It’s not every day that I get my hands on a slice of good-quality nostalgia. Older gamers like myself will be familiar with this bright yellow Pac-Man cabinet, but this is a retro build that’s more authentic than most. Borne from a collaboration between Numskull Designs and Bandai Namco, this quarter-sized unit ticks a whole heap of boxes.
Replica arcade units are a strange beast. There’s the full-size beasts which dominate any room they’re placed in. Others are so tiny the controls are awkward to use for anything more than a few minutes. Or there’s the generic boxes with MAME emulators, but no historic roots.
The Quarter Arcades Pac-Man cabinet is based on the original unit that featured in arcades around the globe. Made from solid wood and metal, it features the same illuminated sign and play instructions around the screen. There are even wire-mesh air vents on the back panel, just as with the original cabinet. It stands nearly 17” tall and just over 8” deep, making it small enough to place on a shelf.
Instead of using an emulator, Numskull has built a custom board that uses the original arcade ROM (yes, this includes the glitch if you reach the last level). Controls are high-quality, with the buttons and joystick having that satisfying mechanical click. Despite the small size, I found it comfortable to use for the 10 minutes or so that it took to claim a decently high score. There’s also a built-in speaker (with volume control) for those classic Pac-Man much sounds.
There are a few concessions to modern technology. Instead of a bulky CRT, the display is a 5-inch color TFT panel. Inside, there’s also a lithium-ion battery that’ll provide over a day of play, and can be charged over micro USB. And behind the marquee banner, LEDs have replaced older light bulbs.
I’m told that the Quarter Arcades Pac-Man cabinet will be a limited run of 10,000 worldwide, and is due to launch in December with a preorder price of £149.99. The unit comes pre-assembled and ready to go, with a collectible coin, certificate of authenticity and micro-USB charger bundled in the box.
It’s also the start of a planned series – Galaga is planned to go on sale in April, with Ms. Pac-Man and Galaxian releasing in later quarters. If you’ve ever wanted to set up your own arcade but lacked the space, this could be the perfect way to start building a collection.