It might be common knowledge of the even the most casual fan of Arcade 1Up’s cabinets that mods are needed for quality of life improvements and to make it that much closer to the original that 1UP either had oversight on or just plain refused to include. Thankfully, these cabinets are fully moddable with real arcade parts and require little knowledge or knowhow to do. I’ve included the mods I’ve done to my cabinet to make things better and improve the quality of life and make it more unique and stand out from the crowd. There are plenty of other more involved mods like running a RetroPie which essentially makes the cabinet an arcade emulator (which I feel is pointless when buying a specific machine), LED coin slots (requires a lot of wire splicing and even a brand new control board), various sound mods like adding a subwoofer, new speakers, and amp. But these are more involved and some aren’t worth it in the end as they won’t greatly improve the playing experience.
While the artwork on these cabinets or gorgeous, high quality, and true to the originals, there’s a few things that have been overlooked. Mainly the screws and screwholes are eyesores. Seeing bare wood and silver screws is just plain ugly. This goes for the cabinets and risers on every single unit. Thankfully for a few dollars, or even free, you can change this with some time and attention to detail.
The first thing you want to do is get rid of those unsightly bare screw holes. These can easily be covered up with a black sharpie or a matching color of your panel art. Mine was easy as the MK cabinet is mostly black where the screw holes are.
The silver screws are unsightly silver and stand out against darker artwork. You can either paint your screws to match the artwork around them or buy kits online for a few dollars that include painted screws. If you pain the tops of yours, they must also be treated with an anti corrosive spray so it doesn’t wear off over time.
The buttons are the only major things that need to be swapped and can be the best upgrade and improvement you can do. Casual gamers might not mind them, but anyone familiar with real arcade hardware or fighting games in general might know the difference. This goes for any arcade game. The best option is buying already made kits available on diyretroarcade.com for around $50. This also includes awesome LED buttons, but you can also forgo that if you really want to. These are Happ button as regular Sanwas won’t snap into the wood deck as it’s too thick. The guys at DIY Retro Arcade have already wired everything up for most 1UP cabinets, including power splitters. The kit only requires you to plug stuff in and no changes to the design are required. These new buttons are like night and day, and the LED looks awesome.
If you want to turn the LEDs off without unplugging the machine, you need to buy the optional switch and this requires drilling a 1/4″ (6.5mm) hole in the slanted panel under the control deck to use. If you are too scared to drill, it’s not a big deal and you can practice on small wood squares from a local craft store.
The ones included in the Costco edition of the MK cabinet are actually great clones and most people won’t notice a difference between these and real Sanwas, however, some cabinets have terrible joysticks. Sadly the joysticks used are proprietary and have a smaller hole layout over the Sanwas and require drilling new holes in the deck which also isn’t that scary. DIY Retro Arcade also sells kits with pre-wired harnesses that allow you to plug these up without needing to solder.
Depending on the game you are playing, you need specific restrictor gates. These are plastic plates that go under the joystick to give it a movement pattern. Fighting games should be octagonal, and games like Pac-Man should be square or diamond. Sadly, 1UP didn’t have the foresight to include these for each machine and the MK one comes with a diamond gate which feels off. These are extremely cheap mods to make and super easy to install. They just pop off and on with no extra tools and can make a huge difference.
This is a super cheap mod that makes the joystick stiffer depending on the game you are playing. Fighting games should have stiff joy sticks for more accurate combo execution, but of course it’s down to preference. There are 2lb and 4lb springs as the ones that come with the 1Up arcades are under one pound and allow that floppy joystick feeling.