An arcade machine with 2000, 8000 or 45000 games?

The FLEX-arcade and other builders' technical features offer the player an endless choice regarding the number of games integrated in a retrogaming console: 45,000 games, 100,000, 8,000, 2,000, 558, 1 (but then which one?)... FLEX-arcade offered me 8,000 games, and I thought it was a good number, on a human scale. "10,0000" would have hurt me psychologically (be kind, don't ask me why). Hence I became interested in this story about the number of usable games, and discovered that it actually concealed a bigger question: in 2022, what exactly do we mean by "retrogaming"? Should we stick to the pre-2000 era? Is the Playstation 2 a retro console now? Should we get at least 20,000 games or should we just focus on our favorite eras with 2,000, 4,000, 8,000 games...? Debates with no answers: the best ones. As for me, I recommend 8,000.

Content table

  1. The issue at hand: how many video games can you get on an arcade machine?
  2. Arcade machines that are at least available in FLEX-arcade machines
  3. From 4000 to 8000 games, a smart choice (personal opinion)
Without an arcade machine, without 45000 games, without anything…

The average human being is greedy, so can you imagine a gamer? When I decided to buy a machine at FLEX-arcade, they told me it could handle "as many games as you want, but 8,000 is fine". True, this number seemed quite fair to me. I even thought I could go around those 8,000 games with a few daily rounds. I wasn't quite sure I really wanted to, but the mere idea of being able to do so delighted me. By the way, why 8,000? "With 8,000 games, you're gonna come round to retrogaming." Ah, well, that's worth a little recap.

And suddenly…

Two questions remain: how do we know how many games we’ll "need"? Is a lifetime even enough to play 8,000 video games? The answer to the second question is "no, but whatever, it's necessary". As for the first one, it obviously depends on what you want: "pure" retrogaming or integration in a machine of all possible game platforms, both old and new, from the old Atari to the PS5, including all the machine games adaptations. If you are looking for "pure" retrogaming, trust me, 8,000 games is fair!

1. The issue at hand: how many video games can you get on an arcade machine?

What you want: everything is possible with emulation

Flex Arcade - Bartop Mario 1 player
Plenty of games

It all depends on the system you pick. Enter "retrogaming console" along with a number on the search bar and you will surely find the right retrogaming system with 45,000 games, 100,000, 50,000+... This is hopefully not the only thing you are looking for in an arcade machine, but keep in mind that everything’s possible.

Flex Arcade - Recalbox

At FLEX-Arcade, you get a basic Raspberry Pi4+Recalbox/Pandora system that ensures access to at least 4,000 included games. On top of that, you can integrate a Windows PC or your own system (+Recalbox) to run more demanding games (from the PS2 onwards, broadly speaking). So, this is pretty much all I know. As for the technical part, make sure to discuss this with our technician once you have browsed through the 3D configurator here.

Let’s take an image to put it simply: an arcade machine is a big box into which you can slide consoles that have games inside (see sketch on the left)With a good emulation system, and some financial adjustments if need be, you can fit whatever you want into the machine. This brings us back to the most important question: what do you want to do with your arcade machine?

The right question: what do you want to play on an arcade machine?

Are you interested in the arcade as a special kind of video game? Or rather as a legendary gaming era? Are you more of a nostalgic person, or are you looking forward to the pixel counterpart of the Library of Alexandria in a single beautiful object? To combine the retrogaming and ultra modern worlds, you will have to choose a game system that is both compatible with the most recent consoles (all XBOXs, PS2, 3 and 4, etc.) and "pure" retrogaming consoles, which will inevitably provide you with more than 45,000 games. However, if you are mainly interested in the pre-PS2 era, you can concentrate on about twenty consoles and thus on a few thousand games. Which is already a lot...

How many video games have been published since the invention of writing?

Prior to the second half of the 20th century, we can fairly say that no video game was ever detected. After that, history accelerates, and along with it the number of potential errors. Sorry about that in advance.

The first video games date back to the 1950s, but the first video game to be commercialized was on an arcade machine in 1971. It was called Galaxy Game.

According to Mobygames, whose praiseworthy goal is to list all video games since the Genesis, 15 games were published in 1971, 53 in 1972, 205 in 1975, 640 in 1977, 984 in 1978, 2603 in 1983, 3116 in 1994, 3049 in 2000, 10464 in 2020. The site inventories a total of 298,217 video games published on 305 devices (counting the twenty or so pre-1971 creations, which is a pretty big number), of which 53,648 were published before 2001 (the year the Playstation 2 was released).

