Atari Arcade Duo: Bringing the Old School Experience to the iPad

Regular readers will know that I am an Android man. Not like a cyborg, but I use Android devices. My boy, however, has an iPad (for educational purposes). I might be borrowing it soon…

See, in my time, before tablets and smartphones became popular, the gaming industry was once upon a time dominated by coin-operated video arcade machines – even before consoles came to fruition. Today, there are new generations of gaming accessories that can transform mobile devices and iPads into modern day portable arcade machines. One such is the Atari Arcade Duo, a popular gaming accessory for the iPad that allows you to access a myriad of classic games from the 70s up to early 90s. Fun.
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Tech experts predict that the gaming console industry will be dramatically impacted by vintage gaming accessories for mobile devices, as more millennials are using their smartphones and tablets for gaming purposes. According to the Gaming Realms, (whose forays into mobile-optimized gaming can be accessed by clicking here), 2/3 of their players are now playing on their mobile phones (as opposed to logging onto their computers), proving that the mobilisation of gaming is at hand (no pun intended).

Console developer Atari tells us that the Arcade Duo is intended for “a more interactive gaming experience”. With the physical controller, it regains the retro gaming experience while mixing it with one of the most high-tech personal devices around today.

The Basics
As an arcade dock, the device is the first licensed product by the company that provides four action buttons and a physical joystick. These buttons are strategically mounted to resemble the accessories enjoyed in the 70s and 80s. Nostalgia! It can be used in landscape and portrait mode to interact freely with your iPad’s interface.

There is also a mobile application called Atari’s Greatest Hits that you can install from the App Store (click here). It’s a collection of all the classic Atari games. Currently, with over nine million downloads, you can install the app on all smartphone models. It’s obviously better to use devices with bigger screens and powerful hardware – such as the iPad – for a lag-free and seamless gaming experience for the Arcade Duo.

Notwithstanding the fact that the device is clad with a glossy plastic, the Arcade Duo is amazingly robust and durable. The Duo function makes it easier for you to dock your tablet through the 30-pin port, and it has a rubber grip to hold your iPad in place while playing:

Compared to the iCade (Click here), Atari doesn’t need an external battery to function. Through the 30-pin port, the iPad shares its power with the joystick that makes it last for 8-10 hours. Game developers may want to use Bluetooth instead of the 30-pin port as it’s simpler when connecting with multiple devices.

While the iCade uses the tablet’s Bluetooth connection, the Atari Arcade uses the iPad’s 30-pin connector. The joystick is characterized by an outstanding amount of resistance, making it easier to navigate when playing. At the same time, the hollow buttons are easy to press. With the Atari Arcade, the full screen can be seen easily on the wide panel of the iPad, without the physical gaming buttons and joystick blocking the view.

The catch
Like other consoles, Atari Arcade has its own share of pitfalls:
• Contrary to its promotional image, the device doesn’t allow users to use the iPad in the landscape mode.
• In some aspects, the device failed to match the hardware experience of the traditional arcade machine’s concave shape.
• The device is designed only for Atari gameplay. It only allows you to use the console with the company’s Greatest Hits App collection.
• The device costs $60 but this doesn’t include the Atari app. Overall, you need to spend a total of $70 to fully enjoy the service (the app collection costs $9.99).
• You might not be able to charge your tablet since the dock occupies your iPad connector.
• The 30-pin port is an old and a disappearing feature of the iPad. The recent tablet models now employ the Lightning adapter.

Despite its flaws, the Atari Arcade Duo is still an exciting accessory for your iPad. It comes highly recommended for Atari game fanatics and classic title gamers out there. If you are into retro games, this post about playing old MS-Dos games might interest you.

Contributed post.
Photo credits: 1 and 2.

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