☆ Ben The Arcade Guy ☆

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Today we hear from Ben and how his nostalgic video games trip down memory lane led him to a garage full of wonders and his very own Arcade cabinet to be proud of.
As an 80’s kid who grew up in and out of arcades and who fell in love with them the minute I set foot in the bright light environment. After years of deliberation, I decided to get my ass into gear and build my own. 
I still don’t know if it is for the games themselves or to remind myself of a simpler time where my only worry was running back to the cafรฉ in the arcade to get another 20p off mum or dad and making it back to my chosen machine in time before the counter reached zero. 
I couldn’t even begin to recall the amount of times I made it in good time only for the machine to become as picky as a teenager in love and choose this time to reject my coin and when it eventually decided to accept it, it would be too late and I would have to start again much to my eternal frustration at the gaming gods who had forsaken me at that point. 
Where were Nayru, Farore and Din in my time of need? 
The amount of friends I made for 5minutes fighting alongside me on the brilliant four player Simpsons machine or on the equally brilliant Moonwalker, Gauntlet or Turtles the list seemed endless. 
Or the fact that when playing Afterburner and from the moment I stepped into the cockpit thinking I was as cool as Tom Cruise in Top Gun! Either way, I wanted that feeling back and as much as I love all walks and variations of gaming I think gaming with strangers, family and friends in the arcade is a time I cherish the most. 
This makes me feel for the generations now as they will never experience the sensations I did. I know there are still gaming halls and arcades around but now they are filled with fad games like flappy bird for tickets etc.
So I had made the decision to build one but had no idea where to start so I did what I always do in situations like this and visited a fortune teller like Link does and pay 20 rupees and I get to know what to do next.
Well after a long debate with my wife about cutting our neighbours bushes down for rupees she suggested I use Google. So that’s what I did I got the plans for the design from www.ArcadeCab.com and as you can see, they are very extensive!


I’ve got my plans and I worked out how much wood that I would need and off I went with the enthusiasm of Ash Ketchum. The cost of the wood was roughly £70. I wish it was like Minecraft where all you do is whack a tree and you get the wood you need in a handy inventory bar instead of struggling to fit it in my car. This was more exhausting than a lengthy boss battle.
So I have my wood and my plans what did I need next. Well, I’m pretty handy at DIY but what I needed was someone who is excellent and confident and as I wanted it done right the first time, so I roped in my go-to guy who just so happens loves a DIY project. We set to work on the cabinet and straight away I knew I made the right choice in asking Gary to help. We cut out all of the panels needed using a circular saw and got to work putting it together. 
An artist I am not, so I decided just to paint the machine black and I would jazz it up with stickers and a marquee.  One of my favourite games to play in and out of the arcade was street fighter in all of its variations although I especially liked the first one where the buttons were touch sensitive so the harder you hit the button the harder your character hit. So as I once again slipped into one of my nostalgic daydreams I decided that my marquee would be street fighter. 
I then did some searching and settled on an image. I emailed a few places for quotes and got a very cheap quote of £24 for it printing on a piece of Vinyl backed Perspex. My only concern after purchasing it was I maybe asked for the Perspex too thick. 
So I had my painted black shell ready all needed was equipment. If like me over the years you have accumulated masses of ICT equipment which isn’t much use but too good to throw away then this may be the project for you. I had an old TFT monitor an old laptop I no longer use.  So we put the monitor in place and by “we” I meant Gary while I watched and daydreamed of once again being the self-proclaimed king of the arcade. 
After a rummage around in my garage I found a spare under wall unit light so I got Gary to fix this behind my Street fighter Marquee and although it does look great to me it wasn’t bright enough so if anyone is planning in following in my footsteps and building a cabinet one piece of advice is don’t get the marquee on too thick of a piece of Perspex as the light struggles to get through. I may be able to remedy this with a stronger bulb at a later date. 
I bought a pair of budget speakers from Curry’s/PC world for £15.00 which was surprisingly good for the price. Did I not mention this was being done on a budget, no? Well, it was! We fit the speakers above the monitor and below the marquee for a nice authentic feel. I was starting to get giddy at this point as I could see the fruits of our labour taking shape. My next step as I wanted it to feel authentic was a coin door. I did some searching and found one on eBay for £20.00 or best offer, I offered £15 and the guy was happy with that. Luckily he only lived 15 miles away approximately so it wasn’t a long drive for a pickup and was near the large local indoor shopping centre, which made the wife happy! Killing two birds with one stone, as I still hadn’t told her the machine is coming to live with us and the baby and one day going to replace her! <If you are reading this Fiona you knew gaming was my first love along with sports, so no moaning!>
On a quick side quest the guy who I bought the coin door from asked me what I was going to do with it, so I explained about my project and I saw the same glint in his eyes that I get in mine when someone mentions gaming. So he asked if I wanted to look in his garage. I was cautious but it’s not everyday guys ask me into their garages. So I threw caution to the wind strapped on my best armour and ate all of my fruit in my inventory for full health and followed him into the unknown. I wasn’t prepared for what riches lie in wait for me but it was a thing of beauty. The guy explained he had two sons one 12 one 10 who loved gaming as much as him. He had bought an old two player Daytona racing machine and installed a PS3 on each side for the kids to play side by side. It was awesome I was envious and admired him at the same time.  The only thing missing from the coin door was a lock, which I picked up for £3 at my local hardware store.
So the next step now was choosing which software to run I tried Hyperspin but couldn’t get it to work on the laptop being used. My second choice was mGalaxy but after much deliberation, I just didn’t like it. So I finally settled on GameEx a simple front end which was easy to use and easy to navigate around switching from emulator to emulator. I used emulators for the NES, SNES, Master system, Mega Drive, N64, MAME and Gameboy. I could have used more but was happy just having them select few emulators on it. Emulators for these are easily available as are the roms on the Internet after a quick Google search. As previously stated this was done on a budget and the last thing I need to buy is the X-arcade tank stick with a trackball. At the minute I am just using a plug and play control pad (lame I know!). I like the tank stick as it comes with a lifetime guarantee, two players and easy USB connector. It also comes with its own software if you want to use it. The downside is it costs upwards of £200, which is more than the rest of the cabinet cost combined. I also want/need some side art and art to go around the monitor. I have put some joysticks on the cabinet just to make it look better until I buy the tank stick, which I got free from my local amusements as they were off of a broken machine.  So there are bargains to be had if you go questing for them. If you have the unlimited money cheat for life then I sure you can build a better one than mine or better yet pay someone else to do it.
So there you have it, how I built my own slice of memory lane and gaming retreat with a little help from my friends. Although I am now big enough to not have to tag my mum or dad in at the end of Simpsons levels to blow up the balloon as I didn’t have fast enough fingers to beat my brother.

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