Dad builds full-size retro arcade game for his son in lockdown

Don’t stress out if you haven’t got the most up-to-date gaming console to keep you occupied through lockdown.

Take inspiration from this dad’s crafting skills instead.

Steve Addison, 32, spent hours designing and crafting a full-size retro arcade machine for his three-year-old son Felix to play with in lockdown.

He did it all by himself for under £150, despite having no DIY experience.

The dad used an old Atari computer and arcade buttons and wood he bought off Ebay.

Now little Felix can play old-school classics including Super Mario, Spyro, Crash Bandicoot, Sonic the Hedgehog, Pac-Man, Pong, Street Fighter, and Mortal Kombat.

Steve, who works as an assistant manager for McDonald’s, decided to take on the project after being placed on furlough due to the coronavirus pandemic.


Steve, of Lincoln, said: ‘I knew it was inevitable that we were going into lockdown so I made a start just before self-isolation rules fully kicked in.

‘I got an Atari from my mother in law for Christmas but I had no slot for it with everything else we have hooked up to the TV.

‘I’ve always kind of wanted an arcade machine and I suggested the idea to my wife who kind of laughed me out the room.

‘My capabilities of when it came to DIY were little to none so she thought something bad would wrong, cutting off my finger or something.

‘It got to the start of March and I just wanted a little project to keep my mind focused on something and keep me busy as I knew work would be shut.

‘It was a slow process at the start as I was still at work but when we went into a lockdown that’s when I got it all finished off.

‘It took about two weeks to plan and a week to build. Most of the games are ones I have fond memories of that I wanted to share with Felix.

‘The little man and I have been on a pretty much every day since.;

Steve is pleased with how the end product turned out although his wife Kerry, 29, an NHS mental health nurse, had her doubts about the idea.

But Felix got fully behind the project and helped to pick out his favourite characters to include as part of the colourful decoration.

Steve added: ‘I painted all the characters individually myself. There’s a few of them which my little boy chose.

‘He recognised ones like Pikachu, Mario, Crash Bandicoot and I added ones like Ryu and Link from Legend of Zelda.

‘He loves seeing all those characters come to life.

‘Cutting out the pieces, sanding it all down and joining them together took me about two days.

‘It was specs of it all that took the most time because I’m not a joiner, not in any way, shape or form.

‘I work at McDonald’s, I’ve not got any skills in this area, so I took my time with it.

‘I made sure I planned everything quite meticulously and stuck to them. Sanding it down was the main issue for me.

‘There’s the odd wonky bit but from a distance and the pictures, it looks great.’

The machine runs off a simplistic computer called a Raspberry Pi, which was developed to be used in schools to teach children about programming.

The project cost under £150 to make and was put together using over the counter materials.

To buy a similar arcade machine brand new would cost in excess of £1,000.

Steve has already had offers from friends to build them their very own version, which he is happy to do after developing a newfound passion for woodwork and joinery.

He said: ‘The wood comes to about £50, the arcade buttons came to £40 and were just from eBay. The Raspberry Pi computer is a refurb model I found from eBay for £25.

‘I walked past an old table in my garage, so I started to make a second tabletop version too and that is nearly done.

‘When work reopens, I’m going to put it into my staff room for my colleagues to play on their breaks.

‘I find it quite flattering that people think I have DIY skills, but I can guarantee them I don’t. I struggle with DIY. I like working with computers mostly.

‘I put my mind to it, got it done and got a really good outcome from it.

‘Because I’ve had that much passion towards it, my wife thought it might be good for me to do a joining and carpentry course in college, which is a great idea for me.

‘I loved doing it and sharing it with everyone. It was nice to see people’s reactions when it was online and it just made me feel really proud.’

And of course, Felix absolutely loves the end result of all Steve’s hard work.

Steve added: ‘They have released programmes for the Raspberry Pi that let you allow you to run and emulate games.

‘We are on Bubble Bobble quite a bit, he likes the little dragon on that and it’s quite simple for him.

‘Quite often I find him on it because he’s figured out how to switch it on, pick a game and get cracking with it. He’s really switched on and clever

‘He’s got a cracking little button-bashing technique and somehow he manages to kick my arse every time.

‘I’ve got a couple of educational like Sesame Street and there’s a Winnie the Pooh game.

‘Funnily enough, he is not as interested in those because they are educational, but he still goes on and from time to time.

‘Spyro, Crash Bandicoot and Sonic the Hedgehog he loves, which is one of my childhood heroes, so it’s nice to see that my son now enjoys it as well.’

Have you completed an amazing DIY project in lockdown? Get in touch to share it by emailing [email protected]

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