Xbox One, PS4, PC, Nintendo Switch, PS5, Xbox Series X
August 11, 2022
I don’t think I’ve ever played a game that has made me put on a load of washing, yet here we are. Arcade Paradise is a simulation game set in a laundromat during the 90s which gives you ownership of the family business. It’s a real rags to riches game where you’ll be growing the business from day one, learning the tricks of the laundry trade. All the while, there’s an arcade in the backroom that’s begging for some TLC. Go on, give the trailer a spin!
Arcade Paradise is a management simulator from the folks at Nosebleed Interactive. It follows Ashley, who’s been given the keys to the family business while their dad, Gerald, has gone to Riviera. Get it? It’s a tongue-in-cheek take on simulators that’s surprisingly easy to pick up. You begin by getting acquainted with the business; there’s trash to pick up, loads of laundry to wash and dry, and a gross toilet to unblock. And that’s all before you discover the arcade machines hiding in the back room! Players have full control to do as they wish, with the goal being to make money. In between the various jobs, you can check out the arcade machines in the back room, which provide an awesome distraction, most of which are even multiplayer. Despite being warned by your dad to not divert from the current focus on laundry, Ashley is drawn to the neon paradise, and as such this becomes the plot of the game.
“In between the various jobs, you can check out the arcade machines in the back room, which provide an awesome distraction…”
One would understandably like to aim to focus on arcade machines in a game based on starting an arcade, but the daily chores of the main business are very demanding. Focusing on the games in the backroom does lead to them being more financially lucrative, but it takes time to complete those individual machine goals, and often the main business is competing for your attention. Later in the game, it becomes easier to focus on the arcade side and not feel the lack of income as too impactful. It is however weird to walk through the laundry to get to the action each day.
From the get-go, Arcade Paradise is a rinse and repeat game. Early on, many days feel repetitive, which is helped by the underlying story in the game to some degree. The gameplay, while straightforward, is pretty much the same every day. It does feel as though the game is deliberately pushing you to give up on the steady income of the laundromat to pursue more fun horizons. Upgrades feel achievable but it’s sad that eventually the washing machine side of the business is meant to be forgotten about in favour of the arcade hustle. I doubt anyone can begrudge this focus too much, as the game does include 35+ individual arcade machines with their own games. If anything, the beginning of the game is about balancing the playing of arcade games against taking out the trash and making money for the business to continue to thrive until the arcade can pay for itself.
Packing in 35+ arcade games is no easy chore. I was astonished at how much thought and detail has gone into most of the games. Each feels true to the time the games are set and actually makes me nostalgic for a time when I wasn’t even alive. These days, arcades do still thrive, but there’s something so simplistic about the way the arcade feels in this game. I’d liken it to that same nostalgia Stranger Things evokes. My favourite arcade games present are Video Air Hockey, Shuttlecocks, Bugai!, and Strike Gold as each felt like the type of games I’d go for in a vintage arcade.
“Sure, picking up rubbish and collecting the change from machines is expected but washing and drying other people’s clothes seemed a bit odd.”
Being that it’s a simulator game, my head does spin at some of the tasks required to maintain the business. Sure, picking up rubbish and collecting the change from machines is expected but washing and drying other people’s clothes seemed a bit odd. I’m not playing this game to be a washing machine. From what I know of laundromats, people do their own washing and often have no contact with the owner. So to get your hands dirty in this regard was perplexing, and it is quite an involved task to complete in the first place. Being a management game, it’s more hands-on than I think it needs to be considering it’s already bringing 35+ mini-games with it. Having to complete the monotonous task of washing and drying is cute early on, but after the first upgrade to the arcade out back, it should become optional.
Where this game shines is on the management side. Weaving the story of a college dropout into what could be a relatable boring job, Arcade Paradise is an escape from the rigours of the nine to five in favour of creating something new and shiny. The arcade feels so secret at the beginning of the game. With so few machines, it even feels like you’ve stumbled down the rabbit hole for sure. Soon, the arcade becomes the shiny bright neon focus as you buy more machines and expand the space, though it’s still presented as a side hustle with the laundromat.
As a grinding game, it’s steep at first but when those methods of income are increased soon it feels pretty easy. When you purchase the upgrades, it does feel as though it becomes even easier. I found that the radio advertisement upgrade helped immensely in getting more customers but it was at the risk of coin hoppers being full on the machines and the toilet clogging more.
If I was going to throw more time into Arcade Paradise, I’d like to see it lean more into the management and logistics of running a busy arcade, let alone duel businesses. There’s a lot of depth that could be explored that simply isn’t due to the other more pressing jobs. What if you could hire employees with a daily take to do the washing for you? Playing the arcade games was fun, but interruptions kill the mood. It’s difficult to complete the individual machine challenges with the constant distraction of the laundromat. It’s the equivalent of being told to go do your chores when you were gaming as a kid.
My time with Arcade Paradise has made me hungry to explore arcades in real life, more so than laundromats. This game will likely satisfy you if you’re into simulators that don’t get bogged down in all the realism, but you also might find the game logic a bit off-centre. Arcade games are a lovely touch though and will see players fighting for more time on the machines. Come for the management sim aspects and you’ll be wishing you could open your own arcade for sure!
- A fun foray into balancing business and the pleasure of gaming
- 35+ arcade games is a horde of fun
- A hearty narrative with just the right amount of quirk
- Multiplayer arcade games!
- Early game loop is repetitive
- Logically, feels somewhat removed from what a laundromat actually is
- It's not fun to do laundry when there's cool games to play out back
If you’re after a simulation game that’s a bit different than the usual genre mainstays, then chuck Arcade Paradise on the spin cycle. But be warned, despite packing in 35+ arcade games, it’s not going to give you as much depth as other simulators. The early game suffers from a repetitive game loop that is only rescued by the happy grind to unlock new games in the arcade area. A worthy way to spend some coins and kill some time, Arcade Paradise at the very least lives up to half of its name.