With the success of ThinkGeek’s iCade cabinet for the iPad, it’s pretty clear that analog game control is not dead. It’s not all a nostalgia thing, either — some games just do better when there’s a physical joystick and buttons to press. Also, how else are you going to score those extra few points by hitting the buttons really, really hard? Recognizing the great need of iPad gamers everywhere, it looks like Atari is going to bring out a physical console for the tablet as well called the Atari Arcade. Details are slim since there hasn’t been an official announcement, but the intrepid folks at Macrumors found a link to a picture and description in the latest update of the Atari Greatest Hits app.
There’s some speculation that the Arcade will connect via Bluetooth and, since it’s not limited by specific dimensions like the iCade, will hold the iPad in either portrait or landscape mode. The form factor makes me wonder how heavy the unit is, because of too light I can see it sliding around as the game gets more intense. I like the simplicity of the design, though. It matches the iPad aesthetic.
The joystick and four buttons make it perfect for old Atari games, but Matthew Panzarino of TheNextWeb points out that it leaves out expansion to other games like Street Fighter, which is a possibility with the iCade.
Again, this hasn’t been officially announced so there’s no price or release date as yet. We likely won’t have to wait very long. This will make a perfect holiday gift, so I’m hoping for something that costs less than $50.