The Best Basketball Arcade Games – Full Guide & Top Picks For 2020

people playing

Basketball is one of the more fun and competitive sports out there. But what if I told you that you can transfer all that fun within your own house and enjoy it with your family on a Saturday evening? Basketball arcade games are designed for exactly that purpose and are one of the best ways to enjoy a game of ball with your friends or family. In this guide I will walk you through some of the best basketball arcade games for this year and show you all of the different features you need to look for when buying one.

Let’s kick things off with a comparison chart between the models I picked and then go through some of their most important pros and cons and see how they stack up against each other…

Basketball Arcade Games Comparison Chart

ProductBasketballsNumber Of GamesDisplayOur Rating
Pop-A-Shot Basketball Game
pop-a-shot main
Seven16Yes
Lifetime 90648 Arcade Game
Lifetime 90648 main
Six12Yes
Giantex Basketball Game
giantex main
Four8Yes
Harvil Basketball Game
harvil main
Six8Yes
ESPN EZ Fold Arcade Game
ezfold main

Four8Yes
EA Sports Basketball Game
EA Sports main
Three8Yes

Best All-Around – Pop-A-Shot Home Dual Shot Basketball Arcade Game

pop-a-shot

Our Rating: (5/5)

The Pop-A-Shot basketball arcade game is one of the best sellers out there for a variety of reasons. The most important one is its practicality. It features a foldable design that takes very little of your living room’s space once folded and is just the right size when folded out. It has two hoops allowing for competitive games. The hoops themselves are really sturdy and have a nice feeling to them thanks to the metal construction. The backboard is also sturdier than most of its competitions allowing for some great backboard shots.

All that aside, the major selling feature of this model is the fact that it has the most games out of any other model on the market. There are 16 individual games here combined with six audio options that will certainly put a lot of fun in your evening. The sensors on the hoops are also quite accurate and great for the price.

Most Durable – Lifetime 90648 Double Shot Deluxe Indoor Basketball Arcade Game

Lifetime 90648

Our Rating: (4.5/5)

Lifetime has always been a brand that creates quality basketball products. their 90648 Double Shot basketball arcade game is no exception to that, even though it is constantly flying under the radar of a lot of people. It has a minimalistic design, with a black cloth return slide and side netting. It has a fold-up frame that can be height adjusted both at the front and in the back. Just like the Pop-a-shot model, this one comes with a lot of pre-installed games (12 of them) and has a controller upfront to help you select through the various modes. It also has buzzers and sound effects to enhance the gaming experience.Unlike the previous Lifetime arcade model, though, this one comes with improved infrared sensors for better accuracy during shot counting.

One of the best things about this particular model is that it comes with six basketballs that are of excellent quality and do a fairly good job at maintaining air inside them.

Easy To Set Up – Giantex Foldable Indoor Basketball Arcade Game

Giantex

Our Rating: (4.5/5)

The Giantex Basketball arcade game features a very similar experience to some of the more expensive arcades but at a bargain price. It has a double-shot design with two hoops at a fair distance between each other and comes with a ton of additional accessories that will make it a lot more fun for you and your family. It has infrared sensors for the scoring, a digital scoring board, a foldable construction, and a buzzer to create an entertaining atmosphere during your games.

The construction is made out of powder coated steel which is something I don’t see too often in this price class, so longevity isn’t going to be one of your issues. What might be an issue though, is that the electronics aren’t great and are often faulty, especially the remote control buttons at the front of the arcade. Make sure you keep the cable for that control panel tucked well since it can easily break if its hanging loose. For more of my thoughts on this arcade, head over to my full review!

Best-looking – Harvil Double-Swish Electronic Basketball Game

Harvil

Our Rating: (4.5/5)

The Double-Swish is a rather compact basketball arcade game that has all the bells and whistles of a premium arcade costing you a fraction of the cost. While it is definitely cheaper than most of its competition, it doesn’t feel cheap at all when it comes to materials. The construction is sturdy and it remains so even after a few months of folding in and out. The set up process is also dead easy and once you set it up it will be a great aesthetic addition to your kid’s room or your living room since it has a nice wooden basketball court to it. The wooden backboard is great for accurate shots and the scoring board and 8 built-in games are fairly decent for what this is. If you want to learn more about its pros and cons, click the button below to read my full in-depth review on it.

Best Bang For The Buck – ESPN EZ Fold Indoor Basketball Game

ezfold

Our Rating: (4.5/5)

Few are the brands that understand sports like ESPN does and their new strategy of creating various products in almost any sport is paying off thanks to the quality and design of their product. Their EZ Fold indoor basketball game features a LED scoring system, sound effects, two metal hoops, and a MDF backboard. It also comes with 8 pre-installed games and 4 basketballs. The netting is definitely its weak place, though, so be careful with it. At the front of the arcade there are remote control buttons and a padded handle for you to hold on if the games get intense. The foldable design isn’t the sturdiest but it is really easy to use and adjust to your height requirements.

