Review: Arcade Paradise (PS4/PS5)
Arcade Paradise is part arcade manager sim and part arcade game compilation. You play as Ashley, a girl tasked with taking over her family's laundromat. Ashley sees laundromats as a relic of the past and the big money is in investing in an arcade, obviously this is a work of fiction. Anyways, her old man just doesn’t get it and is unsupportive and won't even hear her out; parents not believing in their kids and being proven wrong seems to be a common trope in video games today. Thus, you set off on your journey to win your father's love through capitalism!
Club Sega wasn’t built in a day, that’s the first example of a famous arcade I could think of. Before you can start building your Arcade Paradise™, you must run the laundromat to build up your capital. This consists of washing and drying laundry loads, picking up trash, cleaning the toilet, and removing stray pieces of chewing gum. This nets you good money compared to a couple of arcade machines in the back room. Dad was right!
As the game progresses, you use your money to buy more arcade machines and expand your arcade space to buy even more machines. You also unlock daily challenges that can center around laundromat goals or arcade based goals, such as reaching a certain level in a specific game. Laundry tasks are on a timer, giving you on average 1 to 2 minute intervals to play an arcade machine before being interrupted by a task elsewhere. This creates a sense of urgency and good time management skills and planning are essential to a productive work day. This sense of urgency is somewhat artificial, as in, you will lose out on money by not completing goals, or being late on tasks, there’s no day limit in the game or any financial requirement to keep your business running. Once you realize this, the game starts to feel routine and feel repetitive. Wash clothes, play arcade games for 2 minutes, dry clothes, pick up trash, play another arcade game, buy more games, rinse and repeat.
Just as I was getting burned out from the repetition, I realized I was getting game goals that were unobtainable in the 1 to 2 minutes I had to play a game between laundry loads. This new level of frustration had me ready to shut this business down, another victim of capitalism. But instead, I came up with the brilliant idea to let the laundry pile up and play arcade games all day. It was at this point that I realized the money I was getting from arcade machine passive income was about even with what I was making from the laundromat side of the business. The game not so subtly nudges you in this direction as with each upgrade to the building, the laundromat side starts decreasing and the arcade side keeps expanding. On top of daily goals, each arcade game has unique goals that when completed increase the popularity of the game, thus more money. Now the lack of urgency or punishment for letting the laundry pile up made sense. Sitting around playing arcade games is now the most profitables thing you can do. You still need to do other routine tasks, like picking up trash, but you can unlock perks to decrease these tasks. So to sum it up, your job sucks until you make enough money to play video games all day and make more money than you did actually working, another capitalism success story, and thus we enter the dad was wrong part of the bad parenting trope.
Once the sim part of the game is basically dead, Arcade Paradise becomes an arcade game bundle with a fancy coat of paint. So let's talk about the arcade games. There’s over 35 in all according to the press release. Counting is hard, so I’ll go with that number and for the same reason, I don’t blame them for not giving an exact number, I can’t even count that high! Every game is a bootleg clone of an existing popular 90s arcade game. Your favorite is probably in here, and credit to the devs, they’re very well made replicas. Some of the games are more creative with changes in art style or theme. For example, there’s an Arkanoid clone where your paddle is replaced with a wiener dog that belongs to a girl from a different arcade game who has her own set of spin off arcade games. There’s a pac man clone mixed with GTA, you play as a car picking up money in place of pellets and running from police. Some of the games have a progression element to them and can require 30 or more minutes to complete the game. If you’re hoping to complete every goal in the game, you’re gonna be dedicating a lot of time. While I enjoy most of the games, I’m not willing to play pong more than once. Some arcade games deserved to die. There’s also local multiplayer support for some of the games, a dying feature in games today. Truly a throwback to old school gaming in every sense.
Arcade Paradise is a tale of two halves. I enjoyed the sim aspects until it got too repetitive, and then the game drastically changed and recaptured my attention. At $20, I feel like pac man running from the cops for this one.
Title: Arcade Paradise
Developer: Nosebleed Interactive
Platform: PS4 & PS5
Release Date: August 11, 2022