REVIEW: Arcadecraft

The idea is almost too good to have gone untapped; the chance to build your very own arcade from the ground up during the storied ‘golden age’ of arcades. With the juggernaut that is Minecraft continuing to steamroll the free time of gamers everywhere, a combination of crafting (well, buying, with some customization) and running an arcade (in the 80s, man!) sounds mighty appealing, doesn’t it? Enter Arcadecraft (80 MSP), where you’re the boss of a coin-op empire (except you can’t actually play any of the games yourself, so don’t ask).

Not that it’s needed, as you’ll have your hands full as is. The game starts off slow, requiring a measured buildup. It’s tempting to buy the newest machines and walk the fine line, breaking even or near-even each month. Keep in mind you’ll have to pay expenses and your initial loan off after the first two years. Though you can, it’s best not to mess with an individual game’s difficulty or pricing. Doing so will likely tank your coveted ‘popularity’, and nothing is worse in life than appearing uncool. Protip: Buy both the vending machine and jukebox early, crank the prices each to $1.00, and you’re set. Zero complaints.

Soon you’ll be running a hip place the local kids will want to frequent, watching that digital coin roll in, so much so that you’ll need to hire help just to collect it all. The trick to keeping that five-star rating is in keeping your god-hand on the pulse of your arcade, making sure to continually update your game cabinets (popularity rises and wanes, kind of like how you peaked in high school) and building, splashing new paint on the walls or springing for a seasonal aesthetic (a Christmas tree, say).

It’s not all retro blips and bleeps, my friend. Running a successful business is hard work, and such is the case here. You’ll need to keep a close eye on the bottom line and react accordingly, whether it be on the human side (unruly patrons) or the mechanical (repairs mostly, though coin slots will get jammed; slamming them down repeatedly does the trick). Oh, and power outages that will happen more than you’ll like. I’m all for injecting realism into sims, but when the power goes out in your arcade, you’ll need to manually ‘pick up and place’ every cabinet to kickstart their figurative hearts, not exactly the most fun when you’ve topped out at thirty machines.

Those small business killers aside, it’s a steady and mostly uneventful trip once you settle into a routine, save for the recreated arcade crash of 1984 (no matter how well you manage, your ‘popularity’ won’t go up beyond three stars for the duration). All told, I clocked in at about five hours to see my arcade’s run up to the close of 1986. Well, technically the game ‘ends’ at the start of that year, when no new machines will be released, so the ‘end’ does feel a little stunted and anti-climatic.

Arcadecraft - Screen

Many kids’ allowances will be spent here.

That’s only a temporary setback, however, as this is a game that will continue to grow. A patch is inbound to fix some issues and smooth the flow (no more asshole kids screwing up your hard work while you’re in the menus, thank you very much), and there’s one big content update coming already (due mid-March), though more are planned to flesh out the ‘years’ (new games and events) and permit you to move into bigger and better spaces. This current version is just the beginning.

As a simulator, Arcadecraft hits nearly every note perfectly. To me, it lacks that sort of continuous fun in micro-managing that Smooth Operators had once you’ve secured financial stability, but that’s being picky and possibly unfair considering the future patchwork. In the meantime, you’re still going to lose plenty of hours to Arcadecraft, and the pursuit of leaderboard glory will occupy some time and prove its replayability, now and when the DLC hits. Go ahead and put your tokens in this machine.

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27 thoughts on “REVIEW: Arcadecraft”

  1. Price drop alert! The have lowered the price to 80MSP! That is 1/3rd what I paid and if you haven’t picked this up yet you better do so soon. Not sure if it will stay at this price because according to their website they are calling this a sale.

    http://firebase.ca/2013/04/17/insert-80msp-to-continue/

    Still waiting for content update number 2 to come out but I’m sure they are working on it.

    1. Changed the price in the review and tag accordingly, though I will leave it the same on the Leaderboard for now. They dropped it and raised it once already, didn’t they? I suppose from a business / promotional end, it works to say your game is ‘on sale for a limited time’, but it really kinda screws over early adopters and someone that just bought the game a few days before.

      Still waiting on the update as well. I follow their site already, but if you spot the impending update before I do, let me know. I’ll give ’em a proper DLC article to help spread the word.

    2. LOL…yea that seems to be what happens to me when I buy and download a game. IE games on demand or arcade game. A week or two after I buy it I will see notices that it will be going on sale. And then other games I wait and wait and wait feeling that the price is a little high and if they ever lower it to “X” price either on sale or permanent that I will buy it and it never happens. You’d think my last name would be Murphy being that Murphy’s Law plays such an important role in my life.

      Will do on the DLC. But honestly (read above statement) I’m usually late to those things. LOL

    1. Hmm, I did not see that, thanks for the keen eye. 🙂 He did credit the site, though, so I’m completely fine with it. Arcadecraft deserves a mention however and wherever.

    2. Yea, I didn’t think you would have a problem with it. I just wanted to make sure you were aware. And you are correct it does deserve a mention whenever and wherever it can get it. In face I’m about due to load it up again and see if it has been updated yet. Looking forward to some new stuff on it.

    3. Gracias for the links. 🙂 I only knew about it a few days ago myself. Was going to do an article for the update, but it didn’t pack any ‘huge’ content increases, so I let it slide. Next update will be the big one, so I’ll have to keep an eye out for that to let everyone in on it once it’s out.

