To coincide with the release of Arcade Paradise, Wired Productions hosted a dual press day and evening launch party. I was lucky enough to snag an invite to both!
Before I start, I want to quickly mention the venue itself. Both events took place at the historic 26 Leake Street hidden below Waterloo Station. What was once a collection of mere railway arches is now a bustling hub of urban creativity. It even has a dedicated event space for 1200+ attendees. This is where the events took place.
A Retro Paradise
All that sounds great but finding the actual place I needed to be was a tad difficult. Google Maps only got me so far, directing me to what I think was some kind of event booking office? I did eventually find my way. And what an incredible sight to behold when I arrived. Walking past the two graffiti artists prepping a large mural, I found myself in a cavernous space. Dotted around this space was a respectable selection of retro arcade cabinets. These featured legendary games like Pacman, Donkey Kong and more. This was the main event area, with the main stage up ahead. There was also a live music room through to the left, and the press area off to the right. Not to mention some laundry drying overhead. Because you know, Arcade Paradise is set in a laundromat.
I was escorted off to the right through a set of doors (to the left in the above image) to the press area. The games featured here were a bit more modern. I’ll talk through each game in the same order I sat down with them.
Tiny Troopers: Global Ops
First up was the fast-paced arcade twin-stick shooter known as Tiny Troopers: Global Ops. Jon West, Associate Producer at Wired Productions was on hand to walk me through. I initially made my way through the tutorial area. I then had two playthrough of the first mission, each time with a different difficulty. Global Ops is a game that highlights how far the Tiny Trooper franchise has come. From humble beginnings as a mobile only title, this newest one is the biggest one yet. There’s a campaign, a four player co-op mode, and a fairly decent amount of character customization too.
There also seems to be a focus on ease of access for younger players. A good selection of difficulty options and a number of features that limits online antagonism. One example is the deliberate lack of friendly fire. As a person who wasn’t that familiar with the franchise beforehand, I found this ease of entry very helpful. Seems like a strong game for a quick drop in and play session with friends, or a parent and child duo wanting to spend some time together.
Gori: Cuddly Carnage
Up next was Gori: Cuddly Carnage from Angry Demon Games. Out of all the games I played, this had me the most intrigued. A hoverboard riding cat set in a bonkers mix of levels, armed with a ferocious selection of moves? From the developers of Apsulov: End Of Gods? Count me in. As I sat through the opening cutscene, and loaded into the first level, my first initial thought was “this reminds me a whole lot of Alice: Madness Returns.” It was later confirmed by Caroline Petri and John Kalderon (Co-founder and CEO respectively), that the Alice franchise was a major influence. So expect surreal environments, pretty horrific enemies and some dark humour.
I got about half way through the demo level, which helped me get a feel for the battle mechanics. Usually there would be a steady introduction of abilities, but thanks to some debug mode magic, I was granted access to all of the available moves. Combat and traversal are both smooth and accessible. I fought against only two types of enemy. Both variations were based on a tweaked out unicorn mascot type thing, both very disturbing. It was mentioned that there would be more enemies added, and that would include more bosses! Gori: Cuddly Carnage definitely has plenty of style, and if the preview was anything to go by, there’s gonna be plenty of substance on offer too.
After this, I was led over to the Arcade Paradise booth. This game is one I was most familiar with on the day, having played it previously at W.A.S.D, and on a few public beta tests. This faint familiarity caused the host, Andreas Firnigl (Managing Director at Nosebleed games), to fast forward the game to show off some of the later sections. This included a look at some of the late game cabinets, not to mention some upgrades and Easter Eggs. There’s a cheeky little reference to his younger self in there, as well as the fabled Konami code.
If you don’t know what I referred to just now, you are making me feel so darn old. However, if you have a half-baked dream of owning a room full of arcade cabinets like me, then Arcade Paradise might be the game for you. A combination of faded and dusty memories of days gone by, coupled with a heavy dose of nostalgia makes this game one of my most anticipated of the year. I feel very much like I’m precisely the type of person this game is targeting, and it’s pretty wild I was able to attend the launch party. More on that later though.
The Last Worker
Before then, let me briefly mention The Last Worker from Wolf & Wood Interactive. Both Jörg Tittel (Writer/Director) and Ryan Bousfield, (Founder/Director) were on hand to talk me through it, with Jörg being the more talkative of the two. Plenty of stylistic choices to be praised here. Chief among them is the hand crafted art style, based on concepts by comic legend Mick McMahon of Judge Dredd fame. It looks great, but also has the potential to age nicely. Death animations are similar to the Arkham games, with the enemy glowering down at you. It also has some biting satire and commentary on the loss of jobs through automation, mirroring what is currently going on in the real world. Some pretty big voice talent attached too, with Jason Isaacs being the standout for me.
