An all-round home arcade beast. Perfect for those that want hundreds of arcade games all in one place, on a big screen with nostalgic touches.
An affordable take on arcade cabinets that fit in your home, with awesome artwork, large screens and high quality buttons.
For those that don’t have the space, this is a 1/4 scale replica that fits perfectly on your desk or in a gaming room, and it keeps the nostalgic touches.
Forget that fistful of coins – you won’t need them, as we’re checking out the best home arcade machines to buy!
Every video game obsessed kid, who grew up in the 80s and 90s, wanted their own arcade machine.
Now those kids are adults, many of whom have enough disposable income to make that dream a reality.
Home arcade machines are big business now, with plenty of fully licensed machines on offer alongside others that offer emulation-based solutions.
They come in various sizes, but most try to replicate the authentic arcade experience (take a look at our list of the best arcade games for thoughts on our favourite cabinets of all time!) as closely as possible.
Which are the best though?
Let’s find out, as we check out the best home arcade machines to buy!
1. Bitcade Arcade Xtreme
We had the opportunity to test the Bitcade Arcade Xtreme for almost an entire month. We put it to the test playing classic games and we experienced what the delivery process would be like for an ordinary customer.
To my surprise the delivery was incredibly easy. The Bitcade Arcade Xtreme is designed to fit through normal sized doors, even when completely wrapped in protective bubble wrap, and because the cabinet has wheels on the bottom, it simply wheeled into my living room with ease.
The Bitcade Arcade Cabinet plugs straight into any normal wall socket, and after turning it on, all you have to do is wait 30 seconds for the internal Windows PC to boot and automatically pulls you into the cabinet’s custom operating system.
This OS is fairly easy to understand, even if I do think it needs a modernised overhaul, but that said all of your games are easy accessible, and can be favourited and organised to make access a little quicker the next time you boot it up.
Gameplay is close to flawless and loads quickly. 90% of games are playable as soon as its setup, allowing friends and family to jump onto the cabinet with zero “training”.
Some games do require you to map some keys, or access a link on your computer/mobile for specific instructions, because remember this is running on a Windows PC, so key mapping, gun calibration and more is required for some games to function properly.
The Bitcade Xtreme features a large 27″ display, official Sanwa buttons and joysticks to give you an authentic experience, it also has a very loud and basey 80-watt sound system alongside two arcade guns with recoil to completely immerse you!
The display has a great brightness to it, and features a matte finish (so face it away from windows), the buttons are incredibly high quality and I had no issues with them at all, they felt incredibly nostalgic, the same goes for the Ultimarc Trackball.
The overall quality of the materials used is sturdy, I tried picking at corners, smashing buttons, and pushing the screen aggressively but nothing would budge, so I can confidently say that this is child-proof should you be looking to use it as a family entertainment system.
It’s close to perfect, but I do have some negative comments to make. One of them is regarding the low quality controller that comes with it to manoeuvre around the Windows OS and to do simple things like turn up/down/mute the volume.
This should be built into the cabinet, or feature extra buttons on the cabinet to adjust the volume controls, it looks bad that this £2,000+ comes with a £15 controller to assist with this. I get it, there’s no simple way to get around the WIndows OS with arcade buttons, but this one does have a trackball so you’d think some software engineers could have got that to work?
The same goes for the on/off switch, it’s located at the back of the cabinet near the floor, so if you want to turn off your cabinet the right way, you have to pull out the entire unit or turn it off by the wall which can’t be good for the computer over the long run, and feels unnatural doing so.
A cabinet of this price should have a easily located on/off switch…
A part from that, I loved every day with this thing, it’s a beast, it just needs a little extra work to be perfect.
2. Arcade 1up
If you don’t quite have the space or budget for a full size arcade machine, the Arcade 1up machines, while not quite 1:1 scale, are absolutely the next best thing.
In fact, attach a riser – which of course, Arcade 1up supply in a variety of styles, either generic or matched to the machine you choose – to one of these and you’re almost there in terms of its size!
Arcade 1up’s selection is ever growing – and they have some genuinely amazing machines on offer.
We’ve opted to showcase the reproduction of Atari’s 1983 classic Star Wars arcade game (in its stand-up form).
Though the LCD screen doesn’t perfectly capture the beautiful glow of vector lines on an old school CRT, there are a few graphic option tweaks which at least attempt to simulate the authentic old school look.
This machine also features the sequel The Empire Strikes Back – which repeats the first person, cockpit-based vector action of Star Wars to great effect. It takes players to Hoth in a snowspeeder, before being placed in charge of the Millennium Falcon, eliminating TIE Fighters in an asteroid field.
Return of the Jedi – an isometric speeder bike chase on Endor – is also included, but what’s striking is that it has an absolutely ridiculous difficulty level, in part due to its incredible speed and relentless obstacles.
