Back in February at the Toy Fair in London, Pocket-lint had a chat to a designer working for Zeon Tech who had devised a mini arcade cabinet for the iPhone. Called iAppCade back then, the concept was different from the existing iCade in that it didn't rely on Bluetooth to communicate with the handset.
Now that product has been released under the rejigged name of Arcadie. It's available through Firebox.com for £14.99 and Pocket-lint has got its mitts on one to have a play.
Although it is made of plastic, the Arcadie is well built and sturdy. There's a small joystick and two mini buttons and that's about all. Because it doesn't rely on Bluetooth to work, it doesn't need batteries, and you slot your iPhone (or iPod touch) into the cabinet, making it look far more authentic than rival products.
For starters, that means you get a tiny 4:3 screen as found on the original coin-op machines (albeit much smaller). iCade Jnr, for example, uses the full iPhone screen, so looks elongated.
Plus, slotting the iDevice into the unit adds stability. It feels like one complete gadget, rather than something resting on another.
Of course, that also means that the graphics on screen are tiddly, but every game available is still more than playable.
The way the Arcadie works is by features capacitive buttons on the inside of the cabinet, which touch the iPhone screen in different ways depending on the button presses or joystick movements. These tell the compatible applications what to do on screen and Bob's your uncle.
The benefit to this is that it will work without putting any further drain on your battery life above and beyond playing the game itself (Bluetooth applications can be sapping), although there is a downside.
The iCade Bluetooth control system uses an API that any developer can add to their existing app, therefore there are many titles out there that are compatible. Arcadie requires specific applications to be developed especially for it.
Currently, there are three, all based on popular retro arcade favourites. It doesn't take a genius to guess the inspirations for Blasteroids, Alien Invaders and Ping (Pong) and they all play well on the accessory. In addition, they are all available for download from iTunes absolutely free.
Zeon Tech also plans for three further games to be released soon; Planet Defender, Stacker (a bit like Tetris) and Invaders (a more accurate Space Invaders clone). And hopefully, they will not be the last.
Back at the Toy Fair, we were also told that the Arcadie (iAppCade) was compatible with MAME4All, the arcade emulator that was removed from the App Store but is still available for jailbroken devices. Not having one of those to hand, we haven't tried it, however.
To find out more information on the Arcadie, and check out new game releases, visit www.arcadie-arcade.com.
What do you think? Fancy a little arcade machine on your desktop? Let us know in the comments below...