I’ve already posted this week about starting to build my own home arcade machine, and then I also posted about my Top Ten Arcade Games. But to round up my flurry of arcade posts this week I wanted to write one which was almost a combination of the two. It’s now easier than ever to buy retro video games online these days, but for those who want to recreate the arcade in their own home they also often fantasize about having a collection of proper arcade machines in an home arcade. I got to thinking about if I could actually own a few arcade machines which ones would I choose. Not just a blue sky wish list, as that would possibly be the same as my Top Ten list, but an actual realistic list of what I would get if I had some extra cash and a little bit more room in my garage.

I’m going to be totally realistic here and have a MAME cabinet as my no.1 choice. That’s after all what I’m planning on building. It lets you play lots of games on one machine and therefore saves on a lot of space. In the real world, space is a major concern, even if I’m planning on playing these in my garage.

My second choice would probably be another MAME cabinet. The reason being that some games are really meant to be played with a 4-way joystick. Earlier games like Pac Man and Donkey Kong etc. They don’t like diagonals. And more recent games like Street Fighter 2 definitely need 8-way joysticks to get those diagonals to perform all the correct moves. I believe that you can get joysticks that can be switched between the two modes, but I think it might be quite fiddly. The ideal situation is to have two MAME cabinets one of which has 4-way joysticks and the other one has 8-way joysticks.

But, there are several games which can’t be done justice via MAME. Sometimes this is because they need special controls like a steering wheel, trackball, light gun or a special controller like Paperboy’s bike handle. You can install trackballs in multi-game MAME cabinets of course but it sounds like a lot of work for something that would only be used in a few games. And also some games work well in MAME but their official arcade cabinets are so cool that it offers a totally different experience, such as sit-down environmental cabs. So here are the other machines I would consider getting, in the order that I would get them. And it turns out that it pretty much is about 80% of my Top Ten games, with a couple of additions and just in a slightly different order, because owning games is slightly different from just playing games.

Out RunOut Run
Without doubt the next one I would want would be Out Run. Of course the sit-down version if possible. If nothing else it would be awesome to have the Out Run music playing in my mini arcade! But to have the full Out Run experience at home would be great. I would settle for the upright cabinet if required.

This machine just oozes cool, and as I said in my Top Ten Aracade Games article it appears twice in my all time favourite movie WarGames. So I would definitely love to have my own version so that I can pretend to be David Lightman about to do some hacking. Protovison, I have you now.

Street Fighter 2Street Fighter 2
This is one of the games that despite being easy to replicate in MAME I would still love to have as a dedicated machine just to have the completely authentic experience. Mostly out of respect for the game but also partly because of the artwork.
Star WarsStar Wars
The other classic sit-down cab. Great game, and again great sound effects to fill the room. Again I would probably settle for the stand up cabinet here if required.
Donkey KongDonkey Kong
The other old school one I would get is Donkey Kong. Particularly after seeing King of Kong there is just an even bigger aura about this game. I find it so hard so my mission would be to actually get on to the third level! And again some totally iconic sounds in this game. My arcade would be sounding pretty awesome by this point.
Daytona USADaytona USA
Daytona just relaxes me. I feel like I’m at home when I sit in it. Who needs meditation when you can just cruise around the Beginner’s track on Daytona. I would be fast running out of space by this time though as it would need to be a 2-seater Daytona and they’re pretty big.
WWF SuperstarsWWF Superstars
This one is a personal nostalgia trip for me. This was one of my main ‘go to’ games. Just the whole artwork and the attract screens are so iconic of the late 80s. I really enjoy the game but even just having this as an object d’art would be very, very cool. It’s more than just the game. It’s the whole experience of seeing the logo and the characters and the nostalgia that all brings back. I’d like that to be a part of my arcade.
This one is on the list but certainly lower down, mainly because it is rare that I would get three other people round to the house who would actually want to play it! Otherwise you can just play it in MAME with one other person. But in an ideal world it’s another iconic large machine that I would love to own and it has some really iconic sound effects to give the garage that arcade feel.
Operation WolfOperation Wolf
This is one game that is pretty impossible to replicate in MAME so a dedicated cab would be very cool indeed.