8-Bitty Game Controller

Greetings from the road, Retro fans! Once again I find myself traveling across the country for work. Last night during some downtime in the hotel, I finally got a chance to try out one of my Christmas gifts I’ve been meaning to open — the 8-Bitty gamepad.

The 8-Bitty is a bluetooth gamepad designed to be compatible with the iCade. Any game that supports the iCade also supports the 8-Bitty. That includes over a hundred games for the iPad and Android devices. The 8-Bitty requires two AAA batteries (and has an on/off switch on the back to greatly extend their lifespan). Installation is comparable to any other bluetooth device. It took about 10 seconds to sync before it was ready to use.

With the 8-Bitty synced to the iPad, I fired up iMAME and was able to immediately start playing. In MAME the start and select buttons on the controller are mapped to add coins and start the game. The controller features 8 buttons in all: in addition to start and select there are four action buttons and two shoulder buttons.

After MAME I fired up the Atari Classic Collection and played some Asteroids, Bowling, and Yars’ Revenge. I thought the gamepad worked okay overall. I don’t think the d-pad feels as good as an original Nintendo pad, but it’s passable. The gamepad is easily small enough to throw in a pocket or backpack and take with you on the road. I’m sure the 8-Bitty will become a permanent addition to my travel pack in the future!

Vintage Games

I recently got a lot of Barnes & Noble and Amazon gift cards. I spent them all on ebooks, several of which were about vintage video games. One book I didn’t buy but was interested in was Vintage Games. Why didn’t I buy it? Because I could get it from the library and I’m cheap.
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Vintage games covers a whole host of games from a whole host of systems across both the retro and the almost-current era. The book is divided into a series of chapters, each of which basically covers one genre (shooter, fighting, racing, etc.) These chapters are named for one game (Pole Position, Pac-Man, Space Invaders, Legend of Zelda, Super Mario Bros., etc) but typically cover many more (the Space Invaders chapter touches on Galaxian, Galaga, and other shooters).
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A lot of the games in this book were not retro enough for me to be really interesting, but I liked the book enough to read all the chapters. If you’re interested in this book, you can find it in your local library as I did, buy it, or read some of the online bonus chapters which you can find here.