Casual games were the first big wave of gaming on iOS; there were numerous simple but addictive apps that have made small indie developers a great deal of money. Angry Birds, Doodle Jump, and Fruit Ninja were huge hits. This explosion was soon matched by the second wave: more complex casual PC games like Plants Versus Zombies. Soon thereafter iOS gaming began to show an identity of its own with perennial complex hits like Infinity Blade.
During this cascade of gaming another, quieter movement was spawned by an April Fool’s Joke. The iCade may have been a prank, but consumer interest caught fire and it soon became a reality. This opened the door for one of my favorite categories: classic games. While some like MAME (Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator, a software emulator allowing the user to run the software behind their favorite classic arcade games) were short lived, many more found life in iOS. Many of Atari’s hits have found their way back to the hearts of gamers via the Atari’s Greatest Hits app. Final Fantasy, Street Fighter, and Duke Nukem are just a sampling of the games revived by nostalgic iOS users.
For those that crave something even closer to your old school gaming days I have good news (courtesy of TUAW) in the form of a soon-to-be-funded Kickstarter campaign. The GameDock turns your iOS device into an old-school console game system, but unlike the iCade it goes the full Monty by making your device a defacto cartridge. The GameDock consists of a small docking station for your device with USB ports in front for classic rectangular Nintendo Entertainment System game pads and a video out on the back to connect to your TV. Just drop your iOS device into the dock and enjoy some of your favorites all over again, and this time you can sit as close to the TV as you like. Those without a TV (or those that would rather not tie up their set) can opt to using the screen on your device instead via built-in Bluetooth connectivity. The GameDock is compatible with all iCade games or any other dock-ready game that supports two players and the GameDock’s 1080p video output.
The makers have upped the ante even further by including a dashboard function allowing you to change your game via the controller. Had I been able to do so with my childhood’s game console I might have lost the ability to walk altogether as I wasted away in gaming bliss. While I love the concept of the iCade, the GameDock is a welcome addition to the ranks of gaming accessories.