Nosebleed Interactive and Wired Productions’ Arcade Paradise is amazing. I gave the game a full review a while back, right here. For those not in the know, Arcade Paradise is a business sim where you turn a laundrette into a very 90s arcade. Within Arcade Paradise are over 30 in-game and very playable mini-games. There are so many games in the game that there are even games within games… within a game. Right here, I’m going to do a bite-sized look at every game found in Arcade Paradise. Going through the whole lot in alphabetical order, from start to finish.
Air Hockey: Everyone knows what this is, a staple of any and every arcade in the 80s. Controlling a paddle-thing, you have to try and score more goals than your opponent by smacking a plastic puck around. It’s air hockey and a decent digital version of it too.
Attack Vector: A kind of shoot ’em up… I guess? You play as a tank enemies appear at the side of the screen, ready to kamikaze crash into your tank. You have to move your turret around and shoot the charging enemies before they take you out. This one is quite tricky because the rotation of the turret is a little awkward and stiff. You’ll need split-second timing and reactions of a cat to rack up a decent score.
Barkanoid: The first game (alphabetically) to feature a member of Arcade Paradise’s mascot family. This is basically an Arkanoid clone… with a dog instead of a bat/paddle. Use Zebby the dog to bounce a ball around to destroy various coloured blocks, some drop power-ups. Destroy all of the blocks and move on to the next level. Simple but very playable stuff.
Blockchain: Or as I call it, ‘gaming crack’. I think that the best way to describe this game is, it is Tetris with a bit of maths thrown in. You have to place numbered blocks to destroy the ever-rising blocks underneath. The numbers that you drop have to match the vertical, horizontal (or both) total amount to destroy that block. As an example, if there is a single block at the bottom, then you’ll need to drop a 2 block on top of it to destroy it. The one block at the bottom and the 2 block you placed = 2 blocks in total. Put a 5 block on a grouping of four and so on. Sounds simple, because it kind of is. But when you have multiple blocks of varying sizes and random numbers to drop, things can get confusing. My favourite game in Arcade Paradise as it is simple and massively addictive.
Blobs From Space: This is a Space Invaders pastiche. Playing as a tank, at the bottom of the screen. Alien blobs keep descending and you have to shoot them before they reach the bottom. There are some boss battles that add a little variety. Other than that, this is Space Invaders. I have a little niggle with this game. The turret of the tank that you control is angled left or right, depending on which way you are moving. However, your projectiles always fire directly up. I keep thinking that the projectile is going to come out at the angle that the turret is facing and it throws off my aim. It’s just a little personal niggle in an otherwise fun little game.
Bomb Dudes: Have you ever played Bomberman, or if you are of a certain age and continent, Dynablaster? Well, that is what this is. Your character is armed with a bomb and you blow up walls and enemies to advance to the next stage. Some walls have power-ups in them to give you extra bombs, longer explosions and such. This is Bomberman, and a pretty good version of it too.
Bugai: This is the game’s version of Puzzle Bobble. Different coloured bubbles… or bugai, in this instance. Match colour for colour and drop the bugai onto your opponent’s playing field to make things more difficult for them. Win and advance to the next stage. The stages take place at locations all over the world and your opponents are various characters from the plethora of games in Arcade Paradise. An easy and fun to play puzzle game.
Championship Darts: It’s darts. What more do you want from me? Three different AI opponents to play against. You throw ‘arrows’ at a dart board to try and go from 301 to 0 in the fewest darts thrown. The first person to ‘check out’ wins. It’s darts.
Communists From Mars: A shooter that is most definitely influenced by the classic Missile Command. Missile projectiles rain down from above and you shoot them down and hopefully, while pulling off some chain reactions to minimise the shots you take. Really good and frantic fun in the later levels.
Cyber Dance: A rhythm-based dance game, not at all too dissimilar to Dance Dance Revolution. Only you can play without looking like an idiot by flailing your legs around. Instead, just tap the direction on the pad in time with the arrows on the screen and the beat of the music. Not my cup of Yorkshire Tea at all, I just do not like rhythm-based games. But hey, it does feature some pretty good music.
Fruit Crush: This is a Dr. Mario-type game. Only, instead of you having to match coloured pills, you match fruit. Match four of the same fruit and it disappears from the screen. Build up combos to get high scores and boom. A basic puzzle game that is easy to get into but hard to master as risking building high is the key to getting the combos, but also a surefire way to lose.
Graffiti Ballz: This is a little harder to explain. It is another easy to get into puzzle game, but it doesn’t really have a comparable counterpart. Playing as a spray can, you aim and shoot ‘ballz’ of paint and have to match colour for colour. In an ever-increasing and multiplying match ’em up title. Sounds really crap but honestly, I have spent way too much time on this (not as much as Blockchain) as it is really addictive once you get the hang of it.
