Review: Atari Arcade Duo for iPad

Review: Atari Arcade Duo for iPad

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*** Giveaway – Scroll to the bottom for a chance to win an Atari Arcade Duo of your very own! (Update: Winner selected!)

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Gaming on the iPad can be fun, but it many cases it lacks the classic appeal of the arcades of old. If you’re looking to take a walk down memory lane, or at least want to try out a great new iPad accessory, you may want to take a look at the new Atari Arcade Duo ($60, link).

Overview

The Atari Arcade Duo is the first officially licensed Atari product for the iPad, and serves as an arcade dock, connecting with your iPad and providing a physical joystick and four arcade-style action buttons.

In its essence, the Atari Arcade Duo is a portable version of ThinkGeek’s iCade (review), trading its durable arcade-style cabinet and heavy-duty panels for a light-weight (yet durable) plastic shell that’s much easier to take with you on the go.

Design

Despite its plastic construction, the Arcade Duo is surprisingly solid and durable, and is more than capable of holding its own against even the most agressive of gamers.

Discovery Bay Games, who makes the Duo for Atari, has clearly put effort into both the design and quality of this product. Connecting the Duo with the iPad is very quick and easy, and the design features a retractable rubber grip to hold your iPad securely in place while you’re gaming.

The joystick and buttons are well-oriented for maximum comfort, and the quality of the controls is impressive. The joystick features a metal shaft and large knob that comfortably nestles into your hand, and the action of both the joystick and the buttons is soft enough for quick-paced gaming, yet firm enough that the controls don’t feel cheap or mushy.

Performance & Usability

Unlike most accessories of this kind, like the iControlPad and the iCade, the Arcade Duo connects using the iPad’s 30-pin connector rather than Bluetooth.

While the Arcade Duo is able to last longer than Bluetooth-powered accessories (as Bluetooth uses a fair bit of power), it’s also more limited in use. Most notably, the Arcade Duo only works with upright games, leaving lanscape oriented games (such as Atari’s own Lunar Lander) completely out of the fun.

Compatibility

Even though my views on the Arcade Duo are largely positive, there was one main factor that left me disappointed: compatibility. The Duo only works with Atari’s own Greatest Hits app, and there’s currently no way for iOS developers to add support for the Duo into their games.

This severely limits the Duo’s usefulness, as you can only play games like Pong and Asteroid so many times before the novelty wears off.

Verdict

The Atari Arcade Duo is a fun accessory for the iPad, is very durable and high quality, and does well in packing a real arcade experience into a portable dock. Unfortunately, the Duo’s limitations are pretty strong, restricting the device to a single app.

Rating & Information

Rating: 4/5[rating:4]

Considering the Duo’s exceptional design, portability, and high quality, and contrasting those with its strong limitations, I award the Atari Arcade Duo a 4 out of 5.

For more information, or to purchase the Atari Arcade Duo for $60, head on over to the official product page at Discovery Bay Games. The Atari Arcade Duo is also available for $59.99 with free shipping from Amazon.com.

Pros

  • Portable
  • No assembly required
  • Doesn’t require batteries
  • Sturdy and well-designed – comfortable to use for extended periods of time

Cons

  • No support for landscape-oriented gaming
  • Tends to slide around on a table or desk (doesn’t grip surfaces well)
  • Only works with Atari’s own “Greatest Hits” app

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Giveaway

We really enjoyed having some retro-licious fun with the Atari Arcade Duo, and because we think our readers are so great, we want you to have that experience too! That’s why we’re giving away an Atari Arcade Duo to one of you, our loyal readers!

To enter the giveaway, simply post the following message on Twitter:

Enter to win an Atari Arcade Duo for iPad from @MacTrast and @DiscoveryBayEnt! Details: http://mctr.st/tIsBaD #MTAtari

To be eligible to win, you must follow @MacTrast and RT the message. The giveaway will run through today and tomorrow, and a winner will be announced on this post  on Friday morning. Location doesn’t matter – we can ship your prize anywhere in the world!

Good luck!

WINNER!

Congratulations to @24k – the lucky winner of the Atari Arcade Duo! Didn’t win? Don’t worry – we’ve got plenty more giveaways lined up!

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