5 steps to your perfect arcade machine – an arcade machine buyers guide
Buying an arcade machine can be a large investment to make, and the crowning glory to any man cave or bar project. After months of planning and many more months of building! So, buying the right machine is critical, being able to sit back, have a glass of wine, or a beer and enjoy the fruits of your labours.
Why should you listen to what we have to say? We’ve been building arcade machines for more than 15 years and have a good understanding of what makes a great arcade machine. Not only the machines that we produce, but also what’s available in the marketplace. This buying guide is written for you if you want to purchase a pre-built arcade machine and not looking to build your own machine.
Based on the feedback and questions from our customers, here's a detailed and broken down description of the key choices to be made when selecting the best machine for you and your circumstances. This guide is led by the styles, packages and variations that we have available at Arcade Depot; however, they do also translate over to other manufacturers options too.
Impatient and want to find the answer straight away? No problem, just skip ahead to the conclusion
Arcade Cabinet Style
The first thing to really think about is the type of cabinet that is going to suit the space that you have. There are a few different cabinet styles on the market that suit different needs. We will cover the mainstream arcade cabinets available and briefly summarise their uses for a home installation. We have now developed a diverse range of arcade cabinets, which means that there is no limit on the game’s options for each of the cabinet styles that we are able to offer.
This form is one of our most popular cabinet styles, because it’s a great balance between the nostalgia of playing games in a hotel or bar, comfortable seated playing position and being a piece of furniture in its own right. The cocktail table is a cabinet that can fit into a mixed-use space such as a dining room, living room or playroom. Positioning the machine is also not a problem, they fit well with plenty of space around them, or can be pushed up against a wall without losing any of the gaming experience.
A smaller version (just under 40cm shorter) of the original cocktail classic. Our machines have the same overall footprint of the larger machine, however, are lower to the ground. They are ideal for use in a living space, where you would like the machine to function as a coffee table when not in use.
The most recognisable arcade cabinet around, and a true retro classic is the freestanding full sized arcade cabinet. There are so many variations on this cabinet, such as Candy Cabinets, smaller versions like the arcade 1up and At Games Legends Ultimate. You’ll either play this machine standing up or will need a taller bar stool to sit comfortably while playing you favourite arcade classics. While the overall footprint of our upright machine is smaller than the cocktail or coffee table cabinet, if feels larger due to it tall and imposing height. Our upright machines are almost 1.8m tall.
Table top / bartop cabinet
Where space is at a premium, or you need a machine that can be easily packed away when not in use, this is the best solution available. There are various types of bartop designs available. Our table top cabinet is specifically designed to be a low profile unit that can easily be tucked away under a sofa or a bed when not in use. While the flat top is a nod to the original cocktail table layout. These small and mighty machines use the same components as the larger cabinets, so there is no scrimping on the size of the monitor or the space available on the control panels for comfortable play. Usually, this machine would be best played on a table or work surface, having a raised base they will not mark the surface but also allows the sound to work at its best when in use.
Trims and themes
You’ve picked out your perfect arcade cabinet style, but the aesthetics don’t stop just yet! Before you move onto the games that you want to be playing, there’s trim and themes to choose from.
All our machines come with a wide range of themes, giving a varying look and feel. From a plain oak faced cabinet, oiled by hand with Danish oil to give a deep wood finish to our bright and colourful full multigame artwork with bright graphics on the top, front and control panels.
The choice here is firstly the arcade cabinet wood finish. At Arcade Depot we have 3 finish types available:
- Black melamine, the most popular type that we produce, due to its classic look
- White melamine, usually used when white suits the location of the machine better
- Oak faced, a much more rustic style of cabinet for the traditional look
While you can choose to leave the wood finish plain, you can also choose from a wide range of graphic styles, displaying your favourite game, such as Pac-man or Space Invaders as an example. We also have ‘multigame’ graphics if you can’t choose a favourite game! The graphics as standard on our cocktail and coffee tables are applied to the top of the machine, surrounding the monitor, also covering the metal control panels. Optionally you can also include an additional graphic on the front of the machine.
If you choose an upright machine then as standard there will be backlit marquee panel and control panel graphics, again you can choose to add graphics to the side and the front to really make the machine pop!
Each of the themes that we have pre-styled has a different coloured trim on the edge of the machine (also known as t-molding).
If you have a specific look in mind then a custom graphic set is also possible, this may be a favourite game, or perhaps your man cave or bar has a theme that you want to be in keeping with, we can do that too. Some companies like to have their own custom branded machines with their own logo or style included.
Ok, so now we move onto the fun stuff, the actual games to play on the machine that you’ve picked out…..
While it’s very easy to just look at the number of games and thinking bigger is better, that isn’t always the case. Due to the vast number of games that are available in these multigame machines it’s also important to consider the type and era of games that you want to enjoy on those cosy nights mashing buttons.
Game packages could be a whole buying guide of its own, so we’ll stick to just the game packages that we offer. Our game packages are built using dedicated game boards. So there is no PC, Raspberry PI or any other sort of processor in the machine to run the games. Our build offers you the best reliability with less components that could fail, but also giving that real arcade experience. The current game packages are:
60 games (Retro 60)
We always describe this as the ‘greatest hits’ of arcade classics, because it truly is. It’s jam packed with all of the big names of the 70’s and 80’s arcade gaming. Including Pac-man, Space Invaders, Phoenix, Galaxian, Donkey Kong, Frogger and many more. Not only are they fun to play, but they are 100% true to the original games. For the purist or techies out there, they are also displayed at their original aspect ratios too. For this game package, the table machines (cocktail table, coffee table and table tops) have the players sitting opposite each other, flipping the screen when one player has finished their turn. For the upright, this board has only 1 set of controls and is played in a hot seat style. This board is currently the most popular of all the boards that we use.
