About the Author
Eli as been obsessed with mobile gaming his entire life. Originally starting with Tiger Electronics handhelds, graduating to the original Game Boy, and upgrading to nearly every handheld platform leading up to modern day portables.
ThinkGeek's iCade stated its life as an April Fool's joke that made iOS gamers stop and think, "Wait, why doesn't something like this exist?" So, much like the Tauntaun Sleeping Bag, ThinkGeek realized the demand for the product and wasted no time in releasing the iCade.
Currently, there are two places to get the iCade from:
Both units are the same price, and where you order it from really comes down to whether you prefer the retro look of the ThinkGeek iCade, or the flashier and more modern looking ION Audio iCade. Alternatively, you could check out the iControlPad which can emulate an iCade, and therefore provide similar functionality in all these games. We've got reviews for both devices as well:
And there's news about another controller circulating, as well:
With that out of the way, here’s our definitive list of iCade supported games:
Compression HD, Free Compression HD is a wicked little puzzle game that plays a little bit like Tetris. In it, you manipulate and twist falling blocks in order to assemble matches of three or more. Its “hook” -- or unique selling mechanic -- revolves around the fact that the borders of levels steadily compress the board as you play, which really ramps up the strategy and gives it a fresh and frenetic feel.
Emerald Mine, Free Emerald Mine is an amalgamation of Emerald Mine 1, 2, 3, and an assortment of bonus levels dedicated to the Amiga classic this is based on. Basically it’s “Dig Dug Lite.” You play as a miner in a top-down search for gems. As you uncover piles of dirt in your search, you’ll have to avoid several pitfalls including bugs, tanks, and even falling boulders. Featuring 3,400 levels to explore and all of the original FX and SFX of the classics, this is definitely a game that shoots for the retro-gamer’s cold heart.
Forget-Me-Not, Free In our review, we called Forget-Me-Not the "retrolicious lovechild of PAC-MAN and Rogue," and I'm really struggling with a better way to describe the game. An amazing scoring system combines with fantastic retro graphics that only bolster how much fun Forget-Me-Not is to play. If the thought of PAC-MAN combined with dungeon crawling at all piques your interest, stop what you're doing and download Forget-Me-Not immediately.
Freeesh, Free In the annoyingly named and dream-like Freeesh, you play as a molecule charged with feeding a small nucleus. You’ll also be responsible for protecting it from larger molecules, which is where this laid-back, but strangely challenging game really works its magic. A neat original soundtrack and a vibe similar to thatgamecompany’s Fl0W sets this apart from a lot of arcade games of its ilk on the App Store.
GoatUp, Free GoatUp is a Llamasoft release that revolves around goat mating. No, really -- it’s a weird platform game that has you, as a goat, eating grass in a continually scrolling level. As you move platform to platform, you’ll meet billy goats that’ll impregnate you and as you eat the grass adorning every platform, you’ll eventually produce baby goats that’ll follow you. The usual psychedelic coloring in every Llamasoft release makes this one stand out from a visual perspective, but obviously the mechanics really put it over the top.
HungryMaster, Free We still can’t tell if HungryMaster is the most brilliant riff on import gaming we’ve ever seen, but that doesn’t obscure the fact that this is one of the hippest iCade games we’ve played. HungryMaster puts you in the shoes of a little girl who uses magic to turn alien monsters into food. Once you grab the food, you take the food to houses. It’s out-of-this-world silly in that anime kind of way and boasts a really strong mechanic that feels great with the iCade. Also, it has a talking cat.
IronStar Arena, $0.99 Ironstar Arena is your typical vertical shoot-em-up. Appropriately arcade-y in feel and look, this is definitely the game for anyone with a red hot desire to fly around in a space craft with their fingers firmly on the trigger. Interestingly, Ironstar supports multiple modes of play, including head-to-head matches via network support. It also has a fair share of mission content and situational enemies, so there’s a good bit of unique stuff within it.
Critter Panic!, $0.99 The core play of Match Panic boils down moving a cartoon object to one of two columns with a matching object. On the iPad or iPhone it feels great since all you’re doing is flicking, so this isn't the kind of game that begs for iCade support. Still, a torrent of surprise drizzled me when I rigged it into my device and gave it a go.
Minotaur Rescue, $0.99 Minotaur Rescue is another overly psychedelic Llamasoft release. It's basically Asteroids, except with minotaurs, strange clouds, and a gravitational mechanic that keeps you from endlessly steering about the cosmos.
