Eric Schoon is a writer for Review Geek and has spent most of his life thinking about and analyzing products of all shapes and sizes. From the latest games to the hottest smartphones, he enjoys finding the greatest strengths and weaknesses of everything he gets his hands on and then passing that information on to you.Read more...
Arcade games are great, but it’s rare you get to play them the way they were intended to be. Console ports and collections are good fun, but they can never rival the experience of playing on an actual cabinet. Fortunately, there are plenty of affordable, home-friendly machines you can buy right now.
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Best for Namco Fans: Ms. PAC-MAN/GALAGA Class of ’81 Arcade Machine
There are plenty of reproduced Namco arcade machines out there, but the Class of ’81 home arcade cabinet Arcade1Up recently released is something else. It’s smaller than what you would find in an actual arcade, for the sake of saving space, but that didn’t stop the attention to detail.
The artwork is split between Ms. Pac-Man and Galaga—two of the most iconic video games of all time—and finds a way to mix the two styles excellently while staying true to both original cabinets. When it comes time to play, the controls feel arcade-accurate for both titles, but that’s not all that’s included in this cabinet.
Alongside the cabinet’s namesake games, there are 11 other Namco titles included in this machine such as MAPPY, Rally-X, and Dig Dug. Overall, it’s a wonderful selection of arcade games that have managed to age well into the modern day. Without a doubt, if you’re a fan of arcade classics, this is one of the best values you’ll find.
Best for Namco Fans on a Budget: PAC-MAN/GALAGA Counter-Cade
If a full machine is outside of your grasp either financially or space-wise, then this counter-cade from Arcade1Up is for you. It’s built to fit onto a counter while still providing an authentic experience. The price is much lower than a standard arcade machine, and you’ll still get a cool-looking piece for your room (with accurate artwork).
This specific counter-cade includes Pac-Man and Galaga—plenty of fun to be had with those two alone—but Pac-Mania and Galaxian are also included for some variety. If you do have the budget and want a bigger version of Pac-Man, Arcade1Up offers a cocktail table version.
Four-Player Co-op: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time Arcade Machine
The best games can be enjoyed with friends, and this game is especially great if you happen to be a fan of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. You and up to three others can play either locally or online, and enjoy some of the best classic arcade beat em’ ups in existence. And if the base game is a bit too dated for you, then its follow-up, Turtles in Time, is also included with better visuals and more mechanics.
One-on-One: Street Fighter II Big Blue Arcade Machine
Street Fighter II is one of the most iconic fighting games to ever release. Though it’s been re-released on plenty of platforms since its initial arcade arrival, Arcade1Up wants you to play it authentically. This special cabinet released for the game’s 30th anniversary features great artwork, a themed chrome stool, and controls for two players so you and a friend can duke it out.
And if you don’t have anyone locally to play with, that’s not a problem. This cabinet has online multiplayer so you can take your epic brawls worldwide. But this isn’t just Street Fighter II, other versions of the game such as the Hyper Fighting edition are included, along with 11 other Capcom titles.
The Simpsons may not spring to mind when it comes to arcade beat em’ ups, but the expressive animation of this adaption shouldn’t be overlooked. Regardless if you’re a fan of the genre or the original show, this game is a treat to play through especially if you have a full crew.
There are four sets of controls on the cabinet for local play and online connectivity is included to play remotely, as well. You can even kick back with Simpsons Bowling, also included in the cabinet, if you want a change of pace. It’ll look great in any game room or man cave.
Elaborate racing game setups have been a staple of arcades for decades now, but fitting one into your home is quite the negotiation. Fortunately, Arcade1Up has found a way to condense the racing wheel and pedals you’d expect from a cabinet like this into something more home-friendly (it’s still pretty big though).
On top of that, you get to enjoy four different fast-paced racers: Outrun, Outrunners, Turbo Outrun, and Power Drift. These rubber-burning racers may be old, but they capture the feeling of tearing down city streets excellently and have fairly impressive visuals to boot. If you want the retro arcade game experience of a racer, this is the one.
