I’m a fan of the line-up of Arcade1up games. These allow you to basically put together a home arcade without worrying about the high cost of both shipping and maintenance of actual arcade games. They aren’t everything for everyone — a handful aren’t crazy about emulation on early machines like the Rampage model — but the company has come a long way since it entered production on them last year.
And after releasing several impressive machines, including Final Fight, Marvel Superheroes and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, it’s reached a turning point with its Star Wars machine. It’s clearly the most advanced of the Arcade1up line, not to mention probably one of the most faithful to date. And if the company continues to follow this model, I can only see their success growing from here.
There are stark differences between this game and the previously released Arcade1up machines. The big stand-out is price, as this one goes for $499 compared to the usual $299-$399 games. But there are a couple of reasons for that. The light-up marquee is a big one, brightening up alongside the LCD screen to make it feel even more like an arcade game. And there’s also a Riser included, with devoted Star Wars design. And I don’t mind one bit.
There’s more, though. For the first time in the Arcade1up line, there are options available for each game. This means being able to save high scores, changing the brightness of each game, and other little tweaks to maximize your game performance. It’s neat to have options for all three games, in case you need to tweak something more in your favor — or pick things up in terms of difficulty.
The set-up for the Arcade1up does take some time, as you essentially assemble the machine from the included parts. You do only need a Phillips head screwdriver to get the job done, as the rest of the stuff is included. But be prepared to set aside a couple of hours to put things together — this is going to take you a while, especially when it comes to the speaker and marquee.
But it’s worth it overall. The thing that stands out here is that the controls are exactly the same as the arcade game. This is thanks to a flight yoke set-up that makes it easy to aim on-screen. It does feel a bit awkward with the third game, Return of the Jedi, as it takes more of an isometric approach compared to the first two 3D games. But overall, it operates smoothly, just like the arcade unit.
So the build is good quality once everything is put together; and Arcade1up packages everything up nicely so you don’t have to worry about stuff getting broken. There are even extra parts included, just in case. But how do the games themselves fare?
First up is the 1983 Star Wars game. This is one that was a big hit in arcades, as you took on Death Star runs while taking out TIE Fighters and turrets. The emulation is arcade perfect, for the most part, save for a little slowdown when the Death Star explodes. But otherwise, this is as good as arcade gaming gets in terms of translation. And it looks wonderful on an LCD screen, even if it’s not quite the same as a classic CRT monitor.
Next up is The Empire Strikes Back. This is the rare Star Wars sequel that arrived in 1984 in very limited distribution, but it’s every bit as good as the first game, with AT-AT’s to shoot at, asteroids to avoid and robots to blast to kingdom come. This one has more voice samples too, along with high score bonus opportunities.
Finally, there’s Return of the Jedi. This is an isometric shooter that’s a bit jarring compared to the first two games, though still fun. You’ll switch between characters on Endor and in the sky as you attempt to take down the Death Star once and for all. This is a fun game, but it’s an acquired taste compared to the first two.
Overall, the package wins far more than it loses. Star Wars Arcade1up takes awhile to put together, and may be a bit much for some budgets. But it’s worth it for fans of the genre, if only to play two of the best arcade games out there the way they were meant to be played. The build is spectacular, and the light-up marquee is a key addition. Plus having options for all three games is very cool, though some will obviously go for cranking things up a notch.
If it’s a solid arcade game you’re looking for, use the Force and pick up Star Wars. You won’t be sorry.
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