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Multicade - anyone have one?


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#1 david_mn OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jan 29, 2013 3:05 PM

I see ads all over the place for custom built 60-1 multi cabinets. Does anyone have one of these? What are they like?

#2 racerx ONLINE  

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Posted Tue Jan 29, 2013 3:23 PM

If you haven't ever played the originals, they're great. If you have, they're still pretty good, just for the convenience.

I just added one to my basement arcade after holding out. My two biggest knocks are that the sounds on quite a few aren't perfect. Gyruss is unbearable, which is a shame as the stereo sound and Tocata and Fugue soundtrack are a huge appeal of that game. The other is that I hate to see classics hacked into 60-1s to sell to the non-collecting muggles who pay entirely too much for them.

I finally caved as I was able to get one on the cheap in a Romstar/Taito Battle Lane Vol. 5 cabinet that I honestly can't see anyone ever shedding tears over.

[edit] Another issue is that even if you add a trackball to your cab, Centipede and Millipede still don't feel quite right, let alone if you settle for using a joystick. Arkanoid really needs a spinner, too. If you add all these controls, you're halfway to a Frankenmame monster CP. I have a dedicated Centipede, so it wasn't really a big deal to lose that one.

Edited by racerx, Tue Jan 29, 2013 3:27 PM.


#3 number six OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jan 29, 2013 3:24 PM

The Multicades come in a variety of styles, numbers, etc. these days. Other than a few notable exceptions (stuff like Clay Cowgill's ArcadeSD) most are manufactured by various Chinese bootleggers. If it's being advertised as a xx-in-1 then it's probably one of those. I've played a few different ones have have the most current 60-in-1.

Upshot? They are cheap (60-in-1 is about $50). Easy to use -- ie plug and play in your Jamma cabinet with a simple dip-switch accessible menu system to adjust settings. They also offer a variety of games.

Downside? The emulation ain't so hot on most of them. Some games may have obvious differences such as the sounds not being 100% right.. wrong pitch, etc. I've also noticed that for example Galaga doesn't play 100% the way a normal board would. The formations and swarms behave slightly differently. That's the only game i've played enough to really be able to pick up things like that, but i'm sure other games have similar issues if you were to compare it 1:1 against the original. Once again this is all due to it being an emulation and not a particularly good one.

Is it worth it? Casual players may not notice the difference enough to care. They are cheap enough that if you want something just to play around with they aren't that bad. However if you prefer a more accurate / authentic arcade experience its a big trade off. A decent mame setup would be much better but a lot more expensive and with a lot more setup required.

One thing you definitely don't want to do is pay $800 or $1200 for one on your local craig's list. Seek out a Jamma cabinet and go from there, don't get into crazy money on one.

#4 david_mn OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jan 30, 2013 10:41 AM

Thanks for the input. I'm mostly interested in getting one to play around with. I like playing those old games, but I'm not a high score kinda player in any sense of the word.

They seem to be selling for around $700 in these parts for a custom built cabinet. I think building my own would be even more expensive for me. I don't have the necessary woodworking and electronics tools to go the kit route cheaper than just buying one.

#5 Cynicaster OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jan 30, 2013 11:34 AM

Admittedly, my experience with these XX-in-1 deals is quite limited, but what I have seen has been bad. A local movie theater has one with dozens of classics on it, and nothing about them seemed right--not the sound, not the frame rate, not the aspect ratio of the screen, nothing. Recently I saw another one at a local bar, so I went up to the cabinet with the intention of having a go at Frogger then 1943. The Frogger was so utterly horrible that I didn't even finish my credit before walking away. The game's collision detection was glitching out, it was a total joke.

I'm sure you could find a way to build a MAME cabinet for less than $700, and not only would you have more games available to play, but the emulation would be the best there is out there.

I know you probably don't think that matters, and maybe it doesn't. I will say this: I don't consider myself too much of a stickler for emulation accuracy, but the multicades I played were just unacceptable, IMO.

#6 racerx ONLINE  

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Posted Wed Jan 30, 2013 1:24 PM

The multiboards certainly have their emulation issues, but most of the display ugliness I've seen has come from people running them through LCD monitors, particularly those that aren't the proper aspect. As far as MAME, truthfully I don't know why people put MAME setups in cabinets. It seems like it would be much nicer to just play a MAME setup though my PC monitor or home theater setup than cram 3,000 games (with their accomanying control setups) in a cabinet.

It's all about creating the experience, right? My simple 60-1 looks and feels like something that might have been in an arcade. Cost me $250.

Posted Image


This looks like something concocted in a Tim Burton lab. Probably cost a fortune.

Posted Image


So basically, XX-in-1 boards are cheap and easy, if imperfect. For heaven's sake don't pay $700 or more unless the cab is a work of art, because that's really what you're paying for. MAME is much better emulation, but I really question why people put their MAME rigs in arcade cabs.

