- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 15, 2020

Older gamers that remember the days when arcades ruled shopping malls can now take an authentic nostalgia trip in their home entertainment rooms with the Legends Ultimate (AtGames, $599.00).

A stand-alone, fully-loaded, full-sized arcade machine, this satin black cabinet with metallic rails stands at almost 6 feet tall, boasts a full array of controls for two players, two top-down speakers, a 24-inch-high definition monitor, a lighted sign at the top and more than 300 games offering an assortment of many classics from the 1970s to the early 1990s.

The unit arrives unassembled and in a heavy box requiring two adults to lift. Owners can expect about one hour needed to unbox and build the arcade, that is if you have a competent handyman with electric tools ready to assist. If not, life can become slightly challenging.

Using an IKEA assembly approach, a few problems did arise. The metal screw holders used to build the unit’s bottom base and bracing were soft and are easily stripped if overtightened with a Philips head screwdriver, so beware.

The good news is that once the base is assembled, the monitor/speaker is an all-in-one unit as well as the controller deck. Both are a snugly fit into the base and just as easily plug into one another with three connections to bring the gaming functionality to life.

The colorful decals on both sides of the machine are held on, not with adhesion, but with translucent plastic screws that can easily break, so beware again. One of the decals did buckle a bit and required multiple repositioning to get it to lie flat to the surface.

However, the screws do make the decals easily removable, offering the potential to purchase other artsy options for the sides in the future.

On a bummer note during assembly, one of the side rail walls came with a chunk taken out of it, found at the bottom of the packaging, that required gluing. Luckily, it was on the inside and was not visible once the arcade machine was fully assembled.

One more note to consider is that the unit is top heavy. The manufacturer recommends mounting it to a wall using the included plastic brackets and tethers. I did not use the mount option and did not have an issue with tipping, but the old adage “better safe than sorry” applies here.

Once all assembled and ready for action, the players’ deck area offers two joysticks, two spinners, a trackball, and two pairs of six action buttons as well as a rewind button (for you cheaters out there) to really appreciate the games.

Other ports and controls on the deck include an HDMI port (use the monitor to watch movies or hook up other entertainment consoles), two USB ports, a reset button, a channel button and volume adjuster.

Plug the arcade into the wall with the included detachable cord and a menu pops up with an easy-to-use interface to select and enjoy the games.

And what about the games? Tapping into legendary developers as Atari, Data East, Taito, Piko, Jaleco and Nintendo, the unit offers arcade versions of many title genres such as shooters, fighters, sports sims, sidescrollers and board games as well as consoles classics from Super Nintendo, Atari 2600 and Sega Genesis, all in their retro, pixelated, sometimes vector graphics glory.

The big boys most fondly remembered in the collection include Pong, Space Invaders (two versions), Asteroids, Centipede, Tempest, Missile Command, Tetris (three versions), Centipede and Breakout.

Disney-licensed games such as Aladdin, The Lion King, Donald in Maui Mallard and Gargoyles, will give a reason for parents to introduce offspring to their misspent youth.

And, as important to this old Jedi, was the inclusion of the console versions of Super Star Wars; Super Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back; and Super Star Wars: Return of the Jedi that was a galaxy’s worth of a nostalgia trip.

Players can also discover more obscure games such as the submarine shooter Battle Shark (Taito, 1992), extreme simulation Brutal Sports Football (originally on the Amiga console in 1993) and the action scroller The Cliffhanger: Edward Randy (Data East, 1990).

However, sorely missing are a few key titles such as Pac-Man, Galaga, Frogger, Dig Dug and Defender.

Throughout the action, the game levels loaded quickly and controls were responsive and durable but, oh, my aching back.

Tall humans, above 6 feet, will get a stiff back hunched over the machine as they player hours of their favorites. I would recommend buying a couple of barstools.

Additionally, either use Wi-Fi or the onboard ethernet port to update the computers firmware. That’s super important as AtGames just offered a free upgrade to more Taito games.

And, it allows players to set up an account and access the ArcadeNet gaming service to play more than 200 more games or use a Bluetooth connection to access into an owner’s PC games (additional charges apply).

More tech bells and whistles include even slots on the side to add pinball-style controls ($50 extra).

As impressive looking as playing, the intelligently designed Legend Ultimate should offer many a night of action for the family that plays video games together.

• Joseph Szadkowski can be reached at jszadkowski@washingtontimes.com.

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