ION Audio has had a hit this last year with its iCade arcade cabinet, a standalone Bluetooth controller for the iPad that turned Apple's tablet into a miniature arcade system. And now the company is following up that success with three new devices, meant to make games on the iPhone and iPod touch a little more tactile.
The first is the iCade Mobile, which is a Bluetooth-enabled game pad that the iPod touch or iPhone slips into, with a d-pad on the right side and four controller buttons on the left. There are also trigger controls at the top of the device, and all of those controls map to any iCade-enabled games on the iPhone, although games may require some tweaks to fully exploit the different buttons on the iCade Mobile. ION's rep told TUAW that the company looked at what it thought was the most powerful handheld gaming system out there -- "the PSP, and now the Vita" from Sony -- and mirrored its design off of that system. Obviously, developers will have to make their games compatible with all of the extra buttons (powered by two AA batteries, one inserted into each grip on the side), but the iCade already has a nice list of compatible titles, and that list will likely grow going forward. The iCade Mobile is due out this Spring, and will be $79.99.
ION's also making the little iCade Jr., which is basically just a miniature version of the popular cabinet, but with one important difference: There are four buttons on the back of the device, designed to be used as the cabinet is held in your hands, along with four tiny buttons on the front. The iCade Jr. is designed as a smaller, gift version of the iCade, something a little cuter and more "novel" according to the rep. It'll be on sale for $49.99 when it too arrives this Spring.
And finally, the iCade Core is a more traditional iPad dock, that loses the arcade cabinet asthetic for a bigger and more tactile set of buttons and an arcade stick. It has a much more open feel than the closed-in cabinet, choosing to focus on the actual gameplay rather than the (somewhat schtick-y) arcade reference.
Looks like ION is really trying to take advantage of its popular iCade device (which, you may remember, originally started its life as a ThinkGeek April Fool's joke, of all things). We have another meeting with ION scheduled later on this week, so we'll go hands (and thumbs) on with these devices, and let you know what we think.