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(Pocket-lint) - Firebox has snagged the UK exclusive on iCade's portable iPhone and iPad gaming controller, the 8-bitty, and Pocket-lint has got its hands on one to try out.

Considering that it's made by the same team that created the iCade iPad arcade cabinet, released for last Christmas, the tech inside the 8-bitty is sound. It's Bluetooth, so links up with your iDevice easily - without needing PIN codes - and there's already a healthy and growing number of iPad, iPhone/iPod touch apps that offer iCade control, so you shouldn't be short of anything to use it on.

The controller itself requires two AAA batteries, but comes with an auto power-save mode so that when you're not pressing buttons, it'll sap as little battery life as possible. And that's really about it.

Pocket-lint icade 8 bitty wireless game controller for iphone and ipad pictures and hands on image 1

In feel, it's essentially a NES controller. There are top bumper buttons, left and right, four others and a D-Pad. There's also the equivalent of Start/Select buttons on the front, which are used to help pair a device, but we haven't found an alternative use for them yet.

Aesthetically, we fully approve of the teak-effect surround, as it harks back to the glory days of the Atari 2600 (or VCS, as it was known originally). We need more faux-wood exteriors on our games consoles, you hear that Microsoft?

Pocket-lint icade 8 bitty wireless game controller for iphone and ipad pictures and hands on image 5

Other than that it, well, works, and it's success will come down to whether or not you want to play the games currently available. Both Atari's Greatest Hits and Namco Museum are compatible, so that's a huge swathe of retro arcade classics right there from the bat. Lists of other compatible game titles can be gleaned from forums such as TouchArcade's. Ion Audio claims there's 500-plus in total, so you should hunt around.

There's only one downside that we've discovered with the 8-bitty, and that is that you can't get the on-screen keyboard to appear when its paired. Simple solution for that is to switch it off on the rear and the keyboard will reappear. Switch it back on and it'll automatically pair again. Job done.

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The 8-bitty Wireless Game Controller will be on sale on Firebox very soon - "next week" it says on the posting. You can currently preorder one for £29.99.

Writing by Rik Henderson.
Sections Apps Games