No, you don’t need an arcade cabinet to enjoy retro games. Just get one of those joystick controllers and you can get the same pre-2000 jollies on any PC or console. However, we can’t deny the appeal of mashing buttons on one of those standup machines, especially for games that were originally designed to play in arcade halls across the world. Not to mention, they make for such an eye-catching sight for anyone who enters the room.
If you have the space in your home and a few disposable dollars in your bank account, an arcade machine won’t just make for a fun gaming toy, it can add a certain flair to your interior, too. Good news is, proper stand-up arcades have now become affordable enough to become a viable home gaming accessory, with plenty of options in the market for those interested in reliving the glorious games of old the way they were meant to be played.
Here are some of our favorite arcade cabinets today.
Most arcade cabinets available today come with a handful of games, allowing you to partake in a few retro classics. If you want more games, buy more cabinets… or forego the warranty and hack the darn thing to play the ROM games you have stored on your PC. iiRcade goes about things a different way, bundling their cabinet with a number of licensed games and giving you access to a game library with over 200 licensed titles available (it has built-in Wi-Fi). If you want a game, just pay for it and download it to the cabinet to add it to your collection.
This is a full-fledged, ready-to-play machine, with a 19-inch LCD, 100W stereo speakers, Sanwa-style joysticks and buttons, and 64GB of onboard storage. It runs its own OS, by the way, so it won’t be as easy to hack as other systems, although the OS is based on Android, so it’s probably not that hard to play around with it. The whole thing, by the way, is a tad shorter than traditional arcade cabinets at 61 inches tall, making it more suitable for finding space in most homes.
In our opinion, this is one of Arcade1Up’s best releases, both in terms of the games and the cabinet art included. We mean, it just looks amazing, with that Mortal Kombat II theme, almost like it leapt straight out of someone’s wet dream from 1993. While the cabinet is glorious, the games are similarly fire, with Mortal Kombat games onboard, along with Defender, Joust, Rootbeer Tapper, Rampage, Gauntlet, and more for a total of a dozen titles. As with Arcade1Up’s other cabinets, this one is 3/4th-sized, so it fits more easily into most homes, with a 17-inch screen, two player joystick controls, and a light-up marquee.
If you’ve always preferred racing games over those stand-up button mashers, this seated arcade rig offers the best option to make you feel like a 10-year-old in 1987. A change of pace for Arcade1Up, this one comes with a car-style cabinet with a bench to sit down on, along with a steering wheel, shifter, and gas-and-brake pedals. It gets the usual elements of the outfit’s cabinets, including a 17-inch screen, stereo speakers, a light-up marquee, and authentic-looking game art, making this quite a beautiful machine.
If you love the crossover fighting games from Marvel and Capcom from the late 1990s and beyond, this arcade cabinet lets you enjoy them in pure button-mashing glory. Accompanied with one of the best cabinet art we’ve seen on a modern home arcade (just look at those elaborate graphics), this rig gives you access to five of the most popular crossover fighting game titles, namely Marvel vs Capcom: Clash of Heroes, Marvel Super Heroes vs Street Fighter, X-Men vs Street Fighter, Marvel Super Heroes, and Marvel Super Heroes: War of the Gems.
It’s set up similarly as Arcade1Up’s other cabinets, so you get a 17-inch screen, two player controls, and a 3/4-scale size, complete with a custom stool with matching printed graphics. Oh yeah, it has Wi-Fi onboard, allowing you to log it in to your home network for online multiplayer, so you can go head-to-head against other people playing the games.
SNK owns some of the most iconic titles from the heyday of the arcade machine, from King of Fighters and Metal Slug to Samurai Shodown and Fatal Fury. And now, you can enjoy them all from one cabinet with this MVSX arcade, which comes with 50 titles, including 10 King of Fighters games, six Metal Slug games, six Samurai Shodown games, and eight Fatal Fury titles, along with World of Heroes, Art of Fighting, and a variety of more casual game titles. The wooden cabinet stands 57 inches tall, so it’s just the right size for most folks, with a 17-inch display, 5W stereo speakers, and full-size two player controls. A light-up marquee is included, too, complete with four different game covers that you can swap in, depending on your mood.
A full-size home arcade machine, this cabinet comes with a 24-inch display, two sets of controls (spinners, joysticks, and buttons), a trackball, and down-firing stereo speakers. It comes with over 300 licensed games preloaded, from Asteroids and Space Invaders to Tron and Turbo Racing, along with a pinball game that includes 105 different tables. Basically, you get tons of games out of the box. It also supports streaming games from a separate PC, so you can play a game from your PC on an arcade rig, essentially giving the cabinet access to your full PC game library. It’s a gorgeous machine, too, complete with logos of game titles on the front panel, giving it that legit retro cabinet feel.
You already have all the arcade games you want set up on a PC at home – now, you just want a proper cabinet to enjoy them on. Maybe you can try this rig from X-Arcade, which consists of a sturdy cabinet with two sets of controls and even a trackball in the middle. That’s it, making this, basically, a glorified controller that weighs 225 pounds. Why is it so heavy? Because it’s built as a commercial-grade rig – one that should survive the rowdiest parties and the craziest drunken fights over a game of Tekken.
According to the outfit, it’s compatible with any PC, modern console (original Xbox and newer, PS1 and newer, and even the Nintendo Wii), and smartphone (iOS and Android), all of which should recognize it as a gamepad. It comes with a gaggle of adapters, too, so you should have all the cables you need to hook it up to any system. They claim it can also work with a Raspberry Pi board computer, so there are plenty of options for you to go from here. It comes bundled with a free copy of the Maximus Arcade Software, a front-end arcade software for Windows.
While Dream Arcades do offer cabinets with massive screens up to 40 inches, we find that a bit too much for most people. Their Retro Edition, on the other hand, feels just right, with its 19-inch display, two-players controls, and even a trackball in the middle. It’s sized faithfully to the arcades of old, standing at almost 70 inches tall and weighing a hefty 200 pounds, so you won’t be moving this around every time you feel like it.
It usually comes with 250 games preloaded, including Pac-Man, Dragon’s Lair, and more, although for now, they’re throwing in three additional game packs, so you get close to 300 titles, including clones of classic games like Donkey Kong, Frogger, and Mr. Driller. They also have a ton of game packs you can buy now or later, including collections from Capcom, Midway, Namco, Neo-Geo, and more. It runs on a good old PC, too, so it’s easy to run different software if you want to try other games, emulators, or interfaces.