PiCade desktop retro arcade machine review
Small enough to fit anywhere
Don't forgot to bring your own raspberry pi
Price could be an issue
Game on! Picade Desktop Retro Arcade Machine is the perfect package of DIY and nostalgia
Let’s face it – there’s just nothing quite like an old-school arcade game. Whether you were a Pac-Man fan or you always hopped towards Frogger, arcade games have provided loads of fun and entertainment for people of all ages.
With quarters at the ready and high-scores to beat, heading to the arcade was the key ingredient to a perfect Friday night back in the day. But with fewer and fewer arcades open these days to satisfy your nostalgic cravings, many retro-gamers are left wondering what they can do to enjoy their favorite games without having to drive across the state in hopes of finding the one run-down arcade center that’s not out of business.
And this is exactly where the Picade comes in handy!
The Picade desktop arcade is a Raspberry-Pi powered mini arcade machine that you can keep on your desktop, counter, or even in a dedicated game room. This wonderful machine allows you to enjoy your favorite arcade games from the comfort of your own home. And it’s even fully customizable to support whatever games you want to run on it!
It’s not an understatement to say that the Picade is a true build-it-yourself mini arcade that embraces the current DIY trend to give you the dash of nostalgia you need.
Let’s start with the build-it-yourself concept.
The Picade allows you to live out the experience of building an arcade machine all on your own. Just imagine it – you’ll have your very own arcade machine that you’ve put together from scratch all by yourself. Isn’t that awesome?
The kit comes with detailed instructions, making the entire project an accessible and easy to follow process for anyone who has the time and desire to put it together. All in all, it takes around three hours to put everything together and get it running.
It’s made from powder-coated MDF, meaning it has the same durable quality and funky aesthetic of a full-size, retro arcade machine that you would have seen as a kid. And it also comes with two screen width options – 8″ and 10″. We recommend the 10″ variant, as it’s a lot easier to use and provides for a slightly better gaming experience.
However, awesome as it may be – there is one catch! You’ll have to supply your own Raspberry Pi, which this entire unit is built overtop of, along with a USB-C PSU to power the unit and a micro-SD card for storage.
Now once you’ve got your Raspberry Pi secured and everything put together, you’ll be able to load up the emulator framework that comes with the Picade and access the wealth of available RetroPIE ROMs to be able to run many of your favorite childhood games right off the bat. And the best part is the fact that the pool of available ROMs is constantly expending with constant online releases that you can grab and load up with ease.
So, if you can navigate the somewhat challenging micro-engineering project you’ve probably never even dreamed of doing – you’ll get to enjoy the satisfaction and sense of accomplishment that comes with having built your very own arcade.
Having covered all angles of the set-up and putting it together, let’s talk about the features!
First of all, the Picade does justice to the retro vibe and feel that all of us have come to expect from an arcade machine. Even though it’s a miniature model, it still looks the look and walks the walk of the arcades we love and remember from our childhood.
The Picade features very authentic arcade controls, so hands at the ready, take your aim, and game on. It also has a high resolution 4:3 display that’s perfect for getting the most out of ported retro games, and the sound is absolutely incredible, helping take the whole experience to another level altogether. Which is all possible thanks to its built-in 5W 3″ wide speaker.
And when it comes to portability – let’s just say that it offers a whole new meaning to the term “portable gaming.” One of the best features of the Picade is the fact that because it is a desktop version and not a full-size arcade, the unit is ultra-portable. You can easily bring it with you to work, on vacation, or even to a friend’s house.
Despite the fact that you might find assembly to be a bit of a space-limited endeavor, the inside of the arcade unit is actually fairly accessible for the most part. In turn, this makes it a breeze to access the wires, install additional components, and adjust the screen angle whenever you need to do so. Keep in mind that there’s ample opportunity for upgrades and customization as well. For example, you can upgrade the screen and even play around with different combinations of arcade buttons to get the look and feel you want, among other things.
And it’s worth noting that this is a newer version of the original Picade. As such, if you’re familiar with its predecessor – you’ll quickly notice that this generation features a wealth of improvements and upgrades. It has better overall sounds and display capability alongside improved controls and the power button that the early version lacked.
While there are definitely lots of other technical aspects that we could dive into – there’s one key takeaway that we want to get across after tinkering around with our own unit. With the Picade, building your own arcade is nowhere near as complicated as it may seem!
All in all, the Picade desktop retro arcade machine is a must-have for all gamers with a nostalgic craving for their favorite childhood games. It’s going to allow you to relive those awesome days off at the arcade with your friends, with no tokens or quarters involved. And when you take into account that it only clocks in around $250/£195 for the 10″ variant – it’s an incredibly affordable way to own a piece of gaming history and your own nugget of gaming nostalgia. Build it, play it, love it. Prime your joysticks, and game the nights away!