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Quick Review: Arcadecraft

Arcadecraft is just shy of being well polished. It comes from Firebase Industries, devs of technically showy XBLIG shmup Orbitron: Revolution. This time they’ve zeroed in on a purely mechanical focus over mere eye candy.

Arcadecraft aims to capture the early-to-mid-’80s era of arcade games. It was a good period of innovation as the genres and way we play videogames were being shaped in the moment. Firebase captures the common love of this era shared by retro gamers and presents in a new way.

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“On the right path”It’s about amassing quality arcade cabinets. The available choices span all manner of genre and cabinet builds from traditional standups to more roomy racing sets, paying homage to all the familiar arcade classics. It’s a nice touch and only too bad they weren’t slightly more detailed or animated. The characters appear out of nowhere, hover over the static screen and vanish.

Sadly interactions with customers exist only as revenue streams and their actions aren’t governed by their personality or interests, but the popularity of the arcade and each machine. As a result, when they provide feedback, their actions are at odds with their advice. They stand at the machine and dump a good thirty, forty dollars into the game of choice they only just decried as being a ripoff. So there’s no way to appeal to them directly and in these moments the arcades feel empty, frozen in time as Xbox Avatars fade in and out of existence.

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With only a bit more character, Arcadecraft could go from a very good sim to an excellent one. It’s on the right path, with promised updates to come, and is already a dangerously fun timewaster, while never being waste of time.

The mechanics are in the vein of a social game but they have no reason to be and it has no social elements short of the leaderboards. Add town elements and payment walls and it could be a Zynga outing, although they wouldn’t have shown the same care or proper nostalgia.

“A formidable XBLIG title”The core mechanics are simply setting the arcade machine and then harvesting money from them to buy others and stay afloat. Things either go all the way good or bad. At least for the first half, it’s uncertain, and keeps things gripping. There are also setbacks, like power loss across all units, coin jams that have to be slammed out, broken machines to repair, among other things.

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After many trying attempts, it’s clear Arcadecraft provides a similar appeal to Microsoft’s Game Room, with higher degrees of success, not getting tangled up in licensing or attempting to emulate the machines. Firebase’s effort more fully executes and proves a good concept. It’s almost entirely suited for Xbox Live Arcade, only held back by a few blemishes, and need for support.

Arcadecraft is a formidable XBLIG title, one of the few great shots at simulation. Balancing time management and simulation, Firebase strike an agreeable middle ground with plenty to offer for the retro gamer in everyone.

The author of this fine article

is an Associate Editor at Thunderbolt, having joined in July 2007. Get in touch on Twitter @Calvin_Kemph.

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