Gadget review: iCade for iPad

The iPad can be transformed into just about anything with some rather ingenious apps; you can strum along to your favourite tunes in Guitar Pro or experience a virtual night sky in Star Walk.

Games are not new to the iPad, but many suffer from a lack of tactile control – especially retro classics. Originally a concept design from the CES Electronics Fair in Las Vegas, the iPad has been transported back to the 1980s with its own arcade cabinet.

After a bit of DIY, the iCade was ready to go. It’s a sturdy fellow about the height of a microwave. The iPad sits securely in the cabinet at a bit of an angle with the communication between iCade and iPad done via Bluetooth. Disappointingly this means the use of 2 x AA batteries and no simultaneous charging; it wouldn’t have been rocket science for the iCade to double as a dock. Anyway, the quality of the joystick makes up for this – it’s got that authentic analogue tension of the real thing and the eight buttons are perfectly springy. The iCade works with the Atari Greatest Hits app which comes with one game for free, which is currently Missile Command. A selection of 100 other arcade classics such as Pong and Plumb Crazy are available each for 64p or all 100 for £9.65.

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I last played Missile Command on my BBC Basic in the early 1990s and I’m pleased to say the iCade version is extremely faithful, with the added advantage of altogether more speedy loading than the days of the dreaded floppy disk. The manufacturer has also released the programming instructions for the iCade online, so many other non-Atari classics are likely to follow.

At £79.99, the iCade is a slice of retro reminiscing that is hard to resist.

• £79.99 from and