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Gaming Hacks by Simon Carless

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Buy Your Own Arcade Hardware

Know the hardware to buy when it comes to playing arcade games.

Having your own, personal arcade machine is a very cool thing, and there are several ways you can make this a reality. Of course, there are plenty of intricacies to deal with; for example, what’s the JAMMA standard? Should you buy a large American cabinet at auction or hold out for a sweet sit-down Japanese minicabinet? Even if you’re not interested in the titanic task of building an arcade cabinet from scratch, there’s still plenty to learn about buying, understanding, and customizing your own arcade hardware.

Arcade Cabinet Hardware Basics

If you’re starting from scratch and know absolutely nothing about arcade machine hardware, think of an arcade machine as a big games console and the games as cartridges. Simply open your cabinet, plug in the cartridge (the circuit board containing the game), and turn on the cabinet to play that game. You don’t need any detailed electrical knowledge at all.

However, the console/cartridge analogy doesn’t quite hold water because there’s no built-in CPU in the arcade machine itself; the arcade game circuit board is a self-contained computer that has all the gaming hardware needed to play that game. Obviously, this makes arcade games potentially expensive propositions. Imagine buying a whole new PlayStation 2 every time you want to play a new game! Fortunately, because arcade operators very quickly switch games, there’s a flood of older titles that nobody except ...

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