Retro Role-Playing, Arcade Style

But a frontend like Maximus Arcade actually supports 57 different systems, so you also have the staggering number of role-playing games that span the realm of console and early PC emulation. For the sake of example, here's a quick list of some of the stand-out titles that are worthy of a spot on an arcade machine:
  • NES: Faxanadu, Wizards & Warriors (and its sequel), The Magic of Scheherazade, the first three Final Fantasy games, and ports of many popular PC titles from the Might and Magic, Ultima, Wizardry, and Bard's Tale series.

  • Super NES: The very first Shadowrun video game, Chrono Trigger, more Final Fantasy titles, additional Might and Magic, Ultima, and Wizardry ports, and ports of Eye of the Beholder and Dungeon Master.

  • Sega Genesis: Another Shadowrun RPG, Sword of Vermillion, Dungeons & Dragons: Warriors of the Eternal Sun, a few Shining Force titles, and ports of the original King's Bounty, Buck Rogers: Countdown to Doomsday, and Might and Magic II.

  • Sega Saturn: Virtual Hydlide, Wizardry: Llylgamyn Saga, and an assortment of JRPGs.

  • Intellivision: The first two Advanced Dungeons & Dragons video games ever released - Cloudy Mountain and Treasure of Tarmin.

  • TurboGrafx-16: Dungeons & Dragons: Order of the Griffon and Dungeon Explorer.

  • Amiga: While many games are not really suited for arcade controls, the popular WinUAE emulator works great with your favorite frontend and the system sports a virtual jackpot of RPGs Autoduel, The Crescent Hawk's Inception, The Keys to Maramon, as well as numerous titles from the Gold Box, Silver Box, Bard's Tale, Might and Magic, Ultima, Dungeon Master, and Ishar series. Just be prepared to use your pull-out keyboard or manage a different key configuration for some games.

  • DOS: If built-in support for the Amiga isn't enough for you, you can even configure a frontend like Maximus Arcade to run batch files at the touch of a button on your control panel. Coupled with DOSBox, this means you can run virtually any classic RPG on an arcade cabinet. Like the Amiga, though, many games aren't really suited for arcade controls unless you do some tweaking.
Of course, all of this assumes that you're legally able to use the games inside such a cabinet. No matter how you break it down, it's technically illegal to play classic arcade ROMs and abandonware titles without actually owning the original games. It's a big obstacle for someone who experienced these games during their youth and wasn't able to keep them packed away for 20+ years, but luckily for me, I actually do own a massive library of old RPGs that I happily install on the cabinet. Digital Leisure, the current rights holders to Dragon's Lair, Dragon's Lair II, Space Ace, and a number of other laserdisc games, have made things a little easier. If you own a copy of virtually any of the many recreations these games have been subjected to over the years (including modern day versions), you can legally download the files necessary to play the original arcade games directly within the Daphne emulator. I'd really like to see this sort of support for a lot of other games that developers and publishers have seemingly forgotten about over the years, but unfortunately there's no reason to think that will be happening anytime soon.

NorthCoast's fully built systems will set you back quite a bit (they start at about $2600), but you can always purchase just the components you need (the cabinet alone is only $450, for example) and then build the rest yourself. In any event, I'm very pleased with the final product, as I now have the means to conveniently fire up many great classic RPGs and a much friendlier way to introduce my kids to the games of yesteryear.