I’ve got to say, as intriguing as the thought of controller peripherals for the iPhone was a few years ago, I’ve really grown to dislike all of these new controller solutions that seem to pop up every month or so. I think the iCade offers a neat experience and has amassed a respectable library of supported games so far, so it’s somewhat exempt from these feelings.

Beyond that though, I’ve come to realize that the exact reason I love gaming on my iPhone so much is that it’s an all-in-one device I have on me at all times. I’ve struggled since the original Game Boy to find that perfect case to house my handheld and all its games and accessories in one tiny on-the-go package.

Well, the iPhone is that dream realized in a way that’s better than I could have ever imagined, and I don’t want to sully that with the additional hassle of toting around some peripheral. iOS comes equipped with its own set of unique control possibilities with its touchscreen and gyroscope, and if your game requires traditional buttons to truly shine then I feel like you’re kind of missing the entire point.

However, I think they might be onto something with the upcoming iMpulse controller. Rather than being some kind of harness you stick your device in like many of the controllers we’ve seen thus far, it’s simply a very tiny Bluetooth controller, about the size of a large keychain. In fact, it actually IS a keychain, and like your iPhone, chances are high that you’ll always have it on you. Here’s a quick video of it in action.

I do have reservations about the iMpulse though, first the fact that it seems to only come equipped with half the buttons of an iCade, and second that it’s strictly an analog stick-like slider for directional control rather than a traditional d-pad. However it’s compatible with any iCade game right out of the box and best of all it will retail for just $20. At that price and with a respectable list of supported games it’s a little easier to justify an “impulse” buy for something like this.

The iMpulse controller is slated to hit later this year, and you can currently pre-order the initial run of black and silver ones over at the iMpulse website. We’ll be looking to get our hands on one soon and will report back with out impressions.

  • jindofox

    Looks cute, and the price is right, but it's too bad it's not ready NOW. If it were, I'd want one immediately. As it is, the 8-bitty will probably beat it to market and suck up all the sales. 

  • Arch Deluxe

    I'm intrigued, but you are overselling the list of supported iCade games. A handful of good games, nothing great, and fails to make it worth buying any peripheral.

    • bigrand1

      I agree. But, where there's money to be made, a bunch more of these things are bound to pop up. Personally, not for me. I already have a small device and don't want/need an even smaller controller for it, though I'm sure there will be some who will just HAVE to have it.

    • jindofox

      I went to look at the list of compatible games. I love a whole lot of them. Perhaps I'm older than you, but retro-style stuff and Llamasoft games are among my favorites. I sent them some money for a preorder and hope this comes out on schedule.

  • Greyskull

    "I’ve struggled since the original Game Boy to find that perfect case to house my handheld and all its games and accessories in one tiny on-the-go package."

    I see you've never owned an Ngage, huh? 😉

  • Adams Immersive

    Neat! I hope it comes with some kind of a flip-lid (not easily lost) for damage/dirt protection.

    I’m tempted to pick one up to do double-duty as a home theater remote for my Mac. (ControllerMate lets me interpret the iCade-style on/off signals properly and connect actions to them.)

    • http://twitter.com/Rirath Rirath

      It has a slide lid - click the "video" link on the homepage and there's a small clip showing a lid sliding over the device.

  • lr1919

    This is a great way to show off how incredibly nerdy you are.

  • zergslayer69

    Only thing I'd change is the addition of 2 shoulder buttons so that I can have a complete and portable emulator experience (snes is the only one that matters to me)

  • Soul_of_Wit

    I look forward to the review. I could get my money's worth from just one or two of my favorite iCade-capable games. It's also a bluetooth remote that is always in my pocket. Bonus.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000550362553 Klas Segeljakt

    Looks good but I couldn't care less for all the ported retro games that the icade runs.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_5FLRQI2X2LU3IHMCG7HEAEFD5I Cat Astrophy

    The Gameboy Micro with an All-In-One Flash Cart fit on your keys (if the idea of having tons of your games in one cart via roms bothers you then you're forcing yourself to deal with carrying extra carts). I left it at a gas station in some one-horse town heading into Cali and never saw it again. I still miss it.

    • Thapanadol Vanasatidya

      That was the device I carry before I have my iPhone. I also like to carry around one small game device with me since i was young, from gamboy (too big) to keychain tetris, psp (also too big), Gameboy Micro, Dingoo and now iPhone. I'm a person who will ply games on any free little time. You can still find it cheap on ebay i guess.
      I only bough mine brand new 2 years ago with flash cart for around 50 bucks.

  • http://twitter.com/Ryan_Olsen Ryan Olsen

    This is exactly what I was looking for (outside of an "official" controller option) to play some iCade games on the go with. 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_FBFCHYXNF54UIGYTLDQAX6XYTE Sam

    I wonder what battery life is like?

  • http://twitter.com/tweetDAVEtweet Dave

    This is interesting to me because I've never played a single iPhone game with virtual joystick controls that I found to be playable for more than 5 minutes. The touch screen virtual joystick is the worst idea in gaming in a long time.

  • Thapanadol Vanasatidya

    This device have the biggest potential of all other same products in my opinion. It's compact (fits in any pocket), did it's job and it's good price

    The mobile phone gaming today have become part of the portable gaming standard (or at least trying to) as it served the same way, gaming anywhere with incredible graphics BUT no physical buttons. Many companies and Indy developer attempted imitate or porting console styled game to iOS but mostly suffer from controlling issue for those who not used to touch control or never will be. Many of the Bluetooth controller (but a few on iOS) already on the market but as we carry our iPad around we will need something more compact.

    Showing this device to the bigger company like Capcom, Namco, SNK or SEGA who also port a load of their console games to iOS would be very interesting, such as if we can persuade them to add the iMpulse support for their upcoming Street Fighter x Tekken or Marvel vs Capcom 2, Soul Calibur, Street Fighter IV Volt, Sonic ect. Some of mentioned game still require psychical buttons to perform the complex moves. Either way around, with a good price of $19.99 will temp a anyone who own the supported app to buy iMpulse without much second tough.

    Adding a shoulder button would be cool too lol It could support GTA, Max Pyne by then

  • DCver3

    A controller for iDevices is an awesome concept, but will never be that great unless Apple makes their own controller. They're the only company that could make every app update for controller support. The icade is nice but what's the point of buying a controller that supports a fraction of the total games out there.
    It's a nice little novelty now, it's just not that we'll implemented.

  • http://flavors.me/kioshi kioshi

    I pre-ordered it. Hope it delivers what it promises.

  • wjrandon

    I believe you're mistaken about it being a analog controller. The impulse controller has gone through a few modifications during it's development process. One of the changes was the implementation of a d-pad.