Whether you're a seasoned gamer or a newcomer to arcade games, our glossary is packed full of terms and definitions you need to know. From the basics of machine hardware to the intricacies of game design and strategy, we have you covered.

Arcade Game Parts

Whether you're a collector, player, or technician, it’s important to know the correct names of arcade cabinet components


A bezel is the border that outlines the arcade cabinet monitor to improve the game's appearance. Bezels were originally designed to cover the unsightly edges of arcade game monitors. They’reoften adorned with colorful art or information, such as the game title or controls.


The housing or enclosure that typically includes a monitor, controls, internal hardware, and coin mechanisms. Arcade cabinets come in various shapes and sizes, depending on the era in which they were made and the type of game they were designed to play. Usually made of wood or metal, they’re durable enough to withstand the wear and tear of public use.

Coin Mechanism

The door on the front of the cabinet that accepts coins or tokens into the machine and sends a signal to the game board to start the game. Some coin mechanisms may also include a coin return button or lever, allowing players to retrieve coins if they decide not to play or an issue arises with the game. The coin mechanism is also often called the “coin slot” or “coin drop” by players.

Control Panel

The interface that the player uses to interact with the game. It may include buttons, joysticks, trackballs, and other input devices. The layout of the controls is usually specific to the game being played. For example, a fighting game might have two joysticks and a row of buttons for each player, while a racing game could include a steering wheel, pedals, and shifters. While arcade game technology has vastly improved throughout the decades, the general design of the control panel has remained relatively unchanged. 

Game Board

Also known as a printed circuit board (PCB), it contains the microprocessors, memory chips, sound chips, and other electronic components that run the game software and control gameplay. They were originally designed as dedicated hardware, with each board specifically made to run a single game. As technology advanced, game boards became more powerful and could run multiple games, eventually leading to systems with interchangeable game cartridges.


Standing for "Japan Amusement Machine and Marketing Association," this wiring standard for arcade hardware allows for easy swapping of game boards between different cabinets. Established in the mid 1980s, JAMMA standardized things like the number of buttons, joystick inputs, and power supply requirements. This made it easier for arcade manufacturers to produce games and for operators to maintain machines or rotate different games in and out of the same cabinet.

Today, the JAMMA standard has largely been replaced by newer standards, like JAMMA Video Standard (JVS), which supports modern features, such as high-definition displays and network connectivity.


A sign or banner that usually displays the name of the game, artwork, or logos. Typically mounted on top of the game, the marquee is backlit to create a striking visual display that helps attract players and draw attention to the game. These signs were very popular during the Golden Age of Arcade Gaming, and some well-known classic marquees include Pac-Man, Centipede, Space Invaders, and Asteroids.


The display screen that shows the game's graphics and animations. Classic arcade games usually have a CRT (cathode ray tube) monitor due to their fast refresh rates and high contrast ratios. Newer machines have LCD or LED screens, which are more energy-efficient and have a longer lifespan. Many of our new machines and used arcade games for sale come with LCD screens.

Side Art

Artwork or designs that are placed on the sides of a cabinet to enhance its appearance. The side art can be made of various materials, like vinyl or screen-printed adhesive-backed paper. The graphics may include images of characters, logos, or other elements related to the game or its theme. Some games that are known for their amazing side art include Tapper, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Centipede, and Xevious.

Game Genres

Over the years, there have been many different genres and styles of games. From classic platformers and racing games to more recent music and rhythm games, there is an arcade game out there for everyone.

Beat 'em Ups

In these games, players must fight through waves of enemies, which become increasingly difficult as the levels progress. Beat ‘em ups often use a side-scrolling format, and they’re typically co-op multiplayer arcade games, allowing two players to work together. Some popular examples include Double Dragon, Final Fight, Streets of Rage, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Fighting Games

These games involve two or more players engaging in hand-to-hand combat, often featuring a roster of unique characters with their own special moves and abilities. The objective is to defeat the opponent by depleting their health bar. Popular examples include Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, and Tekken.

In addition to traditional one-on-one battles, some fighting games also feature team battles and tag team battles, where players can switch between multiple characters during the fight.

Music and Rhythm Games

These games require players to hit buttons in time with the music, often featuring popular songs and dance moves. Rhythm games are known for their wide variety of interfaces: from dance pads to plastic instruments. These peripherals add to the challenge and immersion  of the gameplay. Popular examples of rhythm games include Dance Dance Revolution (DDR), Guitar Hero, and Beatmania.

Platform Games

Platform games, or “plaformers,” challenge players to control a character who must navigate through obstacles and enemies to reach a goal. Jumping, climbing, and other acrobatic feats are usually required to reach the end of each level. Platformers are designed to be easy to learn but difficult to master, offering a challenge for players of all skill levels. This game genre has been around since the early days of video games, with classics like Super Mario Bros., Donkey Kong, and Sonic the Hedgehog remaining gaming staples.

