Joseph works as an editor in one of the magazines dedicated to video games. Here, at RecRoomPick, he’s given the opportunity to enjoy the reverse of the medal – the no less engaging world of offline games.
Ryan knows everything when it comes to gaming, both online and offline. Since his early years he’s been in love with arcades, air hockey, and foosball. Finally, he’s given the opportunity to share his knowledge and opinion on the hobby of his life (and even get paid for it!).
Last updated: May 19, 2021
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Pac-Man edition, 4-player models, tabletop units, cocktail arcade machines… You can’t just buy any arcade machine and hope that it will meet all your expectations: they are not all created equal and some models have more to offer than others. That’s why we took the time to research these units to help you make the right choice.
For this article, we chose five best arcade machines based on a few key features. All of the models have the games built right in, so you only need to plug them in and start playing. On the list, you’ll find models with just a few games (old but gold) as well as those with a few thousand for players who love diversity. We picked a few different sizes and types as well, including tabletop models and cocktail arcade tables, so you can get the right one for the space you have available. Moreover, just for fun, we even picked a coin-operated model to take you back to those fun days at the arcade. If you’re interested in the best arcade machine for your home, read on!
Fill yourself with the vibes of the good old classics with this Pac-Man arcade cabinet. Though you do need to put some of the parts together on this model, this process is easy to do, with clear instructions to follow. Once you’ve got it up and running, you’ll be glad you made the effort due to the great features the Arcade1Up Pac-Man machine has to offer.
This model isn’t quite as large as the machines used back in the 80s, so it will fit better in your home game room, basement, or anywhere else you want it to go. At less than 60 pounds, it is also lightweight, so you can easily move it where you want it.
This model includes both Pac-Man and Pac-Man Plus, so you can go back and forth or stick with the one you like best. The gameplay, including the feel and use of the joystick and controls, are all the same as the original versions of these games. Even the cabinet includes the classic artwork you remember.
Other great features included with this game are the upgraded 17-inch color LCD screen, the simple volume controls right on the control panel, and an on-screen menu to easily select the game you want to play.
Another great feature that makes this one of the best arcade game machines for home use is the coinless operation. You can play as many games as you like without worrying about running out of quarters. The price of the cabinet isn’t very high, either, making it even more worthwhile to buy.
If you’re looking for compact arcade game machines for home use, the Doc and Pies Arcade Factory Classic Arcade Machine is a good one to try out. This machine has retro artwork on the cabinet that takes you back to the 80s when the games on it first came out. This unit is also built well, with quality components that can handle regular use, even if the kids get a bit rough with it.
Despite the retro look, this arcade machine uses state-of-the-art electronics that are built to last for years. They still give you the authentic actions, sounds, and graphics you remember, though, so you don’t lose any of the vintage feel with the upgraded components.
This model has a full-size 19-inch LCD screen and full-sized arcade buttons, so you don’t have to deal with fuzzy pictures or miss those special moves to finish off opponents or avoid any damage. The professional joystick will last for years and lets you maneuver your characters however needed to win your games.
There are 412 games to choose from on this handy unit, including Frogger, Donkey Kong, Joyman, Blast Off, and Burger Time, so you should be able to find all of your old favorites. The volume for the games is set a bit high and it is tricky to turn it down but not impossible. This unit fits nicely on a table or bar, so you can squeeze it in wherever you like.
Though the Prime Arcades 4 Player Upright Arcade Machine isn’t the lightest or most compact model, it doesn’t make it any less desirable. This machine is built well, with durable materials that will last for years. It comes with the standard Marvel vs Capcom artwork, but you can also choose to customize the artwork for an extra $400 to suit your tastes and style.
This home arcade machine comes fully assembled, so all you need to do is plug it in when it arrives and it’s ready to play. There are 3016 games pre-loaded onto the machine, including almost every one of the classic arcade games you remember from the `80s and `90, so all of your old favorites are there. This includes even the oldest games, like Space Invaders and Donkey Kong, as well as newer ones like the Simpsons, Aliens, and Double Dragon.
The games are all played as you remember them but now you’re doing it on a 32-inch LED screen for clearer graphics. There is room for 4 players, so you can play alone or get a few friends together for your favorite multi-player games. This model even includes a trackball for games like Golden Tee and Missile Command.
With this arcade machine, you get a 5-year warranty in case the machine isn’t working as it’s supposed to. You also get lifetime tech support to help you troubleshoot any issues you’re having at any time.
