Home arcade cabinets are having a moment, with affordable new machines releasing fairly regularly. But with so many intriguing cabinets releasing nowadays, it can be hard to decide which ones to pick up–especially when space is limited. The sad reality is that full-size or close-to-full-size arcade cabinets can really start to overwhelm your living area. Enter Numskull’s Quarter Arcade machines, brilliantly designed cabinets that look and play great while only taking up desk or shelf space. Numskull’s latest cabinet, a specially designed 40th anniversary edition of Pac-Man, doubles as a great way to play Pac-Man and as a collector’s item worthy of display.
Pint-size cabinet with full-size quality
The Pac-Man 40th Anniversary Quarter Arcade was hand-crafted by the designers at Numskull. Unlike other desktop cabinets, Numskull’s quarter arcade cabinets mirror the high-quality designs and finishes you’d see with full-size cabinets in arcades. Right when I took it out of the box, I was struck by the impressive build quality of the wooden shell. The side panel artwork shows Pac-Man gobbling up cookies along a track composed of the famous multi-colored ghosts. Meanwhile, the front panel contains a 40th anniversary logo and a 1980 emblem above the display to mark the original release of Pac-Man. The back panel has air vents, the power switch, and a microUSB charging port (cord included, no block). Even before I turned it out for the first time, I knew I’d keep this on my desk for a long time–it’s just a standout machine that truly does double as a nostalgic piece of decorative art.
That said, it’s also meant to be portable. This quarter arcade machine is only 16.92 x 8.27 x 6.3 inches. It’s easy to carry around from room to room, and you could even fit it in a backpack if you want to bring it somewhere without worrying about ruining its look. In my weeks of playing it, I’ve moved it around quite a bit and placed it on a bunch of different surfaces, but I haven’t noticed anything to suggest that it’s the slightest bit fragile. It has stealthy rubber feet to hold the cabinet in place while preventing the bottom finish from rubbing against surfaces.
Thankfully, it plays well, too. The officially licensed cabinet boots to a 40th anniversary screen. The Pac-Man logo lights up on the marquee, which is not all that common in the home arcade space. To see that feature in such a small cabinet is really cool and adds to this quarter arcade’s collectible appeal.
From there, you have to get credits to play. Numskull included the coin operation panel on the front of the cabinet. And though it’s far too small to actually take real quarters, it still serves a purpose. Press either of the coin return buttons and you’ll add credits to play. It’s a neat little touch that is rare in the home arcade market.
Back at the arcade
The cabinet plays exactly as you’d expect. Numskull used a ROM of the original version, and I found zero issues with the emulation or score-saving functionality. The vertically oriented screen is certainly small, but it’s bright and the text is sharp. The audio is crystal clear, and you can adjust the volume with the slider located on the back by the power switch.
The only area of concern I have with this cabinet is the joystick. It’s extremely small, and though it’s responsive and easy-to-use for me, I imagine it wouldn’t be ideal for someone with large fingers and hands. I’ve switched between a one-finger and two-finger claw (thumb and pointer) grip and found both methods to be comfortable, though I’m not sure if everyone will feel the same. The other potential issue is it feels like you should be pretty gentle with the joystick, a fact that may make it challenging for kids to use without worrying that it may break down the line. I tried the two-player mode with my 9-year-old, and she regularly slammed the joystick left and right. So far, it still feels the same, but considering full-size arcade sticks can break from fast and furious movements, I imagine this little guy could break too, if you’re not careful.
Though I have a myriad of platforms to play Pac-Man on, revisiting the timeless classic on an actual arcade machine definitely feels right. Impressively, this tiny arcade cabinet captures that magic just as much as any full-size cabinet I’ve played. The Pac-Man 40th Anniversary Quarter Arcade is available to purchase now at Geek Store for $130.
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