Let’s face it, we all want full size arcade machines, but they are either too large or too expensive to collect. Most arcade collector’s rent warehouse sized storage rooms or open an actual arcade room. You can collect a select few to keep in a room or basement, but they are very expensive to restore and maintain. They require a lot of knowledge and research and every machine is different. That’s where 1Up Arcade comes in. Some might say they are smearing the sanctity of the arcade scene but I say they are saving it. There are a lot of people who love arcades, but can’t get a hold of them. This allows these people to collect arcades at 3/4 scale and have a room of them without much knowledge. These machines run off emulator boards and are easily put together and are faithful to the originals.
I’ve always wanted a Mortal Kombat arcade cabinet and when I saw this get announced I flipped. It’s my favorite game franchise of all time and I couldn’t be happier with what has been released. The cabinet features the artwork of the Mortal Kombat II cabinet and looks beautiful. The installation process is rather painless, but does require a good 2-3 hours of your time to put together properly, as it’s large and there are a lot of pieces. The price you pay for these cabinets is about 1/4 the cost of a full size arcade minimum. Mine cost $350 from Costco and I will get to why this is a special version later.
When you open the box everything is laid out nice and easy with good enough instructions. You are basically putting one side together with all the center pieces on its side and then you put the other side panel on. There is one ribbon cable that connects the video screen with the control deck and you’re all set. The cabinet may look heavy, but it’s very solid and light enough to move around with only one person. The control deck has an acrylic cover on top and the screen panel has instructions on how to select games. Once it’s plugged in and you’re booted you’re greeted with a 1UpArcade splash screen and the option of all three MK games. These are prefectly emulated arcade ports and you can even access the master options like in a real arcade cabinet to change things around.
Let’s start with the controls. These aren’t the best buttons in the world, but they do for casual users. They do eventually get a little squeky and don’t depress evenly across all buttons. They are concaved and look and feel decent enough. The joystick is actually a pretty good Sanwa clone and comes with nice bat tops, but the restrictor gate is a four sided one underneath despite this being an eight direction game so some mods will need to be made if you really care. Having only four directions feels off and the cabinet should have come with an optional gate. I also think the joystick spring should be a 4lb spring and not a half pound spring that’s included, but it’s all down to preference.
The sound quality is actually quite good and this game gets extremely loud. The single mono speaker has great sound and there are three volume settings. Off, normal, and extra loud. I found the sound was great across all three games and emulation in general is fantastic. There weren’t any glitches, slowdown, pops or crackles in audio. I felt like I was playing in an actual arcade. The screen is also fantastic as it’s a 17″ LCD with a Hor+ aspect ratio so the characters aren’t stretched upwards. The colors are bright and vivid and not pixelated. There are no brightness settings for the monitor, but it looks great at stock settings.
Let’s get into what makes the Costco version so special and superior over the regular MK arcade release. This version comes with a light-up marquee, bar stool, and MK riser as well as a superior speaker and monitor. The original monitor is a Vert- aspect ratio so everything is stetched upwards and the colors are off. There is popping and crackling in the sound and the buttons are a little better here. Overall, the Costco version is the only version I actually recommend for this cabinet.
With that said, 1Up’s MK cabinet is fantastic and a must have for any Mortal Kombat fan. It’s one of my favorite gaming pieces that I own and is a centerpiece for my gaming room. With various mods to the cabinet you can easily make it better and unique, but for the price I feel 1Up should have added some stuff. For one, there should have been real Sanwa buttons and sticks, it doesn’t cost much more. Second, stereo speakers would have been nice. You can add your own regular speakers as there is a 3.5mm jack on the back of the LCD, but something better stock would have been nice. The wood could have been slightly higher quality and black instead of silver screws would have been nice. These changes would cost little to no money and quality of life changes are a must for these cabinets.