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Pantendo – Quest For Ultimate Retro Arcade

I am Panopticon36, and I built the Super Pantendo. When it comes to video games, I’ve never been one for the latest and greatest. First and foremost, I am an engineering nerd, then a computer nerd, then a gaming nerd. With that said, after work I always unwind with a beer and some old vidya games. When I was a child (preteen in the early 2000’s) the arcade scene was starting to die off, but it was also at the peak of its glory in terms of technical sophistication.


My father worked for a company that fixed these great machines of entertainment and he would get overtime on weekends. The great thing about this is that he would let me come with him to the warehouse he worked in on Saturdays! He’d give me the keys to the machines and taught me where to find the test button to put in free credits and I would play for hours. This would become the inspiration for my project, the Super Pantendo.


Later on, my very talented father found much more substantial work elsewhere and also the arcade industry died for the most part. Back then I knew I wanted to have an arcade system when I grew up and had a place of my own. The problem was, always trying to choose which game, as I had become so accustomed to having a large assortment to choose from. As I got older and entered maturity, I trained in Mechanical Engineering as well as Information Technology. I was still playing video games all the while.


I started looking around the internet for entertainment from like-minded individuals. Eventually I found my way to the Angry Video Game Nerd. Although, about a different type of gaming, his videos filled me with nostalgia for those relics of gaming history. One day, while feeling inspired after an AVGN episode, I realized I could build an arcade machine of my own, and pack a ton of video games from home consoles into it. Why not? I had the experience, the technical knowledge, and the motivation to do it.


The Pantendo really started happening when I realized I could do it a lot cheaper than buying a machine with only one game on it. The first trick, was getting the software to work in such a way, that you weren’t aware you were looking at a computer. I distinctly remember wanting to make it so that you basically just hit the button, wait a couple minutes and then be ready to go, without ever seeing windows or anything like that.


Once I finally got the base of the Pantendo worked out, there was the very long process of testing lots of different emulators for consoles, as well as the many games for each one. This process took about a year before I was confident that I had a combination that would work well for me. I was testing for stability, accuracy, seamlessness, performance overhead, just about anything you can think of. It was a long arduous process.


Then I had to figure out how to make 17 different controller designs work with one button layout as well as how to put all of my custom stuff into an arcade cabinet followed by the graphic design of how the machine would look.


I cover all of these topics in depth on a blog I’ve kept throughout, to chronicle the development of the Pantendo.


At this point in time, I have very little left to do with the machine. I still need to make a screen cover to hide the mounting equipment for the screen, and I want to make some special lights that will further improve the experience. I also need to make graphics for the sides of the cabinet and the back cover.


I am currently working on promoting the Pantendo via social media and news sites, as well as real world merchandise. Feel free to get in on the action at Pantendo.com, where I allow fans to vote on certain design topics and even get promotional merchandise for free. You’ll want to keep a close eye on this one, so you can be a part of the journey!

Early Pantendo dev stuff

The Cabinet got a fresh coat of paint shortly after being discovered

Its tricky figuring out how to make 17 different controllers work with one layout

Here we see the wiring for the buttons on the Super Pantendo before cable management

Mario on the Super Pantendo Prototype

The Pantendo has a variety of branded swag