Let’s shut Robot Panic down with greatest science.

I have rebuilt an arcade machine.

Come. Come with me! I will show you wonderful things.

This began as a Centipede cabinet given to me by my terrific friends and groomsman just before my wedding. You may know them as SimpleNate, Life Coach, and Snowball. The cabinet broke after six plays. I didn’t know a damn thing about 1980s electronics. I was sad. Cue Six Million Dollar Man intro. I proceeded to desecrate retro gaming artifact for great personal gain. This customization is the results.

Super-the-Hardest is inspired by the DGRadio’s knowledge and musings about the STG/shmups/shoot-em-up gaming genre, basically the ridiculous difficulties matched with awful engrish names. The cabinet is designed to play STGs competitively, using japanese Semitsu and Sanwa parts for controls, Shmupmame for lag-free emulation, and specialized control panel designs for ergonomics, doubleplay ability, and administrator menu button shortcuts without hands ever leaving the home position. The color theme revolves around the Detroit Tigers. This is mainly because the room it sits in is pretty much my wife’s Tigers fan-cave bar. The motivation to complete this thing basically came from Julian “rabbit” Murdoch and his Rabbitron 2000. It wasn’t the feel-good kind of motivation. I’m not all-that a positive guy. It was more about the negative, seething, nagging revenge motivation. Like, when you see a ten-year-girl and nine of her friends in great 50-yard-line seats during the Super Bowl and they spend the game talking about My Little Pony and the WNBA? Yeah it’s that jealousy. Rabbit’s post was a great kickstart for planning on how to get started on this kind of massive FML project, so all is forgiven.

Some custom button art and LED button lighting is what I’m still finishing. Here’s what I got . . .

The control panel:

How to play shmups instructions on the upper left:

Yes that’s me, animated.

How to play instructions on the bottom left:

1player side. Shot button is renamed “Kill”. Bomb is renamed “Abort”. The big missing button will be literally “?”, and the small button will be the (Capcom) Yashichi logo, which will serve mostly as a shift button for various admin commands, save states, reset, pause, exit, stand-in 4th button for Espgaluda, whatever. The Start button is placed where it is for comfort and raising the autofire rate conveniently in Armed Police Batrider. The small button cut off on the bottom right is the left mouse click and doubles as a second ergonomic shot button I can rest my palm on for the lazier autofire shooting games. The dustwasher on the joystick is the Cave logo laser-etched in:

2player side. This setup is intentionally designed backwards and tight so I can use it for doubleplaying (one dude playing as 1P & 2P simultaneously), it doubles as a lefthander’s setup for my wife, and can triple as an optional 4-way stick if it comes to it. 4-way sticks are the only way you can play old games like Pac-Man and Donkey Kong. It’s a technical story as to why that is. That story is for the comments. The dustwasher I made for that joystick is the Tetran boss from Salamander (Gradius/Life Force), because slowly spinning that around is appropriate and clever:

The 2player start is a 4player icon because I rigged button shortcuts on there for 3player and 4player start. Basically few friends play or remember how arcade games work, so the “add-credit then press start” is too hard for people in Murda Mitten. This way I can just do all that for them. All anybody remembers in my state is Ninja Turtles, so I put in 2 USB pad connectors and bought 2 knockoff Saturn pads. When I exit MaLa, it immediately opens DWJukebox and blasts random detroit techno. That’s where the skip track button comes in:

Every mame cab owner motherfucker ever puts space invaders ‘n pacman art on their thing. Forget all dat. However a dedicated STG cab should respect the S.I., so I went with the Infinity Gene version. I added more artsy speed lines. Because I could:

Pulling camera back, here’s the whole underside. With DonPachi’s boss warning, checked for perfect engrish. Maybe when I have my kid I’ll put squares over “ck” like the game does. Buttons on the left are right-click and a trackball horizontal disabler for cheating in golden tee if people want it.:

The left says “Distributed by Drunken Gamers Radio, Shmups Forum, and Tap Dodge”. The right says “Drink & Fly Shooting Team Presents.” That “Super” reference is ripped from the SNES Super Star Wars series logo. This gets a pass because arcade Return of the Jedi is a STG.

Speaking of Trackballs, here’s my 3″. The surrounding graphic is the Evac Industry logo from the game Ketsui. Get used to seeing it. A couple DoDonPachi games are coming out soon that reference the hell out of it.

Right side. Get your Shikigami no Shiro 2 (Castle Shikigami 2) reference here. ‘Changed “girls” to “tigers” because Detroit Tigers are a thing my family likes. The other side says “Are You Great” which is a reference to the terrible Dimahoo intro.

