Hands-On With The Ion Audio iCade: Buttons Fit For Mashing

I'm not good at video games. And while I don't even attempt to figure out most of today's crazy-ass console games, I can certainly appreciate some old school arcade-style button mashing. Ion Audio's iCade brings that familiar satisfaction to your iPad.

It's a story we've heard before: fake product, adored by internet masses, gets made real. The Ion Audio iCade, an arcade-style controller for the iPad, is the latest in the genre, and it's pretty damn awesome.

The iCade, which communicates with the iPad over Bluetooth, offers for a surprisingly faithful arcade experience with clicky buttons and a solid joystick. They feel just like real buttons; they sound just like real buttons. It's also nice just to be able to play a game on your iPad without cradling it in your lap or laying it flat on the table. The iCade, which isn't actually a dock so much as a stand, nevertheless lets your iPad just chill out as a display for gaming, as opposed to making it pull display-and-input double duty. It's a much different experience, and one that really expands the iPad's capacity for gaming.

Ion Audio's teaming up with Atari for the first run of iCade-compatible games - Asteroids was the one I tried, a solid port of the original - though Atari's working on bringing their entire library to the iPad and iCade (those without the iCade hardware will be able to enjoy the games with on-screen controls). Ion Audio's looking to work with other developers to create further iCade-compatible games, too.

You'll be able to pick up an iCade for $US99 sometime around April. [Ion Audio]