A few American articles dispute the figure, claiming that about half a million game apps are currently downloadable on the Google Play platform alone. They might be right. The question is still to be investigated, but we are currently running out of shovels. It was certainly easier to keep track before the Internet, online and smartphone expansion... The countless versions of the same games must also make it impossible to count.

In any case, whether you have 2,000 or 45,000 games on your machine or your retrogaming console, you’ll have to forget about exhaustiveness anyway. It's frustrating, I admit it...

"Pure" retrogaming menu or retro+modern menu?

The retrogaming era can be defined as the pre-Playstation 2 era (online, dematerialized, 3D, etc.). Or not. Some gamers don't even think of it and include the PS2 and all the 6th. generation consoles (from the year 2000 on) in the retrogaming sphere. For others, retrogaming inevitably excludes post-2000 3D, not to mention online games.

Let's be realistic: retro is mostly a matter of mindset. A game that is more than twenty years old, whether it be 3D or not, belongs to the past. We can wisely conclude that each generation has its own definition of retro. Warm water tap, I know. But, you know, talk about it with your kids... As for us, let's stick to an extremely classical vision of retrogaming as defined by an article previously posted on this blog and which actually defines retrogaming as the period starting from the launch of pong (1972) to the mid-1990s. Then we can conclude that 8,000 games for your arcade machine is as well as a 45,000 games retrogaming console. My own opinion, at least.

2. Arcade machines that are at least available in FLEX Arcade machines

The list below covers a corpus of 2,000 to 8,000 titles via 26 platforms. Remark: we should rather talk about "platforms" than "consoles", since we’re dealing with the transposition of games from different media on a single terminal. What are its supports?

Ancient consoles

Atari 2600

Atari-2600

Around 590 games (figures vary) were released for the Atari 2600, and no retrogaming is possible without it, since it is mainly with this console that the whole world discovered the great video game classics such as Frogger, Mario Bros, Space Invaders, Pac Man, Pitfall!You will discover new ones.

Atari 7800

Only 69 games have been adapted to this console released in 1986 and which was ignored by the general public. With only 30 or so games, you will feel as if you have covered virtually everything, which is satisfying enough. But this is not its only asset, of course. For instance, I recommend ninja golf, which is great if you like golf, but probably even better if you don't know anything about golf actually.

ColecoVision

The first console to include Donkey Kong, in 1983, which gave it its short-lived fortune. This opponent of Atari never survived the 1983 video game crisis. But among other things, we owe it the best version of Zaxxon.

PC Engine and PC Engine CD

PC-Engine, released in 1987
PC-Engine

The PC Engine is a NEC console produced between 1987 and 1994. It was the first one to use the CD-Rom with an extension (hence the fifteen or so games listed as PC Engine CD). It is not very well known today, and yet its game bank includes about 650 items. To be discovered... And if you enjoy tennis, why not start with Final Match Tennis ? The type of game you heard about in a magazine back in the day, but never played because of Santa's stinginess. A Boris Becker-Stefan Edberg remake on the court is worth the trip, believe me. And so is the chance to play Björn Borg in person.

Emulators

Daphne

An emulator of arcade games based on the LaserDisc system, launched in the mid 1980s and which made it possible to design games quite similar to animated films. Limited catalog, but quite good, very interesting to watch. Thanks to Daphne, you can play Mach 3 (Top Gun, basically) and Cobra Command (supercopter, basically).

MAME

The main arcade game emulator, at least the most comprehensive one.

FBA

An arcade game emulator which allows you to try at least 150 games, including Best of best (1994), a fighting game featuring some funny characters (a kind of Vishnu, a sort of Hulk Hogan, a kind of Rambo...) to fight while listening to the Lambada. Yes, exactly.

Sega

SG-1000

Sega's first adventure in the console world, with about fifty games you can play on your machine. Obviously it's interesting historically, but it's also worth playing, like with Golgo 13, the kind of good old retro shooting game we all like.

Master System

This was just before the Megadrive. With my machine, I ended up trying Alex Kidd in Miracle World, the game whose hero was meant to become Sega's mascot, before the Hedgehog. Well, it's not bad.

The Mega Drive, released in 1988

Mega drive

This blog already mentionned it , it is a rather famous console, apparently.

Sega 32x-Sega CD

Two extensions of the Megadrive created in the 1990's, enabling you to play a few more games.

DreamCast

A couple of games to get a feel for what Sega's famous damned DreamCast was like. Judging by CAPCOM VS. SNK 2: Millionaire Fighting, it didn't deserve such an unfortunate fate. Yep, sounds great.

