Update: Arcadecraft received a Second Chance with the Chick, where many problems talked about in this review were addressed, and new gameplay features discussed. The price is also now only $1 instead of $3. Continue reading this review and then click here for my updated thoughts.

Arcadecraft is brought to you by the guys who did the incredibly awesome Orbitron: Revolution.  What was Orbitron: Revolution?  Why, it was an insanely fast-paced modern take on the classic Defender formula that featured arguably the best graphics in the history of Xbox Live Indie Games.  It will undoubtedly go down as one of the most professional-quality, vastly entertaining games ever on the platform.

Total bust.  Sold fewer copies than an 8-track of Gary Busey belching into a microphone.

What went wrong?  Well, I think the name was way too generic.  Orbitron sounds like an off-brand anime that would air at 4AM on Cartoon Network.  The graphics might have also been too good.  Hear me out on this one.  I’m of the belief that XBLIG consumers are conditioned to associate good graphics with bad gameplay.  Unless those good graphics are of the 8-bit or 16-bit variety, “modern” graphic decency in an Xbox Indie means shitty play control, glitches, and typically rushed game design.  Trust me, I’ve reviewed over 300 of these.  The better the graphics, the shittier the game.  Orbitron is one of the rare exceptions to that.

There are other possible explanations that are beyond my scope of understanding.  Perhaps the demo doesn’t hook players in.  Or maybe the general gaming populace is indifferent to Defender.  Hell, I would actually believe some kind of Gypsy Curse is in play.  Either way, the guys at Firebase took no chances with their follow-up game.  It’s called Arcadecraft.  The presence of the word “craft” in the title alone is probably good for at least 2,500 units sold on XBLIG.  Kraft could put out a game where you build stuff out of macaroni called Kraftcraft and it would probably sell a gillion copies.  But Arcadecraft isn’t a “build stuff out of stuff” game at all.  A more accurate title would have probably been “Sim Arcade” or “Arcade Tycoon.”  But Sim Tycoon isn’t trendy on XBLIG right now and Craft is, and Firebase are capitalists first and foremost.

Face it guys, you're never going to hear people keep asking about if they can play the games.  Better get cracking on making it happen.

Face it guys, you’re going to hear people keep asking if they can play the games. Better get cracking on making it happen.

Sadly for me, lots of the things I planned on complaining about Arcadecraft are already being fixed.  Although the patch isn’t live yet, it covers nearly every problem I had.  So I’ll just focus on the gameplay.  Honestly, the shocking thing about Arcadecraft is that nobody has thought to make this game before.  Build your own arcade during the Golden Age of CoinOps?  How is this not already something that exists?  You have to buy games, set the prices, set the difficulty, place them, empty the coin boxes, buy more games, pay off your loan, kick out hooligans, buy more games, sell old games, upgrade the power supply of your building, allow world champion players to attempt to break records on your machines, unjam coin doors, buy more games, survive the gaming crash of ’84, stock soda machines, and buy more games.

So yea, it’s a time sink.

A lot of stuff I disliked about Arcadecraft is being patched out.  The hooligan won’t appear while you’re in menus anymore, and a more satisfying animation will appear when you boot him.  Not too satisfying.  If I owned an arcade and someone started kicking my machines, nothing short of Joe Pesci taking a nail gun to his temple would please me, and it would serve the little fucker right.  It would be totally justified too.  The kid starts kicking machines, somehow teleporting from machine to machine, disabling them before I can clearly identify him and eject him.  A better indicator of where he is would be nice, given the fact that he’s powered by the mystical forces of Satan and all.

And the power goes out a lot.  Like, at least every three game months, or about six minutes .  Where the fuck is my arcade at that the power keeps failing every three months?  There’s no “turn on every game” master switch.  You have to pick up and slam every machine against the ground.  Individually.  When you have 30 machines, this becomes a pain in the ass, especially when you’ll inevitably have the hooligan show up to start shit while this is going on.  I did find it mildly amusing that jammed coined slots are unjammed in the time-tested tradition of banging the machine repeatedly until it works again.  See, who says Armageddon wasn’t factually accurate?

I swear to Christ, every time the dude came by with the premium machines, my arcade was full. The game totally needs to give you the option to make him wait while you hock a machine to make room.

I swear to Christ, every time the dude came by with the premium machines, my arcade was full. The game totally needs to give you the option to make him wait while you hock a machine to make room.

My biggest gripe with Arcadecraft is how fucking slow a start it gets off to.  A lot of time sinks are lethargic in the beginning.  Arcadecraft is practically in a fucking coma, sort of like I’ve been over the last four days.  A common theme among players is one itty-bitty mistake forces them to start over.  I never had to myself.  I guess I had as perfect a run as anyone could have, but I still only finished 99th on the Leaderboard (now like 118th or some such shit).  I could see why others would die though.  You’re given too little of seed money and new games cost too much money early on.  In theory, you can set a machine to 50 cents a play, but that causes its popularity to plummet.  Here’s a hint: sink a soda machine pretty much anywhere and set the price to $1 per can.  Occasionally a “hot spot” will appear in the arcade that increases a machine’s popularity, but they’re typically in the least convenient spot.  Like in front of the bathroom door, where you then trap a helpless little shit inside, not to mention the kid that made it.

With all the planned changes, plus future expansions, Arcadecraft feels more like a really good beta than a finished game.  That’s okay, because it’s a really good beta, sort of like Lexiv was.  You can see the potential.  If Firebase plays its cards right, they could probably make this a hit iOS game with microtransactions up the ass for years to come.  Think of all the stuff they didn’t include this time around.  There’s no novelty games, no redemption games, no pinball machines, no skeeball, no air hockey, no cigarette machine in the corner (you know, for the adults, wink), and only a limited supply of larger cockpit games.  Arcadecraft has a chance to be a full-blown franchise, and we’re getting in at the ground floor.

