Who doesn’t love killing time in some classic arcade games? From Pac-Man to Marvel Vs. Capcom, these video games hold a special place in many people’s hearts. And while playing them on a console port is fine, playing them on a home arcade machine is so much better. So if you’ve got some arcade fanatics in your life, here are cabinets you can gift that don’t break the bank or eat up too much space. Plus, they look great anywhere—game room or otherwise.
Pac-Man Fever: Arcade1Up Pac-Man Cabinet
Who doesn’t enjoy chasing a new high score in Pac-Man? It’s one of the most iconic arcade games of all time after all, and the game cabinet from Arcade1Up provides the best home version of it you can own. The cabinet looks and plays faithful to the original and it even includes the lesser-known “Pac-Man Plus” , which makes some slight visual and gameplay changes to the original game.
For Ms. Pac-Man fans, we recommend the Ms. Pac-Man Counter-Cade, which keeps the iconic colors and artwork of the original cabinets in a smaller and less expensive form factor.
For Star Wars Fans: Arcade1Up Star Wars Cabinet
This beautifully detailed cabinet houses three classic Star Wars games based on the original trilogy. The A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back games are very similar, as both are line-vector-based flight sims where you pilot X-Wings with the cabinet’s flight stick. The game for Return of the Jedi is instead a pixelated interpretation of the original movie, recreating the most iconic action setpieces of the film. Seeing the Star Wars universe in a few arcade games is sure to be a treat for fans of the series and the unique control scheme is also nice to see.
There are two versions of the Star Wars cabinet: one with a seat and one without. No surprise that the seated variant is more expensive, but that is the only difference between the two—the games, controls and cabinets are identical across both versions.
Shoot Some Hoops: Arcade1Up NBA Jam Cabinet
NBA Jam is a favorite of many from the ’90s for its fun and exaggerated gameplay that still keeps the core part of basketball intact. The game supported up to four-player multiplayer, something that Arcade1Up made sure to uphold. Not only does this cabinet have four separate sets of controls (two for each team), but it’s also one of the few Arcade1Up cabinets to support online play. So whether you want to relive the glory days with people across the street or the country, this cabinet will make sure you can play together.
Co-Op Fun: Arcade1Up Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Cabinet
Speaking of multiplayer, arcades were never short on great beat ’em up titles, and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game is one of the best—especially for fans of the franchise. This four-player machine includes color-coordinated controls for each turtle as they beat up Shredder’s goons. The gameplay is simple but fun, and the second game included in the cabinet, Turtles in Time, expands on things with updated visuals and more mechanics.
The Ultimate Face-Off: Arcade1Up X-Men Vs. Street Fighter Cabinet
There’s no greater hallmark of arcades than some classic fighting games—but why not throw in some superheroes while we’re at it? This cabinet includes X-Men Children of the Atom, X-Men Vs. Street Fighter, X-Men Mutant Apocolypse, and Marvel Vs. Capcom: Clash of Super-Heroes. Of course, you may recognize Marvel Vs. Capcom as a name if you’re familiar with the modern entries of the series, but these older titles are definitely worth returning to.
With three fighting games included, you’re sure to spend plenty of time fighting your friends in these chaotic brawlers—there’s even online play for all three games. X-Men Mutant Apocolypse is definitely the oddball of the cabinet, as it’s a sidescrolling adventure game, but that doesn’t mean its inclusion is not appreciated all the same.
If you’re a fan of fighters, Arcade1Up’s Mortal Kombat machine is an excellent choice—if you can find it. It seems to be sold out everywhere, including Walmart. But it’s something to keep an eye out for nonetheless.
Dig it Up: Arcade1Up Dig Dug Counter-Cade
Dig Dug is all about, well, digging. You need to traverse the underground defeating various enemy types without dying to progress. There’s not much more to it than that, but it’s such an iconic arcade game that it definitely deserved a place on this list. The Counter-Cade from Arcade1Up provides an excellent value and is compact enough to fit into more cramped spaces. It also includes Dig Dug 2, which takes place on an island and has some new gameplay mechanics.
Take to the Stars: Arcade1Up Galaga Counter-Cade
We’ve got one more Namco classic to go over, and that’s the endlessly addictive Galaga. This is a high-scored based game through and through, with levels of increasing difficulty as you progress. There may not be unique controls, but the core gameplay is so well designed that it is sure to please any arcade fan.
So Many SNK Games: SNK MVSX Arcade Machine
SNK has a terrific catalog of games, from fighters like the King of Fighters series to great sidescrollers such as Metal Slug. And this arcade cabinet from Unico packs in 50 games from the developer from across the years. It’s a fantastic value, and with two sets of controls built into the cabinet, you can enjoy each game to their full in multiplayer.
The actual arcade machine can be rested on a counter if you want, but the included stand brings it up to standing height for standalone use.
Plenty of Games: AtGames Legends Ultimate
While the cabinets we’ve listed so far specialize in specific games or series, the AtGames Legend Ultimate machine takes a much wider swing. This cabinet includes 300 fully licensed arcade games preloaded onto it. Now, while a lot of these games aren’t particularly notable, there are some recognizable names in here like Earth Defense Force, Tetris, and even the Super Star Wars trilogy from the SNES. The cabinet is outfitted with two sets of controls for multiplayer titles. It’s relatively simple to hook up a Raspberry Pi to it for even more games.
You can also purchase the AtGames Legends Control Deck, which in it itself has 150 games preloaded onto it. The control deck can wirelessly connect to the arcade cabinet as another way to play, or you can plug it into your TV to play games right off the control deck on the big screen.
TV-Compatible: Dragon’s Lair X Replicade
Dragon’s Lair is an interactive cartoon of sorts. During the wonderfully hand-drawn animations, you’ll need to complete certain events by pressing the appropriate button fast enough to avoid dying. There isn’t much in the way of actual player input here, but the randomization of scenes and challenges does help keep things fresh. This cabinet from New Wave Toys enables you to enjoy the game at a sixth of the original arcade size. While this cabinet may be small, it’s still fully operational with a complete set of controls.
On top of that, you can plug the cabinet into your TV to enjoy the game on the big screen. Alongside the cabinet itself, you’ll also get some fun little doodads like a mini laser-disc player and a replicated user manual.
Desk Sized: Tiny Arcade
While the larger cabinets we’ve covered so far are fantastic for faithfully upholding the original cabinets, sometimes you just want a cute Pac-Man cabinet sitting on your desk that works. That’s exactly what the company Tiny Arcade provides—although, you probably could’ve guessed that from the name. These micro-cabinets are decorated to match their larger counterparts and include small controls that are … fine for what this is.
While these won’t blow the competition out the water when it comes to actually playing the games, they’re fun novelties all the same. There are currently 11 different cabinets available for Dig Dug, Frogger, Galaga, Galaxian, Ms. Pac-Man, Pac-Man, Space Invaders, New Rally X, Pole Position, Q*Bert, and Tetris.
The Classic Game: Atari Mini PONG Jr.
To end our list, we’re heading back to the beginning. PONG was one of the earliest arcade game machines to ever be released, and this tabletop version remains faithful to the aesthetics of the original cabinets. You turn the dials to move your paddle, and while that’s extremely simple, the game holds up as a fun look into the history of arcades. The machine is portable as well, so taking it over to a friend’s house (when that becomes an option again) won’t be an issue.
This post was written by Eric Schoon and was first posted to www.reviewgeek.com
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