Gravichase: Is a vector graphics game where you control a spaceship. There is an ever-decreasing circle, or black hole, or something that is made up of rings. Anyway, the ever-decreasing thing has one gap in each ring and you have to move your ship so it goes through the gap of each decreasing ring. All while gravity does its thing and pulls you and the circle thing into it. Fast reactions are key here and the frustration factor is high.
Hustler: It’s pool. What more do you want from me? Yeah, I know I did this with the darts game too. Still, it’s the same thing, just with pool. Three AI opponents to play against and you pot balls. I did find that this was terribly unforgiving and you can line up a shot that looks great, only for the ball to bounce out of the pocket when it really should’ve gone in. It’s an unfair game of pool that punishes you for being anyway half-decent.
Jukebox: It’s a jukebox. Okay, so technically not a game. Just a nice-looking machine that plays music. As there are some great tunes in Arcade Paradise, it’s worth mentioning the jukebox anyway. A good selection of 90s-inspired tunes with clear homages to the likes of The Prodigy and Oasis, etc. You can flick through the selection and pop on a song while you play some games.
Knuckles & Knees: An old-school styled beat ’em up with multiple characters and an upgrade system. A really good beat ’em up too. Mindlessly redundant, but really good. Things get a little meta with this one as you can go into a King Wash (which is the name of the laundrette in Arcade Paradise) within this game and find playable arcade games within the arcade game that you are playing… that is within the main game that you are playing. These mini-mini-games are just fun distractions over ‘proper’ games, but I did say that I was going to cover every game in Arcade Paradise, so… Flyguy: Is a Flappy Bird clone. Toad: An endless and stripped-back version of Frogger where you just keep crossing a road. Brick: A simplified version of Arkanoid. Snake: It’s Snake, that game that was on Nokia mobile phones in the late 90s. Racer: An endless ‘racer’ where you have to dodge traffic.
Line Terror: Oh man, this one is tough. You know games like Qix where you have to fill in the screen while being chased by enemies? Well yep, that is what this is… and it is punishingly hard too. I couldn’t even finish the first stage. If you are feeling a bit masochistic and want to punish yourself, play some Line Terror for a few minutes.
Llama: This one is found on the PDA that you use to manage various aspects of your arcade. Not a ‘real’ game in the sense of the others, more of a fun little distraction. It is a bit like Flappy Bird, in that it’s a continually scrolling thing with you having to avoid obstacles by jumping over them, as a llama. I think that this is a subtle reference to the work of Jeff Minter. If not, it is now.
Meteor Madness: Is a bit like Asteroids, kind of. You control a spaceship and have to blast asteroids away. Only, there is the added objective of picking up and delivering a gem. With vector graphics style and an inertia movement aspect that will really throws off how the ship moves when it has picked up its load. I really liked this one as I was a big fan of Asteroids back in the day.
Minesweeper: One of the games found on the PC in the office in the game. Yup, there are games on the in-game PC. There’s not really much to say about this, it’s Minesweeper. There are mines hidden on a board and you have to clear the board without setting off the mines. This game was a game that everyone had on their PCs in the early 90s, mainly because Microsoft included it as a free game with Windows 3.1.
Racer Chaser: Pac-Man meets Grand Theft Auto in this maze game. Playing as a yellow sports car, you have to avoid the police while trying to clear the screen of money. Pick up this game’s version of a power-pill and turn into a tank, so you can run over the police. Get hit by the police when in the car and you have to run around on foot and try to make it back to your car to continue, while shooting the chasing police with your boombox. This one is great fun and another game that I probably spent way too much time on.
Shuttlecocks: Is Pong. Nothing fancy, no additions, just good old Pong. I love how this one is presented in the game because it does look like the original Pong arcade cabinet. The screen even has interference and static just to add to the very, very, old-school vibes. The all-time arcade classic reborn in a game that celebrates arcade classics.
Slime Pipes: This one is a puzzle game that is very clearly inspired by Pipe Mania. You have to connect the pipes to create an uninterrupted flow for the slime to travel through and reach the exit. Playing against the clock as you only have so much time before the slime is released. You’ll have to work fast to get the pipes connected. Another frustrating but fun, ‘one more go’ type of game.
Solitaire: The other game found on the PC in the office and if you don’t know what this is, are you even a gamer? This, of course, is the classic card game in digital form and one of those games that you’ll often find added to those early 90s versions of Windows. Play well enough and everyone enjoys a cheeky game of Solitaire now and then.
