Many of us who are able to dedicate an entire room of our home to our passion try to make it as comfortable and enticing as possible, a place you never want to leave. More often than not, this comes at the dismay of more than one family member. Massive television sets and a cornucopia of consoles and cables are a common sight, as everything must be within arm's reach. The lucky gamers take things a step further, incorporating one or more arcade cabs, adding that final touch to turn their rooms into true havens. Candy cabs and MAME cabinets are the usual fare, but what if I were to tell you that there was a way to get a stylized arcade system that's not only affordable and customizable but also upgradeable?
Aha! I figured that would spark your interest. That my friend, is exactly the type of response Awesome Arcades founder and CEO Curt Vendel is hoping for. An industry veteran, Vendel has been around video game hardware and its inner workings for more than twenty years, producing products for such companies as Commodore and Jakks Pacific. He was the man in charge of both of Atari's Flashback plug-'n-play consoles, and he has also run the Atari History Museum for the better part of the last decade. Few people are more knowledgeable about the company than Vendel, and he's now decided to apply that knowledge to bringing the true arcade experience home through his new company, Awesome Arcades.
Whereas many arcade venders simply sell restored machines, Awesome Arcades designs and builds them from scratch. Each $1800 Awecade AC-601 "Arcade Center" is lovingly crafted to be both stylish and practical and houses more than eighty titles from Midway, Atari, Exidy, and even Don Bluth Studios (that includes both Dragon's Lair games and Space Ace) . Take on friends in the classics like Tempest, Missile Command, and Gauntlet; or battle it out in more modern games like the Mortal Kombat trilogy or Rampage World Tour. There are a ton of incredible games built-in from the get go, and you can upgrade to add more titles as they become available.
In case you're wondering how you can play games that require trackballs, rotating knobs, and dual sticks all on the same machine; it's actually quite simple. Awesome Arcades has made its machines customizable, so you can not only easily connect the required controller but can add or take away buttons as needed. Yes, you could configure the layout to play Mortal Kombat and then quickly switch to play Robotron 2084. All the parts are available as a swap control panel, and set up is a breeze. It even includes a light gun! The cabinets are made to be ready right out of the box, and there are several different upgrades available. So committed to customer service are Vendel and co. that they're even offering free shipping to customers in the continental U.S.! Each purchase comes with a thirty day warranty and is made to be easily serviceable, so you can feel assured that your investment is well-protected.
Now, before you begin to wonder why you shouldn't just mod your Xbox instead, please bear in mind that these cabs are geared towards those who are looking for more than just a ton of games in a single, handy place. The arcade cabinet is designed to make a statement in both looks and practicality. It also offers a way to enjoy all these arcade classics in their native forms. For example, Missile Command, Marble Madness, and Crystal Castles are simply not the same without their trackball, and Robotron 2084 and Black Widow must be played with two joy sticks. Though this might be something that only purists will mull over, it's important to remember just how integral the original control schemes were to many of these games, and that simply cannot be duplicated on a home console.
GotNext recently spoke to Mr. Vendel about his new company and this impressive new product.
GotNext: How did Awesome Arcades get started?
Curt Vendel: I've always loved arcades, I own what may be Atari's Pong #1 and I own a Yellow Computer Space as well. At one point I owned 27 arcades; I donated many to Funspot up in New Hampshire to make sure they got a good home as my wife and I didn't see eye to eye on the intentions of our basement.
My engineering firm - Legacy Engineering Group was commissioned by a firm to develop a home arcade system for them, when it came time to begin production they backed out.
Then the design was completely revamped for a high end system for another arcade firm in Chicago, after about 6 months of redevelopment, the product was presented to them and was turned down as they wanted technology that simply could not be done at the high feature level at the low price costs to deliver to them. By this time I had personally invested a massive amount of money for interfacing, OS development, integration, software and so forth. So I decided that this product would not die on the shelf like so many others that never made it out not because they weren't great products, but that the powers that be just pulled the plug... not this time. My love and enjoyment of video games, especially arcades made the decision to go it directly and complete the design and invest in production of a Home game room and/or Office breakout video arcade product was born and with it Awesome Arcades LLC.