Arcade Review Simulation

Arcade Paradise – Review

Is there anything more deliciously 90s than a Laundromat slash Arcade? Growing up in the UK, I can’t personally back this claim up. That said, from various nostalgic forum posts, films, TV shows, and the developers’ Nosebleed Interactive idea I think that statement could be correct. The question remains; Will this be an Arcade Paradise or Retro Hell?

The 80’s Dream

You play as Ashley, just another person trying to find a path in life. Equipped with half a business degree, you’ve been given the job of managing the family laundromat which your father only just remembered he owns.

Arriving at the rundown laundromat, you commence cleaning up, learning the ropes, and figuring out what to do to pass the time between suds and soaps. This is when you find several old arcade machines in the back area of the shop.

Upon inspection not only do the machines work but they are also full of quarters. Combined with the day’s takings allows you to purchase a new machine that triggers that arcade spark. Why not use that half a business degree and run a laundromat and arcade at once?

The story is delivered via phone calls and emails between you and your family. While written well enough, it’s easily ignorable if you decide to make this tale your own thing. Either way, a set it up is provided, and it is there should you choose to follow it throughout the experience.

Arcade Fire

Gameplay in Arcade Paradise is split into two distinctive styles, simulation, and retro arcade. After all, what’s the fun of running an arcade if you can’t sample the machines?

For the simulation side, as mentioned you need to run a successful laundromat to get enough of the cold hard cash to put more machines and decorations into that backroom arcade. In turn, this allows you to earn more money on that venture and eventually drop the Laundromat side of the business—unless that’s your kind of thing. We don’t judge here. 

You’ll start the day bright and early and keep on going until the close of business just before midnight. While you can technically stay later, the business won’t accrue any more money and you’ll eventually pass out if you stay too long.

During these hours and especially during the early game, you’ll find yourself immersed in the day-to-day running of the Laundromat while you figure out how to make the most money out of your arcade.

This will have you cleaning up the mess left by service users. You’ll need to pick gum off of the sides of machines, plunge the toilet, clean clothes, dry and present clothes, collect tokens and money, and finally put the days’ takings in the safe. All this needs to be done before you retire to sleep ready for another day of the grind.

These jobs are all performed by holding buttons down. You’re in for a lot of button-mashing and timed mini-games here. While sounding rather droll on paper, it’s very easy to get sucked into day-to-day life. But that isn’t why we are here, is it?

Rage Against Arcade Machine

You start with 3 machines. The goal of the retro side of the gameplay is to play them enough to score the in-game achievements and make the games more popular. This then lets you up the price and see the money roll, linking in with the simulation part of the game. This ensures that you can purchase the next machine, and eventually an entire building to house your collection. You’ll soon be able to say goodbye to your suds story!

There are over 30 games you can purchase for your arcade. These represent most of the spectrum of arcade gaming and what it represented. While no title is an official title from “back in the day”, you’ll discover clones or parodies of what you would have seen in the arcades from the 80s to 90s.

The game selection is a little too puzzle-heavy for my liking, and while there is a fun beat ’em up title, the distinct lack of any 1 Vs 1 fighting games just left me feeling that one of the most iconic genres from the arcade was criminally underrated. At least we got a Dance Mat game though.

You can buy various upgrades for the games from the charming in-game Palm Pad. Some even allow you to save your progress which means they aren’t quite the gauntlet the authentic experience presents.

A Necessary Sacrifice?

As your arcade starts to take off, you’ll naturally start to neglect your Laundromat more and more. Instead, you’ll be spending time deciding which arcade cabinets go where, which machine needs a price boost, and which of the many in-game challenges you wish to knock off next.

This makes it feel like the Laundromat was a good idea that never went much further. The balancing throughout is never great, but without that particular side being upgradeable and presenting new challenges it mostly becomes forgotten when you have a roaring arcade scene going on next door.

That feeling very much sums up much of Arcade Paradise. Initially, it’s a fun and fresh feeling experience with a loving homage to the culture of Arcade gaming. But in the end, it boils down to some good ideas obscured by a plethora of puzzle games, wonky balancing, and the need to please the general masses with options without dropping a little more much-needed substance to keep it authentic and engaging.

Parallax Blast Processing!

Arcade Paradise has a fun visual style. It mixes the drab real-life look of a rundown business and then creates a complete contrast of neon and excitement as your arcade becomes its own coin-munching beast.

Exploration is done in first-person and while everything has a decent level of detail, it’s the 8-bit-inspired menus that pop up when you’re working and things like that which make it great. It paints this image of escaping into your own head to make mundane tasks such as throwing rubbish away almost “fun”.

NPCs weirdly faze out of reality should you get too close to them and when you can see them they have a really low fidelity look about them. I can only fathom this is a stylistic choice and maybe represents the main character’s razor-like focus.

The arcade games themselves range from the early Atari-style graphics to the very low-end 32-bit 3D graphics. They all look authentic in regard to what they are emulating. There are also games like Pool that are played using the in-game exploration engine.

Voice acting is fine, but nothing special. Much like the story, you can choose to just drown it out with the sounds of the arcade and the hustle and bustle of the daily grind.

When you finally have your arcade up and running, Arcade Paradise nails the sound of being stood in a busy arcade. You can listen to the sound of jingles trying to attract potential money victims and coins dropping into machines as said victims are convinced they can win with “just one more go”.


Arcade Paradise is a fantastic attempt at producing a simulation slash compilation title, but unfortunately has a few failings which stop it from being a World Warrior. 

The lack of punishment should you choose to neglect the Laundromat gives the game a real half-baked feel. Beyond that, the fact there isn’t any representation for key arcade genres such as Fighting Games and Rail Shooters puts a downer on anyone whose arcade experience wasn’t dominated by Match 3 puzzle games and Missile Command.

Arcade Paradise is still a fun title and is an excellent stepping stone to what could be a true arcade gamer’s paradise. It’s part simulation, part retro, and full neon-soaked good time. Sadly, it just doesn’t simulate the arcade experience I had and at times feels as deep as the shallow end of the shower.


Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4|5, XBox, PC

If you would like to see more Retro-style games, you may be interested in our review of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge.

Many thanks go to Wired Productions for a PlayStation review code for this title.

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