I imagine many geek dads have fond memories of the early ’80s video arcades (well, those of us of a certain age). I cut my teeth on Space Invaders, Donkey Kong, and Burger Time before graduating to the more advanced games such as Tempest, Tron, and Sinistar. My hometown arcade (Pensacola, Florida) was called Space Port at University Mall, and for at least a year or more you could get 10 tokens for $1.00 and if you managed to get a bronze or gold token randomly dropped from the token machine, you could trade that in for an additional 5 or 10 bonus tokens. For $2 or $3, you could spend a couple of hours easily, and my parents were always just fine dropping me off there as they knew I was staying out of trouble.
Alas, Space Port is no longer in business, and the day of $0.25 arcade games seems to be gone — nowadays most of the really fun games cost at least $1.00 and you know you’re in for some hurt when the actual arcade game takes dollar bills or debit cards — crazy!!
Now that I have two sons of my own, I cannot wait to at least show them the games I played as a kid before they snicker and go play on their XBox 2020 or whatever the kids will be playing. Still, I can at least feel that I’ve done my part to pass along a glimpse of the early days of video games (don’t worry, I’ll introduce them to Infocom text-based games, too) and maybe try their hand at beating ol’ dad at a game of Donkey Kong or Galaxian.
A while back I wrote about building my own arcade cabinet (it’s 98.5% done — almost… almost… there…) using the Build Your Own Arcade book. When it’s done, my boys will at least have the ability to play some of the older games should they choose to do so. But not everyone has the time, money, or skill (or any combo of the three) to build an arcade cabinet. Short of dropping $1,500 or more on a pre-built one at Costco or Sam’s Club during the holidays that only plays maybe 25 games (all from the same company, too — so most likely it’s either Bally-Midway or Atari games, but not both), the chance of having a real arcade cabinet in your home for a decent price is slim.
If you’ve been wanting your own arcade cabinet and don’t to spend a fortune on it, you’ll be happy to know that geek dad Archie Jones has created a Kickstarter project that is offering up a custom arcade cabinet with all the right details:
- Low price
- Multiple options from complete cabinet to 50% done/50% DIY
- Smaller footprint (takes up less space)
- Blueprints available for DIYers
- No soldering required control panel (a big one for many folks!)
You can go straight for the completely built cabinet so all you have to do is add computer/gamestation and flat screen or monitor… or you can let Archie do the hardest stuff for you such as routing the side pieces and dealing with the t-molding slot. (Honestly, the sides and the t-molding weren’t that bad for me, but that’s because I had the tools to do it right — front, top, back, and bottom pieces can be cut yourself easily enough OR you can have Home Depot or Lowe’s cut them to size for you.)
I like that Archie isn’t forcing a theme on you — you can go with his American Ace design by selecting the right option or choose your own theme. I highly recommend getting his Deluxe Accessories Kit, however — those parts are a good buy and you’ll spend a lot of time and energy (and money) gathering it all together. Add in the Control Panel Kit if you’d prefer not to build that yourself, and you’re still under the $500 mark with very little left to spend other than hardware (nuts/bolts) and the top/bottom/front panel pieces. (Save some money and only go for the coin drop if you really want to charge to play — I skipped that and went for a Lumiglass-lightning effect mounted in its place.)
It’s a nice design, and I’m very impressed with the quality of the parts and the thought that’s gone into the various options. Pick and choose what you need, and if you can handle some of the work yourself, you’ll save even more money.
My full-size cabinet has been relegated to the basement… it’s big. I imagine if I’d gone this route (with a smaller cabinet) I might have been able to get it into my office or one of my kids’ rooms. Oh, well… consider yourself lucky if you choose to back this great Kickstarter project. And please be sure to post pictures of your cabinet over at our GeekDad Community Page!
Be sure to read all the details on the American Ace Kickstarter project if you’re in the market for your own arcade experience.