Atomiswave

Atomiswave was first announced in 2001. Basically, it’s a system derived from the Dreamcast that was connected via via cards to small and cheap arcade machines. About twenty games were released. It's a really good kind of arcade! Try Dirty Pigskin Soccer, a crazy American soccer game, or The Rumble Fish 2, a euphoric fighting game very similar to street fighter.

Naomi

A Sega arcade game system from the early 2000s. Like Atomiswave, it allows you to play some visually impressive games in their arcade version, like the Virtua Striker 2 and Virtua Basket 2.

nintendo

NES/Super Nintendo/Nintendo 64

The Super Nintendo (SNES), released in 1990

What can I say about it? Following Mario's evolution from one console to the next is already a tempting idea in itself, right? And then there's everything else, which is a lot, and certainly not too much.

And of course

Neo Geo

Discovering Neo-Geo (SNK) games, for those who just like me didn't know this console with a brilliant reputation, may be a necessary and proper reason to start retrogaming. Exploring the whole Metal Slug and Samurai Shodown series will take you a few months.

Speaking of Metal Slug, have you heard enough about FLEX-arcade's on-demand kiosks?

PlayStation

Of course, the Playstation (Sony)! Gran Turismo and Fifa 98 Well, these are just my memories, you have yours. But it's still the Playstation.

This multi-platform journey covers a time frame from the mid-1970s to the early 2000s. Goodbye PS2, XBOX and so on, this will delight the "pure" retrogaming fans. A little touch of Dreamcast and Atomiswave/Naomi allows to extend the corpus a little beyond. If we remember that about 50,000 to 60,000 games were already published in 2001, a selection of 8,000 games gives access to 1/5th. of this corpus. As time has done its job, we can bet that this is the best part. And if the idea of not having a Playstation 2 frightens you, you can always exceed the minimum...

From 4000 to 8000 games, a smart choice (personal opinion)

We'll never reach the end of the list...

Try to draw a list of the 10 best retrogaming games. You can pick the one of this site but to be honest, there are plenty available on the Internet. Everyone has their own and you will soon have yours. Then try the top 20 or top 30 lists: they're everywhere too. When you're ready, it might be time to try the game list of the 250 most popular video games, like the one offered by Mobygames, already mentioned. Then go through the multiple rankings of the best games for each platform. Let's talk about it in two years?

Now you can imagine how much fun you'll have. You can also assess the time needed to even smell the dishes on the menu. As greedy as you are, you will never strike the clock that keeps humming in the living room, that says "yes, one more round", and that says "no, time for bed". 8,000 games is a lot. But it's not too much. Why not?

...But it's not too little to explore video games’ history!

Anyone who is good with the joystick will be aiming for records in historical games. A methodical person will make sure he has collected all the items from all the rooms. An obsessive person will compare all the versions of Megaman, An eclectic guy will choose all the characters from the fighting games, etc. Beware, here's a cliché: there are as many types of players as there are players. A list of 8,000 games already covers all retrogaming enthusiasts' needs.

Unfortunately, you can't take the boxes.

All the more so as this list allows you to practice until your heart's content the favorite activities of game lovers: compare, select, sort. Choose your way: chronological, thematic, random. You can spend the night exploring worlds you never knew about, like volleyball games or the pixelated Simpsons, or looking for a good athletic game (let me know if you find one, although I guess it depends on your taste). Or even to spot the various influences of such or such game or studio. Also, ten minutes is sometimes enough to spot what you consider funny or remarkable in a game, even when it is not your favorite.

To sum up, the 8,000 games playground is vast but there is no risk of getting lost in it, whether you are already an expert or a mere amateur looking to improve your retrogaming skills (by the way, take our quiz to find out which team you belong to). And maybe later on, you'll be ready to add the PS2 and others to your retrogaming console; so why not 45,000 games after all?

Yannick Campe

Web editor, editorial secretary and even Swiss army knife on occasion. Interested in a lot of areas, including video games. Although it still tends to confuse buttons and fall off platforms.

Yannick Campe

Yannick Campe

Web editor, editorial secretary and even Swiss army knife on occasion. Interested in a lot of areas, including video games. Although it still tends to confuse buttons and fall off platforms.

About

At FLEX we love video games, it is this passion that rocked our childhood (and perhaps yours!?) that drives us on this adventure, to design and manufacture superb machines to replay the best titles of the young history of video games. We produce a “ready to play” range but also make special orders for unique and characterful arcade terminals using for example the base of a 300L wine barrel or a French army ammunition box ! We are at your disposal for your projects, share your wildest dreams, we love to make them come true.

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