516 games (King of Air 2)
An upgraded number of games from the 60 game model, but also has a few extra features available to make it easier to find your favourites quickly. With a search function, ability to favourite games to move them to the top of the game list and also see the games that you recently played. Again this is a traditional cocktail (vertical) game board so the players sit opposite each other on table machines and a single set of controls for the upright version.
A dedicated horizontal game board packed with 750 games in total. These are mostly fighter style games (Street Fighter, King of Fighters & Fatal Fury) or side scrolling classics like Super Mario, Double Dragon & Metal Slug.
1162 games (Wizard 1000)
A hybrid game board with 2 different game modes. There are 412 vertical games, all played in the vertical game mode and then all of the games included on the 750 game machine. This means that every game on this machine is played at the correct orientation as the original game. So this retains a great picture and a perfect aspect ratio. It’s only suitable for use on the table arcade machines (cocktail table or coffee table).
3000 games (Pandora Box DX)
The largest selection of games that we offer in a machine. This board is quickly becoming the most popular that we offer. The games span from the 70’s and 80’s arcade classics right the way up to Playstation 1 games and LOTS in between. A broad selection of classic arcade games, Nintendo NES, Nintendo SNES, SEGA Mega Drive and Sony Playstation One are available on this machine. But if that’s not enough, you can even add more games via a USB socket mounted to the exterior of the machine too. Similar to the 516 game board there are features to make it easier to find your favourites, such as a search function, recently played list, game categories and the ability to favourite a game to keep it at the top of the list.
Regardless of the game board that you choose, they all have the option to remove games from the list and edit the difficulty of the games. For example, you can increase or reduce the number of lives you start with or change the speed of the game (the options do vary depending on the game itself). If you wanted a dedicated arcade machine, the boards can also be configured to play and boot straight into a single game should that be required.
Time to breathe a sigh of relief if you’ve made it this far through the process! The hard work is done. But it’s worth considering some of the ‘added extras’ as the build of different companies can vary hugely. For example, would you want to have a play on a machine before committing to purchase? Try it out for size.
Be clear about the warranty that you receive with the machine, all electronic products should be supplied with a 12 month return to base warranty. But what happen if there is a problem after that initial year?
Are the materials hard wearing? For example we only use glass to protect the monitors in our machines rather than the cheaper alternative of Perspex as it scratches too easily and is more difficult to keep clean. We also use metal control panels on all machines to ensure that the controls are durable and stand the test of time.
Would you want to customise your machine from the standard, for example custom artwork, altering the trim colours or maybe going for illuminated buttons? All are certainly possible!
Is being Made In Britain important to you? Not only does it give the piece of mind that you’re supporting our own economy, but you also have someone to talk to should you need it. For example, how the machine operates or solving a particular problem that you may be having. Usually a locally made machine should mean that you have a better level of support with these issues and questions.
Finally, what are you going to sit on while playing on your brand new arcade machine? Are you able to find some stools to match the look and feel? Or will you need to spend more time shopping online to find the perfect partner?
So you’ve picked the perfect machine with just the games that take you back to the good old days, how long is it going to take for your machine to arrive? It’s important to know the turnaround time for your machine to be produced. What options are available, can you collect and test it before taking away? Or if you live too far away what are the options for delivery. Maybe you need the machine for a specific date, or delivery on a nominated delivery day.
Our machines are usually despatched via the pallet delivery network, which although is a ‘kerb side delivery’ the courier calls ahead to book in the delivery day with you before arriving. This avoids missed deliveries and lets you make sure that you have someone to help you get the machine into the house (especially if we get some good old British weather!).
Conclusion, or just cheat and skip to the end!
Hopefully, if you’ve made it this far through the guide you should feel much more confident in getting the machine that really does suit your needs down to the ground. But, maybe you skipped to the end? If so here’s a brief list of our most popular machines and who they suit:
60 Game Cocktail table – Multigame themed
Our entry level machine to give you the nostalgia hit that you’re looking for. With our signature ‘multigame’ graphics package and blue trim. It’s really a timeless arcade machine for the casual retro game player.
This machine is just £699 plus shipping available from our website – Look at this product on our site
Matching stools are also available for this machine.
3000 Game Horizon Cocktail table – Black and Chrome
This machine is very quickly catching up as our most popular machine. Jam packed with 3000 games spanning the decades of retro gaming, it allows for 2 player to enjoy a game at the same time. While still in keeping with the aesthetics of the classic cocktail table. Ideal for the family that wants to play a wide range of games, especially for the ultra competitive amongst us.
This machine is £899 plus shipping and also available via our website – Look at this product on our site
3000 Game full sized upright machine – Multigame themed
The real ultimate authentic retro arcade experience. Bursting with 3000 retro arcade and classic console games. Boasting a HUGE 27” widescreen HD monitor for the absolute best viewing experience.
A light up marquee panel is also included for the added nostalgia of the classic arcade games.
This machine is ideal for the gamer looking to really make a statement and play a great range of classics.
This machine is available on our website for £1099 plus shipping – Look at this product on our website
If you have any questions not covered in this guide then please feel free to get in touch and we’d be happy to help. You can call the office on 01538 767779 or email email@example.com
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