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I've always wanted a home arcade. This is something that has appealed to me since I saw my first arcade cabinet as a child, playing Mario Bros. at a local strip mall. My affinity for arcade games only grew as I aged, but even in my 40's, I've never really had the spare cash or room to pull the trigger on a legit, full-sized cabinet for my home. This is why Arcade1up's machines are so appealing.
This company has found success manufacturing half-pint cabinets that are perfect for an arcade in a small house (like mine) or a child's room. The OutRun Seated Arcade I’ve been playing is only four feet tall and costs just $550 (no quarters required). So like me, you might be out of excuses to not buy a bunch of arcade cabinets, especially now that the X-Men 4 Player Arcade Machine is coming soon.
Fully assembled, this thing is slick
The first thing to note is that much like Ikea furniture, Arcade1up machines are assembled at home from a box of parts, primarily consisting of painted particle board. This box is packed well, with everything individually wrapped, thus cutting down on any potential shipping damage when sending these 100+lbs crates across the country. I was thoroughly impressed with this packaging (pictured below), starting off my adventure on a positive note.
A huge box, but it's packed really well
Once I had everything laid out on my floor, I dipped into the instructions. I found the booklet's descriptions and diagrams to be clear, so unlike Ikea furniture, I never once felt like I was lost. All I needed was a Phillips screwdriver to get going.
Everything laid out on the left, instructions on the right
It took me about two hours to assemble both the cabinet and its seat, and I took my time to ensure everything was screwed together correctly on the first try—particle board tends to break down if you have to mess around with screws too many times. While crawling along my floor for a few hours had me aching the next day, I was delighted that the build went smoothly, which I chalk up to the excellent assembly design.
Cabinet and seat sitting comfortably in my small living room
As far as build quality and components go, the OutRun Seated Arcade Machine definitely feels like a real arcade cabinet despite its diminutive design. The steering wheel is weighty and has a comfortable grip, just like what you would expect from a legit arcade racer. Heck, every time I walk past the machine, I reach out and turn the wheel. It just feels that good. Now the pedals, on the other hand, are pretty cheap and plasticky. They offer a solid range of movement, but there's no weight to them. The plastic construction of the pedals is a bit of a letdown after seeing what the wheel has to offer, but they still function as expected.
Wheel and pedals. Wheel feels great, pedals feel a little cheap even though they look the part
I was also surprised to see a functional light-up marquee at the top of the unit, which is where the stereo speakers sit. It's a nice touch that gives off a real-arcade vibe, while still keeping things very clean-looking. Below this marquee is the 17-inch LCD screen, which I’ve found to be bright and crisp, even when viewing at an angle over a player’s shoulder. Although, there is a fan in the unit, which is audible when sitting close. Around the wheel, you have a few buttons and switches, plus a shifter for those who enjoy manual racing controls. You can adjust the cabinet's volume level and change music tracks whenever you wish.
Lite up marquee, it's even visible in a well-lit room
It would appear that the screen permanently displays a scanline filter, making for something that looks close to the old tube screens used in the cabinets of the past. Still, an option to turn off the scanlines would have been appreciated, especially since I prefer my games to look as sharp as possible, and fake scanlines never quite look like the real thing. Notably, the LCD screen is a little washed out, but there is a mod available that darkens the screen's blacks while retaining brightness. There are actually a whole host of mods available for these cabinets. So yes, you can add Sanwa buttons and sticks to Arcade1Up's cabinets with a little bit of effort.
The scanline filter feels too aggressive
There are four racing games included with the OutRun Seated Arcade Machine cabinet. OutRun, Turbo OutRun, OutRunners, and Power Drift—all racing games from Sega. These are the original, officially licensed, arcade ROMs, too. The art on the cabinet is only for OutRun, which seems fitting as it’s the most popular of the lot. I definitely appreciate that the cabinet has more than one game considering this is a purpose-built unit with a wheel and pedals instead of arcade sticks. My personal favorites are OutRun and Power Drift. OutRun for its classic arcade racing and Power Drift for its challenging kart racing. All the games work perfectly with the controls, as they should.
All 4 games listed below the wheel, plus OutRun's map above the wheel
So while I may be a raging cynic when it comes to the mobile games I usually cover, I'm honestly delighted with the OutRun Seated Arcade Machine. It was easy enough to build, the quality of materials are better than expected, and the arcade-style experience is great. I appreciate that the bench isn't attached to this sit-down unit, allowing for easy storage. Plus, all of the mods currently available should interest hardcore arcade fans since there is an easy path to upgrade their screens, buttons, and sticks. There's a lot of stuff here for enthusiasts to enjoy despite the small size, and since Arcade1Up offers over 40 upright cabinets across its storefront, Target, Best Buy, and Amazon, you have a lot of options even though stock is limited due to high demand.
Despite the small size it's actually a comfortable sit-down cabinet
All around, I'm impressed with what Arcade1up has to offer. The experience isn't 100% as good as a real arcade cabinet, but it's surprisingly close. Yes, $550 is a lot for four games, but it's the experience that matters here, and for me, that’s where the cabinet shines.