Once I was finished with The Last Worker, I spent a bit of time playing the Pac-Man cabinet back in the main area as there was a bit of a wait for the last game on my list. Finally, I sat down to play Tin Hearts, helped along by Chris Brooks, Senior Producer at Rogue Sun Games. This adorably sweet Lemmings-esque puzzler comes from the makers of Fable. It weaves an emotional story of a genius inventor layered over 40+ levels. The player must guide an army of tin soldiers to safety whilst tackling new game mechanics that are introduced throughout the game.
The main thing I took away from my experience was the vast amount of charm this seemed to have. The aforementioned tin soldiers are really cute, the backgrounds are wonderly detailed and oddly enough, highly interactive. Whilst the player view is initially stuck to one fixed location, full movement around the level is eventually unlocked. This lets the player actively search for new puzzle pieces and solutions, and helps build a believable game world. It’s pretty engaging.
And that was all five games experienced! The only thing left to do was to collect the absurdly incredible press kit (more on this later), and head off to my hotel for a bit of shut eye before the launch party.
The Launch Party
After a nap and shower, I returned to the venue just before 8pm. The mural the artists had been working on during the day was complete and looking great. My name was checked against a list by the bouncer, and a wristband was wrapped around my wrist. Once inside, I immediately noticed just how much busier it was. Everything was also bathed in a red light, and all the arcade machines were turned on.
At the far end, some of the Wired Production staff were manning a microphone and TV set up, giving out prizes and generally keeping the party going. My initial stop was to the free bar, and got myself what was essentially a bottomless lemonade. Don’t actually drink myself, but there were a good selection on offer, including some custom cocktails.
I spent a good portion of my time playing arcade games, and trying to get some decent pictures in the low light. Part way through the night the live band appeared. These were some of the artists who had contributed music to Arcade Paradise and they had a buzzing energy about them. They were definitely really funky. Wasn’t really my kind of music though, so I kinda lost interest fast. Out of all the arcade cabinets on offer, I spent the most time on Windjammers, Ms. Pac-Man and Point Blank.
During that time, I got absolutely annihilated by Andreas Firnigl on Windjammers (one of his favourites apparently?), reminisced about my childhood time with Point Blank, and discovered that I much prefer Ms. Pac-Man over the original. The original Pac-Man is too slow and boring! I failed to beat the hi-score, but witnessed the reigning local champ beat their original score, and got a few tips along the way.
Alongside the free drinks, there were also waiters weaving through the crowds, serving free finger food. It was quite the surreal experience standing at a cabinet, being offered skewered chicken satay from a silver platter. Didn’t end up eating that much, so I ended up heading over to KFC after I left. Overall it was a pretty stellar experience, and it must be said, Wired Productions can throw one hell of a 90’s themed party.
The Press Kit
Both the press event and launch party were both incredible, but this next topic probably blows both of them out the water.
The Arcade Paradise press kit. A package full of amazingly awesome retro goodies. First off, a digital copy of the PS4 game. Pretty standard so far. Next, a few printed based items. A poster promoting Safe In Our World. A cool collection of themed stickers. A letter from the protagonist Ashley, listing the other things included.
And this is where things get really awesome. An actual double sided cassette, featuring music from the game. A customised cassette layer to play said cassette. I am a massive fan of old physical media, and both these things are an absolute treat. And yes, I do have other cassettes to play.
There was also one one last item. The cornerstone of the entire thing. The pièce de résistance if you will. A full size, fully painted skateboard deck, featuring the King Wash building, the Arcade Paradise logo, and characters from several of the in-game cabinets. What an absolute legendary piece of gaming swag. It didn’t come with any grip, trucks or wheels but this could absolutely be made into a usable board.
An awesome surprise
I actually saw this before I was given the press kit at the end of the day. Whilst I was sitting with Andreas at the Arcade Paradise booth, a staff member came over to show him one of the decks. Obviously, the reaction from both of us was that of wonder, but I had no idea that I would be getting one. I just thought it was a thank you gift for the developers or something. It was still a pretty sweet surprise regardless.
So yeah. That was the Wired Productions Press Event that was hosted on 10th August 2022. As of the writing of this article, Arcade Paradise is probably going to make my personal top ten list of 2022 games, so being present at the launch party was absolutely wild. It’s the first one I’ve been to, and it’s gonna take quite the event to beat this experience. It was an absolute pleasure to pick the brains of the passionate people working diligently to bring us all some quality entertainment. Some of these games will probably not be for you, but Wired Productions definitely have a strong line-up of games coming in the near future.