iiRcade the Bartop video game
“IiRcade is a high-quality home video game with a promising future, but it needs a few more to match the price tag.”
High quality build
Dexterous digital stores
Game library needs more
You may have never heard of iiRcade, but the home entertainment company came up with a really interesting concept. Instead of offering nostalgic-focused replicas of classic cabinets, it takes a more modern approach. Machine integrated with one Digital storefronts where players can purchase order-style games and download them directly to their devices. It’s a video game machine with an app store.
It’s a smart business model, and fans of home video game machines seem to agree. The company launched a successful Kickstarter campaign and brought in 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 it will fulfill its full potential.
We recognize that iiRcade provides a premium home video game experience with great build quality. Its high price and limited current game selection may be understandably skeptical for gamers, but it’s a solid foundation setting a promising future.
High price, high quality
First, find the biggest hurdle: iiRcade is not cheap. A desktop version of the machine costs $ 600, and adding a proper cabinet stand will cost buyers an extra $ 150. That would probably sound annoying comparing it to something like one of the half-priced Arcade1Up machines.
While that’s certainly a stumbling block, it’s worth noting that you get what you pay for here. Construction quality is top. Some cheaper home cabinets may tend to be a bit like novelty toys, but iiRcade is built for the long haul, which is important considering its unique business model.
Both the stand and the tabletop component are easy to assemble. After about three hours of putting together the solid pieces of wood, I got up and running without any more tinkering. It’s a pretty thin cabinet, everything is considered. It has a sleek design that makes it less bulky than classic cabinets that try to completely recreate original machinery.
IiRcade is built for the long haul, which is important considering its unique business model.
For those who don’t have the space for a full 61-inch setup, the standalone tabletop version is a perfectly good alternative. Interestingly, the stand and table top can be easily combined or detached. You are not stuck with one or the other, so you have flexibility in how you play. The tabletop mode is still large enough that you don’t have to take it to someone’s house to show it off, but it makes it easy to find space for it in your home.
A well-built machine
The components themselves are where this machine actually makes its case. In terms of visuals, the whole machine is equipped with a 1.8GHz Hexa-Core CPU. That’s enough water to allow it to run modern indie games with relative ease. There are some noticeable frame drops when taking top games like Dead cellsBut the fact that the machine can run it all is impressive.
If the idea is to create the only arcade cabinet you need, iiRcade will put its money in its place when it comes to technology.
It has a 19-inch 1280 x 1024 display that feels the right size for the job. While split-screen multiplayer games might feel a bit squeezed on it, it’s particularly well suited for two-player games like Dragon twin of the Wind jacketwhere players share a perspective. It delivers clear, sharp images without any of the classic blur.
On the sound front, the cabinet has a pair of 100-watt stereo speakers that are surprisingly loud. Even turning them up to half the volume feels like overkill.
Of course, the main question regarding any cabinet is the console. That’s where the outstanding quality of iiRcade really begins to show. The eight-way joystick flexibly rotates around to allow precise actions to be performed. There are six main buttons, in addition to standard buttons like pause and player selection, and they all press down with a satisfying click. There’s a full controller for two players, which is particularly well suited for 2D fighting games.
There are a lot of small details beyond those big ones. It supports Bluetooth, has Wi-Fi support, comes with a headphone jack, and more. If the idea is to make the only arcade cabinet you need, iiRcade will put its money in its place when it comes to technology.
Extensive game library
High quality is good, but the game spoils or breaks arcade cabinets. That’s where the machine is currently something of a mixed bag. The business model promises that more games will be added to the system over time, so players have to accept iiRcade and expect it to get some valuable titles.
IiRcade is still in development and needs a little patience.
The future looks promising, but it’s hard to get the full picture. The system comes with 11 games pre-installed, though none of them are particularly interesting. I spent the most time Maniac Square, a simple Match 3 jigsaw puzzle, but the rest of the free rewards are tame part. Those who want to get the most out of the device will need to purchase some more titles from the store.
Access to indie roguelite Dead cells is the clear cream of the season at the present time. It was almost surreal to play a modern classic of such quality on an arcade machine. There are some other highlights on the store, like Oddmar and Riptide GP: RenewalThough they are definitely more hidden in the gems camp.
Pricing for individual games can also be a little tricky. While prices for more modern games seem reasonable, older games feel expensive. Someone is actually going to pay 10 dollars for Hooray ’96?
The truth is iiRcade is still doing a lot and it takes a little patience. This type of service is undiscovered territory for a home arcade system, and one gets a feeling that the company is still figuring it out. However, there is good reason to feel optimistic. Dead cells is a huge addition that iiRcade is targeting the right games. If it can drive that dynamic and pull in modern classic games from publishers like Devolver Digital, this machine could really fill a particular niche.
We don’t really know for sure how much the machine will be worth in the end. But for those who just like a cabinet that isn’t limited to a few games, iiRcade has provided more options than anything else out there, just hacking a machine with a Raspberry Pi. There’s just not much competition for this business model, so iiRcade can dominate right now.
IiRcade is an ingenious home video game system that offers a feeling of future conservation alongside other machines. Its high build quality has lifted it beyond novelty and made it seem like a strong investment for demanding enthusiasts. Its library of games is still growing, so it’s hard to say whether it’s fully worth the premium price. Even with that big announcement, there’s nothing on the market quite like it, so you really get what you pay for here.
Is there a better option?
If there’s a specific game you want to play, Arcade1Up offers cheaper cabinets with more focused game options. The iiRcade’s options, however, are much broader than your conventional machine.
How long will it last?
Pretty long in theory. It’s a solid machine with great controls. With the long-term plan to add more games, it’s a machine that could last for years to come.
Should you buy it?
Yes, but with some caveats. It’s an expensive machine that is just starting to build its game selection. That’s unquestionable for enthusiasts, but more casual players may want to keep an eye out which games will be added over the next few months before fully committing.
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