Many of us grew up playing arcade games. Games like Pac Man and Galaga, among many others, were huge parts of our childhood, and seeing these games again can definitely bring up feelings of nostalgia.
In fact, even as adults, we still like to play these games every now and then- or any game for that matter. We even have dedicated game rooms and “man caves” just for this purpose. What better way to spice up these game rooms than with a cocktail arcade machine that will offer hours of entertainment, not to mention give off that certain vibe and aesthetic that we love?
If this sounds like something you’re interested in, read on to find out about the best cocktail arcade machines you can buy online, as well as a definitive guide on how to choose the right arcade cocktail table for you.
5 Best Cocktail Arcade Machines
Here’s a list of the five best tabletop arcade games we found, all of which are beautiful pieces that are sure to be amazing additions to your game room.
A sure winner is the Prime Arcades cocktail arcade machine with 1162 games and a retro 80’s favorite aesthetic, the popular Street Fighter game design. This is a plug and play gaming system that’s made with high-quality wood and is super easy to set up, whether in your home or inside an entertainment center.
Now, the games don’t come with crystal clear resolution, but that’s just being true to the game quality of that era. That said, it offers a two-player option and comes with joysticks and a trackball for an awesome gaming experience. You can even give it a more realistic feel by inserting quarters instead of using the free play mode.
It also features a 26 inch LED screen with tempered glass for a safer and more comfortable viewing and comes with two chrome stools for a nice, sit down arcade game or two. All in all, it’s the perfect commercial-grade machine for arcade gaming enthusiasts.
- 1162 games (+ 80’s and 90’s classics)
- 2-player gaming option
- Large 26” LED tempered monitor
- 2 chrome stools included
- 5 year warranty
We also fell in love with the AB Inc. exclusive cocktail arcade game with its 412 classic games. It’s another commercial-grade arcade machine that soothes your nostalgia by letting you play “OG arcade games” like Pac Man, complete with its funky graphics.
It boasts of a 22-inch screen and buttons that are designed to be comfortably used by both righties and lefties. A single joystick is included for movement. This table is also made of high-quality particleboard that is nicely weighted and is very sturdy.
Plus, the machine is reliable and easy to set up, and the hundreds of games make for hours of non-stop fun. You have the option of playing it free or have it set up on quarters. Either way, it’s a great way to relive old memories and play the games you loved as a child.
- 412 games with high res graphics
- 22” screen and high-quality particleboard
- Compatible with lefty and righty playing
- Option of free and quarter playing
If you love the specs, features, and general feel of the 1162 Prime Arcades, but would prefer the more subdued AB Inc in terms of screen size and gaming options, we’ve got the perfect solution- the Prime Arcades 412-game cocktail arcade machine.
It comes with that authentic arcade gaming machine aesthetic, it’s built to last and stand the test of time, it can easily be upgraded and modified with custom graphics, and it’s got more than enough games to keep everyone happy without being overwhelmed. Some of these games include the classic Pac Man table game, Donkey Kong, Space Invaders, and Galaga.
And, like its bigger 1162-game sibling, the LED screen is also protected with tempered glass and offers a flip screen option for a little two-player action. It also comes with two chrome swivel stools and is shipped fully assembled so you can enjoy a simple plug-and-play setup.
- 412 games with 2-player gaming option
- Easy plug and play set up
- 19” HD LED tempered monitor
- 2 chrome stools included
- 5-year warranty
You should also check out the Creative Arcades commercial-grade cocktail arcade machine, which is one sturdy gaming table that is sure to be an absolute treat for anyone who’s a freak about arcade gaming. Of course, it’s also great for avid video gamers who want a refreshing change of scenery.
Like the first machine we reviewed, this one comes with mindblowing 1162 classic games, all of which are already installed so you don’t have to deal with a complicated setup. It also boasts of a large, tempered glass protected 26-inch screen that tilts for horizontal games.
