I’ve rigged all the cabinets so you won’t need tokens…

By Shawn Robare

Getting back into the swing of things around here and as luck would have it this week’s League assignment is a real peach!  Submitted by Jason over at Rediscover the 80s (who just started a pretty rad podcast that I totally am way behind in pimping), the topic is all about building a dream arcade in our homes.  Though I’m not much of a gamer these days, I did spend a decent amount of time playing the stand-up cabinets at the local pizza joints, mall arcades, Showbiz and Chuck E. Cheese’s, and even in the converted utility closet of the 7-Eleven that was in my neighborhood growing up.  That being said, my dream arcade would probably fit in a utility closet now that I think about it…

So what would be in my dream arcade closet?  Only four cabinets.  Well, three cabinets and one cocktail table unit.  First up, the classic (at least for me), Galaga…

Galaga Small

This is my go-to game when I’m in the mood for a truly old school arcade experience.  It’s also the game I judge most pizza places on.  Sure, if a place makes a good NY style pizza, that’s good, but if there are arcade cabinets in the joint and Galaga is missing, so too will be my patronage.  For my money (and I will drop a considerable amount of coinage in a Galaga cabinet when I have a belly full of pizza) there no better combination than securing that double spaceship with the taste of sausage and onion in my mouth that was just recently washed down with coke sipped out of a clear red plastic cup.  Just a bit of heaven if you ask me.

Plucking some similar pizza place-centric nostalgia heart strings would be securing a Mrs. Pac-Man cocktail sit-down table.  Faux wood grain trim would be essential too…

Mrs Pacman Cocktail

Can’t count the number of times I played a unit that looked just like this while waiting for my personal pan pizza at my local Orlando area Pizza Hut as a kid.  Did I mention that the personal pan pizza in question would have invariable been free based on my appetite for reading and the Pizza Hut Book It program…

Now the next cabinet is not an arcade game in the strictest sense, but it did provide an arcade experience, and that’s the Nintendo PlayChoice-10…


This unit was basically a way for Nintendo to “advertise” for the NES system by housing it and 10 games into one arcade cabinet.  We had one in my local 7-Eleven when I was growing up and it’s where I spent a good deal of time playing games like Ducktales, Goonies II, and more importantly Lifeforce.  I also learned a neat trick where if you could pull both of the joysticks to the right and mash down all the buttons you’d get free timed play on a handful of the games in the cabinet.  I used this method to play a shitton of Lifeforce before breaking down and begging my mom for an at-home copy of the game.  In other words, mission accomplished Nintendo.

Rounding out my dream arcade would be my favorite arcade game ever, a 6-player X-Men game cabinet…

X-Men Small

Not only was this game based on Pryde of the X-Men, my favorite X-Men cartoon of all time (the one-shot failed pilot produced by the wonderful folks over at Sunbow), but it features one of my favorite X-Men characters, the much underrated Dazzler.  My four friends during middle and high school were all X-Men nerds like me, so between the five of us we used to rock the crap out of this game at our local arcade/go cart track called Malibu Grand Prix.  All of us would beg our parents to go there for birthdays just so that we could spend a couple hours plunking quarters into the above machine.  I’m pretty sure we even came close to beating it one or two times.  Hands down some of my favorite arcade experiences surrounded time at the joystick playing either Wolverine or Dazzler.

About 10 years ago I ran across a very reasonably priced 6-Player X-Men cabinet, but was plagued with the ultimate nerd conundrum of how to justify a car payment on something so big and loud that would be next to impossible to move without a professional team and a forklift.  In the end I passed, but there has always been a part of me that regretted it…

So there you have it.  The Branded in the 80s Arcade.  Small, sure.  But for me, arcade heaven.  Pass me a slice of sausage and onion, and don’t worry, I’ve rigged all the cabinets so you don’t need tokens!

If you liked my shenanigans this week, why not check out these other rad League participants…

Pax, Cavalcade of Awesome (and my rad Cult Film Club co-host), lists his top 10 arcade games!

Classick Material, Cold Slither Podcast, goes the extra step and makes a fantasy show about his favorites!

Rich, The Nerd Nook, Moonwalks over to the 7-Eleven to play some Street Fighter II!

Kal, Calvin’s Canadian Cave of Cool, has a bone to pick with Dragon’s Lair!

  • Lamar the Revenger

    Yes on all counts. I would have pretty much the same, but would add Millipede/Centipede, Krystal Kastles, Tron, & Arkanoid.

    • You know I’ve never played Centipede, I think because the roller ball scared me a bit. I sucked at Missile Command too!

      • I pinched the HELL out of one of my hands on a roller-ball game once when I was a kid.

        • And people complain about gamer’s thumb. That’s reason enough to be scared! ;)

  • steve-o

    i have a two-slot neo-geo in my garage that is my BABY. but i’ve always wanted a street fighter 2 champion edition, either the four-player TMNT or Simpsons, star wars… *maybe* NBA Jam, and of course, the six-player X-Men.

