Partycade; All of the Arcade Action, None of the Floor Space

I have quite the man cave chiseled out of my basement. There’s office space, a gym, and a nice place to sit and play games or watch the TV. I’ve always wanted a classic arcade cabinet like Pac-Man, but there’s literally nowhere to put one.

One late night while flipping channels, something on HSN caught my eye. The sales people were demonstrating an arcade cabinet that looked like it had a full-size screen and controls. What made it stand out wasn’t the game they were playing, the cabinet was hanging on a wall!

The Arcade1Up Partycade is an HSN exclusive, which explains why I had never seen this marvel before. At the time of this writing there are two models available each is $199.00 and plays four games. The sales person was doing an excellent job of making it sound like they were about to sell out of the Pac-Man / Galaga unit that I needed in my life. I couldn’t find the HSN account, so I woke my wife up at one in the morning to help me make the order.

I’m so used to Amazon Prime that I was shocked my order took almost three weeks to show up. The Partycade has three configuration options. Mount it on a wall, hang it on a door, or stand it on a table. The hardware for each option is included. I mounted mine on the wall, it’s more or less the same process as hanging a heavy picture. I recommend a stud finder. The other tip I’ll share is to consider whether you will stand or sit while playing. The screen is not tilted at an angle like a traditional cabinet, so doing both can be tricky if you don’t get the height just right.

You need to mount the hanging bar into studs. A stud finder makes the job easier.

I’m sure what you really want to know is what it’s like to play. In an 80’s word, rad it’s totally rad man. Every time that I play it, I’m instantly a kid bumming around in the mall’s arcade again. The seventeen inch LCD is mounted in portrait and looks great, although you’ll wish it tilted back. It just isn’t possible in this form-factor. The control stick feels just like I remember and the buttons click just right. There’s a volume rocker for the fantastic speaker system and a power switch. All that’s missing is a coin slot.

The cabinet art is fantastic.

The unit I have plays Pac-Man, Galaga, Galaxian, and Dig-Dug. There’s a carousel menu to launch the games from. If you leave the unit powered on it will randomly select a game and play its screen saver mode. The games themselves are the real thing as far as I can tell. MAME ROMs are often glitchy altered copies but these play just like the machines in the back of the pizza shop.

The Partycade is also surprisingly mod friendly. I haven’t had a lot of luck getting the board to run other ROMs yet, but taking apart the case is just a few philips-head screws. The PCB is housed inside a heat shield that is easily accessible and would be simple to replace with a Rasberrypie. The monitor, button, and joystick connections are all off-the-shelf. It wouldn’t take more than an afternoon to convert this into a full MAME cabinet. Several people on-line have already accomplished it. It already plays the two games I care about most, so I’ll leave mine stock for now.

It actually makes a great piece of wall art that fits well with my gamer motif. I find myself walking over to play a game in between conference calls, or while I’m mulling over a problem I’ve been asked to solve. I’ve already got a spot picked out to hang the Centipede model. I’m hoping somebody gets it for me for Christmas hint hint.

Along with some posters, the Partycade turns a unfinished basement wall into something interesting.

About Kevin Trent

IT professional with almost 30 years of experience in Infrastructure, Architecting, Administration, Development, and Communications.

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