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Platform - ARC.png
Golden Axe - ARC - USA.jpg
Released: 1971-??-??
Developer: N/A
Type: Hardware

Arcade games, as the term is used on this site, are video games released as stand-alone units with the complete input and output necessary to play the game, excluding pinball machines and slot machines which have separate pages. While wood and metal arcade games of skill and chance are over a century old, the switch to commercial digital electronic games, which is what this site is concerned with, didn't happen until 1971. Games with notable audio were a few years later still (Checkmate (ARC) from 1977 was among the first ones).

Early arcade games were essentially stand-alone computers specifically designed to play a single game. Because of this, there is no "official" arcade platform, but rather thousands of different ones. However, in the 1980s, as components and microchips became more powerful, designers made their cabinets capable of running multiple games with little or no customization. Today's arcade games are mostly high-powered computers running the game purely as software.



Larger developers released cabinets with interchangeable hardware that, with a new game board and a modified exterior, could be converted to a new game fairly easily. Some of the more popular ones are described below.

Manufacturer Platform First Release Popular Games
Atari System 1 1984-??-?? Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (ARC), Marble Madness (ARC), Road Blasters (ARC)
Capcom 68000 Series 1987-??-?? Bionic Commando (ARC), Street Fighter (ARC), Tiger Road (ARC)
Capcom CP System 1988-07-?? Final Fight (ARC), Ghouls'n Ghosts (ARC), Quiz & Dragons: Capcom Quiz Game (ARC), Street Fighter II: The World Warrior (ARC), Strider (ARC)
Capcom CP System II 1993-09-10 Darkstalkers: The Night Warriors (ARC), Street Fighter Alpha (ARC), Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo (ARC), Super Street Fighter II: The New Challengers (ARC)
Konami Bubble System 1985-??-?? Gradius (ARC), TwinBee (ARC), Galactic Warriors (ARC)
Namco System 1 1987-04-?? Dragon Spirit (ARC), Galaga '88 (ARC), Pac-Mania (ARC), Splatterhouse (ARC)
Sega System 1 1983-??-?? Flicky (ARC), Wonder Boy (ARC), Wonder Boy In Monster Land (ARC)
Sega System 16 1985-??-?? Altered Beast (ARC), Golden Axe (ARC), Dynamite Dux (ARC), Shinobi (ARC)

Sound Devices

As previously stated, arcade games have used nearly ever sound device ever made. Here are a few that are popular: YM2612, YM2151, DCS, Namco WSG. Most YM games also used a DAC chip for digital instruments and sound effects.

Music and Sound

Throughout the years, arcade cabinet designers have taken advantage of nearly every audio chip that has been made. The development of music could range from writing the music in assembly language (for older games), and writing the music in music software (such as Logic), then exported to a sound file for the games to use (for newer games).


How a composer would create music for an arcade game depended entirely on the audio chip used in the cabinet.

Emulation Status

Most sound devices used for older arcade games are emulated properly through MAME. The VGM format also logs most early audio hardware, however, sound devices such as the Namco WSG (containing a specially designed sound chip for each game), and DCS (which is completely digital audio instead of FM synthesis) do not have any plans to be supported for VGM.