Coin-Op Experience at Home: Best Arcade-like Consoles and Gadgets to Buy

With the continuous growth of home console hardware specs, it is not surprising that the specs of most arcade cabinets have been slowly surpassed by the hardware you can buy off the shelf. This evolution in the console-arcade power balance has shifted the novelty of arcade games to focus on something other than having better specs: instead arcade games now focus on delivering a gaming experience you cannot easily emulate at home. Bringing home the arcade experience is not as easy as just waiting for a game to port, now players must be able to figure out which accessories complement the feel of the modern complex game cabinets, and here are some of the best ones on the list.

Arcade Sticks: Perfect for Fight and Flight

Fighting games are some of the most prolific token-munchers in the arcade scene. With highly competitive titles in the genre and plenty of players seeking a good match, it is paramount for any self-respecting fighting game fan to own a proper set of arcade sticks at home. Flight sims are also another major arcade hit: because it really is difficult to simulate the feel of being inside a cockpit when you are sitting on a couch. While most arcade flight simulation games are very action oriented (as opposed to the more "realistic" flight simulators created for at-home gaming), one cannot want to have the experience brought right into their living rooms.

Hori's special arcade-style

For these, we recommend only one brand: Hori. Hori's special arcade-style do more than simulate the feel and feedback of the standard game cabinet, it also has great response, finely tuned aesthetics, and most importantly, it is able to handle serious abuse (just don't throw them at the wall).

With the 8 button (2 rows, 4 column) layout, the Hori Fighting EDGE sticks are not only the best fighting game sticks you will ever put your hands on, the button layout also allows it to simulate playing various fighting games. It also does not matter if you own a Playstation 3 or an X-Box 360, there's a fight stick for either one.

Dogfight fans on the other hand will want to get their hands on the FlightStick 3 or the Flightstick EX2 (depending on which console you own, PS3 or 360). Hands-on throttle and stick configuration is not only arcade worthy, but also quite intuitive and practical (plus, it is also the control concept applied to real life planes -allowing fighter pilots (check out for more information: speedflyingpro.com) to run almost any function without having to let go of the sticks). The best part is that it is actually a whole lot better than what is on several coin-op cabinets too: the plastic doesn't feel cheap at all.

Drive Like a Boss

For those of you surprised that Logitech is not getting dibs on the flight stick category (their PC flight sticks used to be some of the best), Hori beat ‘em to it by a close shave, but the one special category that Logitech is still unmatched in is with steering wheels.

Going over to the arcade and plopping down a couple of tokens so that you can literally push down the pedal to the metal and put cars in maneuvers you would never actually do in real life is one of the best experiences that video gaming has brought to humanity. Console based driving is even getting more exciting with all the "realistic" physics and complex game engines being put in.

Sorry Forza fans, but it was Gran Turismo meant it when they said "Real Driving Simulator". The G27 Racing Wheel and the Driving Force GT controllers are designed specifically for the Playstation 3. While optimized for use with Gran Turismo, you can use these on any other driving games -and the experience of playing our favorite, Burnout Paradise, turns the game into some serious metal crunching fun.

Driving Force GT

No Music, No Life

Rhythm games are one of video gaming's best experiences, and we are not talking about the sloppy plastic-y feel of the Rock Band and Guitar Hero accessories. We are talking about some serious rhythm bashing where you actually get to learn a thing or two about playing a real instrument.

Yamaha DTX

In this case, refer you all to the marvelous Drummania/Percussion Freaks game from Konami. The arcade unit is already a pretty rare find, but a console port to the Playstation 2 can be snagged if you do some online hunting. While you could by the regular Drummania drum pad accessory, we do not recommend it. Instead, we highly recommend the Yamaha DTX electronic drum set. Not only is this drum set USB based (and can hook up to your PS2), but it also works as an actual electronic drum set. Yes, this will not only give you a new game to play, it will also teach you an actual musical skill which may or may not come handy in life later on.