Bezel things. Bottom right, the president from Psikyo game Space Bomber, now with Bill Clinton hair, which we’ll allow because that character parodies Clinton anyway. ‘Quote is from Space Bomber also, my eternal science references in a neat package. Have you played Space Bomber? Nobody’s heard of it. You should get in on that. ‘Defend the World Trade Center from aliens, basically:

Left bezel, DoDonPachi ship. Not really meant to look like a laser, more like artsy flashlight, but it worked out anyway. Vic Viper, 5-cube scoring chip from Ketsui, things you should know:

Upper left, The bad guys. (left to right) Hibachi (bee) is the true last boss in all the DoDonPachi games. Evaccaneer Doom (butterfly) is the true last boss in Ketsui. TYRANNOSATAN is the final boss of DeathSmiles, and Colonel Longhena is the overarching story villian in the DoDonPachi series. He was drawn to look like me too, basically as the cabinet marquee above it also has a Longhena:

The right. Raiden 2’s Mk2 ship with a “citrus” toothpaste laser, that Parodius ALL NIGHT strip club, Batsugun folk in the cloud, Whity from Sonic Wings (Aero Fighters) drinkin’ beer, and the captain from DGRadio’s shmopera:

The beer is named “DC65709 Bomb Ale.” They call it the Meat Cleaver you know…

Aaaand here’s the game select screen. The bottom left of it is a large arrangement from pieces of company logos:

This is the Marquee. That’s Hibachi and Longhena again in the center. The evil crystal from Raiden series is on the right. (“The” is written in the center if you can’t make it out):

And my friend playing it. Sideart for the other side isn’t finished yet. We have goddamn cupholders, son!:

A great thanks to Hilden, Moe, and John for making gaming a cool and respectable place throughout the years. This madness is what you’ve inspired. Cheers to all of you.

Hey Hilden, you should totally finish mastering that I’m The Captain acoustic track. The cabinet beckons for its rightful theme song.

See you next website,

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10 Responses to Super-the-Hardest

  1. Tex says:

    This is amazing. The custom artwork is a killer touch to it as well!

  2. John says:

    Holy Lord… I say this without a bit of hyperbole: That is one of the coolest and most impressive home-made things I have ever seen. You, my dear friend, are fucking amazing. And the fact that you threw so many DGR references on that masterpiece is a total honor.

    I love all the tiny touches that you put into it. So many people make MAME cabinets, but I’ve never seen one so completely personalized in every single way. Every detail of that thing is amazingly well thought-out and executed to perfection. I guess it’s only appropriate that the greatest shmup player (The fucking Captain!) has created the perfect shmup machine and tribute to the genre.

    Slow clap!

    A pilgrimage is in order.

  3. carrotpanic says:


    Just kidding–great times have/will be had on that thing.

  4. JonnoHay says:

    You should be rightfully proud of that Sir, that machine is truly a thing of beauty.

    Take a second to imagine me doffing my cap and raising a glass to you, that is magnificent.

    Congratulations and enjoy each second, you earned it!

  5. MeatMan says:

    A post on robotpanic.com that isn’t the podcast? NO WAI!

    Seriously though, the cabinet looks amazing. Well done, DJI.

  6. Roke says:

    That looks incredible DJ. The detail on all the artwork is unreal.

    Colour me jealous.

  7. Gruel says:

    Ah man, this is crazy awesome, I am forever jealous!! That artwork is awesome, so many references. So how many games did you cram into that thing?

  8. Tommy says:

    You Sir are a fucking NERD !

  9. Tex says:

    I keep coming back to this post to check out the pictures of this machine…it keeps blowing me away. Any chance of getting a look at the insides?

  10. Ian (DJI) says:

    Thanks, guy! Congrats, you’re an arcade distributor now. My cabinet’s list of defunct companies said so.

    heh, yeah, I’m slowly getting through the list. Somehow I broke Batrider and DDPDOJ Black. That’s some bullshit right there.

    The torrents I used say I got 3500 games. It doesn’t matter I’m only gonna need like 400 of that set anyway.

    ‘Been covered in metal shards and sawdust, mang.

    Showing you the inside would be like watching little Jimmy as he discovers santa claus doesn’t exist. It’s just ghetto amateur hour inside. There’s not a lot to show anyway. It is stacked from the ground up to the monitor with speakers.

    I’ll snap some more shots one day. ‘Prolly shoot a vid at a party or somethin’.

    thanks for the good words. I’ll rock it with pride.

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