E3 Hands-On: Arcade1Up Cabinets

Turtles in Time! Marvel Super Heroes! The Punisher! More!

By Robert Marrujo. Posted 06/27/2019 22:20 1 Comment     ShareThis

Have you noticed stores like Wal-Mart have been carrying miniaturized arcade cabinets of late? The company that’s been producing these beauties is called Arcade1Up and its mission statement is clear: bring arcade gaming into people’s homes. Not via compilations on console, but with actual arcade cabinets! While that might sound like a tall order, Arcade1Up is doing everything it can to make it a reality for gamers everywhere.

The reason behind trying to sell these arcade cabinets has a fascinating origin within the Arcade1Up offices. The company examined people’s memories of the arcade games of their youth and found that the actual cabinet itself is a huge part of what lent the experience so much appeal. The art on the sides, the screen marquee, and around the control sticks especially helped suck players further into the gameplay by virtue of their bold colors and intricacy. Sure, playing a title like Pac-Man is fun, but it’s arguably even more so when the authentic feel of the arcade is retained, not just the software.

The games are an important part of Arcade1Up’s lineup, but the machines themselves have had a lot of thought put into them. The units each weigh in at about 60 pounds, making them much lighter than the a cabinet from yesteryear. They also stand at four feet in height, further minimizing how much space each machine takes up no matter where it’s placed. Scaling the cabinets down is a major part of Arcade1Up’s strategy, but pricing can’t be forgotten as it’s going to be the biggest barrier for many fans, especially when an old school cabinet typically clocks in around $1,000 and up.

Thankfully, price is yet another area in which Arcade1Up is aggressively pushing its arcade machines, with many models selling between $249 and $349 apiece. For those who want as close to an authentic arcade experience as possible, Arcade1Up has set itself up as the best way to make that happen. The software lineup further helps in that it’s astoundingly robust. Here are the upcoming cabinets that Arcade1Up revealed at this year’s E3:

Konami’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Home Arcade Game: their first four-person
arcade cabinet, featuring Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1989), Turtles in Time (1991)

Capcom’s Marvel Super Heroes Home Arcade Game:
Marvel Super Heroes, X-Men: Children of the Atom, The Punisher

Atari Star Wars Home Arcade Game: utilizes the X-Wing Pilot controller , featuring the arcade versions of Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi

That is a legitimate all-star lineup of arcade games, dear readers. I spent a good amount of my afternoon at the Turtles in Time machine and beat the entire game in a single sitting. The cabinet is gorgeous (as you can see in the image above), with the authentic art adorning every inch of the unit. Arcade1Up sells a number of accessories to go with each machine, but of most interest will likely be the risers (which boost the height of each cabinet from four feet to five) and stools (which come boasting matching artwork). These additions do add to the cost of each setup, but they lend a great deal of glitz to the overall package and aren’t required.

One other benefit of purchasing an Arcade1Up machine versus an original arcade cabinet is the savings in power consumption. The machines of yore are energy hogs and will shamelessly suck up power while on. Granted, it’s wise to probably only have these units powered when they’re going to be played (or on display during a gathering), but if for some reason someone wants to have the machines going all day and night, the hit to the electric bill isn’t going to be nearly as devastating if it’s an Arcade1Up rig. Assembly is also very hassle-free. The only tool required for setup is a Phillips-head screwdriver. Roughly half an hour after opening the box and these cabinets are ready to play. Even someone who gets stumped by IKEA furniture should be able to easily grapple with these.

If there are any gripes to be had here, they’re few and small. The 3/4 scale size of the machines means that games where up to four players can get in on the action are a little bit of a tight squeeze. Also, being arcade machines, each unit is dedicated to a handful of games and can’t be expanded upon. So, whichever Arcade1Up machine a person chooses to buy, he’d better be sure it’s a game he’ll want to keep playing over and over again. Regardless, these are some minor issues. In my experience, even with four people crammed around the TMNT machine, it was a blast to play. As far as game selection goes, I also don’t see the crowd who will be lining up to buy these cabinets being very broken up that there aren’t a hundred games per unit. The approximation to the real thing is why what Arcade1Up is doing is such a blast.

As this writer is so fond of talking about, the preservation of the history of the video game industry is something that doesn’t get enough love and attention. Companies like Arcade1Up, however, live and breathe to ensure that the pixels of the past continue to resonate with gamers of today. I was floored by the quality of these machines, the wonderful software emulation, and quality of the build of every cabinet. These are time capsules, these are windows into the past, and I sincerely hope that Arcade1Up spends many years bringing authentic arcade gaming to fans new and old. Minus the need for quarters, of course.

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