Are Arcade1up machines worth it?
Since it’s launch in 2018 Arcade1up has launched a wide range of mini cabinets for retro gaming fans. With very popular games like Mortal Kombat, Pac Man, Street Fighter and many more. It’s been reported that over 1 million units have been sold to date. So going by the number of units sold you would think that they are a great buy.
The success of the ¾ upright cabinets has also made way for other style machines such as shooter classics Big Buck Hunter and Terminator 2 along with other machine styles such as cocktail table machines and virtual pinball machines. There is even an interactive digital table that has been recently launched!
To make them more accessible these machines also come IKEA style in a flat packed box, ready for building when you get it home. They are very well designed and go together easily and quickly with minimal effort and tools required.
Why are they so popular?
These machines have gained a very loyal fan base of hardened collectors, who want to collect various arcade classics that they love and remember playing in their youth. But also, that they would like to share with their friends and children.
The retail price and availability of these machines varies hugely. Depending on which country you are in, the time of year and the availability of stock. The RRP starts at $299 / £399 depending on the type of machine that you want to go for. Which is very accessible for people to take their first steps into retro gaming.
As the machines are all mass produced, the components used are entry level grade and as such don’t always give you the best ‘arcade feel’. Little things like the clicking when a button is pressed or the firmness of the joystick when using it all contribute to the low-ticket price. This has led to an explosion in aftermarket modifications for these machines. Most of the Arcade1up’s only come with 2-4 games included within the package, so people have been taking their machines to bits. By modifying the machine supplied by Arcade1up, the look and feel of the machine can me changed to suit the individual. Perhaps upgrade the quality of the buttons and joystick along with the colour scheme. Not only the look and feel but people are also replacing the internals of the machines to allow for more games to be added, for example with a Raspberry Pi, PC (MAME or HYPERSPIN) or a Pandoras Box set up.
This versatility and easy modification with a very large community for support has made it really easy to get an affordable arcade cabinet and turn it into the machine that you want. There are even custom graphics easily available to wrap an Arcade1up with the design that you want.
What’s the draw back?
Some people are not comfortable with getting their ‘hands dirty’ with the ‘oily bits’ of the machine and would much prefer to have an arcade machine arrive ready to play. While out of the box this is certainly possible with an Arcade1up system, you are limited to a handful of games to enjoy. Which can quickly become boring. But either way you’ll need to be handy with a screw driver to put the machine together before you can enjoy playing any of the arcade classics that you’re looking for!
It’s also a steep learning curve to go from no knowledge to customising a system, going down this route only eliminates the cabinet build from a DIY project from scratch. Some of the cabinets are also much easier to modify than others. For example a Street Fighter cabinet has the basic layout that fits most games, but a Pacman or Space Invader machine would need much more modification due to the screen orientation being incompatible with most games and there being a lack of buttons required.
The biggest draw back is that the form factor of a 1up is billed as a ¾ sized machine. However, in reality these machines are seriously dwarfed by any full-sized machine. A riser can be purchased to make the Arcade1up machines taller. But the width of them still makes for an awkward 2 player gaming experience, with little elbow room when you’re giving a friend a good kicking on Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat for example.
When playing the games, you will also notice that the screen used in all of the machines is a tiny 17” which is much smaller than the industry standard of 19” or larger.
Should I buy an Arcade1up?
In summary, the Arcade1up certainly is a great fit for people that want to play a handful of their favourite classics at home or perhaps want to introduce the family to retro gaming at a widely affordable price. You still need to be handy with a screwdriver to put the machine together when it arrives, but after that you’re good to go and start button mashing!
They also fit the hobbyist that’s really keen to tinker and make a machine their own over time. Putting in the hours researching and learning what is possible, using the communities available to help troubleshoot the inevitable problems that are bound to crop up along the way.
If you simply want a machine to arrive and get into playing retro gaming classics, then perhaps a purpose-built multigame arcade machine would be better suited. Especially if you plan to have many hours of happy gaming in a man cave or home bar. Usually the range of games available on this type of machines means that everyone can find their favourites too.