Puzzle Games

These games involve various challenges or puzzles, often featuring strategic thinking and problem solving. Players must use logic, spatial reasoning, and pattern recognition to progress through levels and overcome obstacles. Examples include Tetris, Bejeweled, and Puzzle Bobble.

Racing Games

Players compete against each other or against computer-controlled opponents in high-speed races, often featuring fantastical or realistic vehicles, like cars, motorcycles, or boats. While simulation racing games may be more accurate in terms of physics and driving mechanics, arcade racing games are designed to be more accessible and entertaining. Popular examples include Mario Kart, Out Run, and Cruis'n USA.

Shooting Games

In these games, players use firearms or other weapons to take down enemies. They often feature fast-paced action and intense gameplay. The objective is to defeat enemies and complete objectives, often across various stages, or levels. There are many sub-genres, like first-person shooters (FPS), third-person shooters (TPS), and tactical shooters. Examples include Space Invaders, Galaga, Halo, and Time Crisis.

Many shooting games feature multiplayer modes, where players can compete against each other or work together to complete objectives. These modes can range from simple deathmatches to more complex objective-based modes, like capture the flag.

Sports Games

Sports arcade games simulate various athletic activities, such as basketball, football, and golf. Some include realistic physics and player movements, while others feature exaggerated physics. These games are designed to be easy to pick up and play, with simple controls and fast-paced action. Popular examples include NBA Jam, NFL Blitz, and Golden Tee Golf.

Arcade Game Terminology

Every niche has its own terms, so it only makes sense that arcade games utilize words that sound unfamiliar to first-time gamers. But this rich vocabulary has helped define arcade culture for decades.


An abbreviation for one-credit coin, this means to finish an arcade game without the use of extra tokens and continues. It’s a difficult task, yet attainable in the gaming realm. Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, Street Fighter 2, and the Galaga arcade game are considered easier games to 1cc on, and Battletoads and Crazy Climber are some more difficult games. 

Bonus Stage

Sometimes used between chapters, a bonus stage is a special level where players can level up and win rewards by completing the required task at hand. Some memorable arcade bonus stages include the car smashing stage in Street Fighter 2, the halfpipe level in Sonic 2, the karate chopping test your might challenge in Mortal Kombat 2, and the balloon inflating level in the Simpsons game.

Button Mashing

The move commonly used by novice players during fighting games, button mashing involves frantically pressing buttons on the control panel with little method to the madness. Walk by a group playing Mortal Kombat, and you’ll likely see some button mashing take place. 

Boss Fight

Often ending a stage of a game, boss fights involve one final duel before a player can move forward. These fights typically feature overpowered villains who pose more of a threat than your average opponent. For example, in the Simpsons arcade game, the final boss is Mr. Burns driving a deadly machine. 


A checkpoint is a marker where a player starts after they lose a life, fail a mission, or run out of time. If a continue screen arises, and the player doesn’t put coins in during the allocated time -- that checkpoint is lost. And the adventure comes to an end with a game over message. 


This term refers to an arcade game that operates on a system where players need to insert coins or tokens to play. Users can find the feeding system on the tabletop or cabinet of the machine. 


This sequence of consecutive actions or attacks are linked together without giving the opponent an opportunity to counteract or defend. Combos are typically found in fighting games, such as Street Fighter 2, which is crowned the originator of this attack mode. 


A common occurrence in arcade games, a continue is when a player has lost all of their lives during a game. Typically, a continue message fills the screen and gives the player around 10 to 20 seconds to insert tokens to go back to where they left off. 

Conversion Kit

A conversion kit is a package of hardware and software that’s used to replace an existing arcade game with another. Especially in the 1980s and 1990s, arcade owners would use conversion kits to keep games rotating without having to replace the cabinet. 

Credit Feeding

Credit feeding is the act of repeatedly using coins to continue playing or finish a game. Credit feeding is looked at as an unskillful approach, since it can be seen as a pay-to-play scenario.

Easter Egg

When developers code an arcade game, they sometimes add secret rewards, cheat codes, and even levels to the game that are difficult to find. Moonlander (1973) was the first game to implement an Easter Egg, but other notable ones include Pac-Man, Space Invaders, Punch Out, and Adventure. 

High Score

An achievement in arcade gaming that puts a player's name or initials on the leaderboard or score screen. The first game to display a player’s high score was Midway’s Sea Wolf, a naval shooter where one looks through a periscope to aim at ships appearing on the screen.

Kill Screen

This is when a player experiences a glitch in an arcade game, leading to the deletion of their progress. One game known for this is Pac-Man. Upon reaching level 256, the right side of the screen is filled with colorful numbers and letters, making it impossible to escape the maze.


A mode where players can face each other in competition. Multiplayer games can vary between 2 to 4 player modes. Pong (1972), is known as the first conventional multiplayer game, but there are computer games that featured joint gameplay prior to 1972. Some notable multiplayer arcade games are Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Mario Kart, and NBA Jam

If you have any questions about our games or our current selection, please feel free to contact us at M&P Amusement.