Is there anything cooler than taking your basement, man cave, or bro zone and adding a home arcade game machine to the mix? If so, there can’t be many better answers than it. Whether it’s because you just love video games, want to reminiscence about playing your favorite game from days of old, want to introduce a game to a younger family member, or just want to buy something for the guy or girl that has everything, a home arcade game machine is the perfect choice for you. Today, we are going to be taking a look at everything you need to know about these machines in our buying guide. We’ll then review the best, most popular examples that are available on the market. So, without any further adieu, let’s play!
Top Home Arcade Game Machines Comparison Chart
|Name||Upright?||Price||Where to Buy?|
|Prime Arcades Cocktail Machine||No||$$$||Check Price on Amazon|
|Chicago Gaming Ms. Pac-Man/Galaga 1981 Gaming Cabinet||Yes||$$$||Check Price on Amazon|
|Prime Arcades 4 Player Upright Arcade Machine||Yes||$$$$||Check Price on Amazon|
|NAMCO America Pac-Man’s Pixel Bash Cabaret||Yes||$$$||Check Price on Amazon|
|N2Fun Classic Upright MAME Arcade System||Yes||$$$$||Check Price on Amazon|
|Chicago Gaming Arcade Legends 3 Upright Machine||Yes||$$$||Check Price on Amazon|
|Creative Arcades Pub Style Arcade Machine||No||$$||Check Price on Amazon|
Home Arcade Game Machines Buying Guide
Why an Arcade Game in the Home?
You might be asking why in the world would you want one at home? We’ve hinted at some reasons above, but it’s worth repeating and expanding upon. One big reason you would want an arcade game machine at home is because the modern arcade is slowly dying. Have you been to one lately? Instead of using coins like they used to, they are incorporating boring cards. And they are shrinking, too, with so many of the machines going away. Having one at home is a good way to remember the past and to pass it along to future generations. It’s also a cool way to get someone a gift that they couldn’t possibly have. One such neighbor had a Pac-Man machine when I was growing up, and it was all down to one of his friends getting it for him because he had everything else under the sun. And he loved it and eventually added more to the collection. Speaking of that, collectors are another shout here. If you just love games, maybe it’s time to either start or add to the slew of machines you have! Oh, and last but not least, you can play your favorite games at HOME. This means you won’t be shelling out dollar after dollar (more like boring swipe after swipe) any longer! So get off that Xbox or PlayStation for a minute and go old school!
Building Your Own
While it is doable to build your own arcade machine, it does need to come with a warning attached to it. It can be a harrowing time for people that don’t have much hands-on experience with electronics and craftsmanship. It also can get quite expensive, especially if you are working on the machine and it doesn’t come out exactly right. With that said, many will find it to be much cheaper to just buy one for themselves. This way, you know what you are getting is going to be at least of a decent quality and you’ll have a definite price point as well.
Size and Shape
First and foremost, you have to think about where you are going to put this thing and how much space you have to deal with. Some machines, as you can surely remember from the good ol’ days are going to be bigger than others. Some are tall, some are short, others are very rotund, and a select few are thin. Today’s market has options that are quite small and short to the ground, compacted versions that you can buy. This, too, can be an option for you to buy. Just know that if you want a more ‘authentic’ look and feel to the equation, then you will typically be looking at more space being needed. It will also take more money, since those machines will have a lot more parts to them and are much older, in all likelihood.
The classic upright position is the one that we all know and adore from the past. This style is made so that you are standing up and are basically at eye level with the machine at all times. This makes for easy viewing since you can see the figures running across the screen with no issues. Most of the time, these games are going to have two controls, one on the left and one of the right, allowing two players to play at the same time. Sometimes, they can accommodate four players, but those machines are obviously wider.
The table machine, sometimes referred to as a ‘cocktail’ machine is one that is the opposite sort of idea of the classic upright. This machine is made so that you can look down at the machine. This gives you the change to be able to sit or stand, depending on the specific game as well as who is playing. If you are really tall, then you will have to make adjustments.
As implied, there other options available today that weren’t always available. There are kinds that you can buy at big box retailers that will allow you to sit but are still upright positioned. This means you can sort of get the same feel but you will be able to sit without the use of a fairly tall stool.
