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Arcade1Up ‘Terminator 2’ Machine Review: Worth Every Penny

Rating: 8/10 ?
  • 1 - Absolute Hot Garbage
  • 2 - Sorta Lukewarm Garbage
  • 3 - Strongly Flawed Design
  • 4 - Some Pros, Lots Of Cons
  • 5 - Acceptably Imperfect
  • 6 - Good Enough to Buy On Sale
  • 7 - Great, But Not Best-In-Class
  • 8 - Fantastic, with Some Footnotes
  • 9 - Shut Up And Take My Money
  • 10 - Absolute Design Nirvana
Price: $699

Arcade1Up Terminator 2: Judgment Day machine
Cory Gunther / Review Geek

Terminator 2: Judgment Day was one of the best movies of the 1990s, and the arcade game of the same name produced by Midway was too. I was only a few years old when it came out in 1991, but I’ve watched the movie and dumped more quarters into the arcade than I care to admit.

For nostalgia’s sake, popular retro cabinet maker Arcade1Up recreated the Terminator 2: Judgment Day arcade machine, and it’s an absolutely stunning replica. Like the movie, the official T2 game stands up to the test of time, and now I can play it from home and save my coins.

If you’re not familiar with Arcade1Up, prepare to be amazed. The company recreates classic arcade machines from yesteryear sized perfectly for an average home at reasonably affordable prices. 

You’ve probably seen a few Arcade1Up’s cabinets in Wal-Mart and other stores, like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle cabinet, but the T2: Judgment Day machine kicks things up a notch. It’s a little bigger than most and delivers the same graphics of Arnold (T-800) rocking his glasses and wielding a shotgun, iconic light guns with force feedback, and action-packed gun battles as you fight to save the human resistance.

We love Arcade1Up cabinets here at ReviewGeek, and when I saw they finally made one of Terminator 2: Judgment Day to the request of fans everywhere, I jumped at the chance to throw one in my office. So, are Arcade1Up cabinets hard to build, and does it deliver the nostalgia I crave? Spoiler: you’ll want one of these!

Here's What We Like

• Fantastic replica
• Great speakers
• Cool wired guns

And What We Don't

• Kinda expensive
• Takes a while to build
• Hard to beat
• Only has one game

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Quick Assembly Required

Like most machines from Arcade1Up, you’ll need to assemble it before jumping into battle. However, as you’ll see from my timelapse video above, the entire process is relatively simple, and typically all you’ll need is a Phillips (+) screwdriver. Well, and maybe a third hand.

This is the first Arcade1Up machine I’ve put together, and it took a little over an hour and a half, but I did take a few breaks and took my time to get it just right. Don’t let that worry you, though, as the process is exceptionally straightforward. You could quickly assemble one of these arcade cabinets in under 45 minutes.

Terminator 2: Judgment day gameplay headshot
Headshot! Cory Gunther / Review Geek

Imagine buying a new desk, bed set, or IKEA furniture, then putting it together. If you can handle a screwdriver, you’ll be able to build one of these arcades. Everything is pre-cut, drilled, labeled, and ready to go. And while the instructions could be a bit clearer, it’s not complicated. Arcade1Up nicely wraps every piece in shrink wrap, ensuring that all the graphics are scratch-free and good as new.

Follow the instructions and connect the supports to the sides using the wooden dowel pins, connect and screw on the other side, attach the base, display, and any controls, add the back, and you’re done. The wires all go in a specific place, so there’s no confusion about what goes where.

Screw every bolt nice and snug, and that’s it. We don’t recommend using an electric drill, nor does Arcade1Up, but I did cheat and used mine on the riser stand at the end.

As our Editor in Chief Josh Hendricks said in his review of the Arcade1Up BurgerTime machine, “If you can build a TV stand or dresser from IKEA, then you can build an Arcade1UP machine.”

Nearly Perfect Replica

Arcade1Up Terminator 2 machine full view
Cory Gunther / Review Geek

While a full-size original T2 arcade cabinet is a little bigger and wider, almost every other aspect of the Terminator 2: Judgment Day arcade cabinet is nearly identical. You’ll see the same logos, graphics, images on the sides, and light-up marquee.

It looks just as I remembered it and plays the same too. The side art is incredible, and any fan or retro gamer will notice it immediately. There isn’t a Midway logo on it, though, in case you were wondering, but it does say Midway on the guns.

I do have two minor complaints about the guns. First, on the original T2 arcade, the firearms are fixed to the machine, look more realistic, and are black. With Arcade1Up, they’re blue and red (like the old Area 51 arcade game we played as kids) and not big black light guns that move on a swivel.

Additionally, the guns connect via a cable, which is necessary to get power, vibration feedback, and receive the signal. However, these are long, almost too long, and make it look messy sitting in the corner of a room. I prefer stretchy curly cables, but that’s just a nitpick.

That said, you’ll want to have a little space to stand back during two-player to get the perfect stance for headshots.

Cabinet Dimensions

Terminator 2: Judgment day arcade game
Cory Gunther / Review Geek

As far as dimensions go, it’s perfectly sized to fit in your room. Once assembled, the Arcade1UP Terminator 2: Judgment Day machine is 58-inches tall (almost 6 feet,) 19-inches wide, 22.75-inches deep, and weights about 81 lbs fully built.

You also get a bright 17-inch screen, which is big enough to help you target endoskeletons, shoot down incoming missiles, and blast away other bad guys. And while I’d love a bigger screen like the original, it was more than enough to deliver an enjoyable experience. Arcade1Up recently announced a newer Pro lineup with larger 19-inch screens, and I’ll be getting one of those next.