The Arcade1Up Star Wars Home Arcade Cabinet is a great addition to any Star Wars fan’s game room. This arcade cabinet offers 3 classic games, including Star Wars, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, and Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. These are all the original arcade versions of these games, so you can enjoy them the same way you used.
This machine comes in several pieces that need to be assembled after you purchase it, which is a bit tricky and can take up to an hour to accomplish. There are instructions and YouTube videos on how to do this properly, though, so even the most inexperienced builders should be able to get it up and running.
Included with the game cabinet is a custom riser that raises the height of the machine to about 5-feet tall. The marquee on top lights up for the classic, vintage look.
There are dual speakers and simple volume control, so you can adjust the sound of the games however you like. There is also a real-feel 4 button/trigger flight yoke with great control for playing the games. This piece is built well for those long hours of gameplay.
Other handy features include the 17-inch color LCD screen, a game settings menu, a clear deck protector, and an anti-tip strap. It also records your high scores so you can show off your skills or compete with your family and friends.
The Prime Arcades Cocktail Arcade Machine is one of the best cocktail arcade machines on the market for several reasons. It comes fully assembled, so you don’t need to worry about figuring out how to put it together. Instead, you just unpack it, plug it in, and start playing.
There are 1162 games available to play, including Pac Man, Street Fighter, Frogger, Centipede, Galaga, and so many more. You can relive your younger days of hanging out at the video arcade with your friends or teach your kids and grandkids how to play all of your old favorites.
This model is built well, with a durable body, tempered glass on the top, and a 26-inch LED monitor that offers amazing graphics. It comes with 2 chrome stools with padded tops for those long gaming sessions. There is room around the game area for up to four players, so you can play on your own or with a few extra people. You can set it for coin-operated play to make a bit of money or free play for your family and friends.
This arcade machine is compact, so you can put it in a corner, up against a wall, or in the center of the room as needed. It weighs 185 pounds, so you won’t be moving it on your own, but you likely won’t be shifting it too much, so this will only be an issue when you first purchase it.
What are our favorite features?
Two chrome stools included
Tempered glass top
Coin-op or free play
What could be better?
Things to Consider
Many factors go into choosing the best arcade machine to buy for your home. They need to fit the space you have available and give you the games you want to keep you entertained. These machines should also look great, with a vintage appearance and classic controls that allow you to relive your days at the local arcade. If you’re considering one of these models for your game room at home, check out the following sections for all the features these machines have to offer.
How and when arcade machines gained popularity
Technically speaking, the very first arcade games were the ball-toss games, shooting galleries, and fortune-telling machines found on the old Midways in the 1920s. Pinball machines showed up in the 30s, though it took a few decades for them to go from the old wooden models to the mechanical ones with the light-up playing areas and electronic operation.
The arcade cabinets started showing up in the mid-1970s, starting with Periscope in 1966 and Crown Soccer Special a year later. A few other games followed, like Duck Hunt, Grand Prix, and Missile.
It wasn’t until 1978 that a blockbuster arcade game was introduced. This was Space Invaders, and this arcade cabinet showed up in malls, restaurants, movie theaters, and bars. After the popularity of Space Invaders, other games like Galaxian, Pac-man, Defender, Battlezone, and Bosconian also gained popularity. This was the Golden Age of arcade machines, with games showing up everywhere. This continued until the late 1980s when home video game consoles gained popularity and the arcade machines were no longer seeing the same use.
Which games were the most popular?
Though there were dozens of arcade machines out there with different types of games, there are a few that stand out as the most popular games of all time. The highest-grossing game ever made was Pac-Man, though games like Space Invaders, Street Fighter II, and Ms. Pac-Man were also popular arcade games. NBA Jam, Defender, Asteroids, Donkey Kong, and Mortal Kombat I and II are also included in this list, selling thousands of cabinets and earning a ton of money for their maker. They were also fun to play for kids of all ages, which is why so many machines of these games are still played today.
Features to consider when choosing an arcade machine
When choosing the best arcade machine to buy, there are a few features you may want to consider. This will ensure you’re getting everything you want to keep you entertained for years to come.
Number of games included
The number of games included is the first thing you should look for. If you are hunting for a specific game or game series, there are dedicated machines that give you only what you want. For instance, the Arcade1Up Star Wars Home Arcade Cabinet includes 3 popular Star Wars games, so it makes a great game for those who are a fan of this series.
The best multi-game arcade machine can have hundreds, or even thousands, of games to choose from. This gives you much more variety, so you can play through them all as many times as you like. The large game selection also makes it less likely that you’ll get bored with the games since you aren’t playing the same ones over and over. Of course, these models do cost quite a bit more, so be sure to check out the price as well as the game list to ensure you’re staying within your budget.
