My plan is to make 1 (one) arcade machine to run them all, and it will be awesome.
So I’ve had this idea for a few years now. At least since I’ve been playing games on MAME. Two things have given me the motivation to finally get off my butt and do something about it.
1. The book Project Arcade: Build Your Own Arcade Machine by John St. Clair. Like I’ve said before, my sister gave it to me awhile back and it’s full of products, ideas, and how-tos, including full plans for making your very own Ultimate Arcade machine. John does a fantastic job of laying out a wide range of products from the big name arcade parts vendors, showing you every strength and weakness; then he tells the reader which one he chose for his build. I suggest you go get yourself a copy.
2. While checking out the suggestions for a front end I found Hyperspin. Here’s an older but still excellent video showing off what Hyperspin does. Basically a front end is software that helps the user find the games they want to play. While there are many excellent choices (some more suited for a home PC listing game details, history, more artwork, etc.) I went with Hyperspin because it’s flashy and gives me what I would want in my arcade experience. It’s pure eye-candy. You can’t help but be drawn in by its beauty. Hyperspin has tons of themes for different games. The builder sets up the front end with the themes he wants for the games he wants to play. The themes include simple artwork (usually taken from the side of the actual machine or the marquee) and a short video clip demonstrating game play. Once set up, it is very easy to use and as you can see, it is beautiful.
Hyperspin isn’t without its problems. To set it up can be frustrating. It takes a while to download the themes you want,
unless you use their FTP address to get them all at once. The real trick is getting all the emulators to work nicely with Hyperspin. I can understand why it’s difficult to get each of them to mesh with one user interface and play nicely. On the one hand, you have a great front that organizes and manages any number of emulators you want. On the other hand, those emulators aren’t made with integration into Hyperspin in mind, so they don’t always want to work together. Luckily, there’s an extensive forum with a great community of users who are ready and happy to help out. Thankfully MAME is quick and easy to get going.
With Hyperspin you can add whatever software you want. I’ve got PC games, movies, and soon I’ll be adding a jukebox player, too. This all takes some poking around forums and learning the ins and outs of Hyperspin but for me it fuels my fire to make the complete entertainment machine.
From here, the ideas came pouring in. Do I want a 2-player set up or a 4-player? 4-player for party games! What games do I want to play? As many of the classics as I can while staying open to playing modern arcade-like games. Trackball? Spinner? Yes and yes! Flashing lights? Ohh yeah! What about classic emulators for the Atari, NES, Genesis, etc? Yes yes yes yes yes! I will install external USB ports for controller plug in. Light gun games? That’s the one thing my wife MADE me include. It has to be able to play Area 51. “OK honey, if I have to.”
What will my overall theme be? I loved GI Joe as a kid and now I have a son who loves GI Joe; plus I found some GI Joe artwork that will look very nice on my machine, so I’m good to go.