Hi! Ready to get lots more bang for your video game buck? Then, start thinking about the latest trend — multiple arcade video games in one cabinet, generically known as a multicade.
That is right. Now, you can have several, not just one, classic games in a video game cabinet.
Instead of only, for example, Ms Pac-Man in a Ms Pac-Man game cabinet – now, you can have Ms Pac-Man, plus Galaga, Frogger, Donkey Kong, and dozens more classics all in one cabinet.
There are lots of possibilities for multiple game play available in the marketplace. Here is a brief description of a few common ones:
1. Multicade. The original Multicade system consists of a computer and game discs. However, the manufacturer is no longer in business. But, the system is still around, and there may be a new company that has taken over the brand.
The name multicade is now commonly used to describe almost all multi game setups.
2. Ultracade. Ultracade is another multi-game platform featuring multiple classic arcade games emulated on PC hardware running proprietary operating system and emulation code. The company is no longer in business. And, the name Ultracade is also sometimes used generically.
3. Arcade Classics 60-in-1. This is a JAMMA printed circuit board (PCB) offering 60 classic arcade video games.
4. Capcom 18-in-1. Are you a Head-to-Head fighting fan? Then check out the Capcom multicade.
5. PlayChoice 10. The Nintendo PlayChoice 10 system can be upgraded to play dozens of classic games.
6. NeoGeo. SNK’s multi video system (MVS) NeoGeo is a widely available cartridge based multi-game system. They are celebrating their 20th anniversary.
7. Games Family 1940-in-1 Multigame JAMMA System. Yep, that is right – 1,940 games, and many of the best ones, too. It is a monster.
8. MAME. The MAME (multiple arcade machine emulator) is a computer system with the capability to emulate practically every arcade video game. This multicade setup is typically undertaken only by the very dedicated hobbyists.
9. Williams Classics. Several of the classic Williams games (Joust, Defender, Stargate) are available in one dedicated cabinet.
10. Ms Pac-Man Galaga Reunion. This is a great dedicated game featuring two great classics. The game’s PCB (printed circuit board) could be installed into any cabinet, including a Ms Pac-Man cabinet, or a Galaga.
11. Multiple JAMMA PCBs. It is possible to install multiple JAMMA game pcbs into one cabinet, and switch between them.
12. Modified Ms Pac-Man. It is possible to modify a Ms Pac-Man PCB to be able to also play Pac-Man, and in either the fast or slow version of both.
13. Galaga Ms Pac-Man Switcher. It is possible to add either game PCB to the other game cabinet, and be able to switch between the two.
These are some of the more common solutions for multi game play, but there are many others.
An important distinction between cabinets:
There is an important distinction to understand about arcade game cabinets.
The classic games like Ms Pac-Man and Galaga are played using a vertically mounted monitor. While there are some classics like Joust, almost all the modern fighting games like Street Fighter use a horizontally mounted monitor.
Most importantly, the game types are not immediately interchangeable between the cabinet types. It is possible, for example, to modify a horizontal cabinet to accept a vertical mount monitor, but the reverse is usually not possible. This is because the cabinets for the two monitor types are built differently. The horizontal cabinet will be a few inches wider than the vertical cabinet.
The point is that the style (horizontal or vertical) of a cabinet matters – some will work for a classics multicade upgrade, and some will not.
My Favorite Multi Game Solution – The 60-in-1 Classics Multicade:
Today, the most nostalgic multicade experience is obtained with the 60-in-1 JAMMA PCB.
It is possible to take any vertical mount monitor cabinet (Ms Pac-Man, Galaga, etc.), and install the hardware that will allow the play of 60 great classic games in one cabinet (see exceptions noted below).
And, since the game would be a JAMMA standard installation, the hardware is easily serviceable and will be around for a long time. Furthermore, a JAMMA cabinet is versatile in that it can accept many of the other of 100’s of JAMMA game PCBs.
Here are the 60-in-1 classic arcade video games:
- Ms Pac-Man
- Donkey Kong
- Donkey Kong Junior
- Donkey Kong 3
- Dig Dug
- Mr. Do
- Space Invaders
- Galaga 3
- Tank Battalion
- Burger Time
- JR Pacman
- Time Pilot
- Super Cobra***
- Space Panic***
- Super Breakout**
- New Rally X
- Juno First
- Mr. Do’s Castle
- Moon Cresta
- Pinball Action
- Super Pac-Man
- Bomb Jack
- Shao-Lin’s Road***
- King & Balloon
- Van-Van Car
- Pac-Man Plus
- Dig Dug 2
- Gun Smoke***3-buttons
- The End
- 1943 Kai****
- Congo Bongo
- Jumping Jack
- Ms. Pac-Man (Fast Mode)
- Pac-Man (Fast Mode)
- Galaga (Fast Fire Mode)
- Jr. Pac-Man (Fast Mode)
- Pac-Man Plus (Fast Mode)
**Indicates a game that requires a trackball to play (#’s 17, 23, 29, and 31). Installation, or not, of a trackball would be determined by the size and configuration of the control panel.
So, the 4 games that require a trackball might not be feasible for some cabinet types with smaller control panels.
However, the 4 games can still be played with the joystick. Although, the play is not the same as with a trackball, many people learned to play Centipede, for example, with a joystick.
If the control panel will permit, a trackball can be installed.
***Indicates a game that requires 2 (or more) buttons to play – for example, both a fire and jump button. Most of the classic games, however, only require 1 button – such as, a Galaga with only a fire button.
So, the approximate 8 games that require installation of additional buttons (7 require 2 buttons, and 1 requires 3 buttons) will also be determined by the size of the control panel.
When the control panel size permits (and it usually does), installation of up to 2 buttons (fire and jump) is often standard.
****Indicates a game (there are 2) that requires 2 sets of player controls to allow two-player simultaneous play. There is usually not room on a classic game’s control panel for comfortable play with two sets of controls (2 joysticks with two buttons each).
One set of controls is usually standard, since most of the classics are played with two players taking turns. If two sets of controls were desired and possible, they could be added. But, that would likely preclude the addition of a trackball.
Any of the 60 games can be individually turned off, so that they would not appear on screen in the menu selection. Meaning, for example, that you could feature only the three games with left-right controller action – Galaga, Galaxian, and Space Invaders.
Use the information in this article to help evaluate the many styles of available multicades. Multicades may seem complicated, but they are well worth any extra effort. Simply because, they are economical to own, save space, and offer a great variety of arcade video game play.