iCade 8-Bitty Retro Wireless Game Controller review: Retro iOS game controller with a handful of quirks

Which games does the 8-Bitty support? Midway Arcade and Atari Greatest Hits, quirky little games like Forget-Me-Not and Super Crate Box, and dozens more. The list isn’t easy to track down, and the 8-Bitty doesn’t work with all the games the iCade does, but most of them translate well enough. On the Android side of things, the emulator app MAME4droid supports 8-Bitty. Ion’s list of iCade-compatible games gives you a mostly complete sense of the gaming library you can take advantage of.

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There are drawbacks, though: the 8-Bitty works by tricking your iOS device into thinking it’s a keyboard, but simple button-mappings get laid onto games in ways that sometimes seem random. Super Crate Box makes you use the middle gray buttons on the 8-Bitty that look like old-fashioned Start and Select buttons on an NES controller, but are in fact additional buttons. Sometimes the shoulder buttons and other buttons do the same thing. Sometimes you have to press up on the D-pad to jump, instead of being able to press one of the four comfy red buttons like you’d want to. Most games have no control-tweaking options for the 8-Bitty, so you’re stuck.

Sarah Tew/CNET

An screwed-on back cover accepts two AAA batteries, and an on/off switch keeps battery drain down. Pairing is easy, although as CNET's Rick Broida pointed out , once you're paired you can't use the iPad's onscreen keyboard anymore. The 8-Bitty is even more portable than the Duo Gamer. It’s more comfortable, too. You can even you use it with your iPhone, though I'm not sure why you would: it's larger than the iPhone 5 .

The 8-Bitty is a cute stocking-stuffer, a clever novelty gift, and, depending on your usage, a functional retro-gaming accessory for your iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch. It’s less expensive than an iCade, and more flexible.

Sarah Tew/CNET

This isn't the perfect iOS game controller. It's an awkward, feisty little gadget that won me over with charm, not usefulness. It might do the same to you, if you keep your expectations low.

What you'll pay

Pricing is currently unavailable.

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Where to Buy

iCade 8-Bitty Retro Wireless Game Controller (iOS, Android)

Part Number: CNET-iCade-8-Bitty

MSRP: $29.99

See manufacturer website for availability.