Jun 13, 2019

What's Up With Arcade 1Up

I'm not sure what to make of the Arcade 1Up machines.  They haven't been getting great reviews, and the ones I've seen and played at Wal-Mart felt a little cheap.  They're much smaller than a genuine arcade cabinet, so they don't have an authentic feel to them.  This is especially true for two player games.  I'm not sure how two grown adults could have a halfway decent match of Mortal Kombat or Street Fighter without elbowing each other.  Additionally, the ones that were on display at Wal-Mart were out for a few weeks, but most of the artwork had worn off of the control panel.  I know kids can be pretty hard on display model merchandise, but I wouldn't expect something to look that worn after five or six years, let alone two or three weeks.

Having said all that, the price is pretty fair for what you're getting.  If you set aside $50 a month and bought one at a time when you saved up enough, you could fill a room of your house as a personal vintage arcade in just a few years - far less expensive and with less upkeep and required technical knowledge than doing the same with the actual vintage coin-op machines.  It helps that they can easily be carried by a single person and fit in the back of a car.  Vintage arcade are heavier than your refrigerator and require freight shipping or a road trip with a truck and a few friends to help you load and unload.

Then, there's always the question of emulation.  You could build or commission a custom cabinet and load it with emulators that will play thousands of games.  It's not entirely legal, but it's also not very likely that the local police are going to be kicking down your door to see if your copy of Defender is licensed by Williams Electronics.  Ethical concerns aside, the joystick configurations and other settings can be a pain sometimes.

The real game changer in my eyes came with the unveiling of the Star Wars cabinet at E3.  I can't describe what these games mean to me.  The vector graphics on the original Star Wars, the chiptune Ewok sounds on Endor in Return Of The Jedi, the feel of the flight yoke in your hands... all of it.  It's a pure experience of few kilobytes of crude lights and sounds that have the power to transport the player simultaneously back to the 80's and to a galaxy far, far away.

This is going to be the Arcade 1Up that I'm going to have to bring home.