All in all, the sturdy and durable table with blue LED lighting, the sleek leather bar stools, and the classic 80’s joysticks, buttons, and trackball, all these not only make the arcade machine ridiculously attractive but also provide endless entertainment for the family and friends.
- 1162 games with 1 and 2-player option
- 4 Sanwa joysticks, side panel LEDs
- 26” tempered lifting screen
- 2 leather bar stools included
- 3-year warranty, Available in 5 sizes
Finally, and also from Creative Arcades, is this unique wine barrel style pub arcade machine, a sleek gaming table with a unique, funky vibe. This design alone makes it perfect not just as a simple arcade table, but also as your game room’s centerpiece, kind of like a pretty coffee table, but with a gaming system as the tabletop.
This one’s got 60 classic games including Galaga, Pac Man, and Donkey Kong. All these games, you can play with under the free playing mode, or by making use of the coin operation mechanism for a more realistic arcade gaming experience.
Just like all the other arcade machines on this list, this one also comes with two barstools for your convenience, as well as a three-year warranty for your protection. Top it all off with the plug and play ease of operation, it’s a great deal all around!
- 60 games
- Woodgrain barrel shell
- 19” screen
- 2 barstools included
- 3-year warranty
Cocktail Arcade Machine Buying Guide
Cocktail machines don’t come cheap. In fact, even the cheaper ones can cost thousands of dollars, and as such, you need to be sure that you are making a worthy investment. This means making sure that the machine you buy will be perfect for your needs. To do that, here are the most important things you need to consider before making a purchase:
Is a cocktail arcade machine right for you?
Classic video games like Galaga and Pac Man are equal parts fun and nostalgic, but do you really need a multi-game cocktail arcade machine for your home gaming room? There are plenty of standalone machines out there that are definitely cheaper and more compact.
The issue with these mini arcades is that they only come with a couple of games, so you’re likely to get bored pretty quickly, unlike a cocktail arcade table that is loaded with a huge arsenal of all the classic games in the 80’s and 90’s era.
Plus, standalone machines, especially new ones, are hard to come by, and even if you find one for a cheap price, there’s no guarantee that it will work properly. And besides, cocktail tables already come with stools and gaming accessories so you and your friends can start playing right off the bat.
If you’d like an arcade cabinet instead, click here.
What Games Do You Want?
As you’ve seen from the cocktail arcade machines we reviewed, there are more than a thousand classic arcade games that you can play with. The question is, which and how many of these do you like?
The more popular ones like Pac Man and Galaga are a staple on today’s arcade tables, but aside from these two, it’s also important that you check the machine’s game collection and see if all the others you’d like to play are on there.
Number of Games
What you have to decide on are, first, how many games do you want the machine to have? Smaller cocktail tables feature around 400 games, while bigger ones have over a thousand, and industrial-grade machines can offer as much as 3,000 games.
Second, how many people will play at the same time? Many home arcade machines only offer a single-player option, but if you want to be able to play with other people, look for one that has a two to four-player gaming option.
How will you use it?
Another very important thing you have to be clear on is where and how you will use the machine. If it’s just for your home gaming setup, a simple, no-frills machine may do just fine, but if it’s for commercial purposes, like for a pub or restaurant, you’ll need the machine to have a lot more bells and whistles.
These include multiplayer options, a bigger game selection, a sleek aesthetic, and most importantly, the option to be operated through coins or credit cards, so you can make money off of the arcade table. There should also be a good assortment of trackballs, buttons, and joysticks. The more of these things, the better, as they allow for more in-game versatility.
Dimensions and Screen Size
The thing with arcade machines is that they don’t really come small, and this is why it’s important to make sure you’ll have plenty of floor space, including free seating space at the front of the machine, in your home or commercial establishment before purchasing a huge machine.
When it comes to arcades, size matters- at least, for the monitor or screen, since this is what largely influences your gaming experience. Unless you’re strapped for space, bigger is always better. You’ll see more, the game will be more immersive, and it’s better for multiplayer gaming as well. Better yet, flat and tilting screens will give you variety in gaming perspectives.
