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.
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.