Atari Arcade for iPad review

Who doesn’t love retro arcade games? There’s nothing quite like cracking open an ice-cold Pepsi, squaring up to an arcade console, and hearing the initial musical sequence to your favorite game. Atari Arcade for the iPad and iPad 2 aims to give you all the joy of a three-hour Breakout session without the leg and neck exhaustion, quarter depletion, and angry looks from the other kids waiting their turn. 

Unlike it’s rival, the iCade, the Atari Arcade connects to your iPad via its 30-pin dock-connector port – the dock connector is located in the Atari Arcade’s cradle – and gets its power directly from the iPad. (Alas, it can’t charge your iPad.) The Atari Arcade also doesn’t require DIY assembly. This means that to start playing, you just put your iPad in the cradle and press “Start.” On the other hand, the big drawback to this connection method is that you can’t use the Atari Arcade with an iPad in landscape orientation, making games such as Pong a little awkward, if not impossible.

Though smaller than the iCade, the Atari Arcade isn’t quite small enough to be portable. The feel of the controls is also very different. For one, the Atari Arcade has only four buttons, but those buttons also lack the old-school, concave surface that adds so much authenticity to the iCade. The joystick on the Arcade is also a little more difficult to use – which, because the Arcade is so much smaller and less sturdy, means that a vigorous nudge of the joystick can end up moving not just your onscreen alter ego, but the entire Arcade, as well.

OUR VERDICT

At £59, the Atari Arcade is a little easier on the wallet than the iCade, and the Arcade’s easy set up makes it a fun choice, but its lack of compatibility with non-Atari and non-portrait-orientation apps and poor joystick control make the big price difference less appealing. If it had charging capabilities, the Atari Arcade could make up for its mediocre performance and features by bridging the gap between novelty accessory and indispensable office ornament, acting as both a stand and a fun, decorative console. But in the end, it feels too limited.

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