When I was growing up on the east coast I used to go to Seaside Heights, NJ with my family for summer vacation. The days and nights spent exploring the town as well as the boardwalk with all of the various arcades made my head spin. Now with the help of emulators, I get to experience those classic moments of my childhood but I always thought what if someone made emulation easier?
The folks over at Dream Arcades thought the same thing and have come up with a revolutionary device. I caught up with Dream Arcades, and here’s our conversation for your reading pleasure.
1) Please introduce yourself.
I’m Michael Ware, owner and Head Geek at Dream Arcades. We’ve been building multi-game arcades for over 14 years. Before that, I worked 7 years at Intel as a Systems Engineer.
2) Tell us a bit about Dream Arcades?
Dream Arcades specializes in non-coin-op arcade machines for home and office use. We have the license to over 300 classic titles, and offer lots of customization, such as LED-lit trackballs, light guns, and custom artwork.
3) What are some of the products you offer for sale?
We offer retro style arcades that are a throwback to the 80s and more modern styles with larger 32 and 40-inch monitors. There’s 2 & 4-player designs and just about everything can be customized; we can even “skin” an arcade in custom artwork, similar to vehicle wraps often used for corporate promotions.
4) What was your inspiration behind the Dreamcade Replay?
For testing, we often connect the computers from our arcades up to regular monitors. One day, one of our techs said, I don’t have room for an arcade, but just the PC and a game-pad would still be lots of fun to play. That’s when we realized with a bit of modification, our software could be used on any TV.
5) Can you tell us a bit about how the Dreamcade Replay works?
It’s the same software we’ve been using on our arcade machines for 5 or 6 years. It’s designed to be easy to use, but with lots of options for advanced users. Because it’s Windows-based, it can also double as a media player for sites like Netflix or even as a second low-cost cable box for services like Hulu or YouTube TV.
6) What games will the Dreamcade be able to play?
Just about anything from the earliest consoles like the Odyssey to newer systems like PlayStation and beyond. It’s designed to support Steam and PC games as well. Best of all, the Replay will evolve over time, so as new users add more games & emulators, the Replay will automatically download those configuration files. Of course, you have the option to turn updates off as well.
7) Will it be able to do more than just gaming?
We hope people will like the Replay so much they’ll want it in more than one room, so some people will buy two, or simply move it from room to room. Because it comes with a licensed copy of Windows 10, it can do anything a PC can do. So while it’s designed to be the center of your entertainment system there’s no reason it couldn’t be used to to check work e-mails, or even write documents like say term papers–and it makes a great Steam streaming client, too.
8) What are the specs of this Dreamcade Replay?
It comes with an Apollo Lake processor that runs at 2.0 – 2.4GHz. There’s 4GB ram, so it’s able to do some multitasking. 32GB onboard storage, plus it’s easy to add more space with an mSATA card, Flash, or SD card–you can even add a 2.5″ hard drive with optional hardware. Of course, there’s the standard things you’d expect on any PC: USB 3.0 ports, HDMI (and VGA), wired and wireless dual-channel 5.8 GHz networking, Bluetooth, etc.
One thing to note is that we opted to include the newer, but more expensive Apollo Lake processor, as it supports both 4k video decoding and the new Vulkan graphic API for faster gaming.
9) How much is this going to cost?
Right now you can pre-order for $129 and a fully loaded system with extra controllers and a 1TB hard drive will run around $250. Based on pre-orders we’ll determine the final SKUs.
10) Do you think this is going to change how we play retro games today?
We certainly hope so. Right now if you want to enjoy your retro games it takes some work and technical know-how, even on a PC. We want to make it simple to play these games on a TV, with real gamepads as they were meant to be played. Because the replay can double as a movie & media player it really can be the centerpiece of any den or family room.
11) What is next for Dream Arcades?
We want to bring real arcade controls to the Replay (and PCs in general). We’ve already done a lot of the prototyping on a wireless control panel with authentic arcade controls and a trackball that we hope to bring to the market.
12) Do you have any final words?
One of the things I like best about running Dream Arcades is that because of our size we run a pretty agile outfit and can respond to customer feedback quickly. We think this will be key in helping our user base get the most out of the Dreamcade Replay.
And there you have it folks! Right now Dream Arcades is taking pre-orders for these units and if you want to be able to play in your own home go to http://www.dreamcades.com/Store/ and pre-order you’re very own.
This post was written by Thomas Riccardi. He was born in Manhattan on a cold and wintery day and now lives in sunny and warm Sacramento. His parents got him an Atari 2600 one year for Christmas and he has been hooked on video games ever since. He looks forward to the new consoles that are coming out and has been amazed how far gaming has come. Follow him on Facebook.