It was just yesterday that we heard about the Atari Arcade Duo Powered joystick peripheral for the iPad, but it looks as if the folks over at DVICE have already gotten their hands on one and given it a proper review. While yesterday’s info on this interesting add-on was limited to a small promotional shot and a single line of an App Store description, DVICE has unearthed pretty much every unknown about the Atari Arcade joystick. Unfortunately, this also leads way to some facts that make the peripheral sound not quite as cool as we initially thought it might be.

The first thing that was assumed about the Atari Arcade joystick based on its promotional image was that it would work in landscape as well as the portrait position it was shown in. Apparently this isn’t the case, though, as the joystick actually connects to the iPad via the official Apple 30-pin connector. This means that unless some sort of extension type of cable can be provided, there’s no way to use this joystick with a landscape oriented game, aka fighters and side-scrolling beat ‘em ups, aka exactly the types of games that would rule with a joystick. Bummer. Even the rival iCade can support a landscape iPad device, though not in an official, secure fashion.

There’s some cool benefits to having the joystick connect through the 30-pin port though, too. For one, you won't have to worry about batteries, as the joystick is powered by the iPad itself. DVICE seemed to be able to get about 8-10 hours of juice out of their iPad and joystick combination. This is a big improvement over the notoriously battery-draining Bluetooth connection used by the iCade and iControlpad peripherals. This extra battery life isn’t that great of a tradeoff though when you’re forced into using portrait mode only. The Bluetooth connection route is also much simpler for developers to implement into their games too, and can work with multiple peripherals rather than having to cater to a single proprietary device.

And that’s really my biggest issue with the Atari Arcade stick. While I could likely deal with the portrait-only drawback and even the stiffness of the control stick and buttons noted in the DVICE review, it really doesn’t matter anyway if the only game compatible is Atari’s Greatest Hits [Free+IAP]. I guess it’s possible Atari could open up development support for the device, but given the fairly niche appeal of the iCade so far I can’t imagine too many developers who would be keen on putting in the extra work to support an even more potentially limited peripheral.

Be sure to check out the original DVICE review for additional information and a ton more screens. They also note that the Atari Arcade joystick will launch on October 2nd at Target stores, followed by Walmart and Toys ‘R’ Us stores in November. The device will retail for $60. Though I’m kind of disappointed to discover that the Atari Arcade joystick isn’t everything I hoped it could be, I’ll likely still be convinced to pick one up just out of curiosity, and will reserve final judgment until I can actually get my hands the joystick myself.



  • Anonymous

    Apple needs to come up with a standard for either bluetooth input or 30 pin controller input, as the ability to use a controller with analog sticks could take ipad gaming (especially mobile like in cars etc) to the next level. More of these products just makes the case to Apple, who will hopefully get serious about gaming, instead of resting on their laurels.

  • Frederick Liew

    "There’s some cool benefits to having the joystick connect through the
    30-pin port though, too. For one, you have to worry about batteries"
    shouldn't it be For one, you do not have to worry about batteries?

  • Anonymous

    I've been through a buttload of iphones and ipods and the one thing that usually ends up breaking is the 30pin connector. The last thing i would want is another thing to be jamming in and out of there all the time. Especially on the iPad2. Don't get me wrong this thing looks at least half as cool as the iCade but, i couldn't imagine wanting to spend more than 20 bucks on it since i can't play any of the sweet patformers. Just my opinion as an already iCade fan.

  • TheWatcher

    "Even the rival iCade can support a landscape iPad device, though not in an official, secure fashion ..."
    The iCade's landscape orientation is a JOKE. Grading the Atari unit down for not doing landscape, but giving the iCade a free pass for not really doing the same thing just makes you an iCade apologist.

    Poor "review" ... and, yes, I'm using the quotes on purpose.

    • Eli Hodapp

      The iCade works fine for me in horizontal mode. Also, it's strange that you're going as deep as reading between the lines to call us iCade apologists, yet, as part of this investigation you failed to realize that all this article actually happens to be is us reporting on DVICE getting their hands on one. This isn't a "review" at all.

      • Anonymous

        Yeah, landscape totally works fine for me too.  I'm pretty sure it is officially supported since there is a nice little slot and they were showing it off in landscape when they announced it. The official docs in the box don't' really say anything about orientation either way. I just assumed by the fact there is a slot for LS

      • Marshall Pope

        I haven't had any problem with landscape orientation either the slot provided works fine it isn't as pretty as having it recessed in the cabinet but its also not as ugly as it would have been having it in portrait mode in an extra wide cabinet.  The problem with the Atari isn't that landscape is "sloppy" or just a slot...the problem is that its non existent with the connector built in and apparently not removable putting it in landscape is impossible.

    • Jared Nelson

      Ummm, I didn't "grade" anything. Stating that games work in landscape on the iCade is just stating a fact. It may not be intended to work that way, but it does. For example, Mos Speedrun is a landscape game that officially supports the iCade. It is impossible for that game to support this Atari joystick. Advantage: iCade.

  • Dave

    No possibility for landscape? $60? Looks DOA. plus that is 1 fugly peripheral. 

  • Dave

    All they had to do was supply a retractable 30pin cord and this could have been a least from a usability standpoint (accommodating portrait and still would have been fugly though) . How hard would have that been to think of and design?

  • Aer2

    no landscape and not widely supported = bargain bin in no time.  not worth it even then.

  • Anonymous

    I like the idea of using the dock connector, because I'd rather not use bluetooth for the reasons noted (and I'd have to toggle it on just to use the iCade, then toggle it back off when done. Annoying). However, they really did need to make a way for it to work landscape. A retractable cord or whatever. Oh well. Maybe someone else will come up with something better.

  • Sixline

    30pin is a lot cheaper to implement than a bluetooth. 

  • Murderin Murphy

    I hate to complain... but...  Man, is that unattractive.

    Also, where's the spinner dial?  The trackball?  The "authentic" looking stick and buttons?

    Lazy, money-grab.


  • Adam of Troy

    Ok please jump on me if I'm wrong here but... 30 pin Vs Bluetooth means no lag here, and thus the first controller short of a fling to offer real time nontouch no lag controlling... Color me impressed. Now if we can just get a joy pad hooked up to the Ipad and Ipad 2, Xbox & Ps3 watch out...

  • BlackHiveMedia

    As a developer this does almost nothing to get us excited to support it (if we even were graced the opportunity)  like the iCade does.  The iCade is fun, attractive, and works great.  I don't know how this works but I can certainly say it lacks in the other two areas I mentioned.  

  • TheWatcher

    Every point in this article circles back to "no landscape." Like that's the ONLY important factor.

    How about zero battery worries, ever? How about smaller and lighter than the iAnvil -- whoops, iCade? How about 40 percent less expensive than the iCade?

    You guys can get all butt-hurt if you want to, but it's clear that TA has decided to hump the iCade's leg and dismiss any possible competitors. VERY typical TA "journalism."

  • jedi

    Only 4 buttons = FAIL
    mame will suck

  • pierre

    Concerning the atari arcade duo powered, do we know if some new games are coming on the Apple store? I realy enjoy the joypad! But So few applications...