Arcade1Up Class of ‘81 Deluxe review: Playable nostalgia

The best way to play classic games

Arcade1Up Class of ‘81 Deluxe review: Playable nostalgia
(Image: © Future)

Laptop Mag Verdict

The Arcade1Up Class of 81 Deluxe features an excellent build and spot-on replication of the classic arcade games of yesteryear. For less than most gaming consoles, you get 12 games and hours of endless fun.

Pros

  • +

    Enjoy 12 timeless games in this versatile, all-in-one console.

  • +

    Compete with players worldwide on every game's online leaderboards.

  • +

    Big game excitement, perfectly sized for your living room or gaming corner.

  • +

    Secure wall mount and grippy feet keep your console safe and in place.

  • +

    Crisp, powerful stereo speakers enhance your gameplay experience.

Cons

  • -

    Sometimes, the foot pads slide a bit on smooth flooring

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Arcacde1Up Class of 81 specs

Assembled Dimensions: 22.44” D x 18.82” W x 61”H
Weight: 68 lbs
Wi-F Leaderboards to challenge players from across the country
Adjustable Volume
Anti-Tip Over Strap
Plug covers for side screw holes
Molded Coin Door for Authentic Arcade Look
Dual Speakers for crisp arcade sound
BOE 17 Inch Color Monitor
Real feel Joysticks and Buttons 

Arcade1Up has produced some awesome reproductions of classic arcade consoles for the past few years. Our review unit includes classic hit titles like Ms. Pac-Man, Galaga, and Dig Dug. These exceptionally designed 3/4-scale stand-up arcade cabinets are perfect for any apartment, office, or dedicated game room. 

We got ahold of one of Acrade1Up’s Deluxe systems, and after the brief assembly, it was nothing but hours upon hours of gaming. I was super impressed with how accurate and fun the whole experience was as I relived my childhood. 

Although the Deluxe name implies it may come with a huge price tag, our system came in below $500, which is far more affordable than a traditional arcade cabinet. Our review unit came with 12 classic games and caused a battle for the ages between our camera assistant Andre and me, who challenged me to a classic game battle. Let’s take a look at the Arcade1Up Class of ‘81 Deluxe system. 

Games

Arcade1Up Class of ‘81 Deluxe review: Playable nostalgia

(Image credit: Future)
  • Ms. Pac-Man
  • Galaga
  • Galaga '88
  • Galaxian
  • Dig Dug
  • Dig Dug II
  • Mappy
  • Rally-X
  • Rolling Thunder
  • Rompers
  • The Tower of Druaga
  • King and Balloon

Design and build

The Class of '81 Deluxe stuns with its split artwork – vibrant Ms. Pac-Man on one side, gleaming Galaga on the other. Assembly is a breeze, taking our tech guru Andre a mere 45 minutes thanks to the straightforward dowel and screw system.

Arcade1Up Class of ‘81 Deluxe review: Playable nostalgia

(Image credit: Future)

But the true star is the artwork. Arcade1Up delivers pixel-perfect nostalgia, transporting you back to early 80s arcades. The dedication to authenticity extends beyond the visuals, with a charming replica coin door and molded speaker grills adding tactile memories to the mix. Size-wise, they hit the sweet spot – slimmer than a classic arcade cabinet, yet substantial enough for immersive gameplay and perfect for most home settings.

Arcade1Up Class of ‘81 Deluxe review: Playable nostalgia

(Image credit: Future)

Peeking under the vibrant 17-inch LCD, you'll find the control deck. The classic red joystick and responsive buttons feel instantly familiar, ensuring every pixelated maneuver translates flawlessly. The entire system exudes expert design, making it a worthy centerpiece for your personal arcade haven.

Controls

Class of '81 Deluxe keeps things refreshingly old-school with its controls. There are no fancy button combos here – mastering these classic games hinges on the smooth glide of the arcade-faithful joystick and the snappy response of the buttons. Forget laggy movie theater woes; this joystick moves precisely, channeling the satisfying click-clack of a real arcade cabinet. And for double the pixelated pandemonium, two-player action is fully supported.

Arcade1Up Class of ‘81 Deluxe review: Playable nostalgia

(Image credit: Future)

Visually, the controls ooze retro charm. The joystick sports a cool metal stem topped with a vibrant red ball cap, while the buttons mirror the classic Ms. Pac-Man color scheme – white, red, and yellow, ready for your pixelated chomping adventures. It's arcade nostalgia done right, from the satisfying controls to the vibrant color palette, ensuring every game feels like a trip back to the golden age of gaming. Who's ready to conquer some classic titles with a friend by their side?

Display and audio

Arcade1Up's latest cabinet punches above its retro weight. The 17-inch screen shines with excellent brightness and clarity, showcasing classic arcade visuals in vibrant detail. Rich color saturation brings these pixelated heroes to life.

Arcade1Up Class of ‘81 Deluxe review: Playable nostalgia

(Image credit: Future)

But the real showstopper is the sound. Dual speakers blast out surprisingly immersive audio, recreating the arcade experience with shockingly rich bass and crisp highs. I cranked it up for a nostalgia trip, but the adjustable volume caters to both blasters and button-mashers who prefer a quieter experience. This cabinet hits all the right notes visually and sonically, proving that retro doesn't have to mean dim and tinny. 

Bottom Line

At the end of the day, you can enjoy 12 classic games in a cabinet that will take you back to the days of the quarter arcades, only no need to leave a quarter on the display; you’re always up. If I didn’t live in a tiny studio apartment, the Arcade1Up would be one of the focal points of my decor. 

For $500 or less, you and your friends and family will enjoy the Class of 81 Deluxe for years to come. 

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