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Review: Arcadecraft for Xbox Live Arcade

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Title: Arcadecraft
Price: 240 Microsoft Points
System: Xbox 360 (Xbox Line Indie Games)
Release Date: January 31, 2013
Publisher (Developer): Firebase Industries (Firebase Industries)

A game like Arcadecraft is a rare find on consoles. It has the simplicity of a mobile game, is priced like a mobile game, but has the overall design of a casual game that was developed by Microsoft. Of course, Arcadecraft was not born from the mind of Microsoft. It’s an Xbox Live Indie game from Firebase Industries. In it, you are the proprietor of a new arcade business in the 1980s. The goal is to create the most popular arcade in town by getting customers (who are Xbox Live avatars) to visit your establishment and fistfulls of quarters. Making this happens requires you to have a very basic knowledge on how to run a business. Basically, as long as your expenses don’t outweigh your revenue, you’ll be on the fast track to profitability.

How to Make a Successful Business

Anyone who played business simulation games from Roller Coaster Tycoon to Game Dev Story will feel right at home with Arcadecraft. The loan you received from the bank affords you with a relatively small, yet intimate space to build your empire. Naturally, you have to start filling that space with arcade machines to get people in the door. The machines you purchase are from fictional manufacturers such as Monoaco, Forti and Wave but they all carry that nostalgic 80s charm. There are cabinets that are inspired by the likes of Space Invaders, Donkey Kong and Galaga to name a few. Each of these cabinets can be arranged anywhere you like, although you are advised by your in-game business associate to place cabinets against the wall or pillars. Once you have the units set up, you can dive into the settings of each one to determine how much you’ll charge per play and how difficult the game will be. By default, the price per play is $0.25 on medium difficulty. You can also track how much money a machine has made since you purchased it in real-time. Every machine will eventually pay for itself. In my effort to be the hip and reasonable business owner, I kept prices low to keep my customers happy. Then again, Arcadecraft doesn’t really give you any other choice. Allow me to explain.

Popularity Contest

Each cabinet has a popularity level that’s ranked by stars. The more recent and affordable a game is, the more people will spend money on it. If you try to raise the price on a five-star machine from $0.25 to $0.50 or higher, customers tend to start freaking out immediately. Text boxes above their heads will fill with words such as “ripoff” and “lame” until you revert the prices back to their cheapest level. Within no time, a machine will lose much of its popularity if it breaks the status quo. This bummed me out a bit because I didn’t think it was unreasonable to charge more for brand new games. However, there are other aspects of Arcadecraft that are more flexible.

The fate of your arcade doesn’t just depend on how many machines you can stuff inside. Your arcade’s also got to look the part. Much like the machines, your arcade itself also has a popularity level. Acquiring the latest and greatest games is just one small part of building popularity. You also have to give your arcade some style through neon lights, wall art and colorful floor tiles. Decorating the place will cost thousands of dollars, but you’ll also get more customers. As with most things, your design will go out of style as time goes on. You must give your establishment a fresh look every now and then to keep things interesting.

One Size Fits All

Although you’re technically running your own business as an individual, everyone’s experience with Arcadecraft will be the same. You won’t see that much revenue starting out, but there will come a time when you’ve essentially “won” the game. The coin slots in your machines will fill up so quickly, you’ll have to hire someone to empty them for you. When you reach that moment, nothing will be out of your price range. The price for every new machine becomes negligible. The cost to repair broken machines will have very little effect on your bottom line. Firebase Industries will eventually release updates to Arcadecraft to expand the number of machines and situations you will face, but those updates weren’t available at the time this review was written.

For 240 Microsoft Points, Arcadecraft is a no-brainer. You’re not going to get several hours of unique content, but it’s very enjoyable nonetheless. This game is one-of-a-kind on XBLA.

Download [Xbox Live Marketplace]

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