Arcade Paradise Review - Play Test

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Arcade Paradise Review - Play Test

Arcade machines have always been short, sweet bursts of fun fueled by what little change you had in your pocket. They work so well due to your ability to flit between tonnes of different games without any real commitment. Arcade Paradise is a time commitment that ends up feeling more like a chore you have to do to get your pocket money.

This is a shame as the idea is gold. You play as Ashley, a dropout running your father's laundromat. When you get in there, you realise that the arcades they keep in the back are more profitable - and fun - than all those dirty clothes. You have to keep the business afloat whilst investing in your machines and keeping customers piling in.

To serve this, it has a whole list of day-to-day items you can complete to get a little extra cash to invest in the next machine. Unfortunately, this concept ends up being much better than the finished product.

Arcade Paradise Review - Play Test

Table of Contents

Airing Out Your Dirty Laundry

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As well as all this, it has quite a lot to say. As Ashley, you have a supportive sister whose life has been dominated by her father's wishes and a father who is manipulative and quite unempathetic, even if he does seem to care. There's a melodramatic tale of a broken family under here that genuinely works quite well.

Unfortunately, what you have to do to get there is often tedious and frustrating. Initially, you just have to wash clothes, pick up rubbish, and tear chewing gum off the odd surface. Each one of these actions is its own little minigame. This is initially a novel concept, keeping you constantly mashing buttons and hitting cues. After this, the toilet clogs and you have to yank the plunger around, mimicking a beat 'em up. This commitment to the bit is very charming at first.

You are taught to methodically look around for problems every morning until glitches strike, leaving you unable to complete your tasks. Arcade Paradise is a game that rewards you for being thorough whilst taking your ability to do it away. This is endlessly frustrating, and the same be said for the arcade cabinets

Arcade Paradise Review - Play Test

I Want To Play A Game

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Your character has a little pager filled with tasks, lists, and things to do. Every arcade cabinet can be played, increasing its value and popularity. They all come with goals you finish by doing certain things in each game. Unfortunately, many of these goals are glitched. For instance, a later game called Graffiti Ballz has a goal to get a certain score but playing it for long enough crashed my game, forcing me to lose a day's progress. I tried this five times and the game crashed every single time.

This arcade torture leaves you playing every game wary that your next move could be your last. Some arcades work totally fine and some have major problems. This inconsistently left me entirely leaving arcade cabinets behind anytime issues popped up. When you have ten or more arcade machines, this inability to really play them becomes even more frustrating. When they work, they can be decently fun but I'm unsure it's even worth it in the first place.

Many of the games are based on classic arcade titles, with others taking inspiration from games from slightly newer consoles. They rarely feel as good as the original, leaving you wishing for the game it is paying homage to. For the most part, Arcade Paradise tries to take a new spin on classic titles and I'm glad it does. One of the few things that kept me playing was waiting to see how they would change titles I'm familiar with.

Another thing that kept me going was the game's environmental storytelling. As you make more money and continue to expand your arcade, the neighbourhood around you changes to accommodate it. By giving the city an arcade, you're giving people a meeting point and others ways of getting out of the house. This is a lovely idea that really drives home the importance of games and art in general.

Arcade Paradise Review - Play Test

Making a Long Story Short

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The guts of the game's actual storytelling work through you running the arcade, and then occasionally getting a message from a friend, patron, or your father. Arcade Paradise has a day/night cycle where you have to make sure to clean everything, get things working, and wait for the money to pour in. After a while, I often found myself just waiting around for the day to end, to invest in just one more machine.

Arcade Paradise very quickly starts to feel like one of those clicker games, except I couldn't just put it down because you get penalised for staying at the arcade too long and machines regularly break on you overflow with coins. I would pick up the controller every few minutes, wait for things to go back to normal and wait again. With three of my machines entirely unplayable, it became extremely hard to feel invested in what I was playing. This is not good enough.

Arcade Paradise has lots of ideas I love. I really want to like the game, but I just don't. It has so much charm to it but it regularly fails to miss its mark and, sometimes, that mark isn't even reachable. When it's not crashing or bugging it out, its ideas rarely feel fleshed out enough to justify the playtime. Playing Arcade Paradise feels like playing against that one kid who has been hogging Mortal Kombat all day - I feel defeated and sad coming away from a game that I could never really win.

Arcade Paradise
With bugs, crashes and far too much waiting around, Arcade Paradise really tries to capture some of the highs of old arcades but never really manages to understand the joy that comes from it.
PS5

A copy of Arcade Paradise was provided by the publisher.