SOLITAIRE CHALLENGE MAME CAB



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So hands up who has never been in a Video Game Arcade as a kid and marvelled at the sights, sounds and even the smells therein. People of my generation are lucky in that we were kids when the arcades had their heyday. They still had the early classic games in such as Space Invaders, Asteroids and Pacman and there were some interesting new games out too with different control mechanisms, such as driving games featuring full sit down controls with accelerator, brake and clutch pedals and gear levers. These newer games were more expensive to play but back then it was still quite reasonable, unlike today where a simple driving game lasting a couple of minutes depending on your skill level will cost you anything up three pounds. How I long for those days when ten pence was all it cost to immerse yourself in some foreign, and usually alien, world and that's why I wanted to build my very own arcade cabinet, to recapture those long lost days. However, my cabinet wouldn't just feature a single game like Space Invaders or Pacman. Oh no, my cab will play every game that I used to love playing back then in the arcades.

Every year when I was a young child my family would go on holiday to Looe, Cornwall and as luck would have it they took me with them. Right there in the centre of Looe, on the harbour itself, was an amusement arcade, and while my family walked around the shops looking at the same old slate engravings, sea shell ornaments and tin souvenirs, I would venture in armed with my fifty pence piece and try to decide which machine would be divulging me of my Dad's hard earned.


I would wander around taking in the sights and sounds that would become so familiar like the proverbial kid in a sweet shop. All the classics that I loved to play were there; Space Invaders, Pacman, Asteroids, Defender, Donkey Kong, Scramble and Rally X, and I would put ten pence after ten pence into them, playing for what must have been a relatively short time as I profess to be no great games master, especially at that tender age.

So I wanted to build my own machine that would allow me to play these same games at home, without having to ask anybody for just one more ten pence piece, or having to get up at ridiculous o'clock and drive for six hours to the south coast. I didn?t want to just sit down at a desk and use a PC mouse and keyboard to play them though, I wanted the real deal, a complete upright arcade cabinet that we all know and love, so I set about devising a plan.

The build would consist of two main parts:
(1) The physical cabinet build itself.
(2) The Computer that will sit inside it and run everything.

Obviously at first I didn?t have a cabinet to use and there were two options open to me really:
(a) Build my own cabinet from scratch.
(b) Buy an old arcade cabinet that is either no longer in use or is in need of restoration.

The trouble with a new build, made either from my own plans or from buying an IKEA type flat pack kit, is that I want the real feel of authenticity that an original cab will give me, and after all we are on a nostalgia kick here. I want to look at my cab and picture it being kicked by a wide eyed eight year old on the Cornish coast, angry because his last ten pence has gone and that the little triangular ship in the centre of the screen has been blown apart by a fast moving piece of Asteroid for the fifteenth time that day.

The issue with buying a genuine old cab, perhaps apart from price, is one of preservation. If I buy an old one that still has its original game working inside it then I think that it should be preserved and restored to it's original state where possible, so to rip the internals out and replace them with a PC would be sacrilegious. Cabinets like that should be restored to their former glory so what I'm looking for is either a complete cab that no longer runs or one that has got no internals left inside it. One that has its workings but no longer runs would be the better option I think because then some of the internals may be reusable and of use to somebody. That way I could see them go to a new home and continue to be used as nature intended. That is if nature ever built an arcade cabinet. Doubtful.

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