Once an April Fool’s joke, iCade becomes reality and sells out

icadeAn April Fool’s gag that combined an iPad with a wooden cabinet to make a retro-looking arcade machine has hit the mass market after becoming a reality – and immediately sold out.

ThinkGeek, a company that claims to produce “stuff for smart masses,” must have had a pretty decent response to last year’s joke because it culminated in Ion Audio teaming up with Atari to produce an authentic product – the iCade. Though a prototype was spotted several months ago, it has only just become commercially available.

Costing a shade under $100, this stylish piece of retro kit incorporates a classic arcade joystick and buttons, and fits neatly on your desktop – imagine pulling this one out of your bag during lunchtime at work.

Your iPad slots securely into a space at the back of the cabinet and becomes the cabinet’s screen – clever eh? The joystick and buttons connect via Bluetooth, so there are no fiddly connections to be made around the back of the cabinet.

And here’s another neat bit – Atari has made their recently released arcade game app compatible with iCade – a match made in heaven if ever there was – so while enjoying a game of Space Invaders, Asteroids, or Breakout you’ll really feel as if you’ve been transported back to the 1980s. For a truly nostalgic experience, dust off that old Rick Astley CD and fire up some of his tunes while you’re gaming. On second thoughts…

The Atari app offers just one game for free (Pong) but spend $14.99 via an in-app purchase and you’ll get 100 classic games. The API will be made available to developers, enabling them to make their apps compatible with iCAde, so expect more games in the near future.

ThinkGeek’s first batch of the iCade machine sold out in no time, and it is now taking pre-orders for its second lot, which should hopefully be in by May 27. iCade is compatible with both versions of the iPad.