John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
The Polycade uses emulator software to conjure up “Pac-Man,” “Street Fighter II,” and other classic titles.
When Tyler Bushnell was a kid, he remembers biking 6 miles on the weekends to blow all his money on that hot release, “Street Fighter II.”
Years later those “Hadoukens!” must still echo in his head, because Bushnell—who just so happens to be the son of Atari founder Nolan Bushnell—is building a wall-mounted console that plays potentially thousands of classic video games. The Polycade cabinet features a 28-inch screen and joysticks for two players to face off, something Bushnell feels is missing from the contemporary gaming experience. He writes on his Kickstarter campaign, which beat its $20,000 goal in two days:
Modern video game interfaces primarily favor solitary gaming, and many suggest long periods of playtime. We have largely lost the real-life, social, low commitment experience provided by the interface that founded video gaming: The Arcade.
The Polycade seeks to evolve the traditional arcade. The old machines are giant, heavy, difficult to fix, and only play a single game. Slim, light, easy to fix, and capable of housing thousands of games, this modern and affordable arcade cabinet brings back this well loved and long missed gaming format!
The machine ships with 90 retro titles like “Pac-Man,” “Galaga,” and “Bionic Commando,” but its open-source emulator technology allows it to handle tons more from potentially every system in history. (He’s personally tested it on 11 systems including Nintendo, Atari, Sega Genesis, and Playstation 1.) Here’s a small sample of the games it can recreate:
(“Vulgus”? Why yes, “Vulgus.”)
Bushnell is in the production stage and hopes to ship the first cabinets by March 2016. Toss in a $50 pledge and you’ll receive an Atari cartridge signed by Bushnell’s dad. Plus, in the son’s words, you’ll help prevent these games from being “swallowed by the sands of time.”
Polycade, $1,950 retail (cheaper pre-order options available on Kickstarter)