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The Cleveland Game Developers Message Board The Cleveland Game Developers Discussion › Any retro arcade fans? iCade on the cheap

Any retro arcade fans? iCade on the cheap

Morgan
morgan404
Cleveland, OH
Post #: 602
I love my iCade (full cabinet version, plus I added speakers) but it's a friggin' piece of furniture, hard to move around and impossible to use in my lap with a projector. I ran across a Groupon for the non-cabinet "Core" version for $25 and grabbed one! Same full-size arcade joystick and massive buttons as the regular iCade. (Actually, I wouldn't mind if iCade buttons were LESS industrial--they get tiring.) Never used Groupon before, so... fingers crossed.

For what it's worth, here it is--runs through midnight Thursday:
http://www.groupon.co...­

For those who don't know what iCade is, it's a "real" 8-way joystick like you'd see in an 80s coin-op arcade, with 8 buttons. It's meant for iPad and iPad Mini, but the slot is generously loose and it can fit other tablets, in both portrait and landscape. It's is not a charging dock, but it has a slot to feed your own charging cable up if you want. The iCade uses AAs and has lasted me months without changing batteries.

Personally, I don't plan to put my iPad in the slot anyway--I'll hook my iPad to a projector and set it aside. The iCade works by Bluetooth. (The device simply sees it as a keyboard--and yes, you can still have your "normal" keyboard paired as well, but if you don't, you'll lose the onscreen keyboard until the iCade sleeps in about 60 seconds. So get your typing out of the way before you wake the iCade.)

Warning: game support is limited to those games that specifically support iCade. (Sometimes the app description says "arcade-style joysticks" or "Bluetooth arcade controllers.") There are supposedly over 500 iCade titles for iPad; I tend to think it's more like 100-200. Here's the official (incomplete) list:

http://www.ionaudio.c...­

Many of those titles are excellent. I have dozens of them. Metal Slug 3, Silverfish Max, Super Mega Worm, Super Ox Wars, the original Temple Run, and Midway Arcade come to mind. Lots of classic titles like Pac-Man and an Atari 2600 anthology are available. Even Vectrex and a handful of classic Amiga titles. And, yes, some new titles with modern 3D graphics as well. But this is not an analog stick, and is best suited to retro games, shmups and platformers.

You can also get MAME for iPad, which supports iCade. The actual MAME is gone from the app store, but the app Gridlee is MAME in disguise, and has been around a while. You don't need to jailbreak to install new MAME games. (Most MAME stuff is piracy to me: I'd rather buy the real iPad version of the game. But I know it's not as simple as that, and there are legitimate MAME titles.)

Some iPhone games also support iCade (since there are a couple "mini" iCade models that connect the same way). And I know I've heard of Android users using iCade as well. No reason it wouldn't work, as long as the game supports iCade.

If a game doesn't support iCade, there is a jailbreak app Blutrol that will add iCade support to other games (haven't tried it). Something similar may exist for Android? And I use ControllerMate to make iCade work with Mac: it translates the odd keydown/keyup signals to make the iCade seem like a normal controller to the Mac. There may be similar solutions for Windows. But don't expect to pair this with a Mac or PC and have it "just work"--desktop titles are not designed for iCade.

Many iCade games support the stick even in the menus; some still use touch for that. Someone is apparently working on an iCade app that is a joystick-driven "hub" for all your iCade games, so that you can navigate among them without touching the screen. (If it is released, each app will still need to add support returning back to the hub; otherwise you could choose one game but ever get out of it without touching the screen.) I've used a hub app like that with Joypad, and I think it's a neat idea.

For $25, iCade Core is worth its limitations to me.
Jason V.
user 11840241
Euclid, OH
Post #: 3
Aw, it ended before I saw this post. I would've picked it up just to play around with a $25 bluetooth arcade stick for PC. Looks like it does some wacky stuff to be iOS compatible, sending keydown events on keydown AND keyup. http://gaming.stackex...­

I wasn't aware the iCade mini existed, thanks for the heads up!
Jason V.
user 11840241
Euclid, OH
Post #: 4
Although now it's only $35 with free shipping at Amazon http://www.amazon.com...­
Morgan
morgan404
Cleveland, OH
Post #: 603
Yeah, there's no way to install custom game controller drivers on stock iOS, so each app has to handle that on its own. (Like the way Gameloft games support Gameloft's own iOS controller.) Faking a bluetooth keyboard sounds weird, but it's a simple, universal, and future-proof method for devs! And it allows all those buttons and tilt inputs to be received at once, reliably. I only wish they'd thought to include a button on the iCade that pops up the onscreen keyboard on demand.

So that's why I use ControllerMate on Mac. Lets me translate keyups/downs into extended presses. (Awesome build-your-own controller driver: make a game controller or input device do anything you can dream up! All by drag-and-dropping programming logic and "wiring" it together like a flowchart. I use it to add short-press vs. long-press functions to all my mouse/joystick buttons for example. Auto-detects which game is running so you can have both global and game-specific settings.)
Stefano N.
user 116404502
Firenze, FI
Post #: 1
Hi Morgan, I'm a retro games lover too, I have a Icade and I really wanted to use it with my Mac and I found your article.
I have controller mate but...I can't manage to pair my icade with mac via the bluetooth in "system preferences". I put the code using joystick and buttons but never works...how did you do that?

Thanks for your help!
Morgan
morgan404
Cleveland, OH
Post #: 616
It pairs like any keyboard: first you put the iCade into pairing mode (see instructions on the case) and then you hit the [+] button in Bluetooth Preferences to add a new device (keyboard). Lastly you enter the displayed code into the iCade (again, see instructions on the case to know which button is which number).

You'll know you're paired if pressing the iCade stick/buttons makes characters type on the Mac. Once you know that, the rest of the task is in ControllerMate. I made a unit to suppress the iCade's character typing, and another that interprets the typing and outputs the desired keyup/keydown events. I've made versions for both pinball games and FPS games, although 4-way/8-way 2D games will lend themselves best to iCade.

If you message me I can send you my ControllerMate blocks if they help get you started. (ControllerMate has an Import/Export command.)
Stefano N.
user 116404502
Firenze, FI
Post #: 2
Thank you Morgan but il looks like I'm having some problems with my Mac Mini as I cant't pair my Icade. The Icade is recognized as a keyboard but whenI enter the code and press "return" button Mac says that pairing can't be done...
Morgan
morgan404
Cleveland, OH
Post #: 621
I guess I'd try pairing the iCade with another device (any OS) to make sure the iCade is OK. (Buttons miswired/switched?) Also be careful not to accidentally enter multiple numbers by tilting the stick diagonally.

And you can always try booting your Mac with Shift held down (safe mode) and see if it works--which would indicate something wrong with either your OS installation of your user account. (Reboot again without Shift to get out of safe mode.)

http://support.apple....­

Good luck!
Morgan
morgan404
Cleveland, OH
Post #: 628
For posterity: I have posted some details--and my ControllerMate file--for using iCade with Mac here:

http://forums.touchar...­
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