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Arcade Cabinets – Upright vs Cocktail

June 9, 2012

Arcade games came in two types of cabinets: the upright cabinet and the cocktail cabinet.

The cocktail cabinet was perhaps the first I ever played.  The Space Invaders knock-off game my dentist had in his office was a cocktail cabinet, and my experiences with it could very well have been my first arcade experience.  These cabinets looked like tables.  You sat down at them to play like you sat down at a table.  You could even use them as tables if you wanted to.  The screen was in the table top and you had to look down at it.

Cocktail Ms. Pac-Man cabinet

The upright cabinet was the more popular and familiar.  The screen was held horizontally, and you played it standing up.  For games that only took one hand, like Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man, you could put your free hand on the cabinet side, or, if you were really cool, hang in from the cabinet top.

Upright Ms. Pac-Man cabinet.

I certainly prefer the upright version.  There is just something about playing while standing that I prefer.  I wouldn’t completely dismiss the cocktail version, though.  Heck, I wouldn’t even completely dismiss the bar top versions that I never saw or played, even though they are much too small for my taste.  An arcade game is an arcade game, after all, no matter what kind of cabinet it comes in.

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