A Mini Stacker Arcade Cabinet

For [LumoW], what started as a school project turned into a passion project. He and his team made a hardware implementation of an arcade game called Stacker. Never heard of it? It’s pretty fun, kind of like an inverse Tetris. You can play the flash version here and see their mini arcade version after the break.

The game is based around the Mojo FPGA which the class required, and it’s programmed entirely in bitwise operators. It uses WS2812 RGB LEDs to represent the individual tower building blocks, and these are mounted on plywood in a matrix and separated into cells by a grid of foam board. After some trial and error, the team found the perfect shade of acrylic to diffuse the bright dots into glowing squares.

Since the game only needs one input, we don’t think [LumoW] should apologize at all for using the biggest, baddest button they could find. Besides, the game has that edge-of-your-seat action that can turn panic into heavy-handedness and cool DIY arcade games into shards of sadness.

Looking for something more advanced to do with an FPGA? Try your hand at vector games.

10 thoughts on “A Mini Stacker Arcade Cabinet

  1. didn’t know the game but it seems like a fun and addictive little game. A very nice project to do with an FPGA.
    Nice arcadestyle cabinet and the way the backpanel is fixed seems really practical. I can imagine this with a nice paintjob (or stickers) standing in a corner of the living room, blinking it’s lights in a demostyle manor.

  2. That little flicker on certain cells would annoy the hell out of me. I’d be tearing that thing apart trying to find the bad connection or interference.

    I’ve always wanted an excuse to do a display with “celled” LEDs though. Making repetitive squares of a set size seems like a perfect application for a 3D printer.

    1. The Stacker manual can be found online. There are some Youtube videos showing how the game cheats when the player gets near the top. There are also videos of some people winning the big prize.

      The game comes in two versions. One is a compact model where the big prize drops are coupons or vouchers that have to be mailed in. The other is much larger and holds the actual prizes, that at one time included things like XBox 360 consoles. There’s a video showing a player winning a 360 but it dropped crooked and stuck in the chute. The arcade operator tried to get the player to leave but he wasn’t going without the Xbox he’d won.

    2. someone else who knows someone in the arcade business. A good friend who has several routes he puts stuff like this out on made me try it when he first got one in forever ago. he was laughing at me big time when i was getting frustrated because I knew i was better at tetris than it was appearing. Then he showed me the payout setup in the game. Note to everyone, if you are ever anywhere that has a game with expensive prizes they will not pay out until a set amount of cash has been taken in.

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