I believe that you should do whatever you want with your arcade cabinets and that people should respect your decisions. They may not agree with them but respect them at least. I understand people becoming upset if you are trashing everything inside of the cabinet, especially if the game is rare or hard to find, but a Donkey Kong? Let’s be real here, there are a hundred thousand of these. You can make your own for a fraction of the price, just be smart about it and use a common cabinet. Keep all the original parts so you can convert it back. A lot of times you don’t even need to change the control panel if you plan it right.
When I bought my Donkey Kong Jr cabinet it was in pretty bad shape. It looked like a beaver had eaten the back corners halfway up the cabinet, I mean it was truly a sad little thing. Actually it wasn’t even a DK Jr. It was a Donkey Kong that someone had put DK Jr hardware in. We painted it blue and the DK Jr art matches much better. It worked for a while and then the PCB went south and the monitor probably needs some work too so we removed the PCB, monitor, and power supply and put them aside for the future use. I am going to learn how to do a cap kit and troubleshoot the PCB when I have time. I am learning steadily and can at least take a stab at getting it running. The only thing I did not save was the control panel overlay because it was in really crappy shape with a crack in it.
Everyone has an opinion on control panels when it comes to MAME and I have been on both sides of the debate. I had lots of buttons and a spinner on the control panel at first. Once I got a Tempest there was no reason for the spinner and I realized that I only really play a few so we decided to fix the control panel up and make it look original. We got a new overlay from Mike at www.mikesarcade.com and I admit that it looks much much better now.
When you create a Mame machine one of the most important decision you will make is the control panel. I have seen some extremely hideous layouts. Huge hulking control panels that look like airplane wings. Ask yourself if you are really going to play a huge assortment of games. Do you really need a four player setup? You can play a large amount of classic games with a Pac-Man control panel.