Space Race Simulator: Take a pinch of OutRun, add a few drops of F-Zero and you have this. An arcade racer that definitely has a very 90s vibe. The cornering can be a little tricky at first but when you get used to using the break and sliding, it soon comes together and begins to feel right. There’s an upgrade system to improve your vehicle too. Good fun, though I’d have liked to have seen a couple more race tracks.
Stack Overflow: This is another puzzle game where you have to stack boxes… and it’s brilliant. The boxes are different colours and you can only stack a colour on top of the same colour. You have limited space to stack and a strict time limit to try and stay ahead of. Easy to get into and wonderfully addictive to boot. This is another one that, once I start playing, I find it very hard to stop.
Strike Gold: Another game featuring one of the Arcade Paradise mascot family. Playing as Woodguy Jr., you have to mine as deep as you can. Limited by your oxygen, you dig coloured tiles and pick up extra oxygen along the way. Mine for gold that can be used for upgrades. Try to get as low as you can without having everything fall in on your head. It plays a lot like Namco’s Mr. Driller and that’s a good thing.
Table Football: Surely everyone knows what this is. Foosball! Controlling a line of football players on a rod, you use those players to try and whack the ball into your opponent’s goal. I never liked this in the arcades when I was a kid but no retro arcade would be complete without one.
Thump-A-Gopher: Another arcade staple, this is Whac-A-Mole with gophers. Naughty gophers pop up through holes and you have to hit them by pressing the correct button on your pad for a high score. Don’t hit Woodguy Jr. though as you’ll lose points. A true test of reflexes and strangely hypnotic after a while.
Toad and Turtle: Is another clone of another arcade classic, Frogger. Controlling a toad, you have to make it across a busy road and all while dodging traffic. Jump on logs and turtles in a river, to then take little toad home to safety. Rinse and repeat while you try for that elusive high score. I loved Frogger in the arcade and I love this version of it too.
UFO Assault: This is kind of like a reverse Space Invaders crossed with a reverse Missile Command. A single-screen ‘shooter’ where you play as the attacking aliens. You have to drop bombs onto a city to destroy the buildings. The buildings vary in height and your UFO descends down the screen every time it reaches the edge. So, you have to destroy the buildings before you crash into them. This one is all about timing as you can only drop one bomb at a time and have to try to score a hit with (almost) every one. There is a little room for error, but miss too many buildings and it’ll soon be game over.
Video Air Hockey: I bet you can’t guess what this is? A digital version of air hockey… that is already in a digital video game. That’s twice the digital! It plays just like normal air hockey, but digital.
Vostock 2093: Plays very much like a classic shoot ’em up. Think along the lines of Galaga and Galaxian, only with a bit of a twist. See, this is a kind of sequel/follow-up to Nosebleed Interactive’s Vostock Inc. game. Shoot enemies, earn coin and spend that coin on upgrades so you can shoot more enemies and bosses. Good fun.
Woodgal Jr.: Here is where we really get into the whole Arcade Paradise mascot family. The game is simple but a hugely addictive test of reflexes and reactions. Playing as Woodgal, you have to chop away at a never-ending tree. Random branches get in the way on the left or right and you just have to dodge them as you chop by moving Woodgal left or right. Hit a branch and it’s game over.
Woodgal’s Adventure: Woodgal is back, in her very own adventure. A simple match-3 type game mixed with a little RPG. Solve the match-3 boards and earn items that you can use to explore the map further. More enemies, more match-3 boards to complete until you reach the end. Oh, and Woodgal is joined by her dog Zebby from Barkanoid.
Woodguy Golf: It’s Woodguy, the father, husband, brother (I honestly don’t know) of Woodgal. Anyway, he was also in the Strike Gold game further up this list. This is basically Golf from the NES and plays the same way too. A basic and simple to play golf game with some challenging holes to test your skills.
Woodguy Jr.: This is just Woodgal Jr. but featuring the Woodguy character instead. The exact same game and plays the exact same way too. However, Woodguy Jr. actually came first, as it was a mini-game in Nosebleed’s Vostock Inc. before appearing in Arcade Paradise. There’s a wonderful shared universe thing going on here.
Zombat 2: The last game on the list is also one of my favourites. A twin-stick shooter with you pitted against wave after wave of zombies. Kill the undead (if that makes sense) and they drop coins, which you can use to buy new weapons in the shop. Eventually building to a small arsenal of guns and explosives for you to kill even more zombies with. Bloody pixel violence that’s great fun to play.
There you go. All of the playable games found in Arcade Paradise. A great game that every arcade fan should play, so go and buy a copy right now. It’s available on everything.