Arcade1Up’s Street Fighter II Big Blue is a fitting tribute to arcades of old
These 12 Capcom classics will take you back to the glory days of arcades. We take a hands-on look at the Arcade1Up Street Fighter II Big Blue!
Arcade1Up's line of home arcade machines have been delighting classic gamers since its inception in 2018. While retro machines like NBA Jam, Pac-Man, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are great, it's the fighting game cabinets that pique our interest. Enter the Street Fighter II Big Blue, a fantastic recreation of Capcom's classic cerulean cabinet from the 90s. Does this faithful recreation live to the original? You'd better believe it.
The box the Big Blue arrived in.
A Dozen Capcom Classics
12 old-school Capcom games are included with the Big Blue, each one listed below in the order they appear on the machine's main menu:
- Street Fighter II: Champion Edition
- Street Fighter II': Hyper Fighting
- Super Street Fighter II Turbo
- Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo
- Night Warriors: Darkstalkers' Revenge
- Darkstalkers 3 (also know as Vampire Savior)
- Saturday Night Slam Masters
- Knights of the Round
- Eco Fighters
- Capcom Sports Club
- Muscle Bomber Duo
Each game is faithfully recreated to run just as it did in your favorite arcade with every pixel, animation, and sound intact. While each game has its own issues--and I'll get to the biggest ones--on the surface all 12 of these games perform incredibly well.
Building Big Blue
Before I talk about playing the games, the first thing I need to address with this Big Blue machine is putting it together. The machine requires assembly; there's no just opening the box and dropping right into SSF2T. Thankfully building the machine is idiot-proof--I'd know, I'm an idiot when it comes to building things--due to its clear labeling and directions.
Everything comes packaged together easily and the directions clearly illustrate the process. There's also a few extra small parts like screws should you lose some in the build. Arcade1Up definitely designed assembly with regular Joes in mind. It only took me about three hours; a more seasoned builder could get it done in half that.
Also, and this is a huge benefit, the fight sticks and the piece that hold the monitor are pre-constructed. Those two pieces fit into the rest of the build with little more than screws, meaning you don't need an electrician's pedigree to get things up and running.
The Big Blue's beautiful screen.
Fighting in the Streets
The main attraction here is the fighting games, and man is it a nostalgic romp booting these up for the first time. The Street Fighter games feel right at home here--probably because it's a Street Fighter machine--and playing them gives me flashbacks to the North Wildwood, NJ boardwalk as a kid.
The Big Blue arcade machine recreates that feeling effortlessly, the joysticks and buttons feeling just like the real thing. As I expected, the Street Fighter games rule the roost.
Not to be outdone however is the Darkstalkers trilogy, which despite not being in their own themed cabinet also performs flawlessly. All three games are a blast on the Big Blue, especially when you have someone to face off with. These ghoulish fighting games are underappreciated gems in Capcom's library--well, outside of one particular character--and the fact that they stand tall with the flagship franchise is a wonderful thing.
Big Blue Beat 'Em Ups
The rest of the cabinet's offerings aren't as impressive, but they're still fun in their own right. Saturday Night Slam Masters and Muscle Bomber Duo delight with their takes on pro wrestling, though the control scheme takes some getting used to.
Knights of the Round is a solid arcade platformer, and Eco Fighters is a neat shmup hampered by a strange control scheme. I don't think this is the Big Blue's fault, I'd have thought this back when it originally launched, but the weirdness makes me balk at playing it.
Capcom Sports Club's trio of sporting events are fun, but man are these games hard! I do not remember any of these being so merciless in the past, but they do not mess around on the Big Blue. I lost a Kick Stars--the game's name for soccer--match one time where the CPU never missed a shot. That's simply brutal! Smash Stars (tennis) and Dunk Stars (basketball) aren't as relentless, but they're still challenging in their own right.
At least someone in my house has time to enjoy it...
The Arcade1Up Street Fighter II Big Blue arcade machine is a heck of a buy. It recreates the arcade experience so authentically you can close your eyes and imagine yourself back in your favorite spot. Not all of the games play up to that level--I might have switched out Eco Fighters for something like Final Fight--but the ones that do absolutely shine.
You are required to put the machine together, but there's no rocket science involved here. I look forward to holding Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo tournaments from the comfort of my home for years to come thanks to this machine and its nostalgic excellence.
For more Capcom fighting game news, here's our look at Justin Wong looking back at Marvel vs Capcom 2.
A sample of the Arcade1Up Street Fighter II Big Blue arcade machine was provided by the manufacturer for this review.
Jason "BigManFanelli" Fanelli
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Jason Fanelli is a freelance journalist hailing from Philadelphia, with bylines at GameSpot, IGN, The Hollywood Reporter, and more. He also hosts the Cheesesteaks and Controllers Podcast for Fox Sports Radio Philadelphia, one of the only esports/video games-focused podcasts airing on live radio in a major market.