Best Budget Option – EA Sports 8-in-1 Indoor Basketball Arcade Game

EA Sports

Our Rating: (4.5/5)

Last but definitely not least is the EA Sports indoor basketball arcade game which is perhaps my favorite-looking model out of the bunch. Despite its great looks it is rather clumsy in its construction and the materials aren’t that great but it more than compensates for that by having the lowest price out of all the arcades here. It has a decent led scoring board, fairly accurate sensors and comes with 3 small basketballs and a hand pump. All in all, it is a great alternative to the more expensive models if you are on a tight budget.

Basketball Arcade Games Buyer’s Guide

Basketball arcade games have been around for some time. The difference is that up until recently they were available in game centers only. Nowadays, there are models that can easily fit in your living room or your kid’s room and can even be folded when not used. That has made these arcade games even more popular and have also made them an attractive way for the whole family to have a fun evening competing in their favorite game.

Features To Look For

Even though these games aren’t very complex in their design, different manufacturers make a lot of things differently. All that results in a number of features that you need to check and consider before getting the right arcade game for you and your friends. Here is a list of thing to keep in mind:

  • Dimensions
  • Materials & Durability
  • Design & Practicality
  • Installation Process
  • Scoring Systems
  • How many hoops it has
  • Basketballs
  • Game Modes
  • Visual and audio effects
  • Additional accessories
  • Price

Now let’s go over all of those features one by one and see why they are so important…

Dimensions

folded

The dimensions of these arcade games are very important, especially if you are tight on space. Every manufacturer lists the official dimensions of their product including the adjustable heights. Usually, single-shot models are around 30-40 inches wide, while double-shot ones are around 40-50 inches wide. The height variest heavily from model to model but most modern basketball arcade games are in the range of 80-100 inches high.

When it comes to room space, the dimension that will eat the most out of your room is the length. Look for games that are around 80-90 inches long, as that distance is the best compromise between having fun and having some space left in the room when you unfold the arcade game.

If you have more space, I’d always suggest going for a bigger model as that will make it more fun for adults but kids won’t mind a smaller one in their room, so make sure you know your target demographics first.

Materials & Durability

The most common materials used in these arcade games are aluminum, nylon and steel. Aluminum tubing is rarer than steel-tube models and is also more expensive. The advantage of aluminum is that it shaves off a lot from the overall weight of the model.

Still, most arcades today have powder-coated steel tubes that are rust-free and super sturdy adding to the longevity of the game. They also don’t allow a lot of wobble during intense games.

The ramps are usually made out of nylon and are rarely prone to breaking or tearing. Look for models that have thicker ramps as that usually guarantees the longevity. Other parts that also need attention are the rims and backboards. Plastic is the most common material of choice for these parts but is also vulnerable towards heavy continuous usage.

I will talk about hoop materials in a little bit more detail further down the guide. Now, let’s check another important factor…

Design & Practicality

There are a few design options when choosing a basketball arcade game. The most popular one is the folding design which is also the most practical as it saves a lot of space in your living room. Other design features that you need to look for are height adjustability, a rear middle leg for added stability, height spacer, and push buttons for the height adjustments.

If you are getting the game for your kids you need to look for models with a lot of adjustment levels since your kids will most likely grow up with that game and you will have to constantly raise it up to keep up with them.

The front and rear frames are also crucial to the overall design. The rear frame is the thing that will be supporting the backboard and it often is made out of two T-shaped legs which can be extended. The front frame can also be adjustable in some models, independently from the rear one.

As a whole, look for models that take less time to fold and unfold and aren’t prone to breaking after a few times of doing so. Short-term reviews of these models won’t show much, so keep an eye on customers leaving a review after longer usage.

Installation Process

a man installing

Hard installations are more of a thing of the past and rather a rarity today but they still do exist and you need to be aware of the products that are hard to setup. Having a difficult installation process can lead you to unwillingly damaging the product or doing it wrong ultimately worsening your game experience.

Look for models that consist of as few parts as possible and are easy and quick to install. On that note, also check if the company has a money-back guarantee or warranty program that will cover if something goes wrong during the setup or a piece is missing.

Scoring System

Most scoring systems nowadays rely on an infrared sensor that detects the basketball as it goes through the hoop. That sends a signal to the scoreboard display which then updates the actual score digits for the specific hoop (if there is more than one). These sensors are good for accuracy of around 99% so don’t be mad when some of your shots eventually get disregarded by the arcade.

In most cases the scoreboards are also connected to an audio output which you can connect to any sound system for further entertainment. Some units come with built-in speakers but don’t expect the quality to be terrific.

The scoring display is usually connected to a button console at the front of the arcade which lets you control when the game starts, pauses, or stops. There will also be buttons for on and off, in case you just want to practice without seeing the score all the time. If your model comes with audio, there will be volume controls as well.

These scoring systems are usually battery-powered but there are models that can be directly plugged in into a power outlet eliminating the need for recharging the drained batteries.

How many hoops it has

There are a few things you need to watch for in hoops – their number and what they are made out of. Numbers vary from 1 to 4 with the most common being double-shot games with two hoops next to each other. These are the best in terms of price-to-value ratio and are also great for some competitive plays. If you want to play with even more people at the same time, opt for a 3 or 4 hooped models. Have in mind that those can be a little expensive, though.

