With the the decline of arcades, more and more fighting games are being released without proper arcade versions. This has robbed folks of a proper, offline venue for playing matches against other folks. Now, some of you will point out that some “arcades” have created console setups where people can play console fighting games, however there remains one problem with this. These “cabs” are usually time-based, this takes away from certain aspects of the arcade fighting game experience. The most important part of this is that this format is less open to playing against random opponents at the arcade. It’s harder to just randomly walk up to a setup and challenge the people playing on it, simply because they’re the ones who paid for the setup. For the operators, this also means that there are potentially less people playing on the cab, and therefore, less profit - assuming you have high enough foot traffic, you can earn more from people constantly “quartering up” to play.
Happily, there is a way to properly replicate the arcade setup on a console “cab” and it’s not as hard as you would think it would be. In fact, the technique uses the same timing hardware that you would see in some coin-op console setups.
The parts needed for this are:
1 Console of choice
2 Controller PCBs of choice
2 Coin-op timer boards
1 Arcade “Cabinet” setup (monitor, etc.)
Step 1: Connecting the coin-op timer board
For those not familiar with them, coin-op timer boards are used in numerous applications in certain parts of the world as a simple for of automating time based rental/use of certain utilities or hardware. Most folks would probably be familiar with these through some old, coin-op children’s rides that you could see in some malls. For consoles, there are actually some that are designed specifically for consoles.
The trick to replicating the arcade experience is by only connecting the buttons used for confirming to the timing boards. For XBox 360, these are Start and A, for PS3 these are either Start and Circle or Start and X. This can be done through many ways, depending on the timer board used. The simplest timer boards simply use an automated DPDT switch. You can simply connect the the wiring to the aforementioned buttons to this - usually via ground.
Once the boards are connected, you have to set how long they will have the buttons unlocked. Once again, this depends on the coin-op board used. To find the best time, calculate the average time of a standard match and set it to slightly below that. This will allow enough time for folks to pick their characters and, if necessary, set their buttons.
Step 2: Configuring the layout
Since the confirming (Start, A, X, Circle) are timed to lock, you will have to make some changes to the layout to allow people to play. The confirming buttons will obviously have to be put to the side somewhere, where Start would usually be on a regular arcade cab. What you need to decide then is how to properly layout the remaining buttons for them to be functional for the games you plan to run. For a game like Street Fighter IV, this is simple enough as you can use the Type-B or “last 6” layout. For games like Marvel or Persona or Blazblue, this can be a bit more complicated. The rule of thumb is usually to place the default “deconfirm” button - B on the XBox 360, X or Circle on the PS3 (depending on region and which is used for confirming) - to either the light-kick or mid-kick position. For a more concrete example, I will post the actual layout used at A2G (which pioneered this setup) below.
Finally, be sure to add a guide to indicate the new layout so players don’t get confused.
Step 3: Running the game
Once the console and cab have been set up, all that is left is to run your game of choice. To properly simulate the arcade experience, run the game on Arcade Mode. Do this from Player 1 since most people will gravitate to that side on an empty cab. This ensures that people can simple “quarter up” and start playing the game while waiting for other folks to step up and challenge them.