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Entries in Arcade (6)

Midway Arcade Brings Back the Classics for 99¢

Fancy loading your iPad up with Arcade classics Defender, Rampage, Spy Hunter, Joust and a few others for just 99¢ / 69p?

You have a chance to do exactly that thanks to Midway Arcade, actually Warner Bros (Midway seem to be in liquidation but fighting it).

For another 99¢ you can get Gauntlet, Gauntlett II and Wizard of Wor via in-app purchase and the nostalgia fest continues with APB (sadly no steering wheel provided), NARC and Total Carnage for a further 99¢.

They are pretty faithful ports, as far as we can tell, the controls are a bit sluggish sometimes, but some of that is down to the onscreen joystick. We like the 3D arcade lobby UI and some of the other arcade games (Air Hockey, Basketball, Pool and Roll Ball) are a nice bonus.

If this tickles your nostalgia fancy get on over to the App Store and grab Midway Arcade for its launch price.

iMAME, the iPad arcade finally arrives!

As we said back in April 2010, "Call us nerds if you like, but the classic 70's and 80's arcade games are a heritage worth preserving, a record of the origins of today's games that needs to be preserved for future generations". By far the most complete code framework for the preservation of that gaming heritage is MAME (Multi Arcade Machine Emulator). Until now MAME has only been available to those with jailbroken iPads. Today that changed.

However, so far it appears that there is no way of side-loading arcade ROMS, hence you are limited to testing the arcade hardware emulation with the 10 basic games that come preinstalled. But how long will it be until some bright spark finds a way to side load more games, and how long after that event will it be until Apple removes iMAME from the App Store? Looking through the iMAME menu items it seems clear to us that this app is a fully featured version of MAME.

What are you doing still reading this? Get iMAME while you still can, the clock is ticking people!

Source: Touch Arcade - The best source for iPad gaming news and reviews.

App Store Link: iMAME (Free)

Further Reading: Games

Video: Breakout for iOS Teaser

If you spent many hours of your youth bashing a load of multi-coloured bricks with a ball in Breakout or additionally shooting them with lasers in one of its more notable clones like Arkanoid, then you might enjoy this new one from Atari.

The teaser trailer below shows the iPad version, but we're a bit puzzled as to why they haven't used the whole width of the iPad's screen. It looks a little cramped to us. Perhaps the gameplay benefits from a smaller area to swipe across?

As long as it is not overpriced we'll probably be downloading Breakout for iOS when it's released anyway for pure nostalgia. What do you think?

Geek Dreams Do Come True

Everyone is talking about this but we had to share the news from CES about the iCade. Back in April we bemoaned the fact that ThinkGeek's iCade games cabinet for iPad was only an April Fool's joke.

At the time we, like many others, dreamed of how cool it would be if it was a real dock that turned your iPad into a mini arcade cabinet. We even suggested in that post a few ways this could be done for real using MAME.

Now, ThinkGeek has partnered with ION to make a real cabinet/controller to make your arcade retro gaming dreams come true. Rather than using the dock connector though, the iCade is a Bluetooth controller for compatible games, of which we imagine there will be quite a few in the future, but for now they have set up a partnership with Atari and their fantastic arcade game back catalogue.

The iCade doesn't look quite the same as the original mockup, but it does still look great, and the cabinet includes speakers which theoretically can be used for any media, meaning the iCade could double up as a dock for playing back any of your media.

At $99 we think the price is a little steep, but we are sure they will sell a load of them to sad geeks like us who constantly hark back to the days of wireframe graphics and relatively simplistic gameplay. Check out the iCade in action at CES in the Wired video below and be sure to let us know in the comments if you will be queuing up for an iCade in the Spring. 

Want to dock your iPad in style? (Creative iPad Docks)

Recently there seem to have been a number of unique, home-made iPad docks springing up, some of them re-purposing old Macs. Three of the most creative ones that have caught our attention in the last few days are below:

Gamer Arcade Cabinet

We want! Based on ThinkGeek's April Fool's iPad joke dock, this cardboard but fully functioning mock-up has us very excited (we really wanted one of the ThinkGeek ones and tried to find out how to order it, hoping that it was real, but were very disappointed). Read more about how they did it at TUAW's site.

iPad Arcade Accessory from hm0429 on Vimeo.

Classic iBook Clamshell Dock

ipad_ibook7.jpg

Ingenious and very creative, our next DIY iPad dock is built into a clamshell iBook. Although called 'Fisher Price' and otherwise mocked when it came out, we have a soft spot for this little iBook, having owned several versions, the latest one being very similar to the iBook used for this case mod.

