Pondering an arcade machine project

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, October 16, 2013, 10:34 PM | comments: 0

Some days I really miss having the Jurassic Park pinball machine. Even though we can play video games on our phones these days, there was something about the tactile experience of pinball. Similarly, there was always something special about arcade machines, even though we've had home systems going back to pong.

The fiscally irresponsible part of me wants to call Stern Pinball, the last pinball manufacturer standing, and buy one of their floor models at the forthcoming IAAPA expo here in Orlando. Fortunately my better judgment will prevent that, though a new machine would be pretty incredible.

The machine I really would like to obtain, and it would certainly take less space, is the cocktail model of the Namco Class of 1981 machine, which has Ms. Pac-Man and Galaga. Namco doesn't appear to make it anymore, but I see vendors online claim to be selling them new. I have a lot of fear that most of these are unlicensed, not authentic parts, but I really don't know. I saw a lot of scary stuff in the local pinball shop back in Cleveland. If I get one of those, I want it to be a real, Namco-made machine. Namco is making a brand new machine with 13 games and an LCD screen, but it looks more like furniture than the classic cocktail machines.

There is another alternative, and that's to build an actual cabinet and make one myself. With emulators, you can run all of these ancient games on your computer. Not legally, but it's not hard to do or obtain. Plenty of people have posted plans online to build a cabinet, and the controller hardware isn't hard to come by either.

That said, I'm incredibly unsure of myself. I'm not confident that I can cut wood and do it all right to the extent that I'll end up with something nice. Still, I've wanted to do some kind of project with wood for years, maybe as a hole punch for my man card or something, but starting with a bird feeder seems lower risk.

It's something to think about more after things settle down and we've moved (again). Because I totally have time for another project!


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