Arcades may be dying out, but they're such a significant part of gaming history that interest in them remains high. There are plenty of people out there old enough to remember the thrill of visiting the local amusement centre and popping spare change into their favourite cabinet, which is why we've seen a host of replica arcade systems popping up over the past few years.
UK-based Quarter Arcades have come up with one of the more appealing ranges, mainly because – as the name suggests – its units are a 1/4 of the size of the real deal and are therefore easier to fit into the average house than an actual unit. The company has been working with the likes of Bandai Namco and Taito to produce faithful recreations of some of the arcade era's most famous titles, and it has big plans for future releases.
With that in mind, we sat down with Managing Partner Matt Precious and Creative Director Karl Mizen to talk about the range.
Can you tell us where the idea for Quarter Arcades came from?
Quarter Arcades was born from our love of retro video games and the limited access we had to play them. Classic games didn't disappear, but the experience of playing the classics in their intended form and setting certainly did. It's not practical, for most, to collect full-size machines, so we wanted to bring these games back in a collectable way to those who remember their youth playing in arcades and for the younger generation that missed them entirely. We have designed these as showpieces for people to collect and display, the look, design and artwork of these original machines was as important as the game itself, so that why wanted to recreate the machines as they were played originally as well as the game.
How did you go about selecting the titles you wanted to use in the range?
For the launch of Quarter Arcades, where better to start than the most successful – and arguably, most recognisable – arcade game of all time. PAC-MAN.
From there, we looked at other arcade games from BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment (Namco), and Galaga seemed the natural choice to follow. It felt wrong to skip Galaga's predecessor and Namco’s first shoot 'em up, so Galaxian was added to the range alongside Ms. PAC-MAN, another huge title.
There are so many amazing machines we want to make, but making these machines is a very long process but with every machine, we are getting better and quicker so you will see many more machines coming out over the next few years as we build that dream arcade.
What has it been like working with the IP holders for these games?
They've been instrumental in the development of this product and as excited as we are to see their old properties brought back to life as 1/4 scale replicas. It’s been amazing to be working with such legends as Iwatani-san on PAC-MAN, and the IP holders have the same desire and respect for the original machines that we do, so getting these as close as possible to the original is something we have been working on together.
How long does it take from concept to final product, on average? What's the development process like?
Concept to the final product can vary, but on average we'd be looking at 12 to 18 months per machine. PAC-MAN, our first machine took almost three years!
The first step of this lengthy process is to source the original cabinet; this is essential to produce a perfect 1/4 scale arcade. Finding an original can prove difficult, and it's not uncommon to have machines sourced and shipped from all over the world. From there we painstakingly measure every detail before modelling begins at 1/4 scale. Once prototyping is underway, we can look at the artwork, which is where we work with the IP holders to see what assets are available. It is a long process, with many hurdles but the satisfaction of receiving the final arcade make it all worthwhile.
Given that you're working with games that are decades old, what's been the biggest issue you've had to overcome during this process?
There's been an enormous resurgence in retro arcades in recent years so it can take months to get our hands on a particular machine. Our Space Invaders cabinet is an original Japanese model we found in Australia!
Original artwork can also be tough to source if not readily available from the IP holder, and it's a long process to recreate it if needs be. There's a lot of reproductions out there, and we have to do a lot of research to make sure we're using material that is true to the original.
Can you tell us about the emulators you use in these games? How have you ensured the highest degree of accuracy?
We wanted these machines to remind people of playing the originals in their youth. It was also important for those new to retro gaming to have the same authentic experience. We developed an emulator to run the original arcade ROMs to do just that. Our more recent machines also allow you to change the dip switch settings, so you now have control over the number of lives, extra-life settings and difficulty – all elements of the games that could have varied, arcade to arcade.
What's the reaction from the gaming community been like towards the Quarter Arcade range?
The reaction has generally been very positive, and fans are always asking us to create their favourite games. We take great care in creating the most accurate replica possible, and the community seem very impressed with what we have been able to achieve. But we are always listening to the fans and we take all points on board so that we can improve what we have and make it as good as physically possible.