There could be some other alternatives out there that mix or slightly change these parameters, but these are the basic setups, and all of them do a very adequate job of giving you tons of enjoyment that hearken back to times and days gone by and eras long since gone.
Let’s Talk Games
The main reason we want to have an arcade machine is, of course, to play video games! Right? At least, it should be. While it’s nice to have a cool talking piece in the room, the real appeal has to be playing the game itself. As far as this goes, there are some choices to be made. In the old days, as you will know all too well, a machine had just one single game on it. No matter how clunky and massive the machine, it only had one single game built in to it. And it did well to house that! Nowadays, though, we are able to play hundreds of games on our consoles, most of them not even using a disc at all or anything that needs to be loaded in. Like that, there are programs today that will let you play multiple games on an arcade machine. These are typically referred to as ‘emulators.’ An emulator is basically just a program that seeks to run like the game used to do but without all of the old equipment needed to run it. It takes up far less space, and by doing this, you can play a ton of different games. So, when it comes to your project, you will have to decide between going with a machine that has a wide variety of games for you to play or one that has just one on it. If you are looking for the most authentic look and feel, you might just want only one game. But you have to weigh it out because for a lot of people it’s a lot of money to spend to only just one single title to play.
Since we already discussed the fact that you could have multiple games included in your machine, we now have to talk about the aesthetics of the machine. If the appearance isn’t up to snuff, you won’t be having nearly as good of a time and won’t be drawn back into those memories of popping one coin after another into the machine as you try to master your favorite game. If you do choose to go with a machine that houses multiple games, you need to think about the kind of looks you want the machine to have. The ‘cabinet’ area is the part where you will get the most attention from. This is the part that has the game’s title, the siding, and the such on it. Even the colors that surround the controls are included here. If this part is off, then you will be negatively influenced and will not have the amount of fun that you’d like to have. Look for something that has a look and feel to it that is from that bygone era for you. This way, instead of seeing ‘Pac Man’ or ‘Galaga’ up at the top, you’ll instead have a good, general feel that screams those days to you. Also, look for retro artwork, which should be easy to find, bright colors, and lights, too. All of those things seem like accentuating pieces, but they will be paramount to taking your game play to the next level and providing you with the desire to play more and more. Without it, you might not have the gumption to get in there and play all that often. You can always add additional pieces to the room as well, such as posters or lights or anything, in order to help make the machine pop that much more.
We talked a little about the controls earlier, but we need to take it a little further now. There is a lot more to them than just what meets the eye, but that is also an essential part it all. First and foremost, they have to look authentic. If the controls look kind of bland or out of place, no matter how well they may or may not function, you’ll be left disappointed greatly. Next, make sure they are going to be usable. If you are buying online, which is most likely what you are trying to do if you are reading this, then you might have a harder time with this. But, by looking at what people say, you can get a good feel for it. They have to be buttons that don’t stick and they also have to be durable. No one wants controls that pop out and leave you hanging. The number of buttons is also critical and the placement of them. Too many buttons is what you want, rather than having a machine that has too few controls. Without enough controls, you might not be able to play your favorite game. The placement is important, too. If they are not positioned well, then you might not be able to play with two players. That could take away from your enjoyment of the piece as a whole.
To increase the authenticity even more, you should consider your options about the coin slot. The coin slot is a choice to be made, but if you want the game to feel as real as you can, you will want it. Not only do they bring that sense of nostalgia along with it, but they can also make some money off the backs of your friends. Big win-win! Just kidding, don’t do this. It’s not cool. Some prefer to not go with this option, instead just going with a free play button. Others also incorporate a coin slot that just has one purpose: to look like a coin slot. It has no real meaning other than being there and providing something nice to look upon. To some, it will be an intruder, to others an essential must-have. It just comes down to simple preference.