The Game Is Hard (As It Should Be)

Terminator 2 arcade game over
Cory Gunther / Review Geek

The number of quarters (or sometimes Nickels at Nickelcade) I spent as a child on this game can’t be understated. During game production, the producers laughed at how challenging the game was. They were proud that people could die after fighting for only a few seconds. Obviously, old arcade games were designed to drain your cup of quarters, and they succeeded.

Staying true to the original game and film, Arcade1Up’s cabinet will let one or two players take the iconic roles of T-800 cyborgs and fight to protect John and Sarah Connor to save the human resistance. Eventually, you’ll take on Robert Patrick, the shape-shifting T1000 from the original film.

Like the original arcade cabinets, sometimes the aim gets finicky and glitches out, but Arcade1Up added a mode for gun calibration. Once I did that, I had far fewer issues and could destroy anything in sight.

The gameplay is exactly like the original, as expected, and is absolutely a blast. I spent over an hour playing it at a high volume on the first day. Eventually, my significant other begged me to turn it down. The speakers are loud and crisp, letting you hear each explosion, and the iconic “I’ll be back” saying will give you instant nostalgia.

If you get stuck on a level, which won’t surprise anyone, the company added a suite of gameplay settings you can customize at will. Here, players can adjust the difficulty, add more energy so they won’t die as fast, increase how many bombs are available per round, and even change the starting level. That way, you can instantly jump to any level or skip that one where you keep on dying. You will die a lot.

Being able to hit ‘Continue game” repeatedly without feeding the machine more money is downright amazing, and you can also change or limit that setting.

Wi-Fi For Leaderboards & Updates

Terminator 2 arcade live button for leaderboard
Cory Gunther / Review Geek

Upon bootup, you’ll see a screen that features four choices: play the game, watch the documentary, view the credits, and alter the game’s settings. Under settings, you can quickly connect to Wi-Fi, make an account, and join the leaderboards. This also allows the machine to get updates, but we doubt it’ll be getting any more, aside from the first update.

Honestly, the leaderboards are mostly pointless. You’ll choose a leaderboard and try to get on it, but at any point, no matter what, it only shows the top 19 players in the world. And again, you can adjust your energy and bomb count, so anyone that plays enough can get a high score.

It does, however, scroll over and show your score compared to others. I like this, as it’ll show where you stand and remind you of a top score if you’re the type that replays a level repeatedly until they get a higher standing.

However, you’ll still need a good aim to reach the top. That’s because the game score is just like the original, and ranks your accuracy, enemies defeated, special targets (like helicopters) destroyed, power-ups, and you’ll lose points for killing civilians. There are many ways to get a low score, even with the settings cranked to easy mode.

“Making of” Video is Neat, But Frustrating

Arcade1Up making of Terminator 2
Cory Gunther / Review Geek

Fun fact, Midway created the Terminator 2: Judgment Day game while the movie was filming. Game producers went to the set, used actors like Arnold’s stunt double to capture movements and scenes from the movie, and much more. Apparently, Robert Patrick was super excited to “get digitized” for the game. As a result, the arcade debuted just over three months after the movie topped the charts in theaters in July 1991, helping both become wildly successful.

Arcade1Up includes an awesome mini-documentary video you can watch that explains the entire process. You’ll get to see behind-the-scenes clips, the turret guns from the set they added to the game, and all sorts of trivia fans will appreciate.

Arcade1Up making of option
Don’t shoot the wrong box. Cory Gunther / Review Geek

And while the “Making of” video is super neat, I don’t like the placement. On the main start screen, where you shoot a box to start a new game, the next big area to select is a box to watch the documentary. I’ve accidentally shot (selected) it several times while trying to play a game, then had to wait for it to load, start playing, tap exit, hit confirm, then go back and aim a little better the next time around.

I love the addition, but it shouldn’t be front and center on the main screen.

Add This Nostalgic Piece to Your Collection

Arcade1Up Terminator 2: Judgment Day
Cory Gunther / Review Geek

So should you add Arcade1Up’s Terminator 2: Judgment Day cabinet to your game room or collection? It’s one of the company’s more expensive machines, coming in at $699, which certainly isn’t cheap. On the flip side, buying an old, used, authentic machine costs upwards of $5,000 online. 

Unfortunately, it only comes with a single game, but T2 is a classic. There aren’t many Arcade1Up machines this size or that let you dual wield pistols that’ll shake in your hand with each trigger pull.

Overall, this arcade oozes nostalgia and is a fantastic conversation piece. Just look at it! I’ve had an absolute blast playing it with family, had friends ask about it from photos on social media, and it’ll surely get tons of attention. 

If you’re a die-hard Terminator fan, played the game as a kid as I did, or have a healthy addiction to arcade cabinets and need more, you’ll absolutely want Terminator 2: Judgment Day. But, even if you didn’t love the films, this is a collector piece like none other from a movie and game released over three decades ago.

For those that aren’t interested in T2, Arcade1Up also offers NBA Jam, Big Buck HunterBurgerTime, The Simpsons, or just released a new Dragon’s Lair cabinet, to name a few. Buy it, and you’ll be glad you did.

Rating: 8/10
Price: $699

Here’s What We Like

• Fantastic replica
• Great speakers
• Cool wired guns

And What We Don't

• Kinda expensive
• Takes a while to build
• Hard to beat
• Only has one game

Cory Gunther Cory Gunther
Cory Gunther has been writing about phones, Android, cars, and technology in general for over a decade. He's a staff writer for Review Geek covering roundups, EVs, and news. He's previously written for GottaBeMobile, SlashGear, AndroidCentral, and InputMag, and he's written over 9,000 articles. Read Full Bio »