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Arcade1Up ‘The Simpsons’ Machine Review: Nostalgic Fun For The Family

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: $699.99
closeup of the controls on the simpsons 30th edition machine from arcade1up
Sarah Chaney / Review Geek

I remember watching The Simpsons with my dad when I was younger, so getting to try out Arcade1Up’s The Simpsons Arcade Machine brought back fond memories. If you’re after nostalgia and multiplayer fun, this arcade machine is calling your name.

If you’re unfamiliar with the Arcade1Up company, it’s one of the biggest arcade machine retailers out there. There are a few competitors, but Arcade1Up is currently the best. If you’re a sucker for retro games, you’ll need to be strong if you visit Arcade1Up’s website. I’ve got my eye on a Legacy Pac-Man machine next, but let’s talk a bit more about The Simpsons machine.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know how popular The Simpsons TV Show is. Its first episode released in 1989, and the show is still coming out with new episodes today. The main game on this arcade machine debuted in 1991 and is also titled The Simpsons. This wonderful arcade machine from Arcade1Up celebrates a whopping 30 years since the original release of The Simpsons video game.

Because it’s such a special anniversary for The Simpsons, you get an exclusive tin sign to hang and a limited-edition stool that matches the arcade machine. With Wi-Fi updates, two fun games to play with friends and family, and characters that’ll blast you to the past, this arcade machine would be a welcome addition to any Simpsons fan’s home.

Here's What We Like

  • Love the color scheme and overall design
  • 1 - 4 players is awesome
  • Wi-Fi enabled for online play and updates

And What We Don't

  • Pretty pricey
  • Two of my screws wouldn't go in

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Assembly Is Easier Than You’d Think

When people think about buying an arcade machine for their home, it usually stops right there—at the thinking stage. You might worry that arcade machines are too complicated to put together, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. I’ve never built an arcade machine before, and I assembled this big, 104-pound machine in less than three hours.

I built a lot of the arcade cabinet by myself, though my husband helped me out occasionally in between work and phone calls. That three-hour time frame also includes a few breaks here and there, so I think I could’ve built it by myself in about the same time frame.

The only part of the assembly where you’d probably want a second person to help you out is when the time comes to lift the machine onto the included riser. That said, I lifted it onto the riser by myself because I was impatient, and my husband was on a call. It’s cumbersome, and I’m not the fittest person by any means, but I was able to do it.

You can check out the assembly process in the slideshow of pictures at the end of this section, but here’s a brief overview of what comes in the box:

  • The machine itself, with the controls, the screen, the speakers, and all the necessary cords
  • A riser, which puts the arcade machine high enough so you can play standing up
  • A limited-edition stool that matches the arcade machine
  • An exclusive Collector’s tin sign with everything you need to hang it

When assembled, the cabinet is mainly just a sturdy, hollow box with a small computer attached to the back of the display. Basically, if you can follow instructions to put together a piece of furniture from IKEA, you’ve got the skills to put this arcade machine together.

Its Overall Build Quality Is Solid

For the most part, everything went together perfectly. I wasn’t missing any pieces, and Arcade1Up even includes a little bag of spare parts just in case you somehow end up missing anything or lose anything in the building process.

The only issue I ran into while building was with the bottom two screws in the controls piece. I followed the included instructions to the letter, and yet the two bottom screws on the control piece wouldn’t screw into the wood underneath. When I initially tried to secure those two final screws on the bottom, I was surprised when the screws just fell into the holes. It’s possible I didn’t align something correctly and the screws weren’t falling into the spot they were supposed to, but I wasn’t worried enough to track it down.

Because the top two screws caught and actually screwed into the wood below, the controls feel secure enough that I don’t really care about the bottom two screws. It looks like I fastened the two bottom screws in place, but really they’re just sitting in the holes.

My cats keep jumping up on the control panel to either sit and look around the room or lay down for a nap, and it doesn’t even wobble. If I lean on the bottom of the controls, I can feel it shift, but it otherwise feels solid with just the two screws.

closeup of the controls on arcade1up's simpsons arcade machine
Sarah Chaney / Review Geek

Now that I’ve talked about how the controls were affixed to the machine, let’s talk about how they actually felt. It’s been a while since I’ve indulged in a good, old-fashioned arcade game. My experience with The Simpsons machine was reminiscent of my childhood experiences. None of the buttons stuck, and the response time was immediate. The joysticks also felt great to move around; they feel like they would tolerate even the most aggressive arcade gamer.

Each color’s buttons are clearly labeled with the instructions of ‘Attack’ and ‘Jump.’ So if you’re playing with four people, you always know which buttons are yours and which ones you need to use to carry out specific actions. There’s also a headphone jack on the controls, which is awesome if you’re playing on your own and you don’t want to disturb anyone around you.

The rolling ball in the center of the control piece felt the least seamless because it doesn’t roll smoothly enough in all directions, but it didn’t necessarily feel bad. You use the rolling ball a lot in The Simpsons Bowling in order to actually send your ball forward toward the bowling pins. I never had any issues with using it while actively playing, but if you’re just sitting there rolling the ball around because you’re fidgety and distracted like me, it doesn’t feel as satisfying as clicking the buttons or moving the joysticks around.

