A few months ago, i visited a friends house who unbeknown to me just happened to have an Arcade cabinet within seconds of entering his house i said WTAF... and that was it... Has it got Bombjack? Yes Scramble? Yes Ok Street fighter 2 Yes. Nemesis Yes.. I was frantic.
By Brad Burton
This went on for about 5 minutes before my friend lost patience and said its got every arcade game on... as in EVERYTHING. Who, what, where and how much? It's a scene that I am now also all too familiar with when people come visit me at my house. As a child born in the early 1970s arcades were the magic of my youth.
Those digital caves of beeping and flashing goodness. Summer of 1981, I was 8 and on holiday in Rhyl, North Wales I spent a week of my life at an Arcade called The Mint. This was massively formative for the next 30 years as a gamer. My friend bought his machine from Bespoke Arcades, but having looked on the website they were a bit pricey. I looked around all over the Internet and I did find cheaper cabinets. But this is a machine that is for life, not just for Christmas. I spent 6 weeks searching before making that nervous phonecall to Bespoke Arcade.
So the truth, it wasnt that it was just a bit pricey, I thought the wife isn't going to go for it, hence my reticence. However, I'd just managed to nail a biz deal, the gaming stars had aligned but i still had the biggest hurdle to overcome i.e getting it past the wife. It's either me or the machine she said. A few weeks later, the day had arrived and a big 7.5ton lorry was on my drive, as the wife prepared to move out...
Actually i'm joking, it was to deliver my bubble wrapped bundle of arcade joy as it arrived at my house. I took the wrapping off and plugged in. Pressed the power button and literally away I went. In those first few weeks i spent more time just looking through the games, than actually playing them.
The wife never did leave me, nor did she actually threaten it, I was using a bit of artistic license to be hilarious, but it is an issue for every fella who buys wants to buy an arcade cabinet. How do you get buy in from your partner? Saying that i came home early from work once and caught her in the mancave with a plumber!! Yup. She was playing SuperMario on the cabinet, via zSnes.
Genuinely in my mancave I have my PS4 on and have the cabinet flashing away in the background The design of the cabinet was one I asked my graphic designer for my business to undertake as I wanted a contemporary generic feel that would last the years. The joysticks are of a proper arcade spec quality. In fact the whole, cabinet is finished beautifully. It's software, hardware work beautifully in conjunction.
In fact think of it like the Audi of arcade cabinets. I've no idea of the hardware spec, as a punter its not really that important, all i know is that everything works as you would expect it to do if say an arcade manufacturer like Sega made a cab, no lag, no jerkiness, The cabinet uses the Hyperspin frontend. Half the fun of the arcade experience is the way this operates, how you see the videos. As themes for each of the games come spinning in, complete with appropriate noises it has the most amazing attract mode. Prior to my research I'd never heard of bespoke arcades.
But it's clear these guys are gamers as well. We are all aware of the grey area that is the legality of roms and the like. But needless to say with the likes of Google and a little but of tinkering, i'd managed to add a few more systems. I used to be into MAME (Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator) back in early 2000s I even had an Xarcade joystick. Lovely but this was some next level shit. The best evenings are those when my equally season'd friends turn up and we hit the Brandy and the cabinet.
Those shared experiences and memories of someone who was also a gamer are priceless. My boys who are now 6,11 don't really get my arcade cab, in the same way I do. I was excited whilst playing HyperSports recently they gave me a puzzled look, probably similar in style to the one I give them as they play Minecraft. Its a generational thing, but if you're of an age to appreciate the golden era of arcade gaming, I urge you to make the investment needed to relive your childhood
They say you are only young and stupid once in your life. At 42, spending a few grand on a cabinet, some may say I've been stupid twice. Saying that, the cabinets from Bespoke Aracdes do start at £995, but I just couldn't help myself when specc'ing mine... convincing myself that its a truly once in a lifetime purchase so i had to do it right, screen size, sound system, trackball, spinner and even a pair of lightguns... Saying that what price can you put on a childhood dream fulfilled? About £4 grand.
And yes it does have Operation Wolf on it...