Apart from the numbers, hoop material is also really important. Solid metal rims are the best way to go as they emulate the feeling of a real rim the best. Bonus points if they have nylon nets and a height spacer. Most high-end rims will come with all the tools needed to assemble them (cap screw, nuts, washer sets, etc).

Unfortunately there are some models with rims made out of plastic. They are cheap, which is great, but they are also very prone to breaking or deforming if you go a little rough on them. They are usually on the kids-only models which are meant to be played slightly and not as often and also have budget in mind. There are some cheap bigger models with plastic all over them, though, so make sure you check for that and avoid it if you want a model that will last you more than a few game nights.

Basketballs

the game center

Basketballs range widely across all basketball arcade models. There are some bigger arcades that offer an almost real experience by having full-sized basketballs. Those are usually very expensive and also heavy and large and can thus be found only in game centers. Smaller, foldable arcade models usually come with rubber basketballs that are way smaller in circumference and are also far easier to grip one-handed. They are also softer and free of allergens and other chemicals that can harm your kid’s skin.

Look for arcades that have at least 5 balls coming in the package. 3 inch (diameter) balls are the ideal size for fast shooting and fun games but as I mentioned, sizes vary a lot across different brands and models.

One factor about these basketballs that people ignore is air retention and pumping. Since these balls don’t come with an inside bladder they don’t retain air well at all. This is why you will need a hand pump to pump them every time before you play. Usually, they can retain air well for a maximum of just a few days. Most models come with an air pump but you will have to make sure it comes in the package, otherwise you will need to get one additionally.

Game Modes

Game modes are one of the more important features of these arcades if you want them to be competitive and exciting. Look for models that have at least 6-8 modes. The rule here is the more the better. Games like Check point, one-to-one, battle back, hose, beat the time clock, and others are some of the more common ones. Games are usually connected with different sound (or visual) effects but more on that later.

Front-mounted controllers are a must if there are a lot of games included in the arcade. Some arcades will even come with a remote or have smartphone connectivity for improved control.

Visual and Audio Effects

Visual and audio effects are another part of the coolness of a certain model. These features are by no means necessary but if you are looking for an arcade that will “wow” your friends when they visit, this is the way to go. These effects also add to the atmosphere of the game as a whole and make things far more entertaining for your kids.

Look for models that allow you to pump their audio through an external system for improved quality and a more surround sound.

Additional features

Some of the additional features you can look for in your arcade game are:

  • Smartphone or tablet connectivity
  • Improved audio effects and buzzers
  • Bigger displays
  • Split displays for each hoop in double-shot models
  • More game modes
  • Improved basketball graphics
  • More balls and an included hand pump

Price

Lastly, try not veering too far off course when it comes to the price, as these arcades can quickly become far more expensive than you initially had planned to set aside. Features like buzzers, bigger displays, music, more rims, more game modes, and other similar ones add a lot of weight to the price tag and can easily make the model out of your budget.

This is why you need to set a predefined budget before going to pick one and then choose the best one for the money and price class you chose. Now, let’s take a look at some great tips that can improve your basketball arcade game…

Some Tips For Your Game

boy having fun

Basketball arcade games are so popular not only because they are a fun way to spend time with your friends but also because they require little to no athleticism and basketball skills. You will believe that the moment you see a professional basketball player struggle to score a few points in a row. This is exactly why you can easily win a few bets by exercising your shooting on your arcade game.

Unlike the swoosh sound you get from those nothing-but-net shots? Well, in these games the hoops aren’t as sturdy and solid as the ones on the bigger basketball hoops and your safest bet for a continuous streak of glory is hitting the backboard.

There are a few methods that most “professional” basketball arcade game players use. Among those, the “underhand” and “one hand at a time” methods are the most famous ones. Shooting with your hands beneath the ball can improve accuracy but it surely brings your speed down a notch, especially compared to the other method. When shooting with just one hand, your other hand can focus on getting the ball that is rolling back towards you. That way, if you get good enough, you can create a momentum that will almost double your usual high score. This method takes advantage of the smaller basketballs used in these games which can make it harder for someone with large hands to shoot. Also, try not rolling the ball with your fingers as that will just decrease the overall accuracy in such a short distance shot.

If you stick to the one-handed method, working on your rhythm will be the key to your success. Try concentrating on the hoop and not your hands. Keep your posture constant throughout the game and your eyes set on the target. The better you get, the more automated the movements of your hands will be and the faster you will score.

Final Words

Finding the best basketball arcade games can be challenging but if you stick to a list of pre-determined features that you want to see in the said unit, you shouldn’t have that many issues. Make sure you are well-aware of the dimensions which the room allows in terms of space and also think of whether you’d want a single or double-shot game. These are the most important factors. Everything else almost comes secondary and quite a few of the extra features on all of the arcades on the market can be optional. My advice is go for a well-built double-shot game that has a good scoring system and comes with at least 6 good basketballs.