Minotron: 2112, Free Minotron: 2112 is actually a port of Llamatron: 2112, an old-school Amiga title. Essentially, it's a dual stick shooter with your typical Llamasoft additions: psychedelic colors, baffling mechanics, and equally baffling creatures.
Mos Speedrun, $0.99 Mos Speedrun is about -- get this -- speed runs. It’s a fairly straight-forward, no fuss kind of platform game not so dissimilar to, say, a Mario joint. As you run through the levels and miss the time barrier by seconds, your other attempts will against your ghosts of your runs, which really adds to the competition levels without having to throw in another player. We’re also fans of the overall look, which is simply fantastic.
Muffin Knight, $0.99 Muffin Knight is an action platform game with a lot of weapons, characters, and really rich 3D world with tons of colors. It's instance-based and a bit goofy, but it's a good time.
No Gravity, $3.99 No Gravity is an iOS port of the PSP space combat game. Full of action and an impressive visual appeal, No Gravity really rocks for those of us with a taste for full-featured arcade titles. Also, with 31 missions and hours of content, you can’t really argue with the abnormal pricing model.
Plum Crazy, $0.99 Plum Crazy is an offbeat, top-down puzzle game that has you rolling, of all things, a grapefruit around a maze. Avoiding enemies and squishing sweet, sweet plums are what this game is all about and, for what it’s worth, Plum Crazy is pretty good about both of these things.
Sideways Racing, $1.99 Sideways Racing is a pretty simple over-the-top racing game that puts you, of course, behind the wheel of a fast car in a series of races. Unlike the DrawRace franchise, creator Bjango has decided to literally have you drive around the car with virtual controls, which isn’t an ideal way to steer at top speeds. With an iCade, however, this plays like a dream.
Silverfish MAX, $2.99 Silverfish is a lot like Geometry Wars, except with an emphasis on avoidance. If you’re not familiar with Xbox 360 vernacular, know this: Silverfish is a great and very customizable top-down arcade shooter thing, made even better with the joystick on the iCade. We’ve been big fans of the franchise since it hit touch devices and we’ve become bigger ones since.
Space Inversion, $0.99 Make no bones about it, as Space Inversion’s name implies, this is a pretty close take on Taito’s legendary arcade shooter, Space Invaders. Where this departs is pretty important. A wide selection of enemies and patterns, as well as a sharp visual style helps separate Space Inversion from its revered source material, though you’ll probably be left wanting.
Super Mega Worm, $1.99 Super Mega Worm is probably one of the few games we could call an “App Store Classic.” Built on the idea that gamers (a) love huge worms, (b) like killing people, and (c) equally enjoy bashing tanks and hopping off of cars, Super Mega Worm manages to scratch nearly every itch that we have. The iCade controls vastly improve the over-the-top action, but it’s still fun to eat people without a mini-arcade cabinet.
Super Mega Worm Vs Santa, Free This is the holiday (and free) version of Super Mega Worm that mixes in some very special holiday carnage. Highlights include gingerbread men, elves, snow, massive combo opportunities, and, of course, the big red machine himself.
Super Drill Panic, $1.99 In this one, you’re charged with avoiding a falling boulder. It sounds lame as a platforming mechanic, but you’ll grow to love Super Drill Panic thanks to its wonderfully retro look, sound, and feature set. Like stealing treasure, collecting coins, and running? This is for you.
Temple Run, Free Imangi Studios doesn't release games all that often, but when they do, they sure are good. Temple Run takes the endless runner formula, adds a third person chase viewpoint, some tilt mechanics, and heaps of power ups to cheat death. Additionally, Temple Run was voted the forum game of the week when it was first released.
Warblade HD, $2.99 Warblade is another over-the-top, vertical shoot-‘em-up. We think the coolest thing about it is its insane level progression, ridiculous amount of unlockables, and its psychedelic appeal.
Velocispider, $2.99 The thrill of fighting off waves of aquatic-robot monsters with a well armed half-spider, half-velociraptor Araknasaur makes Velocispider an easy buy. Fortunately, it's also a challenging arcade game that will keep you scrabbling for a high score. Out of the box it comes with tilt controls, but iCade integration takes the game to a whole new level.
For more games, or to submit your own game for consideration in this list, head over to the iCade thread on our forums.