With iPad and iCade Combined, a Classic Game Console is Reborn

Rantmedia games and ION have given me back a substantial portion of my childhood — the early days when I could be found sitting in front of an odd black box playing simple vector-based games with a controller connected via coiled telephone cord. So the controller isn't corded this time around. Between the Vectrex Regeneration app and ION's iPad arcade cabinet, I'm 11-years-old all over again.

As I mentioned in my initial post about Rantmedia's mobile rejuvenation effort, I lost my Vectrex to a game of Russian Roulette. Every game, every colored plastic overlay gone in a tragic flash of teenage stupidity.

I've pondered purchasing the console on eBay, hunting down all of the games and then constructing a shrine. Perhaps one day I will. Until then, the combination of the iPad app and the iCade will do quite nicely.

Vectrex Regeneration, a free app available now on iTunes, features nearly every game made for the original system (Minestorm is free, a mega pack containing everything else is $6.99), as well as several fan creations that weren't. The system is emulated perfectly; even the hot spots where the vector lines meet are intact. You can even turn the colored overlays off to simulate an irresponsible original Vectrex owner.

The app also features a collection of original commercials for the doomed system, full of promise never realized. It's a lovely tribute.

The iCade Bluetooth arcade controller, reviewed by Mr. Brian Crecente last year, is a sexy little bit of retro goodness, built on technology that's catching on among iOS developers. It's amazingly solid for its size. The buttons are loud and the stick a bit stiff, but that's nothing that won't work itself out over time. ThinkGeek has the iCade on sale right now for $69.99 ($79.99 for shop-exclusive retro side art). Even at the regular price of $99 it comes highly recommended.

Put the two together and what do you get? A beautiful harmony that instantly transports me 18 years into the past.