The 10 Best Arcade Basketball Games

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Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive

This wiki has been updated 17 times since it was first published in December of 2016. There's an art to succeeding at arcade basketball shootouts. Like all sporting endeavors, practice makes perfect, but it's hard to get in a lot of shots when you have to shell out quarters every time. Following in the footsteps of one of the most iconic midway games in history, these versions bring the entertainment to your home, and some of them are even pretty affordable. When users buy our independently chosen editorial selections, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. Skip to the best arcade basketball game on Amazon.

10. Nova Indoor

9. MD Sports 12-in-1

8. Redline Alley-Oop

7. Pop-A-Shot Classic

6. EastPoint 3-in-1

5. Pop-A-Shot Pro

4. ESPN EZ Fold Deluxe

3. Pop-a-Shot Home Single

2. Lifetime Double Shot Deluxe

1. Pop-A-Shot Home Dual

Special Honors

Pop-A-Shot Premier This is about as high-end as a basketball shootout can get without an actual hoop. If you're designing a true-to-life arcade experience, this is the one to choose, but as you might imagine, it will set you back quite a wad of cash.

Editor's Notes

June 21, 2019:

You might purchase one of these thinking it's a great gift for your child; you might also end up tossing shots up in quick succession trying to get a better score than last time, and doing it for far longer than you planned to. They're just that fun. Of course, if you want the authentic experience, Pop-A-Shot makes a few models that are readily available to the general public. The Home line comes in 1- and 2-player versions, and they're not incredibly expensive. The Classic and Pro are much more faithful to what you'd find in an actual arcade, but they do cost a whole lot. You don't have to spend a ton on a good one though. Lifetime's offering is less expensive than the Pop-A-Shot Home Dual, and the ESPN, Redline, and Nova even less so. Do be aware, though, that as you move down in price, they do tend to get a little flimsier.

Aside from those traditionally-styled options, the EastPoint switches it up by letting you practice passing a football and pitching a baseball. Then there's the MD Sports 12-in-1, and while some of its games (especially the basketball) may be too small for adults to enjoy, it has a number of board games that the whole family can play. It won't last forever, and it definitely won't stand up to any major temper tantrums, but you'll just have to make Dad promise not to get upset when he loses, and it should hold up for a year or two of frequent use.

A Brief History Of Arcade Basketball Games

If you didn't make at least seven, you were likely loudly mocked and ridiculed.

It all started with a heart condition.

If you've ever played an arcade basketball game, this may not surprise you. After all, they can certainly place a lot of pressure on your ticker, thanks to all the flashing lights and the menacing countdown. It's hard not to take failure personally.

But in 1981, it was the game's creator, Ken Cochran, who was the one recovering from a faulty valve when he was struck by a life-changing idea. After days of being stuck in a hospital bed with nothing to do after emergency surgery, the college hoops coach noticed he'd grown somewhat addicted to a gift he'd been given to pass the time: a desktop mini-basketball game.

As soon as he left the hospital, he devised a larger, more challenging version of the same game. His contraption had three rims with side-by-side backboards, and a volleyball net to return balls to shooters. He took his new machine to one of his hoops camps and set it up, charging campers a buck for ten shots. If you made at least seven, you got a free t-shirt. If you didn't make at least seven, you were likely loudly mocked and ridiculed.

Cochran's game was an instant hit. Unfortunately, the bulky device was too large to transport easily, so he streamlined it, eliminating two of the baskets. He also added a scoring collar to track point totals, replaced the volleyball net with a fiberglass ramp, and, most importantly, he placed his machine in local bars.

Heavy drinkers always relish a chance to prove their coordination and dexterity, and Cochran's game — now called Pop-A-Shot — was an even bigger smash among the general public than it was with hoops campers. Soon, competitors sprung up, and all sorts of new bells and whistles — like moving backboards, three-pointers, and a veritable flood of basketballs — were added to spice up the game.

As a result, Pop-A-Shot moved to manufacturing personal machines for home use — but they still found ample competition even there. Today, there are a variety of companies making arcade basketball games, and some are better at it than others.

Choosing The Right One for You

If you're addicted enough to the game to buy your very own home version, there are a few things to consider before you pull the trigger.

The first thing to think about is what features you want the game to have. Do you want just a basic shooting challenge, or do you like the vibrating baskets and flashing lights? Is one hoop enough, or do you want to be able to entertain multiple shooters at one time?

This is extremely important, because if you like to take high-arcing rainbow jumpers, you'll likely be frustrated with an enclosed model.

Once you've got that figured out, the next thing is to decide how much space you're willing to sacrifice in order to fit the thing in your home. Some of these machines are truly massive — and the really big ones can be more fun, but whether that's worth giving up half of your living room is up to you. A few models are easy to fold up, so you may be able to get the best of both worlds.

Some are fully enclosed, while others have open tops. This is extremely important, because if you like to take high-arcing rainbow jumpers, you'll likely be frustrated with an enclosed model. That said, you might be better off altering your shot for the machine anyway (more on this later — although if you really want to work on your form, you may be better off buying a portable hoop).

Ultimately, though, the best machine for you is whichever one seems the most fun — and whichever one makes it the easiest to hustle your friends out of their sweet, sweet laundry quarters.

Tips For Getting That Elusive High Score

One of the big selling points of the game is that it doesn't actually require a ton of athleticism, or even basketball skill. In fact, elite hoops players often struggle with these games, which can give you a leg up (and help you win a few bar bets).

You'll need to sacrifice your desire to be a glory boy when you play these games. You know that satisfying, nothing-but-net "swish" sound you love to hear? Forget about it. You're listening for "thunks" now.

Once you get your technique down, all it takes is practice.

In most of these games, hitting the backboard straight on is your best bet for racking up a high score. The rims are often a little loose, so trying to bounce one in off the iron will likely prove frustrating. If they hang down in the front, however, that just gives you more real estate to work with when you bank it off the glass.

Try to use fundamentally sound technique, as well. Many players believe in under-handing it, but that slows you down and can be disastrous on a closed-in machine. Some of the top competitors shoot one-handed, which allows them to really focus on their follow-through while using their non-dominant hand to corral basketballs.

Speaking of which, many arcade balls are smaller than their regulation counterparts. This can put users with large hands at a disadvantage, but it's also better for balancing the ball on the tips of your fingers. Use a light touch, and resist the urge to finger-roll.

Your rhythm may be the most powerful weapon you have. If you can set and maintain a steady pace, it can make the difference between reaching the bonus round and being forced to sheepishly slink away in shame. A proper rhythm means keeping your eyes on the hoop at all times, while your hands work deftly on ball transfer.

Once you get your technique down, all it takes is practice. With a little time and hard work, you'll soon be able to master the most important skill of all: the ability to humiliate your friends and family on demand.

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Christopher Thomas
Last updated on June 26, 2019 by Christopher Thomas

Building PCs, remodeling, and cooking since he was young, quasi-renowned trumpeter Christopher Thomas traveled the USA performing at and organizing shows from an early age. His work experiences led him to open a catering company, eventually becoming a sous chef in several fine LA restaurants. He enjoys all sorts of barely necessary gadgets, specialty computing, cutting-edge video games, and modern social policy. He has given talks on debunking pseudoscience, the Dunning-Kruger effect, culinary technique, and traveling. After two decades of product and market research, Chris has a keen sense of what people want to know and how to explain it clearly. He delights in parsing complex subjects for anyone who will listen -- because teaching is the best way to ensure that you understand things yourself.

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