Towards the end of last year, ALDI and EB Games started selling arcade cabinets. Small ones, at least, that shipped in flatpacks.
The cabinets were available for a short time and the makers confirmed at CES 2019 that five more cabinets would be coming to market, centred on games like the Mortal Kombat series and Karate Fight. Unfortunately, none of those cabinets will be making their way down under any time soon.
Last year, ALDI dropped a nice surprise in one of their weekly catalogues. Instead of bargain bin Xbox 360's or a Bauhn-branded TV, the no-frills grocer was selling flatpack Gauntlet and Street Fighter cabinets. The maker of those was Arcade1Up. Unsurprisingly, they're expanding their line in 2019 with five more cabinets ranging from Mortal Kombat games to Final Fight and Karate Champ.
A representative from Arcade1Up, which is showcasing all of their cabinets at CES this year, confirmed to Kotaku Australia that the company is primarily concentrating with the North American release of the flatpack cabinets for 2019. When asked if an Australian release was off the cards entirely, I was told that it wasn't - the response from Aussie gamers was quite good, supposedly - but the main challenge was getting the product to market.
That means the most likely result is that a small release might occur in 2020 when Arcade1Up looks at targeting more markets outside of the US. There's always the possibility that something happens during the launch which delays things further, too.
It's a shame the cabinets won't come to Australia straight away. On the positive side, I did have a chance to try some of the new cabinets on the show floor. The Karate Champ and Mortal Kombat cabinets held up rather well: the joystick and buttons were sturdy without being too spongey, and the screen nice and clear with no perceptible quirks in performance. I don't know that I'd play the cabinets for hours on end given the smaller and less ergonomic form factor, but it's a serviceable retro centrepiece. Unless you build your machine from scratch, of course.
I've always wanted an arcade cabinet of my own, but I don't have the materials, tools or the know-how to get started. Fortunately that's no problem for Matt Shaw, an Adelaide gamer who has enjoyed a little bit of internet fame after he decided to transform an unloved wine barrel into something special.