The size of the screen on these models can vary, depending on which model you choose. The bigger the screen, the larger the game appears on it, so if you like playing your console games on a large-screen TV, you may prefer the bigger screens on the arcade games themselves.
The size of the screen doesn’t always depend on the type of machine you’re using, either.
For instance, the Arcade1Up Pac-Man is a large upright cabinet with a 17-inch screen. The Doc and Pies Arcade Factory Classic Arcade Machine is a smaller tabletop model but has a screen of 19 inches. The wider the housing for the unit is, the larger the screen can be, so be sure you’re getting a model that fits where you want it and still gives you the screen size you prefer to play on.
If it’s coin-operated
There is only one model in our reviews that is coin-operated. This is the Prime Arcades Cocktail Arcade Machine, which allows you to play for free or play for coins. The coin-operated option is great for those who are placing this arcade machine in a bar, restaurant, or hotel lobby. This allows you to make some money with the game when your patrons sit down to play.
If you’re using it at home, you can also turn on the coin-operated option if you’re having a party or if you’re friends are over all the time playing on your machine. You can even use this as a type of piggy bank for yourself, putting coins in to play as a way to save up money for something. Any time you want to stop paying or give your friends a free game night, you can select the free option and just use it for fun.
Dimensions and weight
The dimensions of the unit you choose will determine if the arcade machine will fit where you want it. Larger machines will take up more space, so you likely won’t want one of them in a small apartment unless you have a spare bedroom or an empty corner available. The smaller tabletop units or the slim cabinet of the Arcade1Up Star Wars Home Arcade Cabinet are better options for small areas.
Larger models, like the Prime Arcades 4 Player Upright Arcade Machine, will need more space to fit them in without sacrificing your other furniture and belongings. If you want a cocktail arcade machine, you also need to factor in the space needed to sit around the game, so these models will need the most room.
The weight is also something to consider, especially when first moving the unit into your home. The heavier the arcade machine is, the harder it will be to maneuver and the more help you’ll need to get it in place. This is also an issue if you move to a new home, so check the weight before buying one.
The warranty is one of the most important features since it covers you if there are any issues with these machines. The Arcade1Up models on our list only have a 90-day warranty, so you need to check them out right away to be sure there are no issues with the units. If problems don’t show up right away, you may end up paying for repairs yourself.
The Doc and Pies Arcade Factory Classic Arcade Machine comes with a 2-year warranty, while the two Prime Arcades models have 5-year warranties, giving you a long time to test out your machine to be sure it`s doing everything it is supposed to. If any issues do occur, you won`t have to spend any of your own money to get parts repaired or the unit replaced.
This depends on the machine you’re purchasing. Most of the models in our reviews do come fully assembled, so all you need to do is unpack them and plug them in. Other models, like the Arcade1Up Star Wars Home Arcade Cabinet, come in multiple pieces that you will need to assemble before you can start playing.
Yes, these machines use more modern screen technologies. They’ve replaced the old-fashioned screens with upgraded LED or LCD screens, which displays clearer graphics and more vibrant colors than the original screens will do. This gives you a much better gaming experience since the pictures practically come to life on the screen as you’re playing.
Yes, coin-operated arcade machines are also capable of coinless play. You can set them up however you like depending on where you plan to use them. For home use, you can set it for free play, so you, your family, and your guests can play as much as they like. If you’re putting this model in an arcade, a bar, or a restaurant you can choose the coin-operated setting to make some extra money from your patrons.
Wrapping It Up
The best arcade machine can take you back to those days in the video arcade, plus get your kids and grandkids interested in the games of your youth. Though all five of the models in our reviews are great options, we do have a few favorites.
Our top choice is the Arcade1Up Pac-Man, which features Pac-Man and Pac-Man Plus. This game cabinet is lightweight and features a 17-inch color LCD screen, adjustable volume, an on-screen menu, and classic artwork. It also includes authentic gameplay and controls, so it plays exactly as you remember.
The Doc and Pies Arcade Factory Classic Arcade Machine is a tabletop model with 412 games. This compact model includes a 19-inch LCD screen, full-sized arcade buttons, and a professional joystick. It is also made of durable materials and components, with retro artwork on the cabinet.
The Prime Arcades 4 Player Upright Arcade Machine comes with 3016 games and can handle up to 4 players at a time. This durable machine comes fully assembled, with customizable artwork, great controls, and a trackball. It also includes a 5-year warranty and lifetime tech support.