Tabletop arcade games offer a way to travel back to the good ole’ days of classic video game entertainment from the comfort of your own home.
Vintage and retro arcade games have made a big comeback in the bar scene these days. Games like Space Invaders, Pac-Man, Star Wars, Centipede and countless other classics can be found in one of the many of the bar-arcade hybrid venues opening up in cities around the country.
On a smaller scale, some bar owners just opt for a multi-game table, as we highlight in this post, with several iconic titles built into a single unit. It turns out booze and vintage arcade games go well together.
But you don’t have to seek out a trendy bar to re-live the glory days of the 80’s arcade scene. With a tabletop arcade game, you can recreate this world of gaming nostalgia in your own home. (But make sure you still try to get out every now and then.)
There are several options available these days that offer a huge variety of classic games from original publishers like Atari, Namco and Midway, all bundled into consumer-friendly tabletop or cocktail style gaming units.
So, if you’re ready to step back a couple decades, let’s look at some of the best tabletop arcade games to check out today.
What is a Tabletop Arcade Game?
A tabletop arcade game is a smaller version of a full arcade unit that can be placed on a table or other flat surface and played sitting down. A larger cocktail arcade unit, also featured below, is really a tabletop game in and of itself.
Typically, these machines include several arcade games, sometimes over a thousand, although smaller units may just have a handful of classic games built-in. The theme of each unit is usually the same, though: vintage, iconic and fun game titles that will bring you back to days gone by.
These tabletop arcade games also include similar features that resemble the original full-size arcade units, including 4-way joystick(s) and/or track balls, big round buttons, and old-school game cabinets.
Here are a few of the best tabletop games for home entertainment. We’ll start with three larger cocktail style options, followed by a couple much smaller, budget-friendly game units.
Prime Arcades, LLC Cocktail Arcade Machine
Stealing the number one spot on our list is the Cocktail Arcade Machine from Prime Arcades. As the name suggests, this machine offers a cocktail of classic 80’s and 90’s games. To be specific, this machine features 1162 games, meaning that even if you spend your days and nights on this unit, you still won’t be able to complete all of its games.
The Prime Arcades unit is a cocktail style arcade game. The screen is set into the table, and you play while sitting on a stool (2 stools come with the unit). This is vintage gaming at its finest.
Some of the most popular games that this tabletop unit has to offer include Street Fighter II, Ms. Pac-Man, and Centipede. You can check out the complete list of games that this machine offers here and here. The Cocktail Arcade Machine measures at 30 x 44 x 30 inches and has a screen size of 22 inches. Further, it weighs 185 pounds, so it’s quite a hefty machine.
To enjoy this fully-built machine, all you have to do is plug it in the nearest outlet and it’ll present you with a staggering catalog of classic games. The machine offers two different functionalities. The first functionality allows the user to play for free and the second one requires users to insert a coin in order to play, which is highly convenient if you truly want to create the feel of an actual arcade in your home. Or make a little extra $$ off guests.
This unit features an LED screen with a layer of tempered glass on top. It’s just a stunning piece of machinery even if you just use it for decoration. Another awesome thing about this machine is that four individuals can enjoy it at the same time. The unit comes with an impressive 5-year warranty and, as mentioned, 2 chrome stools for your convenience.
Huge LED screen, tons of games, looks cool. What’s not to love? Well, there’s always a downside.
For one, a tabletop unit of this caliber comes with a hefty price tag. If you just want to add some arcade fun to your game room, but you’re not too concerned with how expansive the selection is, then this might be a bit of an overkill.
Plus, as we mentioned, this thing is heavy. But although that makes it a project to move and install, it also indicates that it’s a heavy duty, commercial grade machine.
- Huge 22-inch LED screen with tempered glass
- Can accommodate up to four people around it
- Offers a massive catalog of 1162 video games
- Includes 2 chrome stools and a 5-year warranty
- One of the most expensive machines on this list
- Moving this machine around is quite challenging
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The Arcade1Up Deluxe 12-in-1 Head to Head Cocktail Table
This unit has less games and is not exactly commercial grade. But it will give you an authentic head-to-head arcade experience without a huge investment. This one inlcudes 8 games, with 6 Pac-Man versions, plus Galaga and Dig Dug.
And, at 74 lbs, it’s not as heavy as the other cocktail arcade units we mention here. If you love this concept and want to get your feet wet without breaking the bank, the Arcade Head-to-Head is definitely worth a look. It has two built-in speakers, a 17” LCD screen with protector, and real feel joysticks. It’s a fun one for the kids, too.
One thing to keep in mind though is that this unit is a little lower than others, making it a little awkward to sit and play at.
But it only weighs 74 lbs, so elevating it is not out of the question. Just check with the manufacturer on the best way to do this.
Creative Arcades Commercial Grade Cocktail Arcade
If money is not an issue and you’re looking to buy the best of the best that the arcade world has to offer, the Creative Arcades Commercial Grade Cocktail Arcade is going to blow you away. It’s equipped with a fairly-large 26-inch screen that’s covered with tempered glass (nice to look at; easier to clean). The screen can be tilted up to 60-degrees for a more comfortable viewing position while playing.
The craftsmanship behind this machine’s design is simply out of this world. The machine comes with a 3-year warranty to prove just how confident the manufacturer is in the machine’s ability to stand the test of time. Keep in mind that this machine measures at 39 x 22.5 x 29 inches and it’s estimated to weigh over 200 pounds, so moving it around won’t be as easy as you may think.
As far as how many games this machine has to offer, it features 3500 classic games (!) that’ll make you feel like a child again. All of the classic games that you used to enjoy playing in the 80’s and 90’s are at your disposal once again with this machine. Plus, once it’s settled in its new home, this machine doesn’t require any sort of setting up whatsoever. You just plug it in and enjoy endless hours of gaming.
