Well the iCade now has some competition. I picked up this Atari Arcade this weekend and have found it to be pretty impressive.

The Atari Arcade allows you to play the excellent Atari’s Greatest Hits app on your iPad with a real joystick and four actual arcade buttons.

This greatly enhances the fun and ease of playing the games. Especially if you are into playing old Atari 2600 games — as those were all meant to be played with a joystick and a button. Those games all play just swimmingly.

Some of the arcade games are somewhat difficult to play. This is not a big swipe on the Atari Arcade, as they were meant to be played with something other than a joystick. Missile Command, in particular was very difficult to control (the Missile Command arcade game had a trackball). Tempest is another game that did not have a joystick as the controller originally, but it works fairly well with the Atari Arcade device. So expect some hit or miss with the arcade ports.

The unit is made of sturdy plastic and has a pretty attractive look to it.

Set up could not be easier. You simply slide your iPad down into the slot; push up the two lock tabs on the side (that help keep your iPad in place), and then start up the Atari Greatest Hits app.

The apps senses the controller and will prompt a quick upgrade download (only needed before playing for the first time). Once that downloads, you are good to go. No need to go into any set up menus or anything. Very impressive!

Also did I happen to mention that no batteries are needed? I was expecting it to require such…but that is not the case.

Compared to the iCade device — this is looking like a winner. It may not be as fancy looking, is plastic and not painted wood, but it is $20 cheaper, does not require batteries, and is easier to get the iPad inside and back out.

If you are ready for some serious old school Atari action on the iPad. The Atari Arcade is available from Amazon and other retailers.