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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?