I grew up feeding quarters to arcade machines.
Wearing out your fingers while throwing your quarters to the free-life Gods is an experience that is gone in an age of the digital e-shop and Gamestop. And while I could have paid for college with the amount of quarters I put in the X-Men and the Simpsons machines, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles arcade games were the ones my brothers and I gravitated towards. While remasters and emulators have been a nice placeholder, nothing has replaced the feeling of gathering close a foot from the screen and button mashing your way past countless Foot Soldiers.
Arcade1Up has recreated the feel of the old school arcade and shrunk it down just enough to fit in almost any home. With the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles installment of their hit cabinets, they bring the co-op button mashing action to your home with as many lives as you need to take on the Shredder.
Pulling this out of the box, the side panel artwork is identical to the original cabinets. Everything from April’s giant coveralls, to Michelangelo’s yellow color scheme, it is perfect. The marquee is still as iconic as ever. Shredder stands alone in the streets surrounded by the Turtles. Each brother stands ready to protect April. The only difference is the lack of the classic Konami logo, which has been replaced by the Nickelodeon logo on the cabinet. And since no quarters are needed to play, the front simply shows the logos for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and TMNT: Turtles in Time.
The joysticks match the turtles color schemes perfectly. The instruction box lies exactly where it used to. The neon green trim on the pressed wood is a bit much at first, especially if you don’t have a designated arcade/game/nerd room, but once the machine is assembled, it only makes the rest of the art pop. There was a real risk of having to trade off style for awesomeness, but, shockingly, you can have both.
The cabinet is 75% of the original machine size. Although it is smaller, it’s still totally comfortable to play! You can play up to 4 players, just like the original, and despite the small size, not feel cramped with the other players. It includes a riser, to bring it up to a more playable height. Even with the smaller size, I could play side by side with my wife and neither of us would bump elbows during the game.
Even though it’s smaller than the original machines, it’s still has some heft to it. It will more than likely be a focal point of most rooms. I live in a small apartment in the boroughs of New York City. I’m able to fit the arcade in a weird nook of my apartment that formerly housed my Christmas Tree. I wish I could use the space inside the cabinet as storage. It’s still an option, if you want it to be. But it would have been awesome if there was a door latch in the front to use. The cabinet shape also made it so you can’t use the top over the marquee as a shelf. There’s a good chance that these are problems only found in small studio apartments, but it’s something to think about.
Both games are absolute classics. Some of the games almost feel like remastered classics, but they play exactly like you remember. Nothing tops playing an arcade game on an actual arcade. It’s a feeling I realize I missed for so long now that it’s back.
The original classic “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” is a perfect recreation. I’m not sure if some of the graphics and sounds may have been updated, because it actually looks and sounds better than I remember.
“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time” threw me a little. Growing up, I never played Turtles in Time at the arcade, only on Super Nintendo. Some of the sounds are less muffled than I remember and some of the graphics seem more animated than I remember. The biggest difference is the final boss of “Prehistoric Turtlesaurus.” I’m used to fighting a hyperactive Slash rolling across the screen, where the game here has you fighting Cement Man. There are other differences I miss with the SNES version, but I understand the choice to use the arcade version. Because it’s an arcade machine.
Assembly was very easy and, although daunting to look at all the boxes and wood panels, took minimal effort to set up. All you need is a phillips head screwdriver. It says you don’t need a drill, but it definitely helped me. The process took about 2 hours, but I never felt frustrated or lost. I never felt like I was building Ikea furniture, and I was never worried I was doing something wrong.
$399. It’s not cheap. They have been on sale in certain markets for $350, so at it’s best, that’s still $175 per game. But, as I said, this is more than just picking up a game for console. This is an experience that is hard to find now. Arcades are no longer in malls, because malls are no longer malls. Playing with your friends, with a joystick, might just be worth the price. This is more than a game, it’s a new piece of furniture.
Arcade1Up has successfully recreated 2 of the best arcade games of all time. This is a full on experience that’s truly unique in a digital world.
The games are true to the originals, it looks amazing, and most important, it’s fun! Playing an arcade game side by side with my wife in 2020 is a crazy thought that’s my reality.
The downfalls are few, and may not even apply to you. If Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles aren’t your favorite games (in that case, how did you get here?) the company has several other machines to offer. Any of their cabinets are great additions, or beginnings to your personal home arcade. This is the next best thing to owning an original, full-sized arcade cabinet. But considering it doesn’t need quarters, maybe it’s better.