      Adding the ‘Bad Caterpillar’ game as a cabinet is a nice extra for owners. Still wish I would’ve reviewed it for the site, but I was burnt out on writing other stuff at the time.

  2. Yeah looks like a fun game, but MS hate Australia and we don’t get Indie titles 😦 The BS they spill is that games require a rating yet for some reason that didn’t stop the Windows 8 store or Apple’s AppStore.. Can’t find the real reason, anyone know?

    1. I think you nailed it with the ‘rating’ point; the lack of oversight is what keeps XBLIG out of certain countries. The Windows Store and Apple can sell because they’re regulated by their respective companies, whereas XBLIG is completely left to its own devices, peer reviews only. Certain countries (Australia, in your case) are bothered by that fact, and therefore won’t allow it. Personally, I don’t know what the harm is in offering the games (it’s not like anything outright ‘bad’ is allowed on the service, porn, what have you), but no exceptions means no exceptions, I guess.

  3. After 3rd play through I am ready for the update. And possible future updates to keep it fresh. Love this game and just want more of it!

  4. first time playing through, not changing any difficulty or prices, i ended with 130k at the end of year 1986. Bought all the extras, like all the floors all the pilars, all wall colours. I just loved the game. Cant wait for the updates. I agree, need another employee, and have the employees fix the machines and turn them back on after power outage. You cant just leave the game and build up money. But the game is awesome. They should have put it on kickstarter, they would have made a ton of cash like they did for shadowgate remake.

    1. I’d take an extra employee if it’s added, though I would probably be better off if the current employee just took on more of the load, like you said, fixing machines and resetting them after power outages (or adding a one-flip-turns-them-all-back-on option).

      As for Kickstarter, I can’t speak for Firebase Industries, but I’m sure they’re just happy that Arcadecraft has caught on like it has, and wasn’t criminally overlooked like their previous game, Orbitron, was.

    2. They did do a good job of piggy backing though. Meaning if you buy their first game you can add the console to this game AND biggest surprise of all is the fact they lowered it’s price from 240 to 80. Which IMO is a appropriate price point for that game.

    3. 80 MSP will help their bottom line, agreed (I do think 240 MSP would’ve been fair too). The Orbitron cabinet was nice touch and an easy trick. I always had at least one of them in my arcade (2 most of the time). A little expensive to start, but you can make a tidy profit off of the machines before their popularity went down to nothing, and the guy usually came in to buy the game from me (at full price!) just before I was going to sell it back.

      Of course, Orbitron by itself is a good buy also. Fine game. 🙂

    1. Arcades, caffeine, tunes, and more caffeine; that was probably the theme of the 80s in general. Made sense to give the customers what they want and plenty of it. 🙂

  5. I am in the middle of my 3rd play through and am excited for the updates / DLC. During my 2nd play through it did crash so until the update comes I recommend saving it often. Good tip on the $1 thing on the soda & jukebox I figured that out on my 1st game in which I struggled but made it to the end. Two more hints I have are when a machine is new you can bump up the price to 50 cents for a short while and when a machine drops to 1 star it’s good to lower the difficulty to low and prolong the life of the game. In one case I have an original purchase that been in my arcade for almost the entire game at 2-3 stars since no home version came out for it. Oh and one more thing is put sequels next to each other to increase popularity. I even have 3 generations of 1 game together. Can you tell I love this game? Just 1 suggestion, it would be nice to be able to store games to bring back out later. Maybe you can rent a storage locker. And I sure could use another employee.

    1. You’re not alone in loving it. I need to give it some more serious thought on where it will appear on my leaderboard, but it will be there. 🙂

      I did see that some people experienced Code 4s. I got lucky, I guess, in never getting one. Just the shadow of it had me saving every other ‘month’ though. I tinkered with raising the prices on popular / new games, but it never seemed like it had much effect for me, and keeping track of which machine had which price was a hassle. I did lower the difficulty on older games, though, and that appeared to extend their life. I had a handful of ‘classic’ machines, including some perpetually two / three star ones (usually the ‘odd’ ones, like the track & field types). That’s a good trick on stacking sequels. I might have found that accidentally, as my ‘curse’ for organization meant I kept most of my originals and sequels together anyway. :p.

      I do wonder if another employee would help; mine was pretty much worthless. I ended up collecting the majority of the coins because the guy moved like a slug. The DLC will add a bigger arcade venue, so maybe that’ll offer the possibility of new workers and / or storage.

    2. Saddened by the fact you said it might make your leaderboard and 12 days later and I don’t see it there. 🙂

    3. Pfft. You just have to remind me how lazy and indecisive I am, don’t you? Very well. Sometime tomorrow (er… today, just later), I’ll get that sorted out. Still need to figure out if I’m dropping a game or making the list a Top 26.

      (EDIT: Arcadecraft is ranked 16th on the Leaderboard, good sir, in a now-expanded Top 30 list.)

  6. I playtested this game and not once did I think about raising the price of the soda machine. I figured no one would spend their money on it since $1.00 is today’s price for soda. I did raise the price for the jukebox to 50¢ which helped me out.

    Overall, this game is awesome and I played it everytime the guy updated it.

    1. That was my second time starting an arcade (the first time, I went out of business by the end of the first year) 🙂 Actually, I’d say the jukebox is the better deal (I think I made over 40K profit from it over the arcade’s lifetime), but both made me plenty at the maximum price. Quick and easy money-makers.

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