, comments, or would like to share your experiences with the iCade please feel free to let me know.

You can catch the Lord Karnage Classic Game Room YouTube review here.

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