Building My Own Fantasy Home Arcade

I’m not rich, but I plan on it someday, and when I am, I’m going to have a lot of cool shit. Chief among the priorities? A home arcade.

Yes, it’s true, arcades have fallen by the wayside in the wake of home consoles, and the idea of playing a game at 25 cents per life isn’t one that’s terribly compelling, especially with titles that are you know, hard. We’re used to unlimited free respawns, so the idea of paying to be alive once more is just ridiculous. How spoiled we all are.

By the time my game dungeon (err, needs a new name) is built, these titles will all be even more retro than they are now, and I can yell at my kids about the way things used to be.

Check out my choices below, and let me know what yours would be in the comments.

The Simpsons

This is one of the most quintessential arcade games ever, and I would be an idiot not to include it in my collection. Everyone wanted to be Bart because his skateboard was awesome. Homer was good too, but fairly boring as he just punched. Marge was probably the best as she wailed on people with a vacuum, but who wants to be Marge?

House of the Dead

Out of every game I’m about to list, this one sucked the most quarters out of my pocket. It was obscenely hard, and I remember having to put up like once every two minutes as the zombie hoarde enveloped me. When I was ten, this was some kind of scary shit as well, and I could never let my mom find out I was playing it.

Marvel vs. Capcom 2

I remember the first time I laid eyes on the character select screen you see above. It was a magical experience, to have that many amazing options in front of me, and I spent hours and hours choosing different team trios just to see what all their specials were. And specials were of course executed by yanking the stick around and jamming on all the buttons at once.

Donkey Kong

I may catch some flack for not including more classic titles in here, but honestly these just weren’t my era. I didn’t grow up playing Space Invaders, Asteroids, Pac Man or even Donkey Kong, But I do find the latter is still fun to this day, so I’d bring it on board.

Soul Blade

I was tempted to have Mortal Kombat in this slot, but I just fell in love with Soul Blade when I was younger. The graphics are pretty horrific now, but at the time, they were magic, and I couldn’t believe some of the brutal moves that were executed in the game, albeit it wasn’t nearly as gory at Kombat. I’ve loved each new (console) installment since.

Cruisin’ USA

Yeah, there are probably “better” arcade racing games to choose from, but for me this is the original. I remember playing this in the arcade and for Nintendo 64, and I thought it was the coolest thing ever despite its rather restrictive tracks. But when you found a shortcut? Oh man, you were king of the world.

Jurassic Park

I remember thinking this game was awesome when I was younger, but it was always too hard and I never was able to beat it. If I bought it, perhaps that would change and I could see how the damn thing ended for a change.

Silent Scope

I had to zoom out to show the whole game, as opposed to just throwing up a screenshot. With all the motion controls bullshit going on right now, no one remade this for consoles. You get to hold a damn sniper rifle! How awesome is that? The only downside of this game was the extremely high price per pay (something like $2?), but that wouldn’t be a problem if I owned it.

Alright, what would be in your home arcade?


How did I forget this? This is one title that never translated to home consoles well due to mats that slid around your floor making precision impossible. This would be a must have in my collection and it would double as a weight loss tool. I’ve never been so exhausted playing a video game before.

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  1. I agree with a lot of the choices on this list and for good measure I’d throw in Afterburner, any of the Time Crisis games, Golden Axe and the arcade TMNT game. Oh, and Tekken Tag Tournament just because the game itself plays so much better when you’re using a joystick instead of a D-Pad. And Street Fighter.

    Damnit, with all the choices out there if I was rich I’d be safer just buying an arcade and filling it with the games I like.

  2. Totally agree on the simpsons. How has that game not been ported to either the psn or xbla?
    I would definitely add time crisis. That game took a shit ton of my quarters.
    Golden tee is also essential. I would want a pinball machine, doesn’t matter what design. Oh yeah, and a skee-ball, me and god share a love for skee-ball. Finally, I would need one of those side-by-side basketball games.

