Entries in Retro (3)

iCade: Pre-order and Pricing Details

We told you about it back in January, and now it is nearly time for us retro-geeks-of-a-certain-age to have a dream realised.

The iCade from ION is finally in production and should be available in late May, compatible with both the original iPad and iPad 2.

In the US, ThinkGeek have started taking pre-orders at the expected price of $99.99. They state the shipping date as 'by 27 May' but they have already sold out of the first batch of pre-orders! 

For those of us in many other countries Expansys are taking pre-orders too (as well as in the US). In the UK the price is listed as £66.99, although we are not sure if that will be the final price. But it gives us an idea of how much we need to save up. Expansys are a bit more woolly about lead times as well.

Don't Forget the Games

Of course, you will need some retro games to go with your Bluetooth controlled iCade and, as announced earlier this month, Atari in partnership with iON, have already released all of their classic Arcade and Console games from yesteryear on the App Store.

You get Pong for free, but that's it. If you want to play any other games from Atari's back catalogue you will need to purchase Game packs in-app, but for only $0.99 (59p) for 4 games that's not too bad really.

If you want to go for the full retro experience and load your iCade with 100 Atari games (not all classics we have to say), you can get the whole back catalogue for $14.99 (£8.99). TouchArcade did a nice review with video when the announcement was made.

Some reviews have been a bit critical of the games, but we think they are either too young to remember pumping coin after coin into the original arcade games or just expecting too much of games made in an age before handheld computing devices with onboard graphics processors.

For our part, we have our rose-tinted specs strapped firmly to our heads and we cannot wait to see one of these mini arcade cabinets loaded up with Atari goodness.

If you are pre-ordering your own iCade or have something to say about it or Atari's app, let us know in the comments.

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. 

Solar Minotaur Rescue Frenzy. Gloriously retro-tastic gaming from the legend Jeff Minter 

Jeff Minter is the man behind some of the most compelling gaming experiences to ever grace the computer screens of mortal Man. If you are of a similar age to Phil and myself, the iPad Creative team, there is a good chance that you have heard of such classics as Gridrunner, Revenge of the Mutant Camels, Psychedelia and Tempest 2000. During the 80's nobody showed such an intrinsic understanding of pure arcade fun as Mr. Minter. It's little wonder then that we contacted Jeff not long after the launch of the iPad to get his opinion on Apple's 'latest creation'. Jeff responded:

"Really looking forward to the iPad - I think it's one of the most exciting new devices to come out for quite some time.  Now come on Apple and give us a UK launch date."

Happily, Jeff was as excited to get to work on the iPad as we had hoped. Now, just a few months later, his first app is unleashed.

Solar Minotaur Rescue Frenzy is a true old skool arcade game, complete with VCS style graphics and 'a nice nostalgic glow'. As Jeff puts it:

"Then I thought: why not make some new games in the STYLE of the old games, but using modern hardware? By doing that I would be free to choose the things that genuinely were charming about the old games, but leave behind all that nonsense about sprite flicker, amnesiac amounts of memory and CPU chips with the mathematical ability of a wounded stoat. In fact we'd be free to do whatever we liked whilst still providing players with an aesthetic that will hopefully still produce a nice nostalgic glow.", "The goal of the Minotaur project is to make new games in the style of old hardware, but with none of the limitations of the original platforms and a thoroughly modern heart inside giving gameplay sufficiently rewarding and involving for today's players."

We can't deny that what we really want is an iPad inspired reboot of Jeff's classic light synthesiser, but until such time, Solar Minotaur Rescue Frenzy will do very nicely indeed, especially at just $0.99 (£0.59).

Note: Jeff Minter is also responsible for 'Metagalactic Llamas Battle at the Edge of Time', surely the best computer game title of all time.

Jeff Minter on Twitter.

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