The look and feel of the Star Wars machine is absolutely phenomenal – right down to the beautiful cockpit controller, replicated from the original Star Wars arcade game’s controls.
While you’re here, why not check out our best Star Wars games on Nintendo Wii article or our list of the 10 best Star Wars board games of all time?
Arcade 1up have released machines containing multiple Midway and Namco titles, as well as faithful reproductions of games such as Big Buck Hunter (complete with light guns), the trackball-powered Golden Tee and even the laserdisc classic Dragon’s Lair.
Some also have multiple joysticks – the Arcade 1up Rampage machine supports up to three players, for example. Their 90s beat ‘em up titles such as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles support up to four players simultaneously!
Many of their machines now feature online leaderboards, which is a superb addition that takes you right back to the fierce competition of 80s arcades – though instead of other arcade patrons, you’re up against players across the world!
3. Arcade 1up Collectorcade
We get it: not everyone has the space or funds for even slightly smaller sized machines – so these cute, tabletop arcade replica machines fit the bill nicely.
Available in both Pac-Man and Mortal Kombat flavours, these gorgeous mini-replicas feature multiple games (Pac-Man, Galaga and Galaxian in the former, Mortal Kombat 1, 2 and 3 in the latter) and light up marquees, all powered by just four AA batteries.
There’s a downside, in that they only allow support one player at a time – thanks to just a single joystick and button configuration – but this isn’t as much of an issue for the Pac-Man machine as it is for the Mortal Kombat variation.
However, at 13” tall with 3.2” screens and decent-sized controls, these machines do bring the arcade experience back for a reasonably inexpensive cost of entry.
4. Numskull Quarter Arcade
These gorgeous mini-replicas are exactly what they’re named as: arcade machines at a quarter of the size of the real thing.
As with the Arcade 1up machines, these Quarter Arcades take the original designs of the actual cabinets and shrink them down to a more manageable size.
However, unlike the Arcade 1up Collectorcades, for example, they are correctly scaled – which means the controls can feel a little fiddly in practice due to their minuscule size.
There’s no denying just how good these machines look though.
We’ve been able to test the Dig Dug machine here at Retro Dodo Towers – and it’s made us feel warmly nostalgic to catch a glimpse of it, even when it isn’t turned on!
They also play the original arcade ROM via an onboard emulator – which also allows you access to dip switches for flexibility over the game’s settings.
Though, yes, we have focused on the Dig Dug machine, Numskull have produced quite a wide range of machines, many licensed by Namco – including Pac-Man, Ms Pac-Man and Galaga – but have also branched out to Taito titles including Bubble Bobble.
Bubble Bobble features in a beautifully designed, bespoke cabinet, created especially for the Quarter Arcade version, as a dedicated Bubble Bobble design never actually existed upon release!
Space Invaders machines – which mimic the clever ‘Pepper’s Ghost’ mirror illusion screen setup of original cabinets – are also on the way in the second half of 2023.
5. Arcade 1up Countercade
Yep, Arcade 1up again – this time with a machine that cleverly feels more like full size than other games of a similar scale, but does actually play on your tabletop!
The trick, of course, is that these aren’t attempting to be replicas that are perfectly in scale.
The joystick and button controls both look – and feel – chunky, along with being as well made the best replica controls on this list of machines.
As with the Collectorcades, Countercades are built for one player only – which is a bit of an oversight when playing games built for up to four players, such as the classic Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles beat ‘em ups.
The Super Pac-Man variant features a nice selection of games – oddball sequel Super Pac-Man itself, as well as the original Pac-Man, subterranean monster exploding in Dig Dug and the Pac-Man on wheels, maze-based action of Rally X.
Countercades are a great choice if you want to have a smaller number of games, yet still have the impact of the arcade experience without taking up too much space.
6. SEGA Astro City Mini V
As Yoda says to Luke Skywalker in The Empire Strikes Back: size matters not.
Though not intended to replicate the experience of owning a full size arcade machine, the SEGA Astro City Mini V does faithfully reproduce the look of their iconic 90s Astro City cabinet, albeit at ⅙ of its actual size!
Not only does it look the part, but this portable device contains a superb selection of stunning SEGA titles – 37 games overall!
There’s both 2D and 3D games from the 80s and 90s, with classics such as Space Harrier and Shinobi alongside what is probably the headline inclusion: pioneering 3D fighting game Virtua Fighter.
There’s a really good number of more obscure titles that you may not have heard of too – puzzle games Tant-R and Ichidant-R, for example – with a good selection of genres on offer.
Perhaps best of all is that the SEGA Astro City Mini V also has HDMI out, so you can play these SEGA classics and hidden gems on the biggest screen you own!
These are now hard to get, so we advise checking eBay for the best prices.