You also don't get enough info on each game. Again, there's lot of patchwork needed here.

You also don’t get enough info on each game. Again, there’s lot of patchwork needed here.

And by the way, in case you’re wondering, it’s fucking awesome as hell.  For all the problems, of which there are numerous, Arcadecraft is one of the best sims on XBLIG.  But, let’s face it, it doesn’t belong on XBLIG.  This should be on PCs, with the convenience of a mouse and keyboard.  This would also allow the expansion packs I mentioned above.  Plus, let’s face it, we all want to play the actual games.  Dead serious when I say that I would pay the full disc-based retail price of $60 for a version of Arcadecraft where you could play the games.  Assuming they didn’t suck.  Which I’m guessing they wouldn’t.  I mean, Firebase did make the coolest modern version of Defender on the market.  This would give them a chance to make the coolest versions of EVERY vintage game.  Which they should be doing right now.  They’re capitalists after all.  Don’t believe me?  Their next game involves making stuff out of feces.  It’s called CrapCraft.  And it will be fucking awesome.

xboxboxartArcadecraft was developed by Firebase Industries

IGC_Approved240 Microsoft Points want the machine kicking kid to be attacked by the game machines, Emilio Estevez  style in the making of this review.

Arcadecraft is Chick Approved and ranked on the Indie Gamer Chick Leaderboard.  And trust me, there’s room for upward mobility. 

About Indie Gamer Chick
Indie game reviews and editorials.

9 Responses to Arcadecraft

  1. I thoroughly enjoyed ArcadeCraft, and I agree that it starts too slow, but I also think it ends too slow. Once you have 30 machines the game slows down a good bit, since all you have to do is go around and retire old machines and then buy a new one. The last 3 years or so I just fell into that pattern, and it grew boring after a while. I wish there were some higher priced goals or other challenges to make survival past 1984 more of a struggle.

    • I agree with this 100% and it’s my main complaint with it. My other complaint is that it’s REALLY easy. My first playthrough, I was 5th on the leaderboard out of 900 people. FIFTH. I was a few thousand behind the guy that was the first to hit 1,000,000 earned and was on his like 6th playthrough. This isn’t my genre and generally I shy away from it, so, wha? Also, the only two changes I made to any machines were, one, I upped the pop machine to 50 cents and, two, I upped the Pole Position sit-down to 50 cents. Otherwise, I did nothing but collect coins and appropriately buy and sell machines. And I was 5th? o_O

      I had fun with it for the first few years, but without much to do after that it does get horrendously boring during the last half. I still think it’s worth the money (and say so in the XBLIG round-up I’m putting up tonight), especially if the last couple years get some sort of padding, but I could fill a 5 minute video with just the things I don’t like or disagree with.

  2. Mike says:

    I’m glad this turned out pretty good – when I saw it pop up on the new release list I had the same reaction – how has no one done this already!?

    Oh, you might hate me for this, but the leaderboard/seal system has totally become the rating system for me you don’t want to have. I mean, I still read the reviews but I look first at the bottom for the seal =)

  3. Slick N Slime says:

    If you could make this a front end for MAME it would be pretty Awesome. Just think, all the marquees, screenshots, pics of machines are already done in mame. Even the posters etc. Just make a database of what the game prices should be and release days and you could just fire up a game and it would be playable in mame. If Mame is legal and if you only load the roms you legally own or entitled to, i cant see why that couldn’t be possible.

  4. Saviormoney says:

    I grew up in this era so I was more than willing to throw down 80 points to check it out. Until you said something about it, I never really thought about “why has this not been done already” My thoughts were more along the lines of “finally, a sim that I can get into” I agree with EVERYTHING you said about the game. I am actually still on my first playthrough and I was trying to find out when, or if, any expansions will be made. That is how I stumbled upon this article. I am in September of 1983 and I have purchased everything that you can up to that point, including all decor. I have more than enough money to make it through 1984, no problem. Mr. Pennywise and myself are constantly emptying the coin bins in my 30 machine arcade and that is pretty much all I do until the following month when I cycle out another game. I am really hoping that they expand on this game ALOT. It has serious potential and I have mostly loved it, with exception to the issues that you mentioned. I will also go ahead and get Orbitron: Revolution since you give it so much praise and also so that I can put it in my arcade. Im glad I found your site and I will be getting my reviews here before all future indie game purchases.

  5. Pingback: The Perils and Pitfalls of Putting Together a Bundle | Indie Gamer Chick

  6. The game only starts slow if you play conservatively. Right off the bat you can buy four cabs (one duplicate) and a soda machine. You will be left with only $250, but those 5 starting machines will generate about $2,300 by the end of the month, easily covering the first month’s rent and allowing you to purchase a fifth game (6th machine total) almost immediately.

    If you use the hotspots and don’t allow the wannabe video game champion dude to hog your cabs, you can have a 5-star arcade with 30 slots by September 1980.

    The nerd-raging douche who wrecks your machines can be found immediately via an audio cue, before he has a chance to land a single kick on your cabs. Finding him and tossing him ASAP is a must because a $400 repair to a broken machine in the early game can mean the difference between affording a new cab and going a month without one.

    As far as being able to play the games? No. Just no. You won’t have time for it once you’re out of the early game because money will be coming in so fast, and this is a simulator game, not a 100-in-one super pack of Space Invaders and Centipede clones. I’d rather have the devs focus their resources on the actual game, content updates and future DLC, which I’d gladly pay for.

  7. Pingback: Arcadecraft (Second Chance with the Chick) | Indie Gamer Chick

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