Every Christmas Eve my parents and older sister come over to our place to have a family Christmas party. Every year it’s a lot of fun, and every year my sister ends up surprising me with a gaming related gift. One year it was a Nintendo 3DS, another a Sony PSP,..etc. This year she dragged in a fairly large box that had me perplexed. When it came time to exchange gifts I noticed that she had stopped opening her gifts from me and my soon-to-be wife and was just watching me open the massive box. At that point, I knew that she had one-upped me again. Inside the box was a massive arcade board called Pandora’s Box. At this point I’m sure some of you are asking, “What the heck is that?”. While some of you might already know but are apprehensive about buying one. Regardless, I’ve been playing it for almost a month at this point so I thought a review might be helpful. Let’s get into it:
What is it?:
Pandora’s Box is an arcade emulator. It’s a fairly large board with two sets of controls consisting of 8 way joysticks and 6 buttons for each player as well as a pause button and 2 insert coin buttons (don’t worry it’s set on Free Play right out of the box). It measures a little over 2 ½ feet long and a foot wide. Inside is a JAMMA motherboard pre-loaded with 800+ arcade games. Note: I have the Pandora’s Box 4S, other versions come with more or less games depending on which one you pick. It has its own power supply, HDMI cable, USB lightning cable, VGA monitor cable, internal speakers, a neon light that illuminates the board when powered on and depending on your taste, you can order one with a SFV, KOF, Tekken, MVC, background. Mine came with a King of Fighters background and while the board looks like a glass top it’s really a sturdy plastic.
So how does it work? Well, you power it on and after the title screen, a list of the games appears. Highlight a title and a neat trailer for each game plays on the right hand side of the screen. Choose a game and a catchy vintage tune plays while the game loads. The loading time is fairly quick, I think the longest I’ve experienced to date is maybe 15 seconds with the majority of the games loading under 10 seconds. The games look fantastic on a 1080p TV with nothing looking overly pixelated, expect for the Atari games, because, well, they’re Atari. The controls are really responsive with no noticeable lag time and a majority of the games that I’ve played didn’t suffer from slow down. I’ll say it again: the majority of the games *I played* had no slow down at all. So let’s get down to business; what games does thing come with? Well, I don’t have the time or energy to list all of 815 games that are preloaded on the console but I will name some of my personal favorites. Note: some of the games pre-loaded are duplicates in a way, i.e you get the Japanese and English versions of the game. This isn’t the case for all of the games however, I would say out of the 815 probably 700 of them are not duplicated. Ok! Onto the list!
King of Fighter 97, 98, 99, 00, 01, 02, 03 (all versions of each)
Snk vs Capcom Plus
Samurai Shodown 5
Rage of Dragons
Metal Slug (All versions of all Metal Slug games)
The Last Blade
Shock Troopers 1 & 2
Knights of the Round 1 & 2
Alien vs Predator
Sengoku 1 – 3
Street Fighter 3 (all versions)
Street Fighter 2 (all versions)
Waku Waku 7
Art of Fighting 1-3
Super Sidekicks 1-3
Puzzle Fighter 2 (all versions)
Mega Man 2
Dungeons and Dragons 1 & 2
Captain America and the Avengers
Marvel Super Heroes
X-Men vs Street Fighter
World Heroes (all versions of all games)
Vampire Hunter 2
Street Fighter Alpha 1-3
Street Fighter Zero 1-3
Ghouls and Ghosts
Double Dragon Plus
AeroFighters 1 & 2
R Type 1 & 2
Whew! That’s really just the tip of the iceberg with this machine. There are a ton of good games that I couldn’t name off the top of my head (there’s a really, really cool Mega Man fighter that I can’t remember the name of right now), and even more games that I just haven’t had the time to actually try. Ok, so what’s my verdict? Well, it’s tricky because there are so many positive qualities of Pandora’s Box but one glaring ugly one. I think the best way to sum this up is the same way Shawn structures his review articles; the Good, the Bad and the Ugly.
-You get 815 of some of the best arcade games ever released with the ability to add others via the USB lightning cable.
-The internal speaker sounds pretty good and creates a feeling of being in an arcade as does the board lighting up.
-The games look really good and look exactly like they did in the arcade.
-Controls work well. I had seen a couple of reviews before I owned this where some people claimed that the 2nd player controls didn’t work and it kind of kept me away from this machine. Thankfully my console arrived without any bugs and functioning perfectly and I’m seeing other reviews saying the same thing.
-The buttons feel a little on the cheap side. They do supply you with some backup buttons as well as the option to upgrade the buttons to higher quality when you order.
-No Marvel vs Capcom 2?! No Mortal Kombat 2?! No Killer Instinct?! Okay, okay, I can just go download the ROMs and add them in but still, you have 8 versions of Street Fighter Frickin’ 2 but no Splatterhouse?! C’mon!
-The price tag. Depending on the version it will cost between $220-$399. Yikes. Looks like I owe my sister a TV.