Platform: Nintendo Switch
Also On: PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PC
Publisher: Wired Productions
Developer: Nosebleed Interactive
Medium: Digital / Cartridge
If you have an ounce of nostalgia for classic arcade titles like Missile Command, Qix, Pong, or even late 80’s/early 90’s titles like Mr. Driller, Bomberman, or Bust-A-Move, then chances are that Arcade Paradise is going to appeal to you. While the recently released title from developer Nosebleed Interactive and publisher Wired Productions does have some unique sim elements, which involve renovating a rundown laundromat and turning it into a local hit arcade, the primary focus does boil down to unlocking the 30+ individual arcade titles that are mainly based off of arcade hits of the past. That’s not to say there aren’t a number of unique entries in store for you too, puzzle game Blockchain immediately springs to mind, but by and large, you’ll probably recognize many familiar gameplay elements here.
Arcade Paradise is also story-driven, and while the story elements are sort of light and relayed via answering machine messages and old-school online chat boxes, it was interesting enough that I was curious to see it unfold as I obtained each new upgrade or expansion to my slowly prospering arcade empire. There’s an underlying element of familial strife that honestly wasn’t expected going into this, and the limited use of dialogue both verbal and written is pretty well done throughout.
Along with that, the upgrade loop of Arcade Paradise that unfolds is really well-paced. At the onset of the game you’ll have a front-end laundromat with some basic utilities such as washers, dryers, a coin exchange machine, and then a sort of seedy, rundown backroom that has a handful of arcade machines to start with. Patrons will come and go as ghostly, featureless NPC’s that sort of just fade away as you approach them, and you’ll start seeing your coin hoppers fill as each in-game hour passes. Collect enough funds and you can start to purchase new arcade units, and eventually unlock expansions to your arcade, which in turn allows you to purchase even more arcade units, collect more money, and so on.
You’ll have some control over where units are placed inside the arcade, with a number of designated locations to choose from. Also, each unit has a popularity level that you’ll want to keep an eye on, because as that popularity level grows, so will the funds earned by that machine. You can increase that popularity level by simply playing the machine, placing it next to other popular units, and completing a set number of goals for each machine. The goals are like unique achievements for each unit, and some can be pretty tough to complete.
In addition to purchasing and upgrading your arcade, you’ll also be tasked with basic maintenance, which involves picking up trash, removing gum stuck to objects, unclogging the toilet, and occasionally repairing machines. And considering all of these things can have a negative impact on how well your arcade performs, thereby affecting your bottom line, these menial tasks are well worth doing. Thankfully, none of them take up an inordinate amount of time, and they also just boil down to becoming little mini-games of their own.
I really, really dug my time spent with Arcade Paradise, and thought the sheer variety of arcade games was pretty impressive, as was the actual amount of upgrades and story content available. It took a lot longer to complete than I anticipated, right around the 20-hour mark or so for me, which makes for a pretty hefty “arcade” experience to be sure. My only serious complaint is the sheer number of bugs I encountered while playing. Nothing that was necessarily game-breaking, but I did have a lot of recurring issues while playing through our review copy on the Switch, which has not been fixed yet. However, a PC patch was just made available this week that does seem to address the bugs I encountered, and my understanding based on the official Arcade Paradise Twitter account is that this patch should be going live for consoles next week. I would advise holding off on purchasing the game until that patch goes live, assuming you’re considering a console version of the game, but outside of that, I think Arcade Paradise is well worth your time.
Note: Wired Productions provided us with an Arcade Paradise Switch code for review purposes.