Some include additional connectors for features not included in the standard. They may display either raster or vector graphics, raster being most common. Monitors may be oriented horizontally or vertically, depending on the game. Some newer cabinets have monitors that can display high-definition video. Very often, translucent red plastic buttons are placed in between the coin return and the coin slot.The sides of the arcade cabinet are usually decorated with brightly coloured stickers or paint, representing the gameplay of their particular game.
The monitor is housed inside the cabinet, at approximately eye level. Controls are most commonly a joystick for as many players as the game allows, plus action buttons and “player” buttons which serve the same purpose as the start button on console gamepads. If the upright is housing a shooting game, it may have light guns attached to the front of the machine, via durable cables. Two-player games housed in cocktails were usually alternant, each player taking turns. This requires special programming of the cocktail versions of the game (usually set by dip switches).
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Cocktail cabinet versions were usually released alongside the upright version of the same game. Their main advantage over upright cabinets was their smaller size, making them seem less obtrusive, although requiring more floor space (more so by having players seated at each end). They are also generally easier to clean and move than upright cabinets, but usually just as heavy as most have 29″ screens, as opposed to 20″-25″. Some newer cabinets can emulate these “versus-style” cabinets through networking. Some of these cabinets are very elaborate, and include hydraulics which move the player according to the action on screen. Mini cabinets spare bulk and are easier for small children to play than some full-size cabinets. They are also fairly popular with home use, as they can be placed upon a table or countertop. The side art was also painted over to hide damaged or faded artwork. Since machines with good quality art are hard to find, one of the first tasks is stripping any old artwork or paint from the cabinet. New paint can be applied in any manner preferred (roller, brush, spray). This side art can be applied over the new paint after it has dried.
Spraying the surface with a slightly soapy water solution allows the artwork to be quickly repositioned if wrinkles or bubbles develop like in window tinting applications. Once these pieces are acquired, they usually snap right into place. Rarer game controls are harder to come by, but some shops stock replacement controls for classic arcade games. Installing them takes some experimentation for novices, but are usually not too difficult to place. Vector monitors, on the other hand, can be challenging or very costly to service, and some can’t be repaired at all (they have dwindled in use since the 1980s and parts are hard to come by). Retrofitting other monitor technologies to emulate vector graphics can also be done. Electrolytic capacitors dry out over time, and in many classic arcade cabinets their service life is nearing the end. Due to the size of the capacitors and the voltages present inside a video monitor, this can be a dangerous activity and should only be attempted by experienced hobbyists or professionals. Players often pile their coins or tokens on the control panels of upright and cocktail cabinets. When they are pressed, a coin or token that has become jammed in the coin mechanism is returned to the player. In some arcades, the coin slot is replaced with a card reader that reads data from a game card bought from the arcade operator. They are usually made of wood and metal, about six feet or two meters tall, with the control panel set perpendicular to the monitor at slightly above waist level. Trackballs are sometimes used instead of joysticks, especially in games from the early 1980s.
If an upright is housing a driving game, it may have a steering wheel and throttle pedal instead of a joystick and buttons. Some arcade machines had the monitor placed at the bottom of the cabinet with a mirror mounted at around 45 degrees above the screen facing the player. To correct for the mirrored image, some games had an option to flip the video output using a dip switch setting. The monitor reverses its orientation (game software controlled) for each player, so that everything seems right-side-up from each perspective. Often, these cabinets are arranged side-by-side, to allow players to compete together. These cabinets often have touchscreen controls instead of traditional push-button controls. They are full of tips and advice on restoring games to mint condition. Often after the cabinet’s initial game was removed and replaced with another, the cabinet’s side art was painted over (usually black) so that the cabinet wouldn’t misrepresent the game contained within. Of course, hobbyists prefer cabinets with original artwork in the best possible condition. This is done with conventional chemical paint strippers or by sanding (preferences vary). Many games had artwork which was silkscreened directly on the cabinets. Some manufacturers produce replication artwork for popular classic games—each varying in quality. These appliques can be very large and must be carefully applied to avoid bubbles or wrinkles from developing. If the controls are worn and need replacing, if the game is popular, they can be easily obtained. Some shops manufacture controls that are more robust than originals and fit a variety of machines. Some electronic components are stressed by the hot, cramped conditions inside a cabinet. If a game has its original raster monitor, it will usually need to be “re-capped”—that is, some capacitors will need to be replaced so the monitor will deliver a proper image. If a monitor is broken, a replacement can usually be obtained via coin-op distributors or parts suppliers. These home built cabinets have many of the features of real arcade cabinets (such as a coin box, marquees etc.).
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All hardware components can be swapped without losing machine serial number. Most components can be instantly accessed and removed without tools.