I have a friend who owns several dozen pinball machines along with an old jukebox and an arcade cabinet or two. His collection now fills his basement, which has effectively put the brakes on his hobby. I'd love a few machines, too, but I fear that my house would share a similar fate. One appealing solution is a miniature arcade cabinet, like these two unique designs that recently popped up on the net.
The Game Boy arcade mod is sheer lunacy -- an ancient monochome Game Boy repackaged as a miniature arcade console. It's hand crafted somewhere in China and available on eBay for $149 + shipping. It'll be interesting to see if anyone is crazy enough to buy it.
The other machine is much more sensible. Samuel Seide's Cocktail Table Arcade Cabinet is a fully operational MAME cabinet with 2-player head-to-head support. It's built using an Asus netbook, incorporating an 8.9" widescreen display and an iPac arcade control interface.
Seide explains, "The unit is constructed from MDF board, hand painted black with laminated stickers on bezel and joystick area. The sides are simulated wood grain vinyl applied to the MDF board, much like how the original full size cabinets were done. The unit utilizes a ASUS Netbook Computer running Atomic FE Frontend Software and MAME for the games. Features Two Full sets of joysticks and 6 button layouts so two people can play at once. In cocktail mode, the two player games screen can be mirrored so each side of the system gets it's own view of the game being played so one person doesn't have to play the game upside down that way.
Putting ROMS on it is as simple as hooking a keyboard and mouse up and dropping the ROMS into a folder on the computer. Not much to it. The side contains a full size coin slot lit up by an LED powered from the computer systems USB port. Due to size constraints within the cabinet, I could not fit a working coin mech inside, so the coin slot is decorative. Coin insertion can be simulated by holding down the player 1 start button and hitting the upper left button on either player 1 or player 2's buttons. Plays just like the original large size arcades! It's 7" inches tall by 11" wide by 17" long."
It's a very neat idea, although I think someone should create an open source cabinet design so that these could be built inexpensively -- it doesn't make sense to pay the same price as a real cocktail cabinet for a miniature replica. [Update: Sam has offered to share his cabinet design if anyone wants to build their own. See his comment for details.]
Mini Ms. Pac Man / Galaga Cocktail MAME Arcade System [Thanks, Mike!]
GameBoy ARCADE Mod Game Boy [via OhGizmo!]