Growing up, I never spent that much money in the arcades because I knew that quarters were hard to come by at my age and spending them on a fleeting 2 minutes of dot-chomping seemed almost wasteful. I was just as content to watch these marvelous games played at the hands of masters who could, or at least did, spend all of their time and money at the arcades. As games advanced, I grew up, and started having a little more cash, I played more games and wasted more of those quarters. I remember Tron, Rygar, Bubble Bobble, and so many others that were by today's standards, horrible. But I LOVED playing them. As the advancement of home systems came into being and as each video game manufacturer started charging $.50 and $.75 to play, I moved away from the arcade scene, and into playing those arcade game ports on my home system. They were great, too, and close enough to the real thing to make me happy. I was never really in to the games that were specifically designed for the system. I would much rather buy a port of an actual arcade game to play at home (just think of all the quarters I could save).
In college with a little money in hand (I must manage money well to have had some in college), I participated in the Playstation craze. The graphics were phenomenal, the ports were closer to the original, and I learned that playing Mortal Kombat during finals week was much more fun than studying. But even though my days of visiting the arcades were over, I would every now and then peek my head in to watch the pros play Street Fighter Alpha or Killer Instinct.
I learned about emulation in 1998, and loved playing all of my 8-bit Nintendo games that had long since been thrown away. It was more of a novelty than anything else. I enjoyed remembering how much fun I had playing those games when I was a kid. And remembering how much of my allowance I had to save to purchase a Nintendo game in the late 80's, I had a great appreciation for being able to play those games I was never able to own (I'm making myself out to be either really poor or really cheap).
Sometime in 2000, I learned about MAME and was enthralled by the knowledge that I could play THE actual arcade games that I grew up on. I could even catch up on all of the games I missed in the 90's because I never took the time to play them (Ah, Neo Geo =). I spent a lot of time on the web looking for the latest front-ends, rom images, and speed tweaking tools to get the most out of this new revelation. Some of my friends were just as impressed as I was upon learning about MAME, and others looked at me almost with pity for having nothing better to do. But I pressed on. As I became more knowledgeable about emulation and read about others' passion for video games and their designs of MAME dedicated arcade cabinets, I knew I was hooked. Ever since I was little I remember wanting one of these flickering monitors and illuminated marquee displays in my house. Being out of college and actually making extra money I could spend for silly toys, I felt I had the means to fulfill a boyhood dream (cue the triumphant music montage). But now, I would not have to settle for one game because I could play literally hundreds of games in one cabinet.
I went through many, many websites looking for information about cabinet buying and building, arcade controller configuration and setup, monitor rigging, etc. And I realized that while some people out there have the knowledge and skill to do these complex things, I do not. There were so many variables, so many different ways to do things, not to mention tools and materials needed to configure everything properly. While there is good technical information out there taking you through each of the steps, I did not want to spend the time, effort, and money putting something together that would, at best, look shoddy, and at worst, not work. I started looking for pre-manufactured cabinets that I could take and set my computer to run MAME on directly. Not surprisingly, I was not the only person in this frame of mind because there were a number of individuals and small companies providing this type of product. The problem being that most of them were small shops that could not keep up with demand. Many were open and shut within a matter of months. I definitely did not want to buy from a company that could be out of business and perhaps even be falsely advertising a product they never intended on selling (believe me, there are ones out there, so be aware).
In an emulation chatroom, I stumbled across some information on the HotRod controller. This is an actual arcade controller that was designed to plug into your computer strictly for emulation. I was too excited. With my controller problems solved, I felt encouragement to, once again, begin looking into building an arcade cabinet. Upon visiting Hanaho's site, BINGO, the ArcadePC. It was exactly what I was looking for. But what about the company? How well was the product put together? Was it worth what they were charging? A lot of questions and not many answers. The Hanaho site has a lot of good information on their product, but they're sales people, remember? I wanted real feedback from people who actually had purchased and used the product. And thanks to some searching, I found a few. After reading the positive feedback, asking Hanaho a few questions, and getting a Christmas bonus check from work, I decided to take the plunge. I purchased one for myself.
I was so impressed with Hanaho's product, that I had to have some sort of way to help others who, perhaps, had a similar emulation dilemma to understand just how great the ArcadePC is. So read the review. Hopefully, you're on your way to owning one, too. Believe me, you won't regret it.