Build Your Own Arcade Game
I converted my garage into a “man cave”, nothing too fancy. I only had a television, couch and a refrigerator but I wanted more. I decided it would pretty cool to have an arcade game in my “man cave”. I wanted something classic that everyone would love. I called around to the arcade resellers and quickly learned that a classic game was very expensive. My budget was limited so I hunted around for a cheaper alternative.
I discovered M.A.M.E. M.A.M.E stands for “multiple arcade machine emulator”. This emulator runs thousands and thousands of classic and not so classic arcade games. All the games from your past can be played right on your computer looking exactly as you remember them. I setup a desk and computer in the garage but this wasn’t authentic enough. I decided to build my dream arcade game using M.A.M.E. That way I was not limited to a single game. The components were simple; a TV, a computer, sound and arcade controls.
There are two methods of obtaining a cabinet for this project. You could build it yourself with the many available plans out on the web or you could gut an old cabinet and convert it. Not exactly being a handyman I gutted an old cabinet. Actually I didn’t gut one, I found one already gutted. If you go this route call around to those arcade dealers and ask them if they have an empty cabinets you can have/buy. The only thing I needed to do to the cabinet was put a TV in it. I surprised myself by being able to create simple brackets that held the spare 27-inch television.
The computer needed to power your arcade does not need to be a powerhouse. This is especially true if you are only going to be playing only the classic games from the late 70s/early 80s. The only thing you need to make sure of is that your computer has audio and video out.
You have two options here. You could order a pre-built control unit or you can build it yourself by ordering all the parts. Your decision really depends on your cabinet. The one I bought was not big enough to put a pre-built unit in so I had to build my controllers myself. This was very easy to do. Once you have all of your parts ordered (you will also need a device called an I-Pac) you simply wire them and you are good to go.
You can go as elaborate as you want to go here. A simple two-speaker setup will work just fine but a really nice multi speaker setup would be even better. I personally have never been a big audio guy so I just went with two good speakers.
Once the above is done now comes the easy part. Basically once M.A.M.E is installed you are good to go. If you want your setup to look slick I would recommend a Frontend. A Frontend is just a prettier face for M.A.M.E. There are many frontends out there so test a few out. Find one you like and start playing.