The reputation of the company that is making the arcade machine has to be taken into account here. While it is true that all companies have hits and misses, a machine is not likely to be great if you are dealing with a company that has historically done a bad job. Reputation also extends to how well they treat their customers and the service that they give. If a company gets eight out of their ten machines right but doesn’t help the other 20% with their problems, there is an issue and you should overlook them. Even in a setting such as Amazon, there are going to be groups and sellers that are better than others. So try to take a look at them as a whole and determine if that is the way you want to go. If they are known for making good machines, then you should be safe. But if you decide to save money, you could be taking a gamble on a company that is a bit of an unknown.
The price of an arcade machine is going to fluctuate wildly, and we mean wildly, based on a number of factors. One of them is the age of the machine. If you have a machine that is from the 70s and is operating just as it once was, it’s probably going to be extremely valuable. But it also does depends on the aesthetics and how well they have held up. Then you have newer machines that are made to be all-in-one efforts to appease loyal, diehard fans. Those can be cheaper, much cheaper, but it just depends on the specific model and what you would like to buy. It’s hard to narrow it down and give a specific formula on this. As far as you are concerned, you should be looking to pick out a budget and then stick within that budget. This way, you will have a better understanding of what you are willing to spend and all of the various options that are on the table for you to pick from. Keep in mind that taxes can also drive the price up more than you had planned on, so where you live and what type of machine and the girth of it could play a key role.
Taking care of your arcade machine is going to come after you have bought one, but it’s worth pointing out a few things that you should be doing to make sure your game works as it is intended to. Luckily, maintenance isn’t a huge deal, so you should be good to go. One thing to do is to just take care of it as you go. Make sure you wipe it clean after use, using either a dry rag or a slightly damp one. This way you clear off the dirt from your fingertips, which can be pretty substantial. Also, make sure to spray out the computer with compressed air every so often as well as making sure to update the software if it is available and needed. Other than that, it’s really just common sense. Don’t treat it harshly, and it should last a very long time. A cover also works wonders for keeping it less dirty, so there is that option, too.
Let’s Review The Top 7 Home Arcade Game Machines of 2019!
Prime Arcades Cocktail Machine
It might not be the traditional look, but this one is super cool and tops the list because of all of the features it brings to the table. This cocktail machine will allow you to sit down and play a multitude of games (1,162 to be exact) along with your friends. This machine comes along with two stools that are made out of chrome as well, helping you to make your choice, as well as a five year warranty. There will be no worrying over this machine due to that, as well as the fact that this is about as sturdy as they come. It’s made out of sturdy materials, weighing 186 pounds. It won’t be easily broken, and that’s terrific news for anyone that has kids running around! It is also fully assembled, so all you have to do is plug it in and get to playing. The customer service that is offered is exquisite as well, and that will help you feel like you are even closer to going back in time and reliving the glory days!
- Warranty included breeds confidence
- Very sturdy setup
- Doesn’t need assembly
- Not an upright machine
Chicago Gaming Ms. Pac-Man/Galaga 1981 Gaming Cabinet
If you’d like to see a game that is more like the traditional setup you remember, then this is the one for you. It’s an upright machine that holds two of your most favorite games in one, Galaga and Ms. Pac Man. It’s also going to have a few bonuses in there, but primarily this is a machine for those games, diverging from the path of thousands of games like so many currently are going with. One of the things here worth mentioning is that it is a single player game, so if you are absolutely trying to fit in more than one player, you will need to look elsewhere. The artwork and attention to detail that Chicago Gaming has shown with the machine just makes it as realistic as can be. It even has a place for coins though the door does not work and cannot work with this model, further helping to drive the authenticity of it all. The only negative you can see with this one is the price considering the relative lack of games.
- Upright machine just like the old days
- Awesome artwork
- Very realistic
- Lot of money for just a handful of games
Prime Arcades 4 Player Upright Arcade Machine
So far, we have seen smaller machines, but this one is larger. So large, in fact, that you can play with up to four people on it! This making melee style games very much possible and can fit the whole family (or most of it) around. It’s also got a ton of game available, housing over 3000 of your favorite hits and some of the lesser known ones, too, that you’ll be glad to learn about. On top of that, you get the opportunity, though you have to pay a bit more, to have the artwork customized to fit your idea a little bit better. One of the cool things they offer is free shipping in the contiguous US, helping you out greatly with customer service. Like the other offering earlier, the machine is ready to play on arrival and you will just need to put it where you want it and plug it to go. It is the most expensive on our list (by a few dollars), but for the price you get so much value.