Overall, this is a sturdy machine that can withstand jumping cats and probably some competitive or motivated gamers. I love having the riser to make the arcade machine playable at a standing height. The stool is a novel piece, but I didn’t end up sitting much while playing. In my opinion, it’s much more comfortable to stand, and the stool is just a cool artistic piece to have.

a full length view of arcade1up's simpson machine with the custom stool and tin sign in the background
Sarah Chaney / Review Geek

The Display and Speakers Are Retro On Purpose

The 17-inch display looks wonderful, and when you’re looking at the main menu, everything is super clear and sharp. Moving your joystick or pressing a button registers immediately on the screen; I never experienced much lag between the controls and the screen.

However, once you get into a game, you’re looking at the pixel animation style that matches the original game. As I mentioned earlier, Konami developed and published The Simpsons in 1991. That’s precisely what you’re playing here—the game from 1991.

So it’s not going to look fantastic, but that’s what you’d expect from an arcade game from over 30 years ago, right? Plus, even modern games like Stardew Valley or Terraria have a similar pixel animation, which is just proof that this sort of pixel art in video games will never go out of style.

closeup of the screen during the simpson's intro on arcade1up machine
Sarah Chaney / Review Geek

The speakers are nice and loud, and naturally, the music and sounds that come out of them are reminiscent of a retro arcade machine. Plugging in some headphones will undoubtedly give you better sound quality if you’re playing by yourself. That said, the built-in speakers above the display are good enough. The audio sounds clear and hits that neutral spot between bass and treble frequencies.

The speaker volume ranges from 1 to 15, so you can play quietly and not disturb the rest of your family or experience a comfortable volume where no one has any trouble hearing, even if they’re across the room watching you play. If you turn the volume up, closer to the 10-15 range, the audio starts to sound a little distorted, but you can still clearly understand what the characters are saying.

The Games Are Fun and Nostalgic

closeup of the game screen on arcade1up's simpsons machine
Sarah Chaney / Review Geek

The main game on this arcade machine, The Simpsons, is a sidescrolling, beat ’em up style game that was both developed and published by Konami in 1991. If you’re unfamiliar with beat ’em up style games, you’re essentially fighting a large number of enemies that just keep coming at you. In this game, your “enemies” are characters from Springfield, the fictional city in which The Simpsons takes place.

You can jump to avoid attacks, attack enemies to get rid of them, and collect power-ups in the form of foods and drinks throughout the levels. You can play by yourself or with up to three other people simultaneously, choosing from Homer, Marge, Bart, or Lisa as your playable character.

While you can certainly just choose your favorite of those four characters, you can also decide who to play as based on their distinctive attack styles. Homer has no weapon and just punches and kicks, Marge swings a vacuum cleaner, Bart fights with a skateboard, and Lisa attacks with a jump rope. Certain characters can perform a combined attack if they’re close enough to each other on the screen, like Homer putting Lisa on his shoulders so they can attack from two different heights.

Then, if you get bored of The Simpsons game, you can play The Simpsons Bowling. Released in 2000, also by Konami, The Simpsons Bowling lets you play through a traditional 10-frame bowling game as one of nine characters from the TV show.

You can play Homer, Marge, Bart, Mr. Burns, Apu, Krusty the Clown, Groundskeeper Willie, Abe (Grandpa) Simpson, and Lisa, who is later revealed to be Kang in disguise. Each character has different amounts on sliding scales for power, curve, and straight.

To play your turn, you first set the curve. If you have a character with a high curve level, you’ll want to adjust for that. Then, you position your character and get ready to roll your bowling ball. There’s a ring that pops up on the screen when you’re ready to roll, with red, yellow, and green sections spaced inside the ring. When the marker hits the green section, that’s when you’re supposed to roll your ball for the best shot.

With The Simpsons Bowling specifically, the game didn’t have sound when I first started up the game after building the machine. As I mentioned in the beginning, this arcade machine can connect to Wi-Fi for you to play online with other people and download and install updates for the machine. Once I joined the cabinet to my Wi-Fi network, The Simpsons Bowling had sound (and the home screen got a facelift, too).

Final Thoughts: A Great Novelty Piece

I have an 850-square-foot apartment right now, and I thought Arcade1Up’s The Simpsons machine was going to take up a ridiculous amount of space in my home. Although it’s a large cabinet, it’s not as big as I thought it was going to be. And despite being visible as soon as you walk in the front door, it’s not even an eyesore because the color scheme and overall design are appealing.

If you’re a fan of The Simpsons and you have space in your home and money in your budget, this arcade machine is a no-brainer. It’s easy to assemble and sturdy once built, even for rambunctious kids to play on or cats to sleep on. Overall, it’s a conversation piece and a lot of easy fun for family and friends.

Rating: 8/10
Price: $699.99

Here’s What We Like

  • Love the color scheme and overall design
  • 1 - 4 players is awesome
  • Wi-Fi enabled for online play and updates

And What We Don't

  • Pretty pricey
  • Two of my screws wouldn't go in

Sarah Chaney Sarah Chaney
Sarah Chaney is a professional freelance writer for Review Geek, Android Authority, MakeUseOf, and other great websites. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English with a Creative Writing concentration. Her degree, paired with her almost two years of professionally writing for websites, helps her write content that is engaging, yet informative. She enjoys covering anything Android, video game, or tech related. Read Full Bio »