Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Glory Days: Arcadecraft Review

There's nothing quite like an old school video arcade. Unfortunately, these dens of teenage iniquity are quickly disappearing from the modern landscape. That's where Arcadecraft steps in. If you've ever dreamed of running your own videogame haven, this is the game for you.

Dim lights, thick smoke, loud music, and the foul stench of body odor. Somehow, these were all okay when you found yourself glued to the hottest new game in your local video arcade. For gamers not much younger than myself, arcades are an almost mythical place, tales told by those who came before. While I was not around for the initial videogame boom, I was lucky enough to witness the second rise of arcades, ushered in by the fighting game craze of the early 90s. They really were something magical, even if that magic relies on a heavy dose of nostalgia.

For those who, like myself, often imagine a world in which they could realistically open and run a successful video arcade, Arcadecraft is a real delight. Released this past week on Xbox Live Indie Games, Arcadecraft has been described as "Viva Pinata with arcade machines." If that doesn't pique your interest, you may be dead inside. For the paltry sum of 240 MS points ($3), Arcadecraft provides hours of fun for aspiring entrepreneurs.

Gettin' that coin!
Once into the game, the player is provided the chance to name their new start-up venture, with an allowance of ten characters. Of course, curse words are not allowed, but I was able to name my little slice of heaven Meth Lab Arcade with no recourse. Also, I named one of my arcades "Butts." So yeah, thats pretty much all you need right there.

A loan is approved for several thousand dollars to the player, and a handful of machines are available to purchase for your grand opening. Most of the machines are based off of classic cabinets, with catchy names like Safari Danger and Iceberg Pals. Placing the cabinets around your space is extremely similar to management games like the Sims, and even iOS titles, such as our old favorite; Snoopy's Street Fair.

Lots of info for each cabinet.

Each game can be individually adjusted, to allow for higher difficulties and such, and moved around freely. Bonus tiles occasionally pop up on the floor, and these help to boost your coin intake early in the game. It's always neat to see your XBox LIVE friends wander into your games, and Arcadecraft is filled with them. One particularly amusing occurrence was friend-of-the-site DBethel regularly running into my arcade, and proceeding to kick the shit out of my machines. Dude is a stone cold killer.

Minor visual details can be adjusted, such as the color of the walls and floor and whatnot. To be honest, they're not much more than a money sink. But if you're playing the game with skill, you'll likely find yourself with far more money than you need.Arcadecraft allows for 6 years of (quickly) simulated play, taking place in the glory days of the early 1980s. Interestingly enough, the great videogame crash of 1984 is factored into the game, which is a nice attention to detail that was not expected.

Once you find yourself a few years into the 80s, things get so hectic in your arcade that it's necessary to hire a helper to collect your coins from your overflowing machines. Machines break down, coin slots get jammed, and the soda machine seems to be always running out of cola. It's a bit headache inducing at times, but always fun.

ICBM Wars, my favorite!

There are a few hiccups, though. I twice found my arcade glitched, with phantom machines lingering on my floorplan after I'd sold them. There's also a nasty glitch which causes the game to occasionally crash, although the developer promises to be on top of these issues. It's annoying to be sure, but I never lost any data or anything crucial like that. On the bright side, several new items will be added to the game when these technical issues are cleaned up.

It takes a few hours to get through pretty much all Arcadecraft has to offer at this point. Firebase is promising regular updates if the game does well, and it seems to be on its way to doing so. It's somewhat odd playing a game like this on a home console, as it has far more in common with Facebook or mobile games than anything else. By the end of the game, tedium may set it, but the constant needs of your arcade are usually enough to satisfy a typical session. If Aracadecraft is eventually released on mobile platforms, I could see it becoming a viral success, not unlike Plague Inc. No pun intended.

If you've got $3, a love of arcades, and an afternoon, you could do a lot worse than Arcadecraft. XBox Live Indie Games are notoriously hit-or-miss, but this game deserves to shine through the myriad Minecraft clones and 16-bit throwbacks. If Firebase continues to iterate on the game, and add new content over the coming months, Arcadecraft might be the best thing to come out of Indie Games.

Christopher Linendoll plays for keeps. Follow him on Twitter.

1 comment:

  1. What's interesting is that your description of my avatar's behavior is not too different from how I treated arcade games in my teens. If you can get me to kick the shit out of a Street Fighter II cabinet, then it'll become a documentary.