#7 eggomania OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jan 30, 2013 1:50 PM

I'm toying with the idea of getting one, though I was considering getting the 276-1 one, which has mostly the same games as the 60-1 and many more. I find the 276-1 listing of games to be a bit strange though. It includes Pleiades but not Phoenix, Space Invaders Deluxe but not the first Space Invaders and a few other sequels but not the first ones. But all the ones that I have seen cost at least $600-$700 or more. I'd like to think there is something cheaper - especially since I'm interested in a Barcade cabinet. I don't want to buy a used cabinet. Hopefully I'll get lucky and find something in a price that interests me.

#8 RJ OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jan 30, 2013 5:16 PM

OMG that homemade cab is just sad. :( Looks like a goddamn airplane cockpit. i wouldnt even want to play that thing. A great example of how NOT to do it.


In my case I put a PS2 in a used Kangaroo cab w/ an inexpensive Magnavox LCD TV. The most I spent was for a new X-Arcade DualStick which is great save for a very slight button lag that doesnt bother me. I play the PS2 arcade comps. on it.

Im sure purists would frown on my setup but Im not particular, it looks & plays like I want, & my kids dont know the difference & really enjoy it. Favorites are Elevator Action, TMNT arcade, & Taito's Ninja Kids.

Edited by RJ, Wed Jan 30, 2013 5:29 PM.


#9 number six OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jan 31, 2013 7:51 AM

Thanks for the input. I'm mostly interested in getting one to play around with. I like playing those old games, but I'm not a high score kinda player in any sense of the word.

They seem to be selling for around $700 in these parts for a custom built cabinet. I think building my own would be even more expensive for me. I don't have the necessary woodworking and electronics tools to go the kit route cheaper than just buying one.


You really don't need any special skills on the Multicade. Find a Jamma cabinet with a vertical oriented monitor. Shouldn't be horrible to do.. look for shoot-em-up games like Raiden, 1942, etc. You can check KLOV to see if the game is Jamma.

Once you have the cabinet all you have to do is buy the $50 board and literally just plug it in. Assuming you can get the cabinet for $100-$200, that'll put you in less than half what a Multicade will cost. Might be better off as well as some of the custom built multicades are pretty cheaply done.

Edited by number six, Thu Jan 31, 2013 7:52 AM.


#10 ProperRogue OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jan 31, 2013 11:05 AM

If memory serves me right, those boards are built on a very early version of MAME, which I believe is somewhere in the '.30' builds(circa 1998-2000 era MAME).

#11 Cynicaster OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jan 31, 2013 12:30 PM

As far as MAME, truthfully I don't know why people put MAME setups in cabinets. It seems like it would be much nicer to just play a MAME setup though my PC monitor or home theater setup than cram 3,000 games (with their accomanying control setups) in a cabinet.


I'm rather surprised you don't understand why people do it, as it seems to me the reasons should be pretty obvious to anybody who enjoys arcade games just for the sake of arcade games.

Sitting at a computer desk with a hand-held controller is a horrifying way to experience Dig Dug and Pengo. On that, we *must* agree.

Unless the latest MAME version is somehow capable of transcoding 30 year-old games to 7.1 surround, I can't think of a single reason why it would be "nicer" to play MAME in a home theater rig than in a cabinet.

Sure, one could build or buy a standalone arcade control panel and throw it up on the coffee table or computer desk, but in seeing what my brother goes through with his X-Arcade stick, such things are very cumbersone and difficult to set up comfortably, plus they slide around when you're playing twitchy games like Robotron, which sucks.

This is where a MAME cabinet comes in. It allows me to use real arcade-style controls that are rigged up at a comfortable height and anchored down so they don't move around. The display is solidly mounted at a nice height, viewing angle, and distance from my eyes, purposefully designed for playing games rather than doing Excel spreadsheets or watching Avatar. The speakers are symmetrically mounted right at or near ear level, helping to immerse me in the game. The list of 3000 titles in a single box makes for an outstanding fun-to-footprint ratio.

I don't know, sometimes I can't help but think that many arcade collectors and purists don't even really care about arcade games as "games" anymore--the cabs are treated more like big ornaments or showpieces that derive value in the same ways that old sentimental photo albums do, rather than deriving value as actual instruments of entertainment. Trust me, I'm living proof that, with a few obvious exceptions, "needing an authentic cabinet to enjoy a game" is only true if you want it to be.

I think some tend to get so lost in their nostalgic sentimentality that they forget many of these old games are, by any measure, actually pretty damn fun to play. And, at least for me, that holds true regardless of whether or not I'm standing in front of a cabinet that is decorated with all the right stickers, and regardless of whether or not I can create a convincing illusion that my basement is a bowling alley from 1982.