    • Nice! I didn;t play nearly enough Street Fighter in the arcade (mostly just on the Super NES.) I really need to track down and play that TMNT arcade game again…

  • Spotted Feather

    Mine would be…
    PacMan cocktail table. HATE ms. PacMan
    Quiz & Dragons
    Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

    • Huh, why the hate for the Mrs.? ;) TMNT was a lot of fun too, but I think my memories of it are overshadowed by the TMNT II NES game…

  • I am centering my entire League Post around just one of these games this week… and NOT the one you probably think.


    I used to play Golden Axe at a take away Fish and Chip store in the 90s also a big fan of the Spy Hunter arcade game. I have made a few custom Spy Hunter shirts also. I was at an pinball auction over 10 years ago and saw an X-men go for $50.

    • Oh wow, $50! I never got a chance to play the Spy Hunter arcade game, but I played the heck out of the NES version…

  • I just want Asteroids back. I grew up with an Asteroids cabinet in my room and I didn’t put up a fight when my family donated it to a local Boys and Girls Club, but I’d love to have it back.

    My dad owned a restaurant when I was growing up and he had an arrangement with an arcade guy where he’d put games in his store and split the money. Asteroids was the only one he ever owned himself, but I have fond memories of playing arcade games at my dad’s pizza place.

    My favorite games he had through the years were Moonwalker and this weird Three Little Pigs game:


    • Oh wow! Jealous of that childhood experience for sure. My friend’s dad used to have a bunch of pinball machines (Kiss and the Pinball Wizard tables) and Joust in his basement. Used to love sleepovers at his place…

  • Thanks for the pimpage! Excellent choices. I to remember a cocktail Ms. Pac-man that I used to play at the local sub shop while waiting for my food. That and 1942…

    • Oh, there is more pimpsge coming. Yeah 1942 was another NES favorite. I am now dying to play the arcade versions of so many of these games…

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  • Paxton Holley

    Agreed on Pryde of the X-Men. Probably my favorite X-Men cartoon. And that first Konami X-Men game is AWESOME. Good calls, Shawn.

    I did this topic 2 years ago on my blog. I also included Galaga and Ms Pac-Man. Here’s the link to my personal top 10 arcade machines:


    I updated it to include a link to your article here.

    • Thanks! Will be returning the favor shortly. Going to re-read that article now…

  • jesseacosta

    I’ve always dreamed of having an arcade. It would be either the Donkey Kong cocktail arcade that was at the local Pizza Hut, or a Donkey Kong Jr. arcade.

    I’ve actually thought about making a Mame arcade, but living in an apartment means lack of space. I’ve been thinking of using a Tronsmart MK908 Mini PC as the main guts. It’s essentially an android computer on a USB stick sized device that hangs from the HDMI slot of a TV or monitor. It’s small enough I could just take that with me to a friend’s home and be ready to game.

    I was obsessed with beat ’em ups. My dad and his friend’s and their kids would go on a fishing trip once a year, and there was a nice arcade lounge area we would hit up at night. Final Fight was the main game we would play together. We would also play TMNT, Simpsons, and X-men at the local arcade in the mall. They also had a Spider-man beat’em up, but we preferred the games with 4+ players.

    Golden Axe was also great, but I have more memories playing that on Commodore 64 than the arcade.

    • That’s a brilliant idea! Also, I think I totally missed the boat on the Simpsons game. It’s being brought up a lot!

      • jesseacosta

        Simpsons is really great. They did a rerelease on XBox Live Arcade and the Playstation Network, but I have neither, since I’m not much of a modern gamer. It was a lot of fun, and if you’re a Simpsons fan, you’ll delight in all the cameos and extras from the show that appear throughout. There are also “test your might” style between level games that are very Circus like.
        I’m fairly certain there is a PC version of the game as well that could be found through abandonware sites, but you’d need some sort of program to run it on a modern computer. I’m not sure if Moslow is still the thing people use for playing vintage PC games or not.

        • Yeah, I need to figure out the whole old PC/Arcade/Console emulation thing. Also not being a modern gamer it’s sort of Greek to me…

  • Tom Krohne

    I’m a simple man, just need…

    Primal Rage
    King of the Monsters 1 & 2 on a Neo Geo
    Satan’s Hollow
    The Four player Real Ghostbusters
    And the Four player TMNT

  • Are you in my brain?! When Lee and I emailed each other about this one, my top two suggestions were Galaga and a Ms. Pac-Man cocktail table. And I know he’ll include X-Men. Freakkky. Or just freakin’ amazing arcades? Yes/Yes.

    • I think the cornerstone of a good home arcade has to be a Pac-Man cocktail table (preferably of the Mrs. variety). I’m just going with the thought that we have good taste for the classics! ;)

  • Ben Rollier

    100% agree with you on the X-Men cabinet. That game is amazing. Still hoping to put together a Mame cabinet someday.

    • I think I might put the whole “owning the X-Men arcade game” on the before-I-Die list….

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