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The joy(stick) is back for Atari games on iPad

With more than 4 million dowloads in the Apple App Store, the retro gaming app Atari's Greatest Hits has brought Missile Command, Centipede, Yars' Revenge and Asteroids to a whole new generation of youngsters gaming their youth away on iPhones and iPads.

Kids, let me explain to you in your own terms exactly how you're doing it wrong. How you gonna try to say you're playing Atari when you got no buttons or joystick? To many of us of a certain age, putting Atari games on a touchscreen interface is like putting soy chai on a hot fudge sundae.

Old-schoolers and decrepit-schoolers like myself insist that proper retro-Atari gaming requires a joystick with an oversize red ball on the tip, and no fewer than four buttons for directional control. Anything else would be uncivilized.

Now us oldies-but-goodies have exactly such a thing for the iPad interface. A popular item on the Macworld 2012 exhibition floor, Discovery Bay Games' Duo Powered Atari Arcade, allows you to slide your iPad or iPad 2 onto the retro joystick-and-buttons console and play any game on the Atari's Greatest Hits app.

Children of the wayback 1980s rejoice -- this gaming interface is rated "M for Mature," and I'm not talking about the game content.

This hit gizmo is the talk of the Macworld 2012 floor, or at least the Southeast corner of it. The app-based accessory, or "appcessory" if you're particularly fluent, exists for one purpose only -- it helps you play one app. That app, however, offers up to 100 retro Atari games.

Batteries are not required for operation, nor is a pocketful of quarters.

“We’ve worked closely with Atari to ensure this controller is optimized to the fullest extent for each game offered in their app,” Discovery Bay Games CEO Craig Olson said, in a press release that somehow found its way to my inbox. “We’ve designed the Atari Arcade so that it delivers a cool-factor for today’s digital gamer that’s both nostalgic and sleek.”

Nostalgia purists and get-off-my-lawners will love the idea of a joysticked Atari game interface, but we wouldn't be purists if we didn't find something to complain about.

All 100 games on Atari's Greatest Hits get the same joystick console. Centipede, you'll recall, was actually played with a trackball console on its original arcade version.

Someone ought to tell that Discovery Bay Games CEO that some of us are also foolish enough to pay $60 for an app accessory for the exact same gizmo with a track ball.

For more of Allvoices' coverage of Macworld | iWorld 2012, check out allvoices.com/macworld2012.