- Massive catalog of games
- Four player machine
- Free shipping
- Pretty pricey
NAMCO America Pac-Man’s Pixel Bash Cabaret
If you want to go a step further toward the authentic arcade feel, then this machine does so with its cabaret style. Like the cabinet, this machine sits upright. However, the monitor leans back at an angle, just like what you would have seen long ago. This very small, slight change is one that will appeal to a lot of people simply because you don’t see many like it out there. Despite having Pixel Bash displayed, it also holds 31 other games well, with favorites like Dig Dug, Galaga, and Galaxian in on the fun. One the possible detraction that it has is that it does have room for just one player, so that is a bit of a bummer if you are a family man or woman and want to share the fun. But, unlike many in this sector, it does hold your high score regardless of the machine being on or off. So you can still compete and seek to destroy the competition!
- Cabaret style stands out
- Good amount of games
- Retains high scores
- Just one player fitted
N2Fun Classic Upright MAME Arcade System
If you are looking for a setup that will let you play a plethora of games, then look no further. This game has a massive gallery of games thanks to the MAME system, which helps deliver 11,000 of them to you. Contrary to many of them, this system has an awesome speaker that will make the games sound just like they were intended to back then. It’s even got a top of the line gaming card to make the graphics pop at you and helps the entire thing stand out that much more. It’s got a ton of buttons, too, ranging in sizes, and will let you play with up to four players at a time, making it able to fit a good chunk of the family into your game. On top of all of that, you get some great service to go along with it. You get a three year warranty on the parts, service for the life of it, and you also get free shipping as well. Of course, it does come at quite a premium price to buy, like the third offering on the list, so that has to be balanced a little bit!
- Huge inventory of games
- Fits four players
- Great sounds and graphics
- Quite a bit expensive
Chicago Gaming Arcade Legends 3 Upright Machine
Chicago Gaming renters the list here at #6, only this time it is with a cabaret style game machine. This one is coined arcade legends, and it means that a different group of games is included on it due to licensing and the such. The headliner is Space Invaders, but there are still 134 other games included. It’s not the largest of libraries to be sure, but there are still a good number of games to play on it. Because the game is made for home use only, the coin door is there but does not operate, so that could be a bit of a bummer for some out there. Another potential negative is the price of it, which is extremely high given that the number of games is reduced in relation to others. It’s cheaper than the previous N2Fun offer, but not by a great deal enough to warrant the lack of games. There are some control issues to be aware of, too, with the game play proving tough due to the controls not being mapped out very well for you. So those are things to consider as well.
- Very nice cabaret style
- Different set of games to play
- Extremely sturdy
- High for the number of games
- Control mapping problems
Creative Arcades Pub Style Arcade Machine
Rounding out the list is a cool addition that will truly is a cocktail machine. It is because it is sitting on top of a barrel, in fact! Having an arcade machine is already cool enough, but this piece will make you stand out that much more to your buddies. Included in it are 60 games, from Donkey Kong to Pac-Man and all in between. It’s very easy to use, just plug it and you are ready to go like never before. It’s constructed with heavy duty wood, but if you do happen to have any issues they have a three year warranty and will help take care of the issues. The monitor is not the biggest, but when you consider that you will be sitting down and playing it, the picture changes quite a lot and it’s understandable. It comes with two stools and has controls for two players, so you will be able to compete and see who comes out on top all the while having a great theme, too!
- Very unique piece
- Relatively inexpensive
- Good warranty and materials used
- Small monitor
At the end of the day, finding the perfect home arcade game machine is going to come down to your personal preference. Today’s market includes all sorts of games, ranging from the ones we used to see filling up arcades to newer ones that seek to emulate and call back to the times that have passed us by. Some are big, some are very small, but no matter their size or the number of game they might have, they all seek to remind us of the past. After our guide today, you will be much more informed and ready to make the decision on what to buy. So, get to it. Make that room stand out with the most awesome center piece ever and get to playing!