Retro gaming is staging a mini revival on the iPad. Earlier this year ION released the iCade, a scaled-down arcade cabinet that controls the iPad via Bluetooth. Initially it was only compatible with Atari’s Greatest Hits collection, but developers have been steadily adding support for additional games. I have it, and I can say that it’s a lot of fun if you’re into that classic arcade experience. Now Atari, the quintessential “retro” company of the early 80s, is releasing their own controller. Raymond Wong at Dvice addresses the question of usability:
To answer that question in one word: average. A modern joystick experience can be pretty hit or miss. Sometimes they move around smoothly and sometimes, as with Atari Arcade, they’re really stiff. There’s nothing wrong with the Atari Arcade — it’s a very sturdily built peripheral and feels like it could survive a few hard drops — but it’s just that controlling games with the joystick feels imprecise.
Atari has also chosen to use the iPad dock connector instead of Bluetooth for communicating with the controller. This means that the only game that is currently compatible is Atari’s own Greatest Hits package. Whether or not other developers jump on board still remains to be seen.