You've worked with the likes of Namco, Taito and Konami – are there any plans to work with other companies, like Capcom, Sega or even Nintendo?
Yes, we'd love to work with other companies and expand the Quarter Arcade Range. A 1/4 scale Donkey Kong would look fantastic!
We do have many machines in development from other companies which are sure to excite a lot of people. Our dream is to launch a broad range of games, so there's something in there for everyone.
What's next for the Quarter Arcade range? Are you sticking with stand-up cabinets or could we see you branch into tabletop or other varieties?
Quarter Arcades is about collecting authentic, playable arcade machines when you wouldn't otherwise have space (or permission) to collect full-size cabinets.
We'd love to release a full range of props and accessories to build an entire arcade environment at home. Items such as tables and chairs, '80s style carpets and wall coverings, prop TVs and jukeboxes – all the things you'd find in an old school arcade.
And of course, other varieties of playable machines is something we'd always consider. We want the community to tell us what they want and we will do everything we can to make this happen, as we are fully invested in Quarter Arcades as a range of products for many years to come.
This article was originally published by nintendolife.com on Mon 4th May, 2020.
“ We'd love to release a full range of props and accessories to build an entire arcade environment at home. Items such as tables and chairs, '80s style carpets and wall coverings, prop TVs and jukeboxes – all the things you'd find in an old school arcade.”
I’m all for this - please keep it up! Wish you the best
I love the arcade revival that is going on. I have dreamed of owning arcade cabinets for so long and companies like Arcade1up are making it realistic to have your own little arcade. They are not perfect, but still a lot of fun.
'What are these? Stand up cabinets for ants?'
Hardly any arcade machines left still in their natural habitat (meaning they’re still in place since at least the 90’s). The last one I played was Tetris at an old laundromat. It’s a great feeling to find a machine still in its old spot
I get the appeal but these are not my cup of tea.
WAY too small and the controls are also WAY too flimsy to support real arcade gameplay, so for the actual arcade fan, these kinda defeat their own purpose.
And usually, we'd be crowding around them, or be doing two player games on them, and that too is completely impossible with these flimsy miniatures.
Maybe they should consider making 1/2 scale models instead, that would immensely improve just about everything.
They'd also have to change their name then, obviously...
@ThanosReXXX Yeah, it feels like they came up with the name, fell in love with it, and then fit the concept to it, rather than the other way around. Honestly, the name's fantastic--but the concept and execution, not so much.
@JimmySpades When I first heard of them, I actually immediately linked their name to putting quarters in an arcade cabinet, NOT to them making cabinets at a quarter of the size...
Beautiful machines, I do own a full sized arcade cab luckily but these little cabs look amazing. Might buy a few eventually.
Clever stuff. Never underestimate the power of nostalgia.
“ its units are a 1/4 of the size of the real deal and are therefore easier to fit into the average house than an actual unit. ”
This is really setting people up for disappointment, and is probably a misunderstanding on the writers part. These units are 1/4 scale, which does not result in an arcade cabinet that is 1/4 the size of the original. If you put 4 of these together you arent going to get something the size of an arcade cabinet. 4 of them would be about the size of a computer tower.
Of course they will easily fit in most homes. They will easily fit in a large shoebox. These things are the size of a doll.
These are novelty items that are made to sit on a shelf for display. They can be played, but set your expectations at NeoGeo mini, rather than countertop arcade.
Here's the thing, Numskull aren't the only company making replica Arcade machines. New Wave Toys have been making 1/6th size machines. Capcom have already signed up with New Wave to make a Street Fighter 2 machine along with a 1942 machine soon. Atari and Digital Leisure (Current owners of Don Bluth's Laserdisc games like Dragon's Lair and Space Ace) have given their blessing to New Wave as well.
The only big names in Retro Arcade games from the 80's and 90's who haven't picked a side are: Nintendo, Sega, WB Games (Owner of Midway and Williams), SNK (Which already made their own mini arcade machines), G-Mode (Current owners of Data East) and Arc System Works (Owners of Technōs)
The best mini arcades on the market are Arcade1Up, New Wave Toys' Replicades, and Super Impulse's Tiny Arcades.
