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As a kid, I loved going to arcades. There wasn't a proper arcade too close to where we lived; but once I was allowed to ride the bus to the nearest city, I always headed for where I could pump my pocket money into these fascinating machines - the grown-up, blockbuster-scale versions of the experiences I'd been enjoying at home on my 8- and 16-bit systems. And now I'm an adult, the thought of bringing an arcade cab, or two, into my home is a pretty persistent one - but a dream I sure won't realise until I can afford a bigger place, or these darn kids move out.
Super Impulse's range of Tiny Arcade toys offers a kind of solution to my 'problem'. Rather than being denied my home arcade because of square feet going spare and a huge hole in my budget, I can line up several of these things across my WFH desk, any time I like. These minuscule cabs are not only designed to replicate full-size arcade machines, each displaying the art of the game in question - they're also playable, too. Which is... cool, actually. They obviously cannot serve as a substitute for the real thing(s), but you can waggle their sticks and click their buttons, and play a game on them.
What really caught my eye in Super Impulse's Tiny Arcade range is its quarter-pint-sized version of Konami's 1989 classic, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Now this is a cab that I lost a lot of money to, at the local social club, so to be able to fit it in the palm of my hand is weird, indeed. And while it's categorically not Konami's game, shrunk down to fit a stamp-proportioned screen - rather, it's a remake with just three levels of play, with one Turtle (Donatello) playable, and the gameplay is incredibly stripped back to basics (hit left and right, jump left and right) - it is a perfectly distracting five minutes of fun, for those breaks in work that we should all be taking, right now.
And that's the point of these things, really: a little shot of nostalgia when you need it, for a few minutes. A short and sweet score chase while a video file's downloading. A kind of gaming preservation, I guess, that is sure not supposed to be taken seriously, but can add up to an impressive collection on any gamer's shelf. And paired with some handy toys, you can create your own home arcade, if that's something you're into. I'm sure not about to judge anyone who displays these minis beside plastic action figures and LEGO sets.
Each unit is powered by three AAA batteries, and will go to sleep if left untouched for a while. Each kicks out a decent noise, which is as tinny as you'd expect but still reminiscent enough of the original arcade machines. The sticks are predictably fussy, given they're smaller than a fingernail - I've found myself getting a little stuck in the Hello Kitty-themed Pac-Man unit - but they do work. And for what these things are, that's enough.
I'm not totally sure why each unit has a keyring on the back, though - while these might be small, I'm not about to have one smacking into my knee while my car keys are in the ignition, or in my pocket chafing my thigh as part of my house-key cluster (assuming I own jeans with pockets big enough to fit one inside, in the first place). I guess you could... hang them, somewhere? Your toy, your choice. Dangle a Mappy from a coat hook, or a Burger Time from your Christmas Tree this year. Whatever does it for you.
More than anything else, these Tiny Arcades are fun collectibles for gamers who remember what it was like to lose all the money in their pocket trying to get the better of a single boss. For gamers who like the physical side of this medium, this hobby, and miss the three-decades-ago ubiquity of arcade machines, be they found and loved in the corner of a youth club, the foyer of a leisure centre or amid a huddle of several cabs in a dedicated venue, sticky carpet optional. They're not to be bought to play, as such, because none of these things represent the ideal way to enjoy the games in question; but that you can play them, if you want, is pretty neat to me.
Super Impulse's Tiny Arcade range is available now. Cheers to Super Impulse for sending through four units - Turtles, Hello Kitty x Pac-Man, Mappy and Burger Time - to check out. Other cabs in the range include Space Invaders, Tetris, Dig Dug and Pole Position. NGL, I'm probably going to grab a few more of these things, because I am Entirely That Person.
Featured Image Credit: Super Impulse, Konami
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