Best arcade game machines

Arcade Games

Playing different games at an actual arcade can help you to figure out which one you like best and would want to purchase for at-home use.

Which arcade game machine is best?

People who grew up in the golden age of arcades bought quarters by the roll and played for hours. There still is nothing as thrilling for gamers as standing in front of that brightly colored arcade game machine, grabbing the joystick and battling the attacking aliens. 

Despite all the computer, console and handheld gaming options available, more dedicated gamers may want to buy a full-sized arcade game for their home. Our top choice, the ARCADE1UP Street Fighter 2, is the best game for everyday use.

What to know before you buy an arcade game machine

Audience

You will want different features for kids, adults or the whole family.

Location

Arcade game machines can be large. Think of how much space you have in the den, family room, basement, garage or wherever you plan to store the machine.

Immediacy

Some manufacturers make machines to order, so consider the lead time before you purchase.

Business investment

Look for a machine that is strong and sturdy enough to stand up to lots of play.

Arcade game types

Classic

This category is all the arcade games that are controlled by joysticks, trackballs and buttons.

Pinball

If you like the sights and sounds of the silver ball bouncing off bumpers that light up and make noises, this is the arcade game machine for you.

Racing

These games mostly feature car races, but there are racing games for skateboards, snow skis, motorcycles, monster trucks and rowboats, too.

Shooting

Survivalists, hunters and sharpshooters will like these machines that feature built-in toy guns.

Skill

Play basketball, bowl or shoot skee balls with a skill-based arcade game machine. Air hockey and games that involve whacking pop-up critters are also skill-based.

Chance

Tickets, tokens and other rewards are key in games that require chance. The arcade industry calls this category redemption games.

What to look for in a quality arcade game machine

Size

Measure the width of your front door and the interior doorways, plus any other space where you will have to move your machine to get it into position. You may be able to buy half-sized consoles or tabletop game machines if your walkway space is tight.

Configuration

Most arcade game machines have a vertical screen. Some, such as the original bar game Pong, have a horizontal screen and the players sit across from each other on stools.

Assembly

Make sure you check to see if any assembly is required for your machine. Many console game machines require some minor assembly, but most arcade game machines come fully assembled and ready to plug and play. 

Multi-game systems

Game machines that come loaded with several different arcade games give everyone in your family a chance to play their favorite game.

How much you can expect to spend on an arcade game machine

Arcade game machines that cost less than $1,000 are either tabletop games or retro games that require some assembly. Game machines from $1,000-$4,000 are for those who want games like those found in a real arcade, like Street Fighter, Pac-Man, Galaga or modern multi-game machines. High-end models that are best for commercial arcades cost anywhere from $6,000-$10,000 and fully immersive machines can cost as much as $30,000.

Arcade game machine FAQ

How much maintenance do arcade game machines need?

A. It depends on the type of machine and how much use it gets. The more moving parts, the more you will need to do to keep it in tip-top condition. For games with only joysticks and buttons, keep your game in good shape by wiping down the cabinet and screen. No matter the game, use a surge protector to keep your electronics safe.

Does playing arcade games have any benefits other than enjoyment?

A. Yes. Games reduce stress, help you develop hand-eye coordination, improve your reflexes and assist in the development of your cognitive skills.

What’s the best arcade game machine to buy?

Top arcade game machine

ARCADE1UP Street Fighter 2 

ARCADE1UP Street Fighter 2 

What you need to know: This well-built coinless machine is a ’90s arcade classic.

What you’ll love: This upright game machine includes 3 variants of Street Fighter II and includes controls for two players to go head-to-head. The Street Fighter-themed paneling and bright LCD display are retro-styled and the authentic life-sized arcade cabinet is easy to assemble. It has a 17-inch full-color display and the original joystick and control button.

What you should consider: This machine has only two volume settings.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top arcade game machine for the money

Arcade1UP Ms. Pac-Man Counter-Cade

Arcade1UP Ms. Pac-Man Counter-Cade

What you need to know: This tabletop arcade cabinet looks and feels just like the real deal, but with a smaller profile.

What you’ll love: The low price of this sturdy arcade machine makes it easy for retro gamers to have a piece of the arcade in their homes. This product comes fully assembled with Ms. Pac-Man, Pac-Man, Galaga and Dig Dug II already installed. The real-size controls are authentic with classic retro colors and paneling and this plug and play game has a vibrant 8-inch color LCD screen. 

What you should consider: This product features only one-player games.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

My Arcade Galaxian Mini Micro Arcade Machine

My Arcade Galaxian Mini Micro Arcade Machine

What you need to know: This tiny arcade cabinet lets arcade players take their machine with them anywhere they go.

What you’ll love: Serious arcade gamers appreciate how cool these mini arcade games look in their collection. This machine is powered by a Micro-USB cable and has a bright backlit display, volume control, headphone jack and a swappable directional pad and joystick. 

What you should consider: This game machine can also be powered by four AA batteries, which are not included.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

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David Allan Van writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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