#12 racerx ONLINE  

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Posted Thu Jan 31, 2013 6:11 PM

I don't know, sometimes I can't help but think that many arcade collectors and purists don't even really care about arcade games as "games" anymore--the cabs are treated more like big ornaments or showpieces that derive value in the same ways that old sentimental photo albums do, rather than deriving value as actual instruments of entertainment. Trust me, I'm living proof that, with a few obvious exceptions, "needing an authentic cabinet to enjoy a game" is only true if you want it to be.


There's definitely a little truth to that I suppose, but mostly it's just a difference in philosophy.

To me, a MAME rig is really just a game console. It's the world's best Arcade Classics compilation. But it's emulation nonetheless, and your physical controls are never going to match what's on the actual cabinet. Some will be close, others will be hopeless. It's like the original Flashback. It can be enjoyed, but it certainly isn't like playing on a heavy sixer with a CX-10. On the other hand, a buddy of mine runs his MAME in his laptop and brings it with his X-Arcade sticks to parties, when he's not playing on his big screen. It's a blast. That makes a lot more sense to me than anchoring it down in a 200lb cab.

I don't want it to seem like I hate MAME...quite the opposite, actually. But a cheap'n'easy multiboard, where everything is a one stick, two button (or less) game, is a better bet in a cab to me than an elaborate MAME setup where only a quarter of the games are going to feel quite right anyway. Your mileage may obviously vary. I'm not one of the KLOV guys who views MAME as the antiChrist, just giving my $.02 to the OP.

We're really dragging this poor guy's question pretty far afield, lol.

#13 number six OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jan 31, 2013 7:54 PM

Mame is cool because it lets you play more games than you could ever possibly own. It's also a lot closer to the 'real' experience than playing it on a console. However, nothing is like the real thing on the real machine.

There are all sorts of collectors out there. There are plenty that demand perfection out of their cabinets, artwork, etc. Seems like the actual game is secondary to that. I try go after at least nice-ish games but i'm not worried about them being mint. I just got a nice scratch on my Galaga/Ms Pac reunion last time i took it to a show.. and that game had a brand new cabinet, but you know what? So what.. it's still nice and these things are meant to be played. If you want something pretty to look at, buy a picture and hand it on the wall.

Everything has it's place. Well I say that, but personally i can't do the mutlicades because the experience is so far off from the original it ruins it.. but as a starter system or something to play around with they can be OK i suppose. Mame is still better with the original machine being superior to Mame.. but obviously in many cases you have to make a trade off from the original game so you just to have to figure out how much of a trade off you want to do.

#14 Cynicaster OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jan 31, 2013 9:07 PM

To me, a MAME rig is really just a game console. It's the world's best Arcade Classics compilation.


That's exactly what it is, yes. On this we agree. My point is, I don't care what you call it, I just want to play the games.

But it's emulation nonetheless, and your physical controls are never going to match what's on the actual cabinet. Some will be close, others will be hopeless.


True, but how often does having controls that "match the real cabinet" actually matter for reasons that go above and beyond a simple desire to replicate a specific memory? What I mean is, there are obviously games where the original arcade cabinet provides unique things that add to the actual gaming experience--the eyepiece thing on Battlezone, the big blue stick on Tron, the yoke on Star Wars, the steering wheel on Pole Position--but for every game like that, there are dozens that use simple 4- or 8-way joysticks and maybe a few standard arcade buttons. A purist would argue that in order to play a game "the right way" you need exactly the same model of joystick that the original cabinet had, you need exactly the same panel layout, button spacing, etc. But what I'm suggesting is, what they are calling the "right way" is only the "right way" because that is what their cherished memories are telling them, not because a "generic" joystick/button combo necessarily degrades the gaming experience. As a practical matter, you don't need an exact replication of that control layout to enjoy a game that used mass-produced arcade controls to begin with--you simply need a joystick and some buttons. Even some diehard collectors will say that the one thing they love about MAME is that it lets them play games that they have no chance of finding in original cabinets. So in a sense, they're supporting what I'm trying to say--they'll play those games with a generic joystick/button setup and enjoy them just fine, because they don't have any specific memory from the 80's of a particular button layout. Like I said before, a fun game is a fun game, and that fact will shine through if you let it.

a buddy of mine runs his MAME in his laptop and brings it with his X-Arcade sticks to parties, when he's not playing on his big screen. It's a blast. That makes a lot more sense to me than anchoring it down in a 200lb cab.


I'm wondering if your buddy is my brother, because my brother does that too. Playing MAME at his house on his X-arcade, hunched over his dining room table in an uncomfortable position, while the stick slides around the table, is how I know that going the extra mile and building the controls into a cabinet is so much better. For what it's worth, he agrees, and you practically have to pry him off my machine whenever he's over.

Anyway, I realize I'm not going to convince you of anything, it's just that the whole arcade "scene" is so damn dogmatic and I just wanted to provide a different perspective.




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