  3. @greatfatsby You beat me to mentioning TMNT The Arcade game from Konami. Really any brawler made by Konami that would have appeared in a Chuck E. Cheese back in the early 90’s.

    The Simpsons Arcade Game is still to this day the best Simpsons video game made available. That’s funny they topped out in video game quality in like 1991.

  4. No mortal kombat or street fighter ? Also if you own it it’s less of a problem, but one of the greatest quarter eaters of all time Gauntlet is a must. Also the x-men arcade, tron, track and field, nba jam and tmnt like fatsby mentioned.

    No arcade is complete without hearing that distinct line from off in the corner, elf need’s food…badly.

  5. Back in the day there was this side scrolling brawler like final fight but the four characters were rip offs of Hulk Hogan, Mr T, and I think Stallone and Arnold. Any remember that game? It was awesome.

  6. If I was rich, I wouldn’t just get only arcades from my childhood, I’d go all out with tvs playing tv shows, music on the speakers, and videogame posters all from that era, 1988-1993. Stepping into my arcade room would be like stepping into a time warp. I’d add Street Fighter 2 and Mortal Kombat 2. Crypt Killer, as I preferred shooters with shotguns than pistols. Arkanoid, even though it’s a waste to have an arcade for something I can play on my cell phone. Some old school beat-em ups like that X-men or Avengers game. Oh and of course, NBA Jam.

    Then for myself I’d have a second arcade room specifically for racing and flying arcades.

  7. Time Crisis

    Any kind of trivia game

    Police Trainer

    Area 51

    Virtua Cop 2

    Whatever arcade game that John Connor was playing in T2

    NBA Jam, Tournament Edition

    Air Hockey

    Street Fighter 2

    Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3

    Virtua Fighter

  8. You’ve got 8 games on your list I’m going to try and keep it down to 8 as well.

    1. Simpsons Arcade is an excellent game. No need to change this one.

    2. Time Crisis 2 or 3. This is probably the only shooting game I really enjoyed and with a friend its a lot better.

    3. Marvel vs. Capcom 2: Again no need to change this. Great game. I was never a big fan of fighting games, I still am not a huge fan, but I enjoy the MvC series.

    4. X-Men Arcade Side Scroller – How can anybody forget playing this game, a giant triple screen, and 6 characters with 5 people playing (nobody wanted to be Dazzler). Super awesome.

    5. Ms. Pac Man table – When my uncle used to own a burger joint we had one of these table machines in them with pac man, so awesome

    6. Daytona four machines next to each other – This is the ultimate arcade driving experience, nothing even comes close for me.

    7. Virtua Tennis by Sega – Another game that I get a lot of enjoyment out of either in singles or against others. Lots of fun.

  9. If you are ever in the Portland area, be sure to check out “Ground Kontrol” They have many of these games, and lots more. You would have a fine time. Plus Wednesdays are 5 cover and unlimited games. Between that and the fact they have a bar, it is a fine place to spend some time.

    I would love to have the Atari Star Wars arcade game… I think that thing can induce seizures, and I love it.

    Love the blog, keep up the good work.

  10. Excellent selection on House of the Dead, one of my favorites of all time. I would also throw in Gauntlet Legends, the old X-men arcade game, Cruisin’ USA. For newer stuff, I really loved Hydro Thunder…and one of the best sports arcade games: NFL Blitz

  11. Final Fight


    Bucky O’Hare (played the hell out of this game at a Chuck E. Cheese my parents took us to)

    Ms. Pac-Man


    Ninja Gaiden

    and a bunch of pinball machines

  12. The one my best bud and I spent countless millions on was a game called “Operation Wolf.” i remember it being insanely hard (or we just sucked) but still loads of fun. I could have purchased an NBA team with the money I spent on that game.

