Fancy arcade game simulator cabinet inspired by Pong's design


#1

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/06/12/fancy-arcade-game-simulator-ca.html


#2

Lovely design. It’s a great compromise between full cabinet and table top units. I think I’d skip the barrel distortion though. Fun idea but I’m thinking it’s a bit much.
You can still get 19-40" CRTs for under $200 these days.


#3

It’s gorgeous! Is anyone producing something similar for not $3000+?


#4

It sure is purdy! But personally I think it’s sacrilege to buy a completed emulator cabinet though, this has always been a DIY thing. I just finished rebuilding my old cabinet (new and improved, now runs Linux!), if the word “finished” can ever be applied to this kind of project:

I’m fortunate to have lots of space, but if you need something that multitasks, cocktail sit down cabinets are awesome too and make great tables.

And looking at their demo video it looks like it runs pre-configured game collections, which means you can’t load extra games on it, nor do any customizing at all. I’d think that would be frustrating. Mine has almost every arcade game from the 70s, 80s and 90s, that I can organize into groups like “just the classics” or “every damn game”. Furthermore, there doesn’t appear to be a coin slot on their cabinet. What fun is an old arcade cabinet if you can’t use those Chuck E. Cheese tokens you bought on eBay that were sold by the pound?

And when it’s yours you can make it do other fun things like be a movie server or connect it to a projector and have it play random episodes of Reno 911 when you press the special button. You can even have it play old Atari 2600 games or Apple IIe games, which can be a shockingly disappointing experience.

But granted mine looks like a group of chimpanzees built it compared to the “OriginX”. As an arcade cabinet should! It’s just not authentic without a few vintage cigarette burns.


#5

Also I think they fudged that Donkey Kong demo shown at :38:

The monitor in the OriginX is mounted horizontally, but Donkey Kong uses a vertically mounted monitor (as did most of the games from the era), so it should be heavily letterboxed on the left and right. But it magically looks perfect in the oddly cropped demo they’re showing us. I call shinanigans!

Edited to add: here’s a distance shot of the OriginX, note the horizontally mounted monitor:

Here’s an actual Donkey Kong cabinet, with it’s vertically mounted monitor:

But here’s the way Donkey Kong looks on their cabinet with a horizontally mounted monitor:

dknoletterbox

There should be heavy letterboxing in their demo video when he’s playing Donkey Kong. For example here’s how it looks when I play it on my cabinet with a horizontally mounted monitor. Note the heinous letterboxing:

And another big issue with emulator cabinets that they seem to have magically solved is 4-way versus 8-way joysticks. Old games like Donkey Kong used 4-way joysticks, meaning there’s no diagonals, while this demo freely mixes old games and new, which use 8-way. (To understand the difference, imagine Donkey Kong, where you move up/down/left/right, then imagine Berzerk or Street Fighter, where the character can move diagonally). They’re different joysticks (or, more accurately, the joysticks are set up differently), and it’s really frustrating to play a 4-way game like Donkey Kong with an 8-way joystick, and downright impossible to play an 8-way game with a 4-way joystick.

I use joysticks that auto-switches between 4 and 8 way, but there doesn’t appear to be room for one of those in the tiny cabinet of the OriginX.


#6

It’s Donky Kong, It’s all barrel distortion!

*Cough*

…I’ll … see myself out.


#7

There’s one sentence I’ve heard at the university I’ll never forget: "The attempt to reproduce obsolete devices using recent technology is the very definition of Kitsch".
Now go on and shoot the messenger. :slight_smile:


#8

You say that like it’s a bad thing.


#9

I admit, at first I was startled by the boldness of said statement but the more you think of it… I also should mention that the prof whom I quoted was quite an authority in the field.


#10

I cheerfully embrace kitsch as a lifestyle choice, that is only enhanced by new technology that makes obsolete devices function in a modern world within the aesthetic of select eras of the past that are far more appealing than today!


#11

Or nostalgia? I don’t actually play any of the games on my cabinet much, but it can be amazing watching someone play that game they loved when they were 13 but haven’t played in ages and the memories come flooding back. They start smelling the old pizza parlor or wherever they used to play it, for better or worse.

Besides, when you find an old gutted arcade cabinet in a thriftshop for $30, something must be done with it.


#12

Besides, when you find an old gutted arcade cabinet in a thriftshop for $30, something must be done with it.

Arguably, but yes. I’d propose to either restore the original thing as good-as-possible or -much better- find a new use for it that in some tricky way refers to its’ original purpose. The latter is pretty tricky but certainly more satisfying than a half-assed replica that still is worse than the original thing (like using joysticks as a replacement for the paddles of the 1972 game) and still can’t reach the perfection of actual arcade games.
My expectations may be high here, but three thousand Euros are quite a lot of money too.


#13

Please don’t take any cabinet approaching halfway decent and turn it into a MAME cabinet. That goes double for classic cocktail cabinets. They deserve to be restored.

