Are multi-game Jamma boards okay?
April 13, 2012 11:35 AM   Subscribe

Arcade cabinet owners; do you have any experience with multi-game boards? Do they work well? Feel authentic enough while playing?

As a most excellent wedding gift, my friends restored an old coin-op arcade game and set it up in my house. The game they found (X-Men: Children of the Atom) is fun but I'd like to diversify a little and since the cabinet has Jamma support I'm told this is easy.

I'm not a "serious" collector so the prospect of something like a 60-in-1 board like the one linked above is very tempting. I want it for Juno First, my brother would love to come over and get his 1943 on again, and we can do that all for far less than actually trying to get the original boards (or, for that matter, converting to a MAME cabinet).

Minor differences in play from the original boards are fine; I've actually never played Juno First in the wild. But my brother was a 1943 fanatic in his teens, so will he notice anything 'off'? Will the board itself work okay?
posted by Monster_Zero to Technology (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I've played on a few and game play is authentic. Not sure if there is a main brand or they are just mass produced.

That said, the games for that board are all vertical. X-men COTA is horizontal.
posted by wongcorgi at 11:41 AM on April 13, 2012

I've been around arcade game collections for decades now. I have no problem with multi-game boards or even MAME cabinets.

I find the real problem is in the controls. If I play Robotron, I want the original Williams factory sticks in the correct place on that cabinet. Tempest better have the real weighted knob, not a trackball.

The problem with multigame boards is that there will always be a game or two with wacky controls that won't be on your cabinet.
posted by JoeZydeco at 11:51 AM on April 13, 2012

Some multi-game JAMMA boards come with a bunch of normal games, and a bunch of hacked games. The board you linked to has a few games listed that don't match any official releases, such as: Pacman 2, MS Pacman 2, Jr Pacman 2, Pacman Plus 2, etc.

The few multi-game setups I've played worked well enough, but none of the operators I know end up holding on to them long term on-location use. I think for home use, they're probably ok.
posted by helicomatic at 11:54 AM on April 13, 2012

I just had the guts of my old school Ms. Pac-Man cocktail table replaced with one of these boards (by the list of games, maybe the very same one). It has only been a few weeks so far, but we are having a lot of fun with it. On the games I've played - Dig Dug, Frogger, Donkey Kong, Ms. Pac-Man - they look identical to the arcade originals.

As to helicomatic's point, the "Pacman 2," "Ms Pacman 2," etc. games are most likely the original games running in a faster mode as though they had a speed chip. Ms. Pac-Man is pretty brutal in regular speed.
posted by AgentRocket at 12:42 PM on April 13, 2012

My boyfriend is an arcade collector, so I asked him to weigh-in:

Him: Okay so.
If he wants a multigame the only reasonable option is the ArcadeSD, which is pretty expensive at $325.
But it is the best option.
The 60-in-1 won't work on his cabinet unless the monitor can be rotated.
Games can be classified as either horizontal or vertical depending on the monitor orientation. When the longer side of the monitor is parallel to the floor, that's horizontal; when it's on end, that's vertical.
Most of the old games are vertical.
60-in-1 is a board with a bunch of vertical games — Pac-Man, Galaga, Mappy, Dig-Dug, etc.. There is also a 19-in-1 with some horizontal games: Joust, Mario Bros., Defender, etc.
He could get a 19-in-1. There's also a newer 128-in-1 horizontal board.
The quality of the games is low.
It's an embedded board with an ancient version of MAME cross-compiled to run on it, not real hardware.
The only benefit to the 60/19/128-in-1 boards is that they're cheap, anywhere from $75 - $200.
But the tradeoff is the low quality. ArcadeSD is excellent but costs more.
And whatever he does, leave the cabinet original.

Me: stupid question: you know offhand that that Xmen game is horizontal?

Him: Yes.

Me: other stupid question: can he play vertical games from the ArcadeSD without having to move his monitor around?

Him: If it's an original cabinet and he craps it up with MAME controls, an angry horde of arcade collectors will descend upon him and mercilessly club him with vintage leaf joysticks.
He can, sideways.

Me: (and is 1943 vertical?)

Him: It is.

Me: so.. he's pretty much screwed on 1943 unless he wants to move the monitor around?

Him: Yes.
Newer (late 1980s on) cabinets tended to be more generic than golden age ones, and have the correct mounting for either monitor orientation.
But he'd have to take off the front glass, unbolt the monitor, rotate it, and put it back together.
And have a vertical bezel for it.
posted by ansate at 1:31 PM on April 13, 2012 [5 favorites]

Thanks for the answers everyone! The vertical/horizontal issue hadn't even crossed my mind! I think it'll be possible to rotate the monitor, and I promise I'll try not to "crap it up" altogether :)
posted by Monster_Zero at 5:31 AM on April 14, 2012

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