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Exclusive hands-on video: Arcade1Up's Simpsons, X-Men cabinets bring new perks to '90s hits

Preorders for The Simpsons arcade cabinet begin today. It costs $700. (D'oh.)

Mmmm... retro gaming.

Arcade1Up

The day has finally come for arcade fans to relive the glory of a button-mash skateboard attack against a giant Krusty the Clown balloon. Arcade1Up's home arcade version of The Simpsons, a remake of Konami's hit 1991 cabinet, is available for preorder today, with units shipping later this year.

The $700 price tag may have some fans shouting "¡Ay, caramba!" But this four-player machine comes with more upgrades than previous generations of Arcade1Up cabinets, including a light-up marquee sign on top, matching stool and a molded coin door design. (Your quarters are spared, as this doesn't require any to play.) 

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The remake's biggest twists: It has Wi-Fi connectivity to play online with other cabinet owners, no subscription required. And a giant trackball in the center of the controls was added for playing the bonus game, The Simpsons Bowling, also made by Konami. It's being sold at Best Buy, GameStop and Target.

I got to check out an early prototype of the machine at the company's Miami headquarters, along with other new cabinets coming out this year: X-Men, Turtles in Time and Street Fighter II Big Blue, all of which boast a big "Live" button to jump into online play. The video embedded above includes a close up look at these builds and an interview with Arcade1Up CEO Scott Bachrach about what's potentially the next step for upgrading these retro machines: online chat. 

Ever since I first saw Arcade1Up's retro machines in 2018, all I've been thinking about is how cool a Simpsons release would be, so it was trippy to finally get behind the controls. You play as Homer, Marge, Bart and Lisa in this beat-em-up, a side-scrolling quest to save Maggie from Smithers and Mr. Burns after there's a mixup with a diamond and her pacifier. Characters fight Mr. Burns' goons in their own styles: Marge swings a vacuum cleaner, Bart attacks with a skateboard, Lisa flings a jump rope. And Homer, well, punches and kicks.

It's basically Konami's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game, but in Simpsons form.

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Arcade1Up's remakes feature the same art design as the original machine.

Arcade1Up

The original arcade game came out right as the Fox television series was getting started, so nothing really makes much sense in the storyline. But that mania is also why I got such a kick out of playing it. Live online play wasn't available for me to sample during my visit, unfortunately. And neither was The Simpsons Bowling. 

First teased before the E3 2021 gaming event in June, this remake was originally scheduled to go on sale July 15, but the company hit reset to push preorders to Aug. 16. 

Arcade1Up's remakes are smaller than their original counterparts, roughly three-fourths the size -- and thus a fraction of the real deal's price. (Scoring an actual Simpsons machine will set you back around $4,000 on eBay.) 

Tastemakers, the parent company behind Arcade1Up, has been in the business of remaking popular arcade machines for several years now, selling over 2 million machines with licensed titles including Street Fighter, X-Men, Atari and Pac-Man

Matching Simpsons in its $700 price is the four-player X-Men cabinet, which Target lists as shipping by Nov. 1. It's loaded with two bonus games: The classic Captain America and the Avengers, as well as The Avengers in Galactic Storm.

The company came out with a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles machine in 2019, but this year's Turtles In Time makes the bonus game the focus of the cabinet art and adds online play for both games. It's available for preorder at Best Buy for $650, with shipping expected in October.

Arcade1Up has released several versions of Street Fighter arcade machines, but Street Fighter II Big Blue is the largest model -- designed to mimic large blue editions meant to stand out at the arcade. It's also the first model to get online play, and is available for preorder for $600 at Best Buy.

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You don't win friends with salad. But you could win friends by inviting them to play at home -- or online.

Arcade1Up

The design of the Simpsons frame emulates the art of the original. The included matching riser puts the unit at 57.8 inches (148cm) tall, weighing in at roughly 104 pounds. This model includes a 17-inch display and adjustable volume. Arcade1Up's machines do require assembly, but they're pretty simple. I've put together two myself. 

Anything Simpsons will of course be popular, but depending on how online play adds to the experience, we'll have to wait to play the final units to determine if it's Arcade1Up's. Best. Game. Ever.

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