It looks like my dream of building my own arcade machine is about to be crushed even before I really got started. One of the main issues was the money and the shipping cost to Norway, so naturally I wanted to check if Gremlin Solutions how much it would cost to ship a kit. I’ve sent them two e-mails in the past two weeks and they haven’t responded to any of them. If you fail this miserably at customer service, I won’t be giving you any money.

Because of this, I’m now looking elsewhere for a kit and the necessary parts to set up my Nostalgia Shrine. I’ve found Arcade Depot in the US of A, but they are referring to Gremlin as their UK business contact, so I’m not sure how well that will work out. Arcade Depot does shine quite well in a tutorial I read, though, so I’ll send them an e-mail.

There are some good news, however. I’ve been able to get MAME up and running on my computer and I’ve acquired some classic games like Galaga and 1942, which are both running perfectly. Playing with a keyboard isn’t really the kind of experience I’m aiming for, though. Let’s hope Arcade Depot is better to answer their e-mails or maybe they can wake up the guys at Gremlin.

Arcade Fire

On Saturday I was out of the apartment (lo and behold!), having a few beers with close friends at the bar Tilt in Oslo. They are running a hard core arcade theme, with pinball machines, cocktail arcade tables and shuffleboards. Add alcohol and you have a combination that simply can’t fail in my book.

Quite early we got seats by one of the cocktail arcade tables and we held on to those seats for our dear lives for most of the evening, playing old classics like 1942, Dig Dug and of course Galaga. I’m not going to pretend that I know a lot about these games as they appeared in the arcades in the early eighties; I was only 3 years old when Galaga was released in 1983 and arcades were never an important part of my youth. I did, however, make up for all of this when my father bought a Commodore 64 during summer between 5th and 6th grade. That C64 pretty much laid the basis for my computer engineering career.

I spent countless hours in front of the television screen with River Raid, Ghost ‘n Goblins and tons of other games. The first program I ever wrote was a text based BASIC game and I have no idea how many C64 demos I got my hands on; Kanon-Korven by Noice being one of the absolute highlights.

So playing on some of these marvelous 8-bit games again this weekend brought back a lot of fond memories. So now I’m considering building my own cocktail arcade table.

After a little research on Sunday afternoon I found Gremlin Solutions in the UK who sells exactly the same arcade table they had at Tilt. But at Β£999 plus P&P and VAT it’s way over my budget. Also, the table only has 60 preinstalled games and I doubt that it will allow me to install more.

A better solution would be to buy the Retro Cocktail Arcade Cabinet Kit, which is only a third of the price of the other package. It doesn’t come with a computer, screen, any games, controls or anything else, but the controls are fairly cheap and I’ve got some computer equipment laying around I can use. The only issue, really, is the P&P to Norway. I’ve contacted the store to get a quote, but I’ve still to hear anything from them and it’s been three days since I sent the mail. Not a good sign, in terms of costumer service, but we’ll see.

This can either be a lot of fun or a no-go, it’s all a matter of money, really. Or I could buy a coin mech, invite some people over and finance everything that way.

Sounds like a plan!