To give you an idea, an arcade machine monitor usually measures from 19 to 32 inches, though of course, the bigger ones will cost more, and even more so if they are flat or tilting.
Aside from the screen size, you also need to consider the screen’s aspect ratio. For older machines and those designed to be more truthful to that era, the screen will have the original 4:3 aspect ratio.
Now, unlike movies and television, the newer 16:9 widescreen ratio isn’t necessarily more preferable for arcade games, since most of these games still come with the 4:3 ratio, and therefore, using a widescreen monitor will give you black bars on the sides.
Quality and Durability
This doesn’t really have to be said, but you need to make sure that your arcade machine looks good, works well, and lasts for many years to come. For one thing, the design and aesthetics of the machine should blend well with your decor.
It should also be made with high-quality materials like plywood or MDF particleboard. Also in terms of quality, more often than not, the heavier the machine, the better it’s quality and builds. You can rely on these machines to work non-stop without overheating, and they will last you for a really long time.
Just make sure not to buy a poorly made knock-off. This will still cost you hundreds or even thousands of dollars, but without the guarantee of reliability, performance, and longevity.
Aside from the key factors we talked about above, there are a few other things you need to consider in order to really ensure that you are buying the best cocktail arcade machine for your needs, preferences, and budget. These include:
One of the many issues you don’t want to deal with is a permanent power cable scattered across the floor. It’s not only an eyesore, it’s a ticking time bomb too. Sooner or later, someone is going to trip over that wire. The good news is, most cocktail arcade tables run on a standard 10-ampere power plug.
Arcade machines nowadays are mostly digital, and they all make use of their own operating systems which boot up the machine and load it straight into gaming mode, much like how a console works. Check if this system is reliable and well-performing. Knowing and understanding this system is important if you ever want to run your own games.
What accessories and other items does the arcade machine come with? Is it complete with the gaming essentials, like joysticks and trackballs? Does it come with a decent quality barstool or two? Maybe it’s well decorated and features techy stuff like LED lighting and whatnot. Ask yourself which of these accessories and added features you want and need.
Don’t forget to also read up on the product’s customer reviews, whether you’re buying the gaming system online or in the store. This will best help you determine whether the machine actually lives up to your standards and meets your preferences. Remember, all brands and manufacturers advertise their products as the best, but it won’t always be true.
One more very important thing that you should not overlook is the warranty. A cocktail arcade table is heavy, bulky, and made up of several parts and materials, including both hardware and software. And the reality is, even if you buy the most expensive model, something can still go wrong along the way.
If and when this happens, you want to be able to rely on great warranty coverage from the manufacturer. Ideally, a 100% warranty that lasts for a minimum of three years, maybe even five or ten, if you can find one.
Besides, a warranty is also a strong sign that the manufacturer delivers great products. Think of it this way- would you confidently offer years’ worth of free repairs and replacements if you know your product will likely break every five minutes?
Finally, work out a budget, and go from there. Smaller coffee table models can start at around 1,000 to 1,500 dollars, while bigger, industrial-grade arcade machines that really immerse the player into the game can go for as high as $30,000.
Of course, if you will use the gaming machine in a commercial setup, you can always invest more and eventually recoup this money through coin mechanisms, card scanners, and dollar bill acceptors.
On the other hand, if you really want to save, consider checking out secondhand models which are at least $500 cheaper. The games work fine, but the exterior of the table may show some scratches and signs of age.
The best cocktail arcade machines really level up your home gaming experience by bringing you hours of joy and entertainment for the years to come. Playing classic games not only lets you spend more quality time with family and friends but also lets you bring back the nostalgia of the earlier decades.
To make sure you’re making the right decision, however, ask yourself a few things. Who and how many will play, and how old are they? What kinds of games do you like? Are they sit-down arcade games, or do you need to stand up and move around? Where in your house will you place the gaming machine? Do you have enough space for it?
How much money are you willing to shell out for an arcade table? Do you want a ready-made model, or a custom, made to order machine?