For Old-School Gaming: Atari Legacy Edition Arcade Machine
While many Atari games are outdated at this point, it’s still nice to remember the handful that have stood the test of time. The dozen included here are legendary, and whether you want a nostalgic reminder of the simpler times of gaming or to cement these classics in your home, this cabinet does a great job at that from its controls down to the artwork.
Due to the way the original Atari games worked, a trackball and dial are used here instead of the standard joystick—it can take some getting used to if you’ve never used one before, but it’s a great way to play these games.
The cabinets discussed so far have included handfuls of games, but the Legends Ultimate cabinet includes hundreds. This full-size arcade cabinet may lack some of the charms of other cabinets as it doesn’t use art from one specific game, but the large game selection is the real draw here.
Over 300 titles are included, all officially licensed, and there are some real winners—Tetris, Super Star Wars,TRON, and Centipedejust to name a few classic arcade games. It doesn’t hurt that you get two sets of joysticks, buttons, spinners, a trackball, and dual speakers. The large LCD screen is an added bonus too.
On top of that, there’s ArcadeNet where you can stream various games to your cabinet for even more options. The free version grants 10 additional games and online multiplayer (with voice chat) but has limited playtime. If you pay, however (either $20 a month or $60 every six months), you receive higher-quality streaming, 80+ games, and unlimited playtime. It’s a great way to expand the library if you really get into using the cabinet, but it’s still well worth it without the subscription.
SNK has made a lot of legendary games, but they’re not as well known as companies like Namco or Capcom. Titles like Fatal Fury and Metal Slug are arcade classics, and both of them, alongside 48 other SNK games, are pre-loaded into this one cabinet.
The cabinet itself is a striking shade of red and includes two sets of controls as most of the games on it support multiplayer. This is one of the larger libraries on this list, and it’s a great selection of games ranging from scrolling shooters to 2D fighters. Whether you’re a fan of the company or not, there’s a lot to love here.
Going back to counter-cades, this one brings Mortal Kombat 2 to your living room for plenty of gory battles. Alongside the titular game, the OG Mortal Kombat and Mortal Kombat 3 are also included for good measure. You’ve got two sets of controls here, so you and a friend can take to this iconic brawler and enjoy the beginnings of one of the best 2D fighting game franchises to exist.
Don’t let this cabinet’s Double Dragon-inspired art fool you, as there’s a lot more included here (although, you can play Double Dragon on this machine, of course). There are 11 games included in this cabinet, but it doesn’t have to stop there. Thanks to the 128GB of internal storage, you can easily purchase additional games off the iiRcade store, and with over 200 games in the store there’s always something new to play. And with two sets of high quality joysticks and arcade buttons, you can easily enjoy co-op or competitive games as well.
Affordable Multiplayer: My Arcade Street Fighter 2 Micro Player
This compact cabinet may seem like a simple way to play Street Fighter 2 at first, but there’s more to it than that. You can easily link multiple of these cabinets for multiplayer action, which means both players get their own controls and screen to work with.
While the hardware isn’t particularly impressive, it’s a unique way to enjoy multiplayer arcade games and is worth it if you have some friends into this sort of thing. Of course, Street Fighter 2 isn’t the only option My Arcade has—there are plenty of other Micro Players for games like Pac-Man and Contra as well.
The cabinets we’ve featured in the rest of this list want to give you a mostly authentic arcade experience, but Tiny Arcade has different goals in mind. Its machines are, well, tiny—1.75 x 175 inches to be exact.
They’re fully functional, and you can play the games on them if you can work with the small controls. But more than anything these are supposed to be a fun distraction, not taken too seriously.
There’s plenty to collect for various retro gaming classics, and thanks to the affordable prices, you can gather a large number of them pretty easily. While they’re not the best way to enjoy these older games, they’re still a novelty that’s great for collectors or fans of arcades in general.
Eric Schoon Eric Schoon is a writer for Review Geek and has spent most of his life thinking about and analyzing products of all shapes and sizes. From the latest games to the hottest smartphones, he enjoys finding the greatest strengths and weaknesses of everything he gets his hands on and then passing that information on to you.Read Full Bio »
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