iCade 8-Bitty: An analog controller for your smartphone and tablet games

Hey, ThinkGeek: The 1980s called, and they want their Nintendo-style gamepad back! Actually, it might be cool here in 2012, too.

The iCADE 8-Bitty controller will work with most Android and iOS devices.
The iCADE 8-Bitty controller will work with most Android and iOS devices. ThinkGeek

Remember the iCade? It's the iPad gaming cabinet that started out as an April Fool's joke , but then evolved into a real product.

Neat, but at $99.99, it's not exactly an impulse buy--and it leaves Android, iPhone, and iPod Touch gamers out of the fun.

Enter ThinkGeek's latest retro-gaming accessorry, the iCade 8-Bitty. It's a handheld analog controller that closely resembles the old Nintendo NES controller--minus the cord. The 8-Bitty works wirelessly (via Bluetooth, I'm guessing, though ThinkGeek doesn't specify).


And it works with nearly all Android and iOS phones and tablets, though Android support is just a promise at this point: "Because the 8-Bitty uses a completely open interface system, any app developer can easily add game support--even to Android devices." Translation: no Android games support the device--yet.

As you can see in the photo, the 8-Bitty has a four-way D-pad, four red game buttons, two shoulder buttons, and Start/Select buttons. The whole thing is wrapped in wood paneling to complete the retro look.

The 8-Bitty will run you $24.95 when it goes on sale "later this year." The question is, will you want one?

I ask because I found the original iCade rather disappointing. Not because the hardware wasn't cool--it was--but because the games I wanted to play didn't support it. Asteroids, yes. But Frogger, Galaga, Donkey Kong, and countless other arcade classics, no.

Admittedly, there's a fairly substantial list of iCade-compatible games, and the arrival of the 8-Bitty might lead to more. But there aren't many mainstream titles on that list--no Madden Football, Dead Space, Need for Speed, or other games that would benefit greatly from an analog controller.

That's a shame, because a lot of the retro arcade stuff just isn't that fun anymore.

Of course, that's just my inner curmudgeon talking. If the 8-Bitty worked with the games I want to play, I'd be all over it--especially for $25, which seems like a reasonable price for an accessory like this. What do you think?


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