Good morning, Toyhounds… Today’s review is a bit different, as it straddles a fine line between collectible and video game. It’s actually both! And the subject of a Kickstarter that I backed last year by New Wave Toys. This Sixth-Scale fully operational Centipede cabinet is intended to be the flagship release in a series of Replicade cabinets and the Kickstarter was a huge success. Not only was it easily funded, but the project runners did a great job of keeping backers in the loop with plenty of updates and videos along the way. The original shipping date was supposed to be April, but it arrived to me this week. All in all, that’s not too bad a delay for Kickstarter projects. It’s easy to excuse delays when the project directors use the time getting things right and from the looks of it, it was time well spent.
The cabinet comes in a colorful shoebox style box, fully illustrated with a nice matte finish and plenty of pictures of what’s inside. Lift off the top and the goodies are wrapped in soft foam and plastic. The presentation is nice and professional and everything is collector friendly. The cabinet itself comes all ready to go, you just have to plug it in, peel the protective plastic off the screen and you’re ready to start blasting away at some goddamn centipedes.
Included in the box is a baggie with a micro USB charging cable, an instruction booklet, and a packet of miniature arcade tokens, which you can actually feed into the coin slots, or place on the deck to relay the message: “Back off, man, I’ve got the next game!” The unit can be played right away if you plug it in, otherwise it takes some time to charge in order to play off the battery. I originally charged it for an hour and found that it was still not enough. I was a bit worried the battery might be having problems, but I left it charge overnight and found that was all it took. There’s a charging light on top and when it turns from red to green, you know you’re good to go!
Also included is this die-cast Atari replica coin slot key-chain. It’s a satisfyingly heavy piece with textured edges and if you press in the face plate it lights up red. I love this thing, even if it is too heavy for me to ever use it for a key-chain. I’ll likely wind up displaying it somewhere near the cabinet itself. The key-chain was available as a $25 pledge reward, but it was also included with the cabinet at the tier that I backed. It also looks like it’s going to be included in the retail release of the cabinet. OK, enough with the extras… let’s get on to the main event!
Out of the box and measuring in at just under 12-inches tall, I have to say this cabinet is an impressive piece of design and craftsmanship. With so many cheaper playable mini cabinets on the market these days, this one really needed to stand out and now that I have it in hand, I can comfortably affirm that it does. From the shape of the cabinet to the choice of materials and attention to detail, these guys did their homework resulting in a replica cabinet that does its full-sized cousin proud. Everything about this piece exudes quality.
The marquee on the top lights up to call attention to the crisp and colorful transparency. It automatically comes on during the boot-up routine and will stay on until you power down the cabinet. There is an option in the menu screen to disable the light, but I don’t know why anybody would want to do that. The boot up is not your typical ROM boot up, but rather shows the New Wave Toys logo, followed by a screen that proudly proclaims the cabinet to be fully licensed by Atari.
The side panels are wood with beveled edges and the artwork on the sides is printed on, which was definitely the way to, as opposed to slapping on some stickers. The coloring is vibrant and reminds me of why I’ve always had a thing for early Atari artwork. Looking back, it’s like they were compensating for the simple graphics by drumming up the excitement with this stuff. It’s a lost art these days, but boy does it mash down on my nostalgia buttons. It’s a shame that most of the arcades I visited back in the day used to pack these cabinets so close that a lot of the time you couldn’t see the artwork.
And speaking of mashing buttons, the control deck has a nice satin finish with plenty of color. The deck features light up player select buttons, a fire button, and a track ball. During production, the development team posted videos about the challenge of getting the track ball to perform just right. They even added a sensitivity toggle in the menu screen. I think it works pretty damn smooth on the default setting, but the option is there to tweak its sensitivity up or down a notch. The construction here is all around solid with the buttons are all a perfect fit. The controls respond beautifully.
Indeed, I think I was most surprised about how comfortable this thing is to play. I was expecting a highly accurate scaled replica with the novelty of being able to turn it on and play it, but I didn’t really expect to spend a huge amount of time playing it. And yet that’s exactly what I’ve been doing since it turned up. Playing it doesn’t feel awkward or cramped at all, and before I knew it I was just lost in the game and trying to get my name on the High Score roster. And yes, the cabinet does save scores after you turn it off.
Below the deck you get the light up coin slots on a metal plate, and as mentioned earlier you can actually feed the tiny tokens into the slots. There’s a key sculpted permanently into the lock, which allows you to open it up revealing a little storage compartment inside. Pressing the left coin slot button will add credits to the game, while pressing the right coin slot button will bring up the options menu. In addition to controlling the track ball sensitivity and the marquee light, this menu also lets you adjust the volume and the brightness of the screen.
The back of the unit features the speaker, which puts out some very clear sound. The sound effects in Centipede are so damn iconic and they are reproduced beautifully by the machine. The default volume setting is where I keep it, but there’s room to turn it up even louder. The back also features a faux access hatch with sculpted keyhole and below it is a sticker designated this as one of the limited Backer Edition cabinets. The bottom of the cab has four rubber feet to keep it from slipping.
This initial cab has received some very positive (and well deserved) write-ups in some pretty prominent magazines and in addition to now being for sale at New Wave Toys’ website, it looks like some retailers like Best Buy, are offering pre-orders. If you can’t tell, I’m very happy with this purchase. I got in on the early bird tier of the Kickstarter, which means this beauty only cost $90. That’s quite a step down from the $160 it’s selling for now, but even at the higher price point it’s easy to see where the money went. Every aspect of this little cabinet shows care and craftsmanship and I truly believe that this is a labor of love on behalf of its developers. I’m not usually a fan of people launching another Kickstarter project before the first is fulfilled, but I still took a gamble and jumped on their Tempest cabinet and with this one in hand, now I’m very glad I did.