Retro gaming is big business. Be it high-end, high-price retro handhelds or mini arcade cabinets, there’s a huge audience and a mint to be made by companies willing to stoke our nostalgia - and one of the market leaders is now taking things to the next level.
Announced at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, replica arcade creator Arcade1Up is giving their range something of a level up with its first ‘Pro Series’ arcade machines - full-size, full-fat cabinet recreations for the truly hardcore.
This new line isn’t a replacement for the existing Arcade1Up products, which have now sold nearly 3 million units, but rather a new pillar of the company’s product line-ups. It joins the traditional Arcade1Up machines (smaller three-quarter sized cabinet recreations), the Junior range (even smaller cabinets for kids), the Infinity Game Table (an electronic tabletop which can play digital board games), and Electronic Pinball machines.
The first of the Pro Series machines to be formally introduced is a recreation of the classic Killer Instinct cabinets from the nineties. The Pro cabinets are full-size, with 19-inch screens, cosmetic improvements throughout, and SuzoHapp buttons - a common brand of component in original arcade cabinets of the time, and a huge step up from the generic buttons and sticks in the standard A1U machines. The Killer Instinct cabinet features KI, KI2, Battletoads Arcade, and both the 8 and 16-bit versions of Battletoads. More Pro Series machines will launch throughout 2022.
Also announced at CES were a trio of new three-quarter size cabinets, each based around three companies. One is for Bandai-Namco, featuring 14 games from that publisher’s stable including Pac-Man. The Midway cabinet leads with Mortal Kombat but also features 14 games total, while the Atari cabinet leads with Cetipede and, again, features 14 games in total. We’ve seen these publisher ‘Legacy’ cabinets from Arcade1Up before, but these new 2022 variations feature two more games each.
Arcade1Up has continued to do well for its parent company Tastemakers, LLC, and is quickly becoming a leading name in home arcades. Regular VG247 readers will know that I’m a bit of an arcade fanatic and own several original cabinets of my own - but Arcade1Up is one of a few companies creating more affordable and size-conscious offerings for those wanting a little slice of the eighties or nineties in their game room.
The new ‘Pro Series’ cabinets are expected to retail for around $1000 a piece, according to GameSpot. That puts it in an interesting category - as for that sort of price you can certainly build an original emulation-powered cabinet with a Raspberry Pi or similar in it - and it’s not even that far from the cost of buying an original machine. It begins to become a complicated equation, though - as though original cabinet build quality is likely to be higher (they were, after all, designed to survive arcade abuse), they bring with them hefty ongoing maintenance and delivery costs.
Despite supply chain issues wrecking havoc, 2021 was another interesting year for the home arcade world, with a lot of new products and developments. I’ll keep an eye on this upcoming year’s developments - and I might even pick up one of these full-size cabinets to check out the build quality. If I do, I’ll report in. Just don’t tell my partner if I do get one.