iiRcade Bartop arcade game
“The iiRcade is a high quality home arcade with a bright future, but it will take a few more games to justify the price.”
Ingenious digital shop
Game library needs more
You’ve probably never heard of iiRcade, but the home arcade machine company came up with a really interesting concept. Instead of offering nostalgia-focused reproductions of classic cabinets, a modern approach is chosen. The machine is integrated into a digital storefront where players can buy games à la carte and download them to their machine immediately. It’s an arcade machine with an app store.
It’s a smart business model, and fans of home arcade machines seemed to agree. The company launched a successful Kickstarter campaign that raised more than $ 600,000. Now that it’s been on the market for a few months, we have a clearer picture of how the service works and whether or not it is realizing its full potential.
We found iiRcade to deliver a premium home arcade experience with great build quality. The high price and currently limited selection of games may understandably make gamers skeptical, but it is a strong foundation that creates a bright future.
High price, high quality
Let’s get the biggest roadblock out of the way first: the iiRcade isn’t cheap. A tabletop version of the machine costs $ 600, and adding a suitable cabinet stand gives buyers an additional $ 150. That will probably sound gross when compared to a machine from Arcade1Up, which is half the cost.
That is certainly a hurdle, but it should be noted that here you get what you pay for. The processing quality is first class. Some cheaper home cabinets feel more like novel toys, but iiRcade is designed for the long haul, which is important given its unique business model.
Both the stand and table components are easy to assemble. After slitting together sturdy pieces of wood for about three hours, I was ready to go without further tinkering. All in all, it’s a pretty slim closet too. It has a sleek design that makes it less bulky than retro cabinets that try to fully replicate original machines.
The iiRcade is designed for the long term, which is important given its unique business model.
For those who don’t have room for a full 61-inch setup, the standalone tabletop version is a perfect alternative. The nice thing is that the stand and table top can be easily combined or separated. You’re not stuck with one or the other so there is some flexibility in the way you play. The tabletop mode is still big enough that you can’t take it to someone’s home to show it off, but it makes it easier to find a place in your house for it.
A well built machine
The components themselves are where this machine really does its thing. On the visual side, the entire machine is powered by a 1.8 GHz hexa-core CPU. That’s enough juice to run modern indie games with relative ease. There are some notable frame drops when you jump into top-tier games like Dead Cells, but the fact that the machine can do them in the first place is impressive.
If the idea is to create the only arcade cabinet you’ll ever need, iiRcade puts its money where its mouth is when it comes to tech.
It has a 19-inch (1280 x 1024) screen that feels like the right size for the job. While split-screen multiplayer games can feel a bit cramped, it’s especially good for two-player games like Double Dragon of Windjammers, where players share a view. It provides a clear, sharp image with no retro blur.
On the audio front of the case are two 100 watt stereo speakers that get surprisingly loud. Even turning it halfway felt like overkill.
The main question with any cabinet is of course the control panel. This shows the superior quality of iiRcade. The eight-way joystick rotates smoothly for precise actions. In addition to the standard buttons like pause and player select, there are six main buttons, all of which are pressed with a satisfactory click. There is also a full set of two player controls, which makes it particularly suitable for 2D fighting games.
There are so many little details beyond these big points. It’s bluetooth enabled, has Wi-Fi support, and has a headphone jack, and much more. If the idea is to create the only arcade cabinet you’ll ever need, iiRcade puts its money where its mouth is when it comes to tech.
A growing game library
The high quality is nice, but games will make or break an arcade cabinet. There the machine is currently something of a mixed bag. The business model promises that more games will be added to the system over time. Hence, players have to take iiRcade at its word, and hope that it will earn some worthwhile titles.
The iiRcade is still growing a lot and a little patience is required.
The future looks bright, but it’s still difficult to get the full picture. There are 11 games preinstalled on the system, none of which are particularly exciting. I ended up spending most of my time with Maniac Square, a simple match-3 puzzler, but the rest of the freebies are a bit tame. If you want to get the most out of the machine, you have to buy some additional titles in the shop.
Hit Indie Roguelite Dead Cells is the obvious cream of the crop right now. Playing a modern retro game of this quality on an arcade machine is almost surreal. There are a few other highlights in the shop too, like Oddmar and Riptide GP: Renegade, although they are certainly more in the hidden gem store.
The prices for individual games can also be a little daunting. While the prices for more modern games seem reasonable, older games feel a bit expensive. Is someone really going to pay $ 10 for Hoops ’96?
The truth is iiRcade is still growing a lot and a little patience is required. This type of service is new to a home arcade system, and it feels like the company is still figuring it out. However, there are good reasons to be optimistic. Dead Cells is a huge addition that shows that iiRcade is targeting the right games. If it can add to that momentum and incorporate modern retro games from publishers like Devolver Digital, this machine could really fill a niche.
We do not know exactly how worthwhile the investment the machine will ultimately be. But for those just itching for a closet that isn’t limited to a few games, iiRcade already offers more options than anything other than hacking a machine with a Raspberry Pi. There is simply not much competition for this business model, so iiRcade can rule undisputedly for the time being.
The iiRcade is a sophisticated home arcade system that feels future-proof alongside other machines. The high build quality takes it well above the point of novelty and makes it a sturdy investment for hardcore enthusiasts. The game library is still growing, so it’s hard to tell if it’s still fully worth the high price tag. Even with this major caveat, there is nothing like it on the market, so you really get what you pay for here.
Is there a better alternative?
If you want to play a specific game, Arcade1Up has cheaper boxes with a more targeted selection of games. However, iiRcade’s choice is much larger than that of an average machine.
How long it will take?
In theory, quite a while. It is a robust machine with excellent controls. With long-term plans to add more games, it’s a machine that could last for years.
Should you buy it?
Yes, but with some restrictions. It’s an expensive machine that is just beginning to build its game selection. It’s a no-brainer for the enthusiast, but the casual gamer may want to keep an eye on what games are being added in the next few months before fully committing.