THE RETRO ARCADE OF THE FUTURE
The arcade is the ultimate casual gaming experience. Arcades are social, low commitment, and perfect for either playing solo or competing with friends. Sadly, due to their failure to evolve with the times, arcades are becoming a rarity.
The classic arcade has a few problems. It only plays a single game, it’s heavy and takes up a lot of space, and it doesn’t fit aesthetically into many home or business spaces. I built the Polycade to solve all of these problems, and I realized that there are likely others out there who want the same thing: an elegant, minimalistic arcade that plays multiple games.
Polycade features include:
- One 4-directional joystick for classic titles
- Two 8-directional joysticks for multiplayer
- At ⅓ the size of a standard arcade machine, the Polycade fits nicely in any home or office
- The Polycade ships with over 90 games, and is capable of playing thousands more! (see list below)
As children of Nolan Bushnell, founder of Atari, my siblings and I grew up surrounded by video games. We had a few arcade machines at home (Pengo, DK Jr., Breakout), and we would save up to buy systems and games as they came out. Additionally, my dad had all kinds of nooks where various treasures were stored, waiting to be discovered. We even stumbled upon a Vectrex, found stashed away in a closet we had to crawl to get into. When Street Fighter 2 first came out in arcade form, we would ride our bikes six miles to the closest arcade. As time went on, systems and games broke, were foolishly sold, or were simply lost. Even the DK Jr. cabinet that we held onto for so many years eventually broke.
It became increasingly apparent that keeping and maintaining old systems, especially arcades, is a job for museums, hard-core collectors, or bars. I am none of those things. But I still wanted to play these games. I needed a dedicated solution that works for most retro games.
To me, the arcade is the ultimate casual gaming interface. It’s always on, it doesn’t share its screen with anything else, and it has an extremely low barrier of commitment. That last point might be the most important. With a dedicated arcade, I don’t need to play “Setup Quest” -- searching for controllers, making sure batteries are charged, downloading and installing updates, limiting the use of the living room television for others -- in order to hammer out a quick game of Pac-Man.
Building the first Polycade took almost a year of design, research, and testing. I even ended up writing a script to manage files and scrape metadata. Throughout this process, it became clear to me that even for those who have the technical skills to build something similar, the needed investment of time and money keeps the arcade out of reach. Also, most people assume the only way to have a home arcade is to have a dedicated room filled with vintage machines. I want to change that.
Want to give a Polycade as a gift for Christmas? We will send you a snazzy card to put under the tree prior to the 25th!
The Polycade is constructed out of simple components. This makes it easy to customize, repair, or change parts. A bit more about the key components of the Polycade:
The cabinet is cut out by robots and constructed by professional cabinet makers. Most of us would-be arcade builders are capable of sticking some plywood together, but even the experienced amongst us will be hard pressed to match the quality of these pros.
Once constructed and sanded, the cabinet is primed and sanded again. What happens next depends on the finish you choose.
- Vinyl Graphics: the Polycade is professionally wrapped with high quality, printed vinyl.
- Solid Color Paint: the Polycade is painted using a professional spray gun, sanded, painted again. The paint used is a strong, glossy lacquer that protects from bumps and keeps fingerprints hidden.
The control panel of the Polycade is removable. This helps to future-proof the polycade by allowing you to swap out the control setup to optimize for your favorite games, if need be. Down the road, we will offer different control panels.
The Polycade will ship with your choice of control scheme! The panel is broken into 2 sections: the main panel (1 & 2 player) and the sub panel (player 1 only). The main panel features a standard 2 player "fighter" setup, while the sub panel features special 1 player controls.
Favored by retro enthusiasts, these joysticks and buttons have that crunchy feel of 80's arcades.
Favored by fighter-game enthusiasts, these joysticks are extra nimble, allowing you to HADOUKEN your foes with ease. These buttons are known for their extra-fast response time.
Many older games use a 4 way joystick. These games cannot be reliably played with a "fighter" type 8 way joystick. Some notable games that use a 4 wya joystick are Pac-Man and Dig-Dug.
** Trackball Option
We've received a lot of requests for this. Unfortunately, the games shipped with the polycade will not be setup for use with the trackball. This option is here for people who plan to add more games and / or configure games themselves.
The Polycade uses a 28" Insignia LED TV with a 60Hz refresh rate. In the event you want to swap this out for a different monitor, the mounting mechanism in the cabinet is adjustable.
The Polycade uses a Raspberry Pi 2 Model B (this is the latest Raspberry Pi). It comes with an 8g SD card pre-loaded with the software. An 8g SD card is capable of holding thousands of games from the systems listed below.
We load the SD card with open source emulation software using a modified RetroPie install. We are customizing the interface along with hand testing and configuring each game to ensure that everything works right out of the box. If you want to put additional games on it, here's a list of systems we have tested:
- Atari 800
- Atari 2600
- Game Boy Advance
- Game Boy Color
- Game Gear
- Sega Master System
- Sega Genesis
- Nintendo Entertainment System
- Turbo Grafx 16
- Super Nintendo Entertainment System
For a full list of possible systems, click here.
All of the components in the Polycade are simple and will last a long time. Everything fails eventually though, and we've made sure that each piece is as easy to swap out as possible. Replacing a button, joystick, or even the computer is a trivial task, even for the non-technically inclined person.
We stand by this product and will do our very best to help you, should you run into any problems.
Mounting the Polycade (45lbs) is similar to mounting a TV. The cabinet ships with a double cleat that mounts to the wall using four screws driven into studs. The screwholes are slotted so the cleat can be slid left or right prior to tightening. The Polycade sits 3/8" out from the wall. This gives it a floating effect, and allows us to place ventilation on the back of the unit, out of view.
Each Polycade will be finished with a high-quality, solid color paint. You will be able to choose from the following color options:
Another option for finishing is a vinyl wrap with some awesome graphics! We've got a few more options for graphics on the way.
All clothing is American Apparel.
The woodworkers kit is intended for people who wish to build their own cabinet. You might want to do this in order to save money, or because you wish to design your own cabinet and want the technical portion of the arcade done for you. We do not include the monitor with the woodworkers kit, as someone designing their own cabinet may wish to change the monitor size. With the woodworkers kit, you will receive:
- Polycade Plans (in case you want to build the Polycade cabinet)
- Instructions for hooking up the electronics
- Polycade controls (buttons and joysticks)
- Raspberry Pi computer configured with the Polycade software build
- Wire harness (to connect the computer to the controls)
- Nearly 100 games
Some things that you will need to provide on your own (these things are NOT included in the kit):
- The wood necessary to build the cabinet
- The tools necessary to build the cabinet
- The monitor (we will provide suggestions)
- Extension cord with 2 outlets
- Anything else that you might use in the building of your cabinet (marquee, lights, etc)
SIGNED ATARI 2600 CARTRIDGE
For the record, I'll be filming the signing (it will be placed on youtube) and providing a certificate of authenticity for each one of these. I'll ask you for your top 3 cartridge choices, and will do my best to get you one of those.
THE POLYCADE TEAM
Risks and challenges
Our ultimate goal is to provide easy access to games that have slipped away from the consumer reach due to the lack of a marketplace, failure of old hardware, or simply swallowed by the sands of time.
Keep track of our progress by following us on twitter (@thepolycade) & instagram (@polycade)!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
Support this project
- (30 days)