Turn Your Living Room Into an Arcade With a Homemade “Monster Arcade”

Imagine having all your favorite '90s arcade games in your living room.

Oxnard, California hip-hop artists Oh No and DJ Romes are avid gamers and connoisseurs of the so-called "monster arcade," home-made systems that replicate the arcade experience they remember as kids (both of whom told Green Label, was like their "after-school babysitter.”)

“It’s really cool because you can custom make it to whatever you like,” says Romes. “If your favorite game is Donkey Kong, you can base your [monster arcade] around Donkey Kong. I try to play everything on mine. I have every game my friends could ever imagine. It’s so special now too because now my kids are playing the same games I loved as a kid.”

Players can even take their experience to the next level with engines that allow players to mix the characters in different games. For example, players can have Spider-Man duke it out with Russell Westbrook or have a Mortal Kombat character fight someone from Super Punch-Out.

To run a monster arcade, you'll need a software program like MAME, which stands for Multiple Arcade Machine. It emulates the software and hardware and allows you to play your favorite arcade games. (MAME is the most common videogame emulator, but according to Oh No, "There’s another crazy Sega one that has all these super duper sick games that you’ll find in the arcades now." You also can't play games on MAME that are younger than eight years old). You can download game files from the MAME homepage, or contact game companies directly.

Some of Romes’ favorites are Galaga and Centipede.

“If you like Centipede, you definitely need a trackball, that’s a must.” Romes says. “Obviously, Pac-Man. [But] you need a four-way controller for that so you don’t get stuck in the corners.”

Other musts for monster arcades are a cabinet, a computer (you can use a spare as long as it was made within the last five years), a monitor, joystick, trackball, a spinner, and buttons. You can order pre-made controls to simplify the process.

Oh No’s arcade has unique components that no system has. For instance, his arcade has controllers that cause a vibrating sensation when a player gets hit. Plus, he can turn his arcade into anything he wants, depending on what he’s playing. For example, if it’s a racing game, he can turn the controller into a steering wheel.

“No one’s done this yet,” he says. “I just put goggles in my arcade too, so I can play all these virtual games on it now.”

But monster arcades are about more than games. “You can use a jukebox and play all the music you loved as a kid too,” Oh No says. “I made a beat on my arcade.”

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