  13. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for sure, Any of the Time Crisis games, Tekken Tag Tournament, and Die Hard Arcade. I definitely agree with Simpsons, Marvel vs. Capcom 2, and Cruis’n USA as well, and even though I suck at it and refuse to put money into it, if I had the money to waste I would buy a DDR arcade machine.

  14. One I forgot to mention earlier was that Star Wars game from the arcade where one minute you’re in the Battle of Hoth, the next you’re whacking your stick around in a lightsaber duel with Darth Vader. Pretty sick

  15. 1. the original Star Wars polygon attack on the death star sim
    2. Street Fighter 2
    3. Mrs. Pac-Man, table version
    4. Dig-Dug
    5. Super Off-Road
    6. Virtua-Cop 2
    7. Moon Patrol
    8. Star Trek Strategic Operations Simulator
    You gotta throw in a few pinball machines and a pool table then good to go. oh yeah and i would totally cheat and get one of the multi-game machines with the rest of the classics (joust donkey kong double dragon etc)

  16. Hmmm… How was I not informed about this? I am not sure… I mean I get the man cave, but a WHOLE arcade? I think I’d rather a sweet home theater with drop down screen. Just saying.

  17. OMFG no one said Gauntlet?

    Super Pac Man
    Pac Man Jr (pinball/pacman)
    Moon Patrol
    Asteroids Deluxe
    Donkey Kong
    Virtua Fighter 2
    NBA Jam
    and finally
    Dragon’s Lair (yes I know they eventually break)

  18. Hmmmm gotta have Golden Tee and Police Trainer. Police Trainer is one of the only shooters and is hard to get sick of.

    Agreed with Simpsons.

    I bought the X-Men Side-scroller port for Xbox live arcade. Loved that game.

    As far as racing games. One of the San Fransisco Rush games would probably be a good choice.

  19. Pac Man
    Ms. Pac Man
    Donkey Kong
    Golden Axe
    Dig Dug
    Burger Time
    Dragons Lair
    Star Wars Trench Battle
    Elvira Pinball Machine

  20. Having been born in 1972, I have had many years to consider my potential game basement collection.

    MS. PACMAN — the only arcade game I ever got a high score on.

    GALAGA — I pumped so many quarters into this game. To this day, when I play Left4Dead and the zombies pour through a door all nice and lined up, I call shooting them “getting my Galaga on.”

    TABLETOP PACMAN/SPACE INVADERS/CENTIPEDE — In the dark days before pizza delivery, we would go to Pizza Inn, order our pizza to go, and play video games until the pizza was ready at a tabletop game that had all three games on it. Now, my memory is a little fuzzy … it might have been Asteroids, and not Space Invaders, but I do remember I was shooting stuff.

    GOLDEN AXE: Even after delivery was available, my husband and I would trek up to the local Pizza Hut, just so we could play Golden Axe while our food was cooking. Sometimes the pizza would get cold if we were on a roll.

    And the #1 greatest video game of all time IMO:

    SIT-DOWN STAR WARS! Our local movie theatre when I was growing up had a standup version, but when we would go to Six Flags, we had to ride the Shockwave, ride the Spinakker, and most importantly, visit the arcade that had the sitdown Star Wars. Sure, the graphics were nothing compared to today, but you really felt like you were in the X-Wing (you fire your torpedos when you hear certain lines of dialogue like, “The force is strong with this one.”) Check it out (gameplay starts at 1:42):–ZA

  21. Some good picks for sure! You should consider building a mame cabinet, or converting an old arcade cab into a mame.
    You’re looking at:
    75 bucks or so for an old cab you can gut
    150 bucks or so for an old cheap PC and a 19” CRT monitor
    150 bucks for an xarcade dual joystick

    … that’s how l started my collection and it’s still one of my favorite pieces to my little home game room.

  22. I plan on having my own neo geo cabinet one day, preferably one with 4 cartridge slots. That way I can just buy cartridges for the games and what not…always loved playing Metal Slug at Pizza Hut!

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