Have you been looking for a nice all in one arcade machine but don’t like the 3/4 size of the smaller Arcade 1up machines (plus the fact that those are only single games)? I like the Arcade 1up machines, but I wanted something that could run a ton of games rather than just one. Plus I wanted it full size with things like a trackball, spinner, 4 player panel, etc. That desire was finally answered by the Legends Ultimate Arcade machine.
Legends Ultimate Hardware
The machine itself is pretty tall, I would say not quite as tall as your larger arcade machines but bigger than the smaller ones. It comes with a control panel that has a trackball in the middle, two joysticks, two spinners, and 6 buttons for each player. You can pretty much play all normal games out there with this setup, only a few games that have specialized controls (think spy hunter and other driving games) will have issues.
The screen is nice and bright. Since most games are vertical, a lot of the screen is taken up by filler background a lot of the time. Only games that have a wider view use most of the screen.
There’s actually wifi built into the unit so you can download updates and buy new games. I thought that was pretty cool that they got that all going.
Legends Ultimate Games
The games that come with the unit are overall kind of ‘meh’. There are some really good ones like Operation Wolf and Centipede, but the majority of the games are pretty obscure. I would say like around 20 of the games are pretty good. There are 300 games that come with it, with some being arcade and actually quite a few coming from consoles. Super Star Wars is probably the most well known console game of the group, although I don’t think it’s very good (or maybe it didn’t age well, I didn’t play it as a kid, lol).
There are options to purchase new game packs and new pinball tables as well. Pinball seems to be the majority of the offerings, there are actually some legit good pinball machines simulated in their packs available for purchase like Rescue 911.
For those of you interested in additional games and have the license, there’s also an additional option called CoinopsX. Basically, it will run games emulated kind of like Mame used to. It’s a good option for those games which aren’t available to purchase directly from Legends. People have made up preconfigured drives to make it easier to do, if you check Etsy there’s a bunch of them with the USB drive already setup so you don’t have to spend hours configuring it. There’s also a nice topper on there for sale and some cup holders. Someone even makes a stand which makes it taller to play with, which is nice. I might actually buy the stand since I’m so tall.
The standard control panel comes with two joysticks, two spinners, 6 buttons per player, and a trackball. The joysticks are 8 way joysticks so great for some games but not for others like Dig Dug, Pac Man, etc. The trackball is pretty nice honestly, and the spinners are good two. Overall it feels like a real quality control panel.
There’s also a 4 player panel which I’ve recently purchased but haven’t installed yet. It removes the spinners and trackball but adds 2 more players to the game so you can have proper 4 player battles. It’s kind of expensive at $299 but if you play many 4 player games it would be worth it. The one drawback is that you have to take out screws to switch the panels, so it’s not a 30 second swap or anything.
The marquee is one of the coolest parts of the whole setup. While the included marquee isn’t anything special, the BitLCD and BitPixel add ons are pretty awesome. Basically, instead of there being a static image for the marquee, the marquee will change to show the original artwork for the game you’re playing. It’s just a huge upgrade and cool feature that I’ve never seen before on these games.
They’re not the cheapest addons at $350 and $200, but worth it if you’re going to be using it very much. Really completes the entire package.
Speakers and Sound
The sound can get pretty loud from the machine, there are volume buttons on the right side. Probably about the same as the sound would have been back in the day at the arcade. The one thing that does seem to be missing is bass, there’s just no bass from the speakers at all. But back in the original arcades, there wasn’t any bass either, it’s more of a feature of more recent pinball machines than anything else.
The LCD screen is nice and bright. You can select to have scan lines or not, which is a nice addition. Probably the biggest issue is that the games come in both horizontal and vertical formats, so the vertical format games you end up not using like 1/2 the screen unfortunately. A more square screen would have allowed for better overall use, but who makes a square screen? Nobody really, so I understand the limitations here.
Bitpixel vs Bitlcd
Both of these are offered as display options for Legends Ultimate, I went with the BitLCD. It’s a really nice screen and looks really cool. The Bitpixel gives you a nice retro look but in my opinion doesn’t compare to BitLCD. I have a video below showing it in action after I installed in place of the marquee. There are rumors that the Bitpixel is being discontinued, possibly due to licensing. In any case, the BitLCD is the way to go if you have the funds.
Is the Legends Ultimate Arcade worth it? Compared to the other options out there, it’s a great value. What could make it better? It needs:
- More available games for sale
- More pinball tables available from the Bally/Williams Era
- Speaker add on capability, or at least more bass.
The base price is a good deal, and you can make it a lot fancier with the additional 4 player panel and BitLCD. This is really the first commercial arcade machine that really checks all the boxes, previously these things all had some major drawback (price, size, lack of control options, etc).