Orb 2 Player Retro Arcade Machine – Review

The collection of retro goodies from Orb and Thumbs UP UK continues with the release of its 2 Player Retro Arcade Machine: a nostalgic, arcade cabinet look-alike, that’s packed with over 300 games, and offers detachable wireless controllers.

While Orb’s retro products are often ridiculed by the more serious retro computing, and gaming, collector, the vast majority of those customers who enjoy a quick game of something that’ll spark a retro-inspired memory are perfectly happy. It’s to these casual players who recall the 8-bit gaming era, but don’t have any wish to go down an emulation route, buying older and original kit to hook up to their new TVs, or spend out for the newer re-released consoles, that the likes of this Retro Arcade will appeal.

Inside the box there’s the arcade machine itself, a standard mono cable to connect the unit to the TV, a micro USB cable, instructions and an Orb product catalogue. The design of the 2 Player Retro Arcade Machine reminiscent of a classic arcade cabinet; found in countless arcades across the world. Measuring 129.5 x 129.5 x 175mm, the Retro Arcade Machine features a colourful, artistically designed, retro-themed, cabinet with dual controllers.

The controllers can be snapped to the side and released from the arcade machine, where you’ll find battery compartments on the rear, and on the front an arcade stick, two larger buttons and a set of three smaller buttons; the controllers are also labelled P1 and P2.

The arcade machine features a decent 4.3-inch backlit screen that’s bright and works well. Power up the machine and you can pick from either one-player or two-player – depending on what option you choose will display the games available. There are 216 games available from the one-player option, and 84 games from the two-player menu.

The overall build quality is good. The marquee, and surrounds are printed, glossy card, but look good and won’t come off unless you pick at them – the same can be said for the controllers too. We didn’t like the way the controllers snapped off to one side to release them, it felt like we were about to break either the controller or the arcade machine. Nothing did break, but perhaps there could be a better design approach to releasing the controllers.

Games

Let’s be honest here, you’re not going to find any of the retro classics you grew up with. While it’ll be nice to feature the likes of Galaga, Rastan, Rygar, Pac Man or even Space Invaders, the licensing of such titles would naturally increase the cost of this device. Orb’s way of doing things is to design a retro-inspired system, and cram it full of homebrew, and often lower-quality games, thus producing a low-cost device that anyone can play.

However, that’s not to say all the games featured on this device are terrible. Some aren’t too good, we’ll admit that, but a lot of them are good fun, and a half-decent time waster that’ll give you a laugh and pass a few hours over the Christmas period.

There’s a variety of platformers, side-scrollers, top-down racers and so on. Think somewhere between NES and SNES-type games and sound effects, and you’ll be pretty close to what’s on offer from the 2 Player Retro Arcade Machine. They’re generally fun, quick to master and play, and you’ll soon find your favourites and probably leave the rest.

In Play

The controllers work well, although they can become uncomfortable to use after a while; but, they’re responsive enough for the games on offer. The speaker, located at the bottom-front of the unit, is loud enough for the various chirps, pings and so on, and there’s no lag between the action on the screen and the sound coming out of the speaker – something we’ve come across in other retro-themed devices in the past.

Conclusion

The Orb 2 Player Retro Arcade Machine is good fun. It’s the perfect larger-sized stocking filler, or a little fun device to play over the Christmas period without breaking the bank. Serious retro gamers will naturally avoid it, opting for the licensed devices and emulation, but for a large portion of the casual gaming community it fits the bill nicely.

Orb 2 Player Retro Arcade Machine
  • Overall
3.5

Summary

Decent build quality, two player options, and good fun. An interesting Christmas present for the kids – or big kids.

– Lots of games available
– Connects directly to TV
– Good 4.3-inch LCD
– Good speaker
– Two player option

David Hayward

David has spent most of his life tinkering with technology, from the ZX Spectrum, getting his hands on a Fujitsu VPP5000/100 supercomputer, and coding on an overheating Raspberry Pi. He's written for the likes of Micro Mart, Den of Geek, and countless retro sites and publications, covering reviews, creating code and bench testing the latest tech. He also has a huge collection of cables.

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