Bars were the original locations for arcade games in the early ’70’s.
Now the trend is back, and more bars than ever are trying to adopt a bar-arcade hybrid to offer a mix of games and nostalgia for their patrons.
If you’re excited about this concept and have decided to explore some arcade options for your bar or game room at home, you may not even know where to begin.
Best Arcade Games for Bars
To help you out, let’s take a look at some of the best options for bar friendly arcade units.
For all of your retro gaming cabinet needs, Dream Arcades is the premiere site for full customization available on the market.
Dream Arcades is a manufacturer selling their arcade games direct to home or business, and you can really get anything and everything you’re looking for out of one of their units.
Start by looking at their six cabinet sizes and designs, and from there the customization is endless.
The 2 player retro cabinet is sleek and colorful, and will have you dreaming of being back at the mall in 1988.
Or, you can go with the large 4-player deluxe cabinet with the 40” LCD screen.
Upgrades include expanded memory, trackballs, spinners, custom buttons and decals, light gun options, and hundreds of games.
Their standard installation game package starts with 200+ games, including arcade classics like Pac-Man, Gauntlet, Joust, Paperboy, and more, plus you can add casino/slots games, card games, pinball games, and many more title-specific options.
Dream Arcades is the best bet if you know what you want, and you’ve decided that what you want is everything.
If you know the magic that is Golden Tee, then check out Chicago Gaming’s Arcade Legends 3 cabinet.
This unit combines an array of classic retro gaming with a mainstay of ‘barcade’ legends, Golden Tee Fore!, all in one.
Where Dream Arcades offers full options in customization, Chicago Gaming delivers with solid broad choices on the arcade side, plus the attraction of 29 Golden Tee courses (130 games in total).
The cabinet contains a 26” LCD monitor, two-player controls, and a trackball.
The selection of arcade games is mostly classic Atari & Taito titles, such as Super Breakout, Centipede, Missile Command, Asteroids, Bubble Bobble, etc.
All you need to do is to plug it in and play.
You’ve seen arcade machines; you’ve stood and played them for hours on end. How about sitting down to play?
X-Gaming made this cocktail arcade machine designed for two sitting players that’s stocked full with over 250 classic arcade games (all of the early classics are here, plus a strong selection of Sega Genesis favorites!).
This beauty unites the tailor-made qualities of Dream Arcades machines with the practical plug & play quality of Chicago Games in one unique package.
The cabinet comes with built-in Wi-Fi and is compatible with any open-source arcade gaming software so you can download and add your favorite games on your own.
What’s truly unique about this machine is the cocktail layout screen mode.
Some games were designed for this and will flip the view between players one and two on their turns respectively, retaining a full screen view for each.
Other games, especially side-scrollers and games designed for horizontal view, will automatically split screen so that players facing each other have a complete view.
X-Gaming prides itself on quality, all of their joysticks, buttons, and switches are covered by a lifetime warranty and their gaming cabinets are made in the USA.
Note: arcade gaming cabinets are sold for non-commercial use and come with the coin slots deactivated. This is due to the distribution rights for the games included, use for entertainment purposes only.
So video games are neat, but what about a more retro experience, like pinball?
By comparison, pinball arcades are going to cost more on the retail market, as they retain a lot of the same collector and memorabilia value as video game cabinets, but with fewer moving parts. The entertainment value and re-playability are all the same, however.
Nearly everything online is a refurbished unit from the 90’s & 00’s, and almost all of them are franchise-themed, either movies or music bands.
You can get these an average for about $4000.
New machines, like this Star Wars pinball arcade by Stern Pinball, usually run around $5800, and feature HD LCD screens, original soundtrack scores, and a many interactive features designed to wow the mind and engage the eye.
As with video arcade cabinets, the second-hand market is full of deals and dangers, so proceed accordingly.
The DIY Option
Finally, what if you wanted to make your own arcade experience?
Consider this, the Nintendo Switch allows for up to eight players to bring in their handheld controllers to connect together and play from one dock, which makes something like Tuesday Night Mario Kart a possible event you can host at the bar.
And one large TV and a Nintendo Switch dock are easy to get a hold of.
Yet for a more impressive presentation, projection units are surprisingly reasonable and easy to set up.
For example, there is a projector designed specifically for use with the Nintendo Switch, the AAXA – S1 Mini for Nintendo Switch 720p DLP Projector, which retails for $299.99 (higher resolution projectors amp up the price, 1080p units can be had for about $7-800).
A projection unit can help save space and it looks impressive, but you’ll have to keep in mind how bright the room is when in use and not all projectors provide for an audio source.
As for screens, you can go with a clean white wall (low light levels will help with clarity, and to hide any blemishes), or you can get a projection screen for $75-399 retail, depending on the size and quality.
For a unique playing experience that can be shared by many, this kind of set up doesn’t ruin the wallet.
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So clean up that unused corner of the bar, and plug in an arcade unit!
Bar goers will love it and thank you for it.