My next big project

OK, besides my May 14 wedding (97 days away).

Actually, my next big project is a MAME cabinet. MAME (Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator) allows you to run arcade games with near-perfect emulation on your computer. With this technology, you can play arcade classics like Galaga, Street Fighter II, and rediscover classics you might have missed the first time around, like Tapper or Mr. Do!

But who really wants to play NBA Jam with a keyboard? Donkey Kong just doesn't have the same feel with a gamepad either. No, if I'm going to enjoy these classics, I'm doing it the right way, with an authentic arcade experience.

Admittedly, this project isn't cheap. And with the wedding on the way, there are more important things to finance in my life. But luckily I have a mother who understands my geeky side, and purchased the arcade cabinet kit for me as a x-mas gift.

We got the kit from mameroom.com, and it seems pretty sturdy. I opted for the cocktail set up: having a full-size arcade cabinet in my home would make me look like I was a giant rat away from a Chuck E. Cheese establishment. With the cocktail setup, the machine looks like a table (so it can sit in a living room without offending my C.E.O.), and allows me to enjoy games that use a vertical orientation (Ms. Pacman, 1941), and ones that use a horizontal orientation (NBA Jam, Mortal Kombat).

I'm still a long ways away from getting this set up. The materials I need could still fetch several hundred dollars. At a bare minimum, I need:

• 24 buttons ($2 each, $48 total)
• Four joysticks ($20 each, $80 total)
• Two trackballs (for games like Centipede and to move a mouse on screen to select games, $80 each)
• A decent wide-screen monitor ($150)
• A decent computer to run the games ($400)
• Speakers ($20)
• IPAC keyboard encoder (to connect the buttons to the computer, $65)
• Coin door (optional, although it would make the experience a lot more authentic and would be a really awesome piggy bank, about $50 used)

That's $873. Also, the wood that holds the joystick and buttons doesn't have holes for the trackball, so I'd have to find someone who has the tools to carve a new hole in it, which could cost a few extra dollars. Also, while solid black looks really nice, some art to make the cabinet look like an actual arcade cabinet would be nice, which could cost $40-50 to print up, making this project fetch nearly $1,000.

However, as much as I like video games, I think it would be worth it in the long run. I mean, why would you need to buy a new video game console if you have an actual arcade machine sitting in your home?

It could be the video game hobby to end all video game hobbies. A Street Fighter tournament using actual arcade buttons would be much better than any Call of Duty session.


Craig February 7, 2011 at 8:54 AM  

Dude, you ARE the 16-bit Catholic! Old school style. :)

I like your choice of cabinet. Pretty pricey though...you'll have to post a photo if you build it.

I started playing video games during the Pong era and stopped playing video games around Street Fighter II...so I appreciate the throwback stuff.

Have you seen 'The Incident' for iPhone/Mac...captures some of that magic.

- Craig @ http://www.catholictechtalk.com

dustin (The 16-bit Catholic) February 7, 2011 at 10:44 PM  

It will be built, just not setting a time table on it so I don't feel like a failure if I can't scrape the money together. Still, something like that would definitely last if done right, and a thousand dollars is worth it if you can get a decade or two out of gaming.

Glad you like the throwback. What's your favorite?

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    About This Blog

    A blog for the masses, if by masses you mean myself and family members who probably read this out of pity.

    I'm dustin Faber, the 16-bit Catholic. This blog is an amusing, sometimes thought-provoking look at my life and the world around me. Poetry, cooking recipes, gaming, faith, things that make me go awww, things that make me go grrr, and my obsession with a good glass of root beer can be found here.

    If you're looking for gaming-centered posts, check out catholicvideogamers.blogspot.com. If you seek the blog I keep with my fiance, check out thecatholiclovebirds.blogspot.com

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