7. Taito EGRET Ⅱ mini – Limited Blue Edition
The Taito EGRET Ⅱ mini is exactly the same concept as the SEGA Astro City Mini V; a small scale recreation of an absolutely iconic 90s arcade machine, jam-packed with a superb selection of both familiar and lesser-known titles.
Taito have a very rich arcade history too – which is well represented on the EGRET Ⅱ mini.
17 years worth of games are featured on the curated selection here, from arguably the most iconic arcade game of all time – Space Invaders – through to stone cold classics such as Bubble Bobble and The New Zealand Story, gems such as Rastan Saga and Rayforce, as well as many more besides in the 40 games on offer.
The machine itself is well made and has some surprising accessories – such as a Paddle and Trackball expansion that’s also available, which is packaged with an SD card that contains a further 10 games, all of which make use of those specific accessories.
There’s some incredibly smart features too, including a rotating screen to take advantage of the original screen ratios of certain arcade titles, plus – like the Astro City Mini – an HDMI port to play the games on a much bigger screen!
8. My Arcade Mini Player
Available in either Namco Museum or Data East variants, the My Arcade Mini Players offer a decent selection of games in a form factor reminiscent of classic arcade machines, albeit on a smaller scale – and without replicating a specific cabinet.
Instead, each machine is adorned with game logos from the selection of titles included on the device.
The Namco Museum Mini Player even has a portrait-oriented screen, for playing games in their original aspect ratios.
Achieving this is done via the touch of a button during game selection – but this is hit and miss. The reason it’s inconsistent is that you can apply it even to games which weren’t vertically oriented, so it can end up just visually stretching the game unnecessarily.
The Namco Museum version also has a lit marquee, making it the more fully featured option of the two devices.
The Namco Museum machine has 20 classic Namco games built in, whereas you’ll find a selection of 34 games on the Data East machine.
Both devices have a d-pad controller with a joystick that screws on – it’s not as solid or reliable as the other devices we’ve already featured on this list, but in fairness these My Arcade machines are priced competitively, especially considering how many games they contain.
Neither offer save states, however – so you’ll be battling through each game from the beginning every time.
That isn’t a problem for the older arcade titles, but with the point-and-click style Pac-Man 2: The New Adventures on the Namco Museum device, it’s a massive issue.
For the price these machines do offer a decent amount of nostalgic fun – but they’re far from perfect.
9. My Arcade Micro Player – Premium Edition
Though My Arcade offer a wide range of Micro Players – with some containing multiple games and other featuring just one – in our opinion, the most impressive of them is the Street Fighter II: Champion Edition machine.
This is a shrunken down, nicely recreated machine that’s based on the original cabinet.
The controls – including the joystick directions – are handily labelled; there’s even the full six buttons for proper Street Fighter II play!
Unlike the non-Premium Edition machines in the range – which feature NES versions of the included games – this Street Fighter II Champion Edition device does feature the arcade version.
There’s also the ability to link two machines for head to head play – which is a great feature for such a small device; avoiding the pitfall that even some of the more high end Arcade 1up machines can fall into.
10. My Arcade Nano Player
Despite being surprisingly tiny machines – each with a 2.4” screen – the My Arcade Nano Players each feature a selection of licensed games.
The Data East version features 8 licensed games including Burger Time and Bad Dudes – along with 200 retro ‘style’ games (that are generally just filler and tend to be pretty worthless clones of existing 8-bit games, in all honesty).
All Star Stadium and All Star Arena are the feature the exact same 7 Jaleco sports titles – they’re just in either baseball or soccer branding.
They both include 4 Bases Loaded titles, so fans of 8-bit baseball will be right at home (if you’re one of them, why not check out our list of the best baseball games for Switch?) and also Goal!, Racket Attack and Hoops to add some much needed variety in the sports on offer.
These latter two Nano Players also feature the ‘bonus’ 200 retro-esque games as well – though the main attraction, of course, are the licensed sports titles.
As with the other My Arcade machines, the lack of save states (even just for high scores) and slightly plasticky controls are a bit of an issue, but considering both the price and the content included – as well as the fact that they can be powered by AAA batteries or USB-C – these small machines are a great little way of having access to multiple games on the move, in a pleasingly nostalgic form factor!
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Jason – who lives in the UK – has had a lifelong interest in video games, which all started when he discovered Space Invaders in the early 80s. The first game he ever completed was Wonder Boy in Monster Land on the Sega Master System – which remains one of his proudest gaming achievements. Jason is a passionate writer – and has been writing about gaming since the late 90s. He currently runs pop culture blog midlifegamergeek.com, which he updates on a daily basis (and has written more than 700 articles on the blog alone!).
Outside of video games, Jason is a keen tabletop gamer, film buff and comic book fan.