These numbskull machines are the size of bartop arcades, which is too big for what it is IMO.
Pretty sure every one of these arcade replica companies want to sign up with Nintendo, Arcade1up for April Fool's Day showed blueprints for what looked to be a replica of a Nintendo Playchoice machine (without any explicit mentions of Nintendo of course).
My version of 1/4 scale DK.
@Tim_Vreeland What other 1 to 4 ratio could they be, then? 1/4 literally means "scale of one-fourth", so I would definitely expect them to be a fourth of the original model.
I do not think these are true quarter scale except perhaps in height. Regardless you lost me at emulator. For $189 and what appears to be cheap controls I will pass. The 1ups appear to be better machines.
I own the Pacman and it is great...I used it in an Pacman arcade competition and it worked extremely well, you can abuse that thing and it kept on ticking just like the real thing. It never felt like it was about to break. I'd love to have the real thing, but not all of us have the room for the real thing even if we can afford them. So smaller versions like this are very much appreciated. And I like Pacman so much, I plan on getting some of the others.
I own the Centipede from New Wave and it is great too, but MUCH SMALLER than the ones in this article. But much cheaper too. I can highly recommend both. I do have Dragon's Lair on order from New Wave.
@NinChocolate they have them at Dave & Buster's, Christmas Chucky Cheese and similar places.... Blanking on the other joint that has them here. But yeah
I don’t get it those things are tiny, that can’t be 1/4 scale?!?
@Damo I would love to see you do an interview with the company Arcade1Up.
@ThanosReXXX go look at the companys website. They have already released several “1/4” machines, and they have pictures of people holding them in the air for size reference. They are the size of an antique doll. Im guessing it would take 10 to 16 of these to equal the size of a regular arcade machine
@SuperWeird these Numskull machines are way small than bartop machines. See the linked website. Bartop machines house full size controls. These things are a bit larger than a shoebox, and have controls that would be too small for an infant
@Tim_Vreeland Well, then I'm starting to wonder if THEY actually know the correct meaning of 1/4...
Perhaps if you stack 4 on top of each other, so only length-wise...
Release a Frogger Quarter Arcade and I will be all over it! ❤️ Although, I am EXTREMELY tempted by the Space Invaders one.. might even actually get one. 👍
These are not 1/4 scale - 1/4 scale means that 1/4" of the model = 1' in real life. It's a common metric in model trains, where for example a 70 foot long train will be reduced to 17.5 inches.
Traditional arcade cabinets are about 6 feet tall, so that would put 1/4 scale cabinets at 1.5 inches tall. From the pictures, the cabinets are about right - 25% of a 6 foot tall cabinet is a 1.5 foot tall cabinet.
That also means the screens are 25% size, which is why they look tiny - traditional arcade screens were usually between 19" and 25", so that's 4.75" to 6.25" at 25% size - that screen is basically the size of a large smartphone.
And I can't imagine that a 25% size joystick is usable by anyone. Even a 6-year-old's hands are much bigger than 25% the size of an adult's hands.
Hey 40+ year olds with money to burn... Want to buy something from your childhood but mini enough not to be the size of a second fridge?
@ThanosReXXX these most definitely aren’t the tiny arcade machines you’re thinking of I have the PacMan and as it is small it is a 1/4th scale of the original!!
I HAD a tabletop Donkey Kong in wooden cabinet at 16, I used the heck out of it, I forgot what store sold them... (49+ years ago? roughly) I loved it. So how are these new?
@Caligvla I never thought they were smaller than 1/4, someone else told me, so you're addressing the wrong person.
@ThanosReXXX 1/4 scale in measurements. Every measurement is 1/4 the size of the original. The controls are also pretty far from flimsy, My Numskull Pac-Man has held up better than my 1Up Cabinet. the 1Up joystick is already wearing out, while I've used my Numskull more, and its joystick is still good as new. I've done several 100k score runs on both, and the Numskull's build quality genuinely impresses me more then 1Ups.
Just pre ordered my first quater size arcade, bubble bobble.. couldnt help myself it's so darn cute
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