If you’re going to make an arcade cabinet then make it. There are plans all over the place, it’s not that hard, and it’s rewarding.


#14

I love retro design and am happy to pay a premium for it, but $3400 is bonkers for this little thing. Go to any arcade auction (every major city has them a few times a year) and you can get fully working arcade games for less than $1000 or empty, vintage arcade cabinets for a few hundred dollars. Or heck, get one of these (I have one in my house), add a monitor and old laptop running MAME, decorate it however you want, and have a terrific looking machine for less than $700 that plays hundreds of games. They even do a great looking cocktail cabinet for about $350.


#15

I agree that people should heavily consider it, but if it’s something later model (in the Jamma era, meaning post 1987 or so), personally I don’t see a reason to restore it. Mine was a beat up old Blasteroids cabinet, which is the 1987 sequel to Asteroids that no one has ever heard of. It was set up for Jamma, which is just a cartridge system. At some point it had been swapped over to run Street Fighter. By the time I got it the monitor was gone. I saved it from the dump.

As far as cocktail cabinets, good point, I should say that I don’t recommend turning vintage cocktail cabs into mame cabinets, start with one of the goofy iCade type cabinets instead:

Those are pretty ubiquitous on Craigslist etc., and there’s lots of other models built by companies in the last ~20 years.

But yes, I agree that people should think twice about gutting old pre-Jamma arcade cabinets. Or if you do make the conversion, leave the guts in place so someone can convert it back later.


#16

Ok, here’s what mine does:

  • it does the expected thing, which is play old arcade games. I don’t know where you get the “plays them worse than the original”, mine plays them exactly equally. You’d never know the difference unless you were forensically analyzing the gameplay, but that’s not what I’m discussing here.

  • we sing a lot of karaoke at my place (I know, the horror), so it’s also a karaoke player, using the joysticks and buttons in an interface that looks like an old arcade game. Personally I think that arcade machines make beautiful karaoke stations, just don’t try to put a bunch of them next to each other in an arcade…

  • it’s connected to a projector that projects onto a giant wall (I live in a warehouse), so I can browse a giant list of videos using the joysticks as if it were an old video game. I set it up so I can also do things like have it select a random random Reno 911 or Southpark or surf flick, since sometimes having to decide exactly which Reno 911 I want to watch spoils the fun.

  • it’s also a college radio jukebox, playing through the house stereo. It can play any college or community radio station from the goodradio.org database (full disclosure: I maintain that database)

  • since it’s on all the time, it’s also a file server, serving videos to any computer (including phones and tablets) on our network. That’s damn useful in the modern era, put VLC on a crappy Amazon Kindle for example and now you have a beautiful portable video player. We don’t have a TV, but if we did the TV would also be able to videos from it even over the network.

  • I also wrote a little Python script that opens our front door when told to by a little Android app I built for it. I never bring keys with me anymore.

  • I’m currently working on a “mame screensaver” that makes it randomly cycle through games when no one is playing it. That way every time I walk past it, there’s some other video game oddity from the 70s, 80s and 90s on display. There were a lot of really odd games made in that era. That’s a lot more fun than always looking at Donkey Kong or Mr. Do, as it otherwise gets stuck on.

In other words, I completely agree that part of the fun is coming up with new uses for old cabinets. Which isn’t at all mutually exclusive with using it as a MAME cabinet.


#17

I took an old beat up cocktail machine (I think it was some kind of trivia cabinet) and turned it into a coffee table. I couldn’t fit the base into my car so I could only take the top and had to build the base myself. Given the space I was working with I used an LCD monitor from Craig’s List. Originally I had a Raspberry Pi in there but at the time I was disappointed with the romset an grabbed an old computer off eBay. I haven’t played with it in a while but it does look nice and is cooler than a regular old coffee table.


#18

Awesome! I’ve been meaning to make mine Raspberry Pi based just for style points. It’s currently running Lubuntu using the Attract Mode front end, so it should be a very easy switch.

And you bring up a good point about those old trivia machines. There’s so many absolutely crappy kiosk cabinets like that in the world that were worthless even in their original incarnations, just begging to be repurposed. I’ve been on the lookout for an old ATM machine for example. But I consider old jamma games mostly in that category too.

As far as your comment about building a cabinet as opposed to repurposing something, personally I feel like those never have any soul. A cabinet needs to have some signs of a hard life to be authentic to me. It needs those cigarette burns, signs of attempted vandalism, quarters that have made their way to odd places on the interior, even old gum under the control panel (yes, I leave it there). It’s all part of it to me. Granted that’s a very subjective opinion. But the home built cabinets, even when done well, are just too damn pristine for me to take seriously, and never quite feel right.


#19

I want to come to hang out at your house!


#20

Just for fun, here’s the MAME cabinet in my house (also used as a stereo for streaming music, etc). I designed graphics for it so it’d be the mythical long-lost sequel to Kangaroo.

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