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Arcade Paradise is my 2022 Game of the Year

Video Games Review

The only thing I wanted to do for a couple of weeks in December was to play Arcade Paradise. I had only heard of this game from Jeff Gerstmann’s podcast. For months, he was claiming that it was one of the best games of the year, so I decided to snag it during the Steam fall sale.

I was expecting this game to be a nice retro romp, and for the most part, it is. The game’s story places you in charge of a laundromat that contains a tiny arcade in its back room. Most of your time when you start Arcade Paradise is spent maintaining the laundromat. Customers drop off loads of laundry for you to wash and dry, and you earn more money by completing these tasks within a reasonable amount of time. This is where things got interesting for me. I love games that have you trying to complete tasks within a tight time limit. Trying to be the greatest laundromat owner of all time was a BIG THING for me. However, the game shifts focus to the back room arcade machines, because they make way more money than your coin-op laundromat.

There are dozens of original arcade games to play, and most of them are actually a good time. Each machine has its set of goals and achievements, which are fun to chase down. The more objectives you complete on a given machine, the more popular it becomes. Popularity is the metric you’re chasing during the entire game. Popular machines bring in more money, and you need that money to buy more arcade machines and parlor games. Arcade Paradise’s core loop gripped me in a way that very few games have in recent years, and it is packaged up in a brief, yet overwhelmingly touching story that still gets me misty whenever I think about it.

Play Arcade Paradise. Let it hypnotize you like it did to me, and I guarantee that you’ll have a great time.

Zach Fleeman
Zach Fleeman
Tall, but not that tall.