What fun! Arcade Paradise is a wonderfully weird little pile of several minigames stacked on top of each other. But first, it’s a business simulator where you run a laundromat, putting clothes in and out of machines, quickly picking up the trash, and running to collect the tokens from the handful of video game cabinets in the back.
The game takes a turn as you slowly use your funds to buy more cabinets, and expand the arcade and push out the washers. A story about your estranged family plays out in AIM chat windows and calls left on your tape-based answering machine.
And best of all, as you convert your laundry-based hell into, well, an Arcade Paradise, you, as the arcade’s owner, get to live the dream of playing all the games you want, for free, for as long as you want…just so long as you remember to unclog the toilet.
Arcade Paradise is a very chill game. There’s no way to lose, only to make less money per day if you’re not able to keep on top of all your real-world obligations while you battle 8-bit aliens. Just pick up the trash, clear out the tokens, and build your empire, day by day.
But, of course, the big draw of AP is playing the games. They’re not the “real” versions of classic games, but they are remixes and mashups, along with more offbeat ideas for games, that are all, well, really good.
If you like Outrun, there’s Space Race Simulator, which replaces a sweet ‘80s convertible with a futuristic hover car but keeps the vaporware music and graphics. Racer Chaser is a Pac-Man clone mashed up with Grand Theft Auto: you drive your Lamborghini around, collecting cash while avoiding the four cop cars chasing you. Interesting takes on Tetris abound, and best of all is Stack Overflow, which challenges you to untangle masses of boxes in wonderfully addictive gameplay.
The big enemy in the game is time, which passes by at roughly one minute per real-world second and limits how much you can play the games, especially in the beginning when you use the laundry business to supplement your income.
You can tweak your income by 1) placing popular games next to less popular ones, 2) adjusting the individual difficulty settings, and 3) changing how much they cost to play. Also, the more often you play a game, it will make the game more popular, earning more money.
A secondary type of in-game currency (expressed in Pounds Sterling) is earned by completing daily tasks and can be spent to buy upgrades, such as making time pass slower and causing machines to break less often.
There is a bit of a grind to the game—make money to buy more expensive games to make more money to buy more games. The plot advances as you fill up spaces and renovate your store, but if you don’t feel like playing video air hockey, you simply have to pass the time while making money to advance the plot.
The only other gripe is that I ran into a persistent bug where on days when the shop was upgraded, the game would freeze. A restart fixed the problem, and no gameplay was lost.