Arcade1Up is next-level retro gaming with cabinets for Street Fighter and other classics

It’s weird to love a $300 video game. But that’s the funny thing about nostalgia.

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Arcade1Up's Street Fighter II cabinet had me reliving the glory days of going to the arcade, without the need for quarters.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The retro gaming trend gives us many ways to spend new money reliving old memories. Systems like SNES ClassicC64 Mini and the upcoming PlayStation Classic top the gift charts as consumers yearn for the good ol' days.

Watch this: Arcade1Up Street Fighter machine is a retro blast to build

But now, the company Arcade1Up is taking the craze to the next level with build-it-yourself home arcade cabinets. The machines are now on sale in retail stores, starting at $300 (which converts to roughly £288, or AU$420). There are several flavors of machines, with each cabinet featuring a handful of iconic arcade titles: Street Fighter, Rampage, Centipede, Asteroids and Galaga are among the first batch.


The buttons and joystick have a satisfying clicky-ness.

Sarah Tew/CNET

After playing with a Street Fighter machine that I built myself, I gotta say -- it is a total blast. Street Fighter was one of my favorite games as a kid, and I just wrapped myself in the giddy arcade memories, button mashing my troubles away. (And of course, no need for quarters.)

Is it practical? Of course not. You're spending $300 on a machine that has three, maybe four old games, and will take up space in the home. This thing costs as much as an Xbox One or PlayStation 4.

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But you're not here researching an arcade machine because it's a rational purchase. You want to add pizzazz to your home decor and show off your nerdy side. You're telling yourself that you're not too old to have some fun and whimsy. And besides, this is a statement piece, a work of art to honor an era of the past. (Not to mention friends will think you're so cool.)

As you may expect, it's not exactly the same as a real arcade machine. These are about three-quarters of the size, measuring just under 4 feet high. That means you'll be sitting at a stool to play or you'll need to put it on a riser to lift it up. Arcade1Up does sell both a stool and riser separately.

Here are the games included with each model:

  • Atari's Centipede Cabinet: Centipede, Millipede, Missile Command, Crystal Castles
  • Atari's Asteroids Cabinet: Asteroids, Tempest, Major Havoc, Lunar Lander
  • Midway's Rampage Cabinet: Rampage, Defender, Joust, Gauntlet
  • Capcom's Street Fighter II Cabinet: Street Fighter II Championship Edition, Super Street Fighter II The New Challengers, Super Street Fighter II Turbo
  • Bandai Namco's Galaga Cabinet: Galaga, Galaxian
  • Capcom's Final Fight Cabinet: Final Fight, Ghosts 'n' Goblins, 1944: The Loop Master, Strider (coming spring 2019) 

Some machines are exclusive to certain retail stores. Best Buy , Home Depot and Fry's Electronics sell a deluxe edition priced at $400 that includes 12 games in one machine: Asteroids, Centipede, Major Havoc, Missile Command, Lunar Lander, Crystal Castles, Tempest, Millipede, Gravitar, Liberator, Asteroids Deluxe. It also comes with a 12-inch riser (which otherwise costs $40) and the cabinet art features both Asteroids and Centipede.

The cabinets incorporate the same decal art as their original machines, and the joystick and buttons have just the right clicky feeling and sound you want.

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There's an on/off switch and a volume control switch to mute it. Holding down the player select key brings up menus to restart the game.

Building the cabinet myself was easier than I expected. It took me about an hour and a half, and the instructions were straightforward. It's made of lightweight wood and there's a plexiglass cover that protects a 17-inch LCD screen. All the computer bits are tucked in with the screen in a back panel. The cabinet itself is hollow inside and weighs 63 pounds when put together.

Since it's smaller and lightweight, expect it to shake a little if two players are getting intense with the controls. Also, players will be closer to each other than they would be using an actual arcade machine.

But hey, if you were to buy a real arcade machine yourself, you'd be paying more than $2,000 on eBay. That's the compromise for the $300 price tag.

Arcade1Up says it's working on more types of machines. So get ready for a new challenger in the fight for your retro game system spending dollars.

Originally published Oct. 16, 2018.
Update, Oct. 17: Added Final Fight info. 

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