Developed by Squidpunch Studios, Arcade Tycoon is an Early Access management sim in which you take control of and maintain an arcade. I’m not usually one to look at early access games for review, however, lately I’ve been curious about giving this type of a game a try, so what better opportunity than to take one for a review spin. Arcade Tycoon released on Steam’s Early Access program back in September and it was pretty bare-bones at the time, So I figured I would give the devs the chance to put some more content into it before I tackled the write-up. So let’s get in and see where it’s at right now.
Arcade Tycoon has a very simple gameplay model. It is a management simulator set in an arcade. You start the campaign by selecting a building, then start purchasing arcade machines in an effort to stay open. There is a large selection of machines to choose from, of different types, so customizing the games available in your arcade is very easy to do. The not so easy thing is to keep the doors open. Contending with things like machine maintenance, customer needs, and marketing your arcade makes for a challenging experience.
There are a number of different locations to choose from, but you have to unlock them by completing objectives in earlier levels. Completing objectives is also the only way to unlock the different types of arcade games. The selection of arcade games includes your standard cabinets, pinball machines, token gambling machines all the way up to your top tier cockpit racer types. There are however several tiers of games not yet available in-game, at the time of writing. It is also up to you to hire staff to keep the machines in working order and supply the guests with food and drink. You may also use decorations to really customize how your arcade looks and give it a more lively appearance.
On top of campaign mode, there’s also a sandbox mode where you start with a single square of space. As you progress and earn money in the sandbox mode you can buy plots of land to expand the arcade, to create your ideal arcade.
From a graphical standpoint, Arcade Tycoon is fairly nice to look at. It has a decent pixel art aesthetic going on, which lends to the atmosphere of dark 80’s arcades. The one big downside I’ve seen, and I’m hoping it gets addressed for the official release from Early Access, is that the guests are all seemingly identical male characters in green shirts. There was a point where I had 50 guests in my arcade, and they were all the same. I’d like to see a big variety of people coming through my arcade.
The din of an arcade is a difficult thing to recreate. There are normally so many noises that cascade together, that it just sounds like a mess. Somehow, the devs have managed to capture the sounds of a busy arcade very well. The machine noises mesh together without becoming too cacophonous. The music in Arcade Tycoon is also a nice homage to old arcade game music, but myself personally after a while I turned off the in-game music and just listened to some 80’s music.
Arcade Tycoon appeals mainly to those who’ve played other management sims, like Two-Point Hospital or Prison Architect. It’s the type of game I would load up when I can’t decide what to play, just to kill time. It’s not the type of game that would be my first choice to play, so I don’t imagine I’ll be spending a whole lot more time on it. That being said, It is a good value for the $14.49 price tag on Steam.
With all I’ve said, Arcade Tycoon shows great potential, but where it is right now, it’s still lacking in some features. I’ll be keeping an eye on this one during its early access development as I’m curious to see what the finished project will be. I’m fairly new to management sims, but this was pretty easy to pick up and play, and it scratches the itch I’ve had since I was a kid and wanted to run my own arcade.
Disclaimer: A code was received in order to write this review.