We all dream of it, don’t we? Having that perfect game room where all of the elements come together and really show off our geeky side. Think of it – plastering up those classic movie posters along the walls, putting a neon sign somewhere to add color to the room, and decorating it with whatever gaming doodads you want. Then that perfect monitor/TV set-up that coincides with whatever system you’re playing on to bring everything together. Yes, that’s the spot.
However, some like to go to the next level and make themselves an arcade; replicating that feeling of walking into some place when you were a kid and seeing those coin-operated machines standing side by side with each other. This creates that utopia of gaming bliss that you could interact with for one quarter at a time.
Those feelings seem to be gone with these days since arcade games are hard to come by unless you have a pretty deep bank account. Don’t worry, though. There’s a suitable alternative that has gained speed over the years thanks to the company at Tastemakers – Arcade1up.
What the Heck Is Arcade1up?
The brand got its start in 2018 with a simple, two-game style machine, 3/4 sized replicas of classic arcade favorites. Popular titles like Galaga/Galaxian and the Space Invaders games were early favorites, establishing a brand of affordable put-the-units-together style arcade games for a fraction of the price (selling for around $300-$400 a piece, depending on where you shopped).
Early units did have some trouble, like the Rampage Midway unit having some emulation trouble with Gauntlet. However, don’t fret. Its excellent customer service pretty much resolved any issues that got in the way. Arcade1up began to thrive.
From there, the company really began to take off just a year later, manufacturing games that people wanted. After striking a deal with Nickelodeon, it would reproduce Konami’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles arcade games in near-exact form, complete with four-player controls. It became a hit seller as a result, with the game becoming very hard to find.
It didn’t stop there. Tastemakers also struck a deal with Marvel, leading to the creation of Marvel Superheroes and two Vs. arcade cabinets, including X-Men vs. Street Fighter and Marvel vs. Capcom, two popular Capcom fighting games. Loaded with titles, these too would become hit sellers. It wasn’t done, as it recently produced a new dedicated X-Men cabinet that also includes two Captain America and the Avengers games.
Not to mention that it’s releasing fan favorites as well, like the four-player The Simpsons arcade cabinet and some dedicated Star Wars machines that really take us back to the good old days. There’s even a sit-down cabinet…if you can find it these days. (Check eBay, maybe?)
Not content with just producing regular stand-up arcade games, Tastemakers began to add variety to the kind of cabinets they made. They struck a deal with Zen Studios to produce its first line of pinball machines, built-in with haptic feedback so that it would replicate the feeling of actual pinball machines, right down to interactive flippers.
As a result, three machines were produced – Marvel, Star Wars, and a Williams compilation featuring Attack From Mars and other machines. These became a big hit in the pinball community, and other machines are likely to follow in the future.
Tastemakers also worked on different cabinet designs. It makes a number of “cocktail” sit-down machines, including Capcom, Mortal Kombat, and a dedicated Ms. Pac-Man multi-game machine, complete with an innovative split-screen display that shows activity in real-time, so people can compete with one another. These have been selling quite well, too.
Finally, the company made a four-player stand-up Pong “party” style game, where players could face against one another as they competed in the various Atari games available in the unit. Though more of a novelty item, it’s stood out amongst the Arcade1up line-up.
So, Are These Hard To Put Together?
It does take time to assemble an Arcade1up machine. However, Tastemakers includes all the goods you need to build it, and it takes about two to three hours. (Keep in mind that depends on who’s involved in the building process.) It’s a matter of putting pieces together and putting the screws in; making sure the components are plugged in (like the 17” monitor to the control set-up) and then making sure you slide the pieces into place.
Probably the oddest piece we’ve struggled with is securing the backplate onto the system, which isn’t really a necessity unless you see it regularly. Otherwise, you can set it against a wall and it doesn’t really matter.
The end result is pretty cool, especially with later machines. These feature LED light-up marquees like you’d find in the actual arcade units. Even Arcade1ups with a complicated control scheme – like Big Buck Hunterwith its light guns – seem to operate with hardly any trouble once fully assembled.
What’s more, the Arcade1up community has been getting creative with its “mods.” These include adding new games to its units, building a more sophisticated (and “arcade-like”) control scheme with a better joystick set-up, or adding arcade “toppers” to make them resemble more towards actual machines (or giving a move set for fighting games like X-Men vs. Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat). They’re not always perfect, but they do make for some interesting builds – and add nicely to someone’s game room.
So What’s Next For Arcade1up?
We went over the builds and some of the games released thus far, but Arcade1up is just getting started. It’s already begun digging into its latest wave of releases, including a Rare-licensed Killer Instinct cabinet (with Battletoads!), as well as a new Ridge Racer game that’s launching next month (with steering wheel!). In addition, it just announced a new line-up of “Pro” machines, with Killer Instinct getting more arcade-style components to resemble an actual machine. Of course, this comes at a deeper price.
Speaking of price, that’s the one thing that a lot of players have complained about as of late. The machines have gone up substantially in price, going as far as $750 for a unit that also includes a riser (to give the arcade game an additional foot of height) and a special stool that can be used for sitting.
You get what you pay for, as this is the closest thing you’ll get to an arcade game without actually buying one and having to maintain so many parts, which could very well run you into the thousands if you’re not careful.
Even with inflation and certain complaints that the Arcade1up line isn’t “worth it” (mainly by purists who prefer the real deal), Tastemakers’ line has come a long way. It has a specialized brand that’s all about recreation that feel of having an arcade in-home, but without having to fret the idea of drowning thousands of dollars into a hobby that could fall apart with a bad DIP switch.
Not to mention, it’s catering more towards casual players as well. This is especially true with its new line of Arcade1up Jr. units that are smaller and more kid-friendly. There isn’t a base here they aren’t covering.
Oh, did we mention they just started making dedicated Tron and Terminator 2 machines? That’s just a handful of the arcade memories they’re recreating. Now we just need a bigger house so we can put more of these machines in it.
Thanks a lot, Tastemakers! Heh. (By the way, you can check out their latest Bandai Namco Pac-Man legacy machine below.) Learn more about their machines here!
Streamer and Cosplay Enthusiast