The original post (in Japanese) does have a lot of photos showing how the iBook case mod was done, but we heard about it over at the MacStories site, where they have a description and links to the original, as well as a translated (not at all well) site.

Suffice to say, we love this.

Mac Classic dock

This one has been around for a little while on several big blogs, so forgive us if you have seen this one before, but it is creative simply for nothing other than recognising that the screen size is perfect and attacking a Mac Classic with a dremel. Although there is no access to the Home button or other buttons, or a dock connector at the moment, we think that is easy to remedy given the iBook solution above.

Check out Wired's article for more details and see the video below for what it looks like in practice, and the project creators Site Hirac even have another video on YouTube of the iPad working with a USB keyboard.

We want our iPad arcade, not excuses!

 

The second we saw Think Geek's inspired April Fool's joke we knew it was time for a mission! As Think Geek so beautifully demonstrated, the iPad is perfectly suited to bringing back many arcade classics. Call us nerds if you like, but the classic 70's and 80's arcade games are a heritage worth preserving, a record of the origins of today's games that needs to be preserved for future generations.

MAME (Multi Arcade Machine Emulator) has been the bastion arcade preservation for the last ten years, in short, MAME emulates the hardware of thousands of older arcade cabinets. MAME is a collection of code so important as to warrant a prominent place on any new computing format. So just where is iPhone OS MAME?

This is where we get angry like Angry Birds!

Apple don't allow machine emulation on the App Store. We can understand the reasoning behind this, but it would be nice to see some consistency. For example, Sega's Sonic 1 and Sonic 2 iPhone games are both Sega Mega Drive (Sega Genesis in the U.S.) emulators that run the original Sonic code. So if Apple won't allow MAME on the App Store why do they allow Sonic?

Sadly we don't ever envisage the day when we will be able to purchase MAME from the App Store and load up our own arcade ROM files, build our own virtual arcade just as Think Geek proposed.

Two possible solutions

We propose two solutions, both very different but both perfectly viable.

Solution 1. Involves Apple Game Center, a social gaming component that will arrive with iPhones OS 4 later in the year. Apple could provide a full license and optimised version of the MAME code as part of Game Center. Publishers who hold the rights to those gaming classics could then submit their code (basically the very same ROM images that already work with other version of MAME) for inclusion in Game Center. The obvious way for publishers to make money from these old classic is via Apple's brand new iAd service. This way everybody wins. Apple gets to keep control of its platform, publishers get to make even more money from games that have long since paid for themselves and we get to relive our misspent youth playing 4 player Gauntlet.

Solution 2. This is perhaps the most elegant solution as it requires no new technology and would almost certainly be allow into the App Store. We'll start with a simple explanation and then move on to more technical details.

We call this solution 'Cloud MAME'. Cloud MAME would require two components, Cloud MAME Server and Cloud MAME App. Cloud MAME Server would be a modified version of the existing MAME application running on Windows, Mac OS X or Lunix. Instead of displaying the game screen into a local monitor, Cloud MAME Server would stream the display across a local or wide area network. Cloud MAME App would be an iPad app that receives this display image and renders it in near realtime on the iPad display. It would also stream the player controls responses back up to the server. In essence, it would act like any VNC server/client solution, thereby avoiding all licensing issues.

The real key here -- the thing that makes this solution so workable -- is the display resolution of these classic arcade games. Seen below is the actual display image taken from an early 1980's arcade game. On the left is the full uncompressed image which weighs it at a good 576k per frame. On the right is a compressed version that totals just 3.5k per frame!

There is zero degradation in quality because the compression used is PNG-8 a popular web standard that allows for pin sharp images with very specific graphic attributes. In this case that specific attribute is the confined palate of just 32 colours, enough colours to perfectly simulate thousands of arcade games. 

Obviously we need a large number of these frames every second in order to get the authentic feel of the original arcade game. Most games require 60 frames per second. Using the PNG-8 standard it's possible to stream 60 frames per second for a total bandwidth 'cost' of just 210k. That's an easy target for most home networks or internet connections. Network response time will also factor in the overall perform, but if OnLive can stream HD high end PC games across the internet, surely Mario stands a good chance of making it through the pipes?

We'd love to see a developer attempt just such a solution. The tools are freely available and the concept isn't rocket science. So how about it creative iPad developers, surely it's worth a shot?

Further Reading:

Draw your own games!

Let the Wookie win!

Polygon pushing power.

Mass Effect 2 for the iPad?