I was born a little too late for arcade machines to be a formative part of my youth. Sure, I saw them around and played a few, but since I had a games console at home they just didn’t hold the same attraction. Especially not for £1 a go, as my unquantifiable skill would make that a very good way to waste my pocket money. Despite this, I still get that nice nostalgic feeling when I see one.
Enter My Arcade’s Micro Player, an arcade machine that you can fit on a shelf when you’re not using it. It’s just over six inches tall and positively adorable, especially when you stand a sackboy plushie next to it.
The art on the cabinet is “inspired by” the original cabinet design for whichever classic arcade game you happen to pick. Our review machine features Karate Champ and it seems the art on the Micro Player is actually a little more extensive than the original cabinet designs, There is less blank space, which I find to be a welcome change, but it’s not a painstakingly perfect recreation that some people might be after.
Other than the glossy sides of the unit, the design itself is just stickers put in the right places. It looks good enough other than occasional bit of fluff getting stuck around the edges.
As the box reliably informs you, Karate Champ is considered to be the “grand-daddy of fighting games,” which basically means it’s the earliest example of the genre. It’s exactly what you might expect, which is to say a bit difficult to get the hang of, but pretty rewarding once you do. The controls are simple, pressing a face button performs a different attack depending on which direction you are holding, but timing and positioning are more important than anything else as you fight one on one against the AI and occasionally dodge knives in a bonus round.
Thankfully the Micro Player’s controls are quite good, with the ability to screw a little joystick into the D-pad if you prefer, which I did. The buttons make a satisfying thunk when pressed, the joystick or D-pad is responsive and doesn’t stick, meaning that getting a foot in the face is entirely your fault. They’re more than good enough for even me to win a few matches, which says a lot.
The 2.75 inch screen is full colour, but it has a limited viewing angle, so if you look at it even from slightly to the side it starts to get washed out. That’s not likely to be an issue whilst playing, at least. It also has volume controls and a headphone socket, which for some reason are both on the back of the device at the top, and two rubber strips along the bottom to stop it sliding around.
It all runs on four AA batteries, or you can power it with a micro-USB cable and power adapter. These aren’t included, but you almost certainly have a few spare somewhere in your house. I put in some fresh batteries a week ago and they still haven’t ran out after a good five or six hours of use.