You and your friend can enjoy 2-player games while the screen is titled. Alternatively, the screen can be left flat so that you can make use of the side panels. This arcade machine supports both paid and free gameplay, so you can put it in your man cave or even a commercial arcade room. Last but not least, this machine comes with leather bar stools for you and your friends to sit on.
- Features an exceptional library of classic video games
- Boasts a rugged construction that will last you for years
- The unit doesn’t require any sort of assembly or setup
- Comes with leather bar stools and a 3-year warranty
- This is the most expensive arcade machine on our list
- Due to its weight, it’s very hard to move this unit around
RetroTVGames Cocktail Arcade Machine Tabletop
The Cocktail Arcade Machine from RetroTVGames is the ideal machine for arcade fanatics that are looking for a more affordable tabletop arcade setup with a good range of features and options. This unit measures at 23 x 19 x 27.5 inches and it weighs around 53 pounds, so it’s significantly lighter than the other high-end units on this list. You can set this machine on a table, pedestal, bar, or any flat surface.
The RetroTVGames arcade features a sizable 19-inch LCD screen. As far as the controls, it has 2 sets of buttons and 2 classic joysticks, making it a great arcade for 1 or 2 players. This arcade features a pretty massive catalog of 960 games. All of the classics from the 80s and 90s can be found in this machine, from Pac-Man to Street Fighter. Simply turn it on and enjoy it.
The quality of the games on the LCD screen is pretty good and the controls seem to boast quick responsiveness, offering the authentic feel of a classic arcade cabinet with every movement. It’s equipped with 2 operation options. The first option allows you to play for free while the other one utilizes the coin slot to set up the pay-per-use functionality.
On the product’s page, you’ll notice that the side of the machine, as well as the joysticks, feature some artwork. This artwork is shipped separately in its own box, which means that you’ll have to apply it manually. All things considered, for the price that this machine is available at, it sure has a lot to offer. So grab a friend, a drink, and a few snacks and enjoy playing your favorite games.
- Features an impressive library of video games
- Equipped with a sizable 19-inch LCD monitor
- Offers both free and pay-per-use gameplay
- The controls boast incredible responsiveness
- The accompanying artwork must be self-applied
- This machine would be better with an LED screen
Arcade 1Up Pacman Countercade Tabletop Design
If your childhood revolved around playing Pac-Man, then the Arcade 1UP Pacman Countercade is definitely worth your while. This machine measures at 12.25 x 11.25 x 18.5 inches and has an 8-inch screen, so it’s significantly smaller than the above-mentioned arcade machine, which is a good thing considering that this machine weighs only about 11 pounds, so it’s much easier to move and set-up.
The Pacman Countercade features 2 video games, namely Pac-Man and Pac & Pal, so you can see why it’s more geared towards the Pac-Man addict. And since this machine doesn’t boast as many games as the Cocktail Arcade Machine, for example, you can clearly see why it’s priced a lot lower. Not to mention that it can only accommodate a single person at once.
Thanks to its compact and lightweight construction, the Arcade 1UP Pacman Countercade is an ideal choice for almost any room. Moreover, it has a pretty small footprint, so you won’t struggle while trying to set it up on different surfaces. This is yet another fully-built unit, meaning that you simply plug it into an AC outlet and enjoy the trip down to memory lane.
Sadly, this machine doesn’t feature coin-operated functionality, so you can’t really set it up in an arcade room expecting to earn any money from it. It’s designed mainly for home setups. We feel the need to point out that the warranty information for this machine is unknown. Regardless, this unit features commercial-grade construction that will definitely last you for years to come.
- Boasts lightweight yet highly durable construction
- Features a design that’s perfect for Pac-Man fans
- Offers life-sized arcade controls for convenience
- One of the most affordable arcades on the market
- The information regarding the warranty is unknown
- The machine offers a very limited number of games
DreamGEAR My Arcade Retro Machine Mini Arcade
Whoever said you need to squander a ton of money to enjoy the arcade experience was wrong. This mini arcade machine from DreamGEAR is equipped with a library of 200 games that you’ll have a blast exploring. The machine may not be as large as other tabletop arcades, as it’s 3.38 x 5.75 x 3.5 inches, but it still captures the same essence and offers the same experience.
The DreamGEAR My Arcade Retro Machine weighs around 9.2 ounces, so it’s super lightweight and can be moved around with ease. Moreover, this unit runs on batteries, so there’s no need to worry about being confined by the length of a cable. Note, the machine doesn’t come equipped with batteries, so you’re going to need to buy 3 AA batteries separately.
This mini arcade machine is so small that you can actually carry it around in your backpack and bring it along with you whenever you go. This is also an awesome way to introduce your kids to the world of arcade games so that they can experience what you experienced in your youth. It’s made from highly-durable polypropylene, which is the reason why it’s super lightweight.
The My Arcade Retro Machine from DreamGEAR features a realistic, 4-way joystick that offers remarkable maneuverability, in addition to A and B buttons that you can use to jump, climb, hop, steer, and so on and so forth. Using the volume button, you can pick between 4 levels of sound that comes out of the speaker built in the rear. Highly recommended for little kids.
- Boasts extremely compact and lightweight construction
- So small that you can carry it around in your backpack
- One of the most affordable arcade units on the market
- The unit operates on batteries rather than an AC outlet
- The machine doesn’t come equipped with the batteries
- Some of the games this arcade offers don’t make sense
Arcade games are no longer a thing of the past. And there not just for bars or entertainment venues. You can easily bring countless classics into your home with one of the above options.
Depending on your budget, you can go full throttle with a multi-game machine, or keep it simple with a fun tabletop unit. Either way, you will experience true retro gaming nostalgia without leaving home. Plus, you might be able to make some extra money.