It doesn’t matter how hard a pastime was, you’ll always remember something that you enjoyed.
If I had to say which video-game I played first, it was probably some “game & watch” game or the first Super Mario Bros launched for Nintendo Entertainment System (NES).
However, in the 80s and the 90s, it was the golden age of arcade machines too.
For a video-games fan, there is no better sound or touch than the one produced by pressing arcade buttons. The feeling of a metallic spring being triggered. Just remembering that sound draws a smile to my face.
But you are probably wondering how the hell I can help you relive this and save you some money for low-cost nostalgia?
Well, rather than buying an expensive machine, you can actually build your own one.
It won’t save you all the coins you spent on arcade games when you were younger, but it will be enjoyable and will make you proud of yourself (and impress your friends too).
Why Did I Decide To Build My Own Arcade?
If you are planning to build or you have thought about building an arcade machine before, you probably grew up in the 80s or 90s.
In those years, at least in my country (Spain), there were local arcades full of machines and different video-games.
A lot of time was needed to enjoy the games though, and they also required coins to get credits. So that is why I decided that in the future, I would find a way to play those games at home.
1. Research Components and Order Them
The first step on the way to enjoying hours of arcade gaming is to research and analyse how to build the machine and what components are required.
On the internet, it’s possible to find sets of components that include everything needed for developing the work. You can even get the coin receptor just in case you want to start charging your friends to play!
If you don’t want to spend too much time looking for different prices and comparing between single items, I encourage you to select one of the complete sets. In my case, I found a set which allows me to play up to two players at the same time. More than enough for an enjoyable evening with friends at home.
2. Wait for Delivery
Depending on where the components come from (I personally used AliExpress), you will need to wait for the order to be delivered. Take this into account: The cheaper the price, the slower the delivery.
Also, depending on the store and country you make the order from, an extra cost might be added due to taxes.
3. You Have Everything, But Where To Build It?
Once the order has been delivered, it’s time to review all the items. When I did this, I realised something I didn’t notice before.
Where will I mount all the buttons and joysticks?
This is when you stop, analyse, and eventually decide to surrender some of the furniture in your home. Since I was so close to starting, I didn’t want to wait for another delivery.
I eventually decided that my IKEA table actually was not really needed. I mean… who really needs a table in their living room!?
4. Use Whatever Tools You Have
At this point, I had already decided to destroy a table from home, so who could stop me from using some more ‘tools’ that I had at my disposal?
A knife is probably the best screwdriver/saw combo that you can get. I also found out that IKEA tables are not made of steel… or even solid wood!
5. Build and Test
This was one of the most fun parts of the whole process—when I got to demonstrate my handyman skills and plan the layout.
Depending on the origin of the components and your ability with electronics, it is probably necessary to look online for instructions on how to connect all the wiring. Don’t worry, it’s usually as simple as following colours. A black wire that interconnects everything to the ground and coloured wires for each switch.
6. Share with Somebody
At this point, you can start to feel proud of your skills and run to tell everybody what you did.
Or you could also buy an axe (this time is totally mandatory) and destroy the evidence before anyone finds out that you failed to build such a geeky thing. I can proudly say, however, that I was able to save myself the cost of that axe and share the work.
My next step will be taking a screen and embedding it into the table so an external TV is not needed. But that will be a different story.
The Bonus Step!
After all that work, the last step is the most important one not to forget about… Turn off your mobile phone, invite a friend around, and enjoy a nice nostalgic evening on your very own arcade machine.