Business management meets arcade gaming in Arcade Paradise, an indie game that sees you build an arcade business from the back room of a run-down laundromat. Of course, the place won’t stay rundown for long, as patrons come through and witness the nostalgia-fed neon wonderland that you’ve started creating.
Game cabinets aren’t just business assets in Arcade Paradise – you get to play the games you’re buying, too. With over 30 games to choose from, it can be tough to know what to spend your hard-earned money on.
10 Communists From Mars
While the cabinets in Arcade Paradise pay homage to multiple eras of arcade gaming, the game’s overall aesthetic is unmistakably ’80s. While it’s not really an issue that many of the cabinets you can buy in Arcade Paradise don’t fit the ’80s vibe, any cabinet that does match this atmosphere automatically becomes a more attractive purchase.
There’s no more ’80s-suitable cabinet in Arcade Paradise than Communists From Mars, a simple shooter that replaces aliens with communists to form a brilliant little joke about the communism-centered paranoia of the ’80s.
Barkanoid is a simple Breakout clone with one key change to the brick-breaking formula – the paddle is a Dachshund. As well as bringing a sausage dog to Breakout, Barkanoid also adds some small gameplay tweaks such as lasers and changing dog size to keep you interested as you lose lives because you’re too busy staring at the dog.
Just adding an animal and a couple of extra mechanics to an existing game isn’t going to set the world on fire. It certainly makes Barkanoid worth buying for those times when you need some cute animal therapy after unblocking the laundromat toilets, though.
8 Zombat 2
Zombat 2 is a twin-stick shooter with a surprisingly punishing learning curve. It’s also another example of Arcade Paradise’s commitment to making its lineup of cabinets feel timeless by melding multiple eras of games together.
In Zombat 2’s case, simplistic ’80s-style graphics and gameplay are combined with upgrade and shop systems you may expect to see in a modern title. While Zombat 2’s gameplay is a little shallow for the genre, there’s no other game like it in Arcade Paradise’s lineup, making it a must-buy for your arcade.
7 Racer Chaser
Arcade Paradise is full of genre mashups. Perhaps the most bizarre among them is Racer Chaser, a game that melds Pac-man with the top-down Grand Theft Auto games. Yes, it’s as weird as it sounds. The gameplay takes more from Pac-man than GTA, with you primarily controlling a car driving around a city from a top-down perspective, running from cops that take the place of Pac-man’s ghosts.
Ignoring the absurdity of the mashup, Racer Chaser is actually a pretty faithful homage to Pac-man, almost feeling like one of those obscure Pac-man spin-off games that were everywhere in the 2000s.
6 Woodgal’s Adventure
Woodgal’s Adventure is one of the most fleshed-out games in Arcade Paradise, and comes with a gameplay loop that could easily have come out of the early 2010s mobile app stores. The bulk of Woodgal’s Adventure sees you traversing a Toejam & Earl-style overworld and fighting in battles with mechanics reminiscent of Candy Crush and its legion of copycats.
While Woodgal’s Adventure certainly doesn’t have the nicest aesthetic of the games in Arcade Paradise, its gameplay and overall polish ranks it among the arcade’s best cabinets.
5 Cyber Dance
Cyber Dance is perhaps the game that is most at odds with the arcade’s predominantly ’80s aesthetic, thanks to its resemblance to the late ’90s arcade phenomenon Dance Dance Revolution. Any potential timeline problems Cyber Dance might create are quickly forgiven, though. After all, how do you make an arcade tycoon game and not include a Dance Dance Revolution clone?
While it’s certainly a very cool game to have in your arcade (and a great moneymaker), Cyber Dance’s lack of iconic dance pad peripheral dampens its gameplay significantly. It settles for a typical WASD/arrow keys rhythm game with a DDR skin. Luckily, the nostalgia this skin creates is still cool enough to bring it onto this list.
4 Vostok 2093
Vostok 2093 is Arcade Paradise’s sole shoot-em-up, a safe yet satisfying homage to the classic arcade genre. It’s a pretty good take on it, too. The Galaga influence is everywhere and obvious, and not necessarily a bad thing. Waves of enemy aliens, special weapons, and bosses all appear in Vostok 2093, and all work to a great degree.
Vostok 2093’s biggest flaw is its genre. Over the past few years, shoot-em-ups have seen a great resurgence. Anyone who’s played one of the excellent new entries in the genre is likely to spend their time playing Vostok wondering why they aren’t playing one of those better, standalone shoot-em-ups instead.
3 Space Race Simulator
Space Race Simulator is one of Arcade Paradise’s most blatant homages, a racing game that takes its cues from Sega’s Outrun. While Arcade Paradise’s take on ’80s arcade racing lacks the non-linear progression and depth of the game it’s based on, it still delivers in the gameplay department.
The visual and audio presentation are incredibly tight, and the controls are faithful enough to send you into a nostalgia so deep that you Google how much it would cost to get an Outrun cabinet shipped to your living room.
2 Knuckles & Knees
Knuckles & Knees is a surprisingly fleshed-out beat-em-up inspired by the Final Fight series. The relative depth and length of Arcade Paradise’s attempt at this classic arcade genre makes it the best traditional cabinet in the game.
Knuckles & Knees is also in the unique position of delivering nostalgia to some of Arcade Paradise’s younger players, thanks to the incredible longevity of the Simpsons and TMNT beat-em-up cabinets that swept the world in the ’90s and 2000s.
1 Video Air Hockey
Video Air Hockey is with you right from the start of Arcade Paradise, and is the perfect game to come back to from time to time even in the later hours of the game. Its remarkably simple graphics let it lean hard into the CRT-screen nostalgia realm that Arcade Paradise creates when it’s at its best.
The choice to have Video Air Hockey available right at the start of the game is a genius one. The ever-presence of air hockey machines in arcades all but guarantees that playing Video Air Hockey will remind you of your favorite days spent in arcades, and urge you to build your own arcade empire in honor of them.
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