If you want to have a lot of fun in your home and you grew up in the arcades, then having a home arcade system may be right up your alley. But, finding an ideal one can be a pain. This guide will outline the best-selling options, so, if you want to add some retro gaming to your home but don’t know where to start, keep reading.
What is a Retro Arcade System for Home?
A retro arcade system is simply a gaming console or arcade cabinet that can play popular retro arcade games. Many offer multiple games instead of just one like a traditional arcade cabinet. Some can be connected to a simple television and played on that device while others are housed in a replica arcade cabinet with buttons, joysticks, monitor, and cabinet artwork.
The Different Types of Retro Arcade Machines for Home
There are many different types of retro arcade machines for home. Here, we’ll look at some of the most popular options and how they differ.
Pre-Configured Arcade Machine with Multiple Games
The first option is to have a system in your home that is already configured with some games. These units tend to come with at least 25 different games pre-installed in a nice, pre-built arcade cabinet, like the atGames Legends Ultimate arcade machine. Depending on the system, it will most like include numerous classic games and may even have the ability to add additional games, either via USB port or their own network. These units work great if you want a few different arcade games but don’t want to worry about the space and technical problems building or owning a real arcade cabinet would create.
One of the best-selling options for pre-configured arcade cabinets for home is Arcade1Up retro arcade cabinets. These cabinets are slightly smaller and much lighter than traditional arcades. They are billed as smaller replicas of the classic arcade and do a good job of turning the nostalgia dial up to 10. Most models include a riser to bring their height to approximately 5′ tall, but they can easily be raised further with a cheap refrigerator stand or something similar. Additionally, depending on the model you purchase they can include up to 14 games including some of the most well-known classics of all time like Pac-Man, Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter, Centipede, Joust, Outrun, Terminator 2, and much much more.
If you want a hands-off approach to building a replica of an arcade in your home, it is hard to go wrong with Arcade1Up. One of the best aspects of these arcade machines is that they are easily modded to increase the number of games or upgrade the hardware such as the monitor or speakers. Even better, they are affordable alternatives to traditional arcade machines. While one of the vintage behemoths can cost thousands of dollars for very old technology, Arcade1Up often sells its cabinets in the $300 – $500 range.
AtGames is one of the most trusted names in arcade machines for home. The company is well known for its popular Flashback consoles, which are packed with a wide range of classic games. You can choose between the Classic Sega Genesis and the Super Nintendo Flashback systems. The latter comes with 2 wireless controllers, but you have to pay an extra $10 for them if you decide on the former.
Additionally, AtGames is well-known for providing a solid multicade experience at an affordable price with their Legends series. AtGames also offers digital pinball that is a blast to play and is quite a bit larger than their Arcade1Up competitors.
Dream Arcades Classic Arcade
Another well-respected brand for arcade cabinets for homes is Dream Arcades. This company specializes in creating an arcade machine for home that is compatible with classic and modern games. They have built a solid reputation for quality and reliability. Like the Arcade1Up Cabinet, the Dream Arcades Classic Arcade comes with a built-in monitor and everything you need to play your multicade the right way.
Pandora Box Game Console
One of the best-selling options for gaming consoles is the Pandora Box game console. This system can play thousands of video games from many platforms, including Nintendo, Super Nintendo, SEGA, GB, GBC, and GBA. You can choose between the Retro Game Console and the Ultimate Game Console; both come with an SD card bundled with over 100 classic games.
Arcade Machine With Raspberry Pi
The third option is to connect a classic arcade machine to a Raspberry Pi. This is a great option if you want to add an arcade machine that can play classic games from any era but have the modern convenience of running the game on your computer. This option allows you to use almost any Raspberry Pi emulator, making it an ideal solution for running old-school games and emulators on your computer. Using an arcade cabinet and Raspberry Pi is a good way to save money and may be the most cost-effective way to enjoy multiple classic arcade games, but it does require some technical expertise.
Arcade Machine All In One
The fourth option is buying a ready-to-go kit for a Raspberry Pi arcade machine. This works out well since you don’t need to worry too much about configuring different parts or compatibility with your computer.
Vintage Arcade Machine
The fifth option is to choose a well-built vintage arcade machine. This is a great gift for those who want to relive their childhood through old-school arcade games. You can find all different types of old-school cabinet styles, from classic 16-bit systems to pinball machines. You’ll also get rarer games, which is why many people consider these to be the perfect option for those seeking nostalgia when the arcade machine price isn’t an obstacle.
3/4 Size Arcade Machines vs. Full-Size: Pros and Cons
One thing to consider when deciding which type of arcade system you want to buy is the cabinet size. There are two different types: full-size and 3/4 size. Both have their pros and cons, but here’s how they stack up.
Full-Size Arcade Machines
Full-size cabinets are what most people think of when they hear the word arcade machine. These cabinets take up a lot of space and can be very difficult to move around if you need to relocate them in your home or office space. However, these arcade machines tend to be more durable than their smaller counterparts since it’s built with heavy materials for long-lasting durability. Vintage arcade cabinets also tend to be much more expensive than their more modern cousins, especially if you plan on buying several. These units also tend to be more accurate, ensuring that the game you play matches the standard of the real arcade game.
3/4-Size Arcade Machines
3/4-size game machines are smaller and easier to move around than full-size ones. These units are more portable because they don’t take up as much space as full-size units. You can also find different cabinets, including arcade machines with a single player or those that allow you to play with multiple people. These cabinets are also easier to maintain because they don’t require as much maintenance on the hardware, allowing you to focus on the game without worrying about fixing it.
Cost of a Home Arcade System
For a good, simple arcade system for your home, expect to pay about $2,000-$3,500 for a vintage arcade machine in good condition. Additionally, the cost of parts (which may be difficult to find since they’re 40 years old) and the time required to keep them in working order (looking at you pinball…any pinball). As mentioned previously, Arcade1Up replica cabinets often range from $300 – $500, but sales are plentiful and can be found at many large box stores like Walmart and Target. Multicades and custom arcades can vary greatly in price. They can cost anywhere from $1000 to many thousands of dollars, depending on what you’re willing to spend. One of the best options is the AtGames Legends series. It is an affordable multicade option that is larger and roomier than an Arcade1Up machine.
Conclusion: Is an Arcade Machine for Home Right for You?
It’s important to remember that there are many options for adding an arcade machine to your home, which is good because it gives you many options to choose from. If you’re looking for your first arcade machine, buying a standard pre-configured cabinet might be best. However, if you’re an experienced retro gamer looking for a dedicated arcade cabinet to play classics on the big screen, these other options may be more your speed. Whatever option you choose, an arcade machine is a fun and unique piece of equipment that adds a lot of value to any room or gathering space.