Indie Review: Arcadecraft (Microsoft Xbox 360)

MOTG ArcadecraftWalking into a darkened building, pulsating with electronic noise, lit only by the raster glow from a million screens is one memory I will always keep with me. Videogame arcades from the 1980s golden age are long gone and, if you are a regular reader, much lamented by me.

I have lost count how many times I wished I could have one of these wonderful machines in my bedroom, especially if it was the proper, full-cab-sit-down Star Wars, so I could blow the Death Star to bits time and again. Later, while my lasers cooled and I took a break I could marvel at the beauty of the thing, drinking in the cabinet art and letting the sweet attract sounds lull me to sleep.

How I envied the man who owned my local arcade! How cool his life must have been! Sitting in that glass box, a mysteriously large bunch of keys on the counter-top, its edge worn down near that tiny slot in the glass where he slid yet another stack of 10p's to the salivating arcade freak who couldn't wait to feed it all into his favourite machine.

This man was power, he held the key to a lost credit when your money got stuck, and you humbly had to ask him, or worse one of his greasy haired lackeys, to unjam it and maybe, just maybe, give you the credit as your stuck coin tumbled into the coin box.

Insert Coin

screen4Well, if you have ever wanted to run your own arcade and be that all powerful man in the box then Arcade Craft could be the game you have been waiting for.

It is a simulation/management game created by indie developer Firebase on the Xbox marketplace for 240 Microsoft points. You start in 1980 by naming your arcade, 'nothing offensive' instructs your female mentor, who also informs you that you have been advanced a nice sum of money, in the form of a loan, to get your dream arcade up and running.

The game mechanics are nice and simple, a series of menus allow you to navigate around enabling you to buy new machines or spruce up the arcade interior. Not much is available at the start as is the norm with games of this type, but its not really a struggle to get going. The all important income from your games is influenced by popularity, position, difficulty and price of the game and managing a good cash flow is the key to success, if you cant pay your bills at the end of the month, the lights go out and you may have to sell a few things to make ends meet.

Each machine has its own set of stats, some of which you can change (for example how much it costs to play) but the all important popularity is defined by the patrons, and an unpopular machine leads to an unpopular arcade and ultimately less money. Machines breakdown, get jammed and have to be emptied, a constant stream of tasks keep this game clicking along, almost frantically sometimes as you have to deal with troublemakers who need throwing out as they bash your latest game, Japanese salesmen trying to sell you games and the all important end of month expenses.

Its all in the detail

mid80sWhat appeals to me most is the little touches, the patrons of the arcade are the avatars from your friend list, and you, standing proudly behind the counter are represented this way also. The sound is very good, electronic music and in game noises add quite the authentic feel. Little events like retro gamers badgering you to sell them one of your vintage machines, and pro gamers going for the high score do much to keep the game interesting and alive. Its obvious that the developers have done a bit of homework, the graphics are nicely drawn and the cabinets look just great, capturing the feel perfectly. I found myself putting the 'proper' names to the on screen games (Super Monaco sit down cab looks great!)

This is a great little game, well worth the points. There is quite a depth to it and along with other events that I wont spoil for you, that will keep you entertained for a good while. I have played it as far as 1985, and it still delights, so stick on some 80's cheesy pop, dim the lights and you are right back in the good old days.

Arcadecraft (Trailer)


Last Updated ( 05 April 2013 )  

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I am the original first generation. I wandered in to an arcade in the late 70’s and never really got over it. I don’t have a favourite system but I do have a lot of favourite games and spend most of my spare time playing and writing about them. On sunny days you could find me outside, but only if my longboard is with me.

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