There are a lot of similar games on the Switch eShop, which can be a blessing when you're seeking a particular genre or style. Titles with the creative conviction to be rather different and quirky are a little harder to come by, so in that respect Vostok Inc. remains as a bit of a standout, with developer Nosebleed Interactive showing a flair for clever and humorous game design.
While that game was a combination of 'clicker' gameplay, resource management and twin-stick shooting, the studio's next major venture is entirely different. Targeting a release in Q2 this year, Arcade Paradise once again has business management at its heart, but this time far more grounded in reality - or retro reality anyway. You run a laundrette - which shouldn't really be fun - but of course everyday and occasionally grim activities are given video game spins. Beyond that, though, you're slowly creating and running a backroom arcade.
As a lot of the marketing so far has shown, the arcade machines are themselves small-ish games, with some evidently being decent-length experiences in their own right. When you combine the range of arcades with the 'real world' activities being converted into challenges, it looks to be a title that aims to constantly surprise the player.
In a recent press event we also saw footage that highlighted the game's wider world, which includes the town around your laundrette. There are NPCs to chat to and the neighbourhood will seemingly evolve and improve alongside your business.
Running a laundrette and arcade, all loaded with varied gaming experiences, could make Arcade Paradise a hoot when it arrives on Switch this year. To learn a little more we had a chat with the game's Director and CEO of Nosebleed Interactive, Andreas Firnigl; you can see this below.
In your presentation you mentioned how the game has evolved following feedback on a Steam demo; how valuable has that process been to the team?
Really really valuable! I spent hours watching all the let's plays that people recorded. It was basically like one massive focus testing session. There's a lot of things we took for granted that we shouldn't have so we made a lot of quality of life adjustments alongside all of the "it'd be cool if..." things we heard people say.
The 3D open world has a mix of modern visuals and pixelized / arcade-style UI elements, how important is that overriding atmosphere and tone for the game?
You wouldn't believe how many iterations the UI had before we settled on the pixelated style. I was the one doing it, by the way, and it took me a while to finally be happy with it. The idea behind is it a bit about the overall influence of my own life on the game. I had a ton of s****y jobs before starting my game development career... working in kitchens and so on daydreaming about what games I'd make. So Ashley does kind of the same thing. Everything is a game. Collecting trash is like a fetch quest. Cleaning the toilet is like a boss battle and so on. I think the old school CRT effect on the UI works to help you understand how Ashley sees the world. Everything is a game!
You're a gamer, so is Ashley, so the ultimate goal is to transition the business from this crappy job doing people's dirty underwear and picking up trash, into being the manager of this amazing cool arcade.
With the laundry business and the 'back room' arcade, can you explain the general gameplay progression loop for our readers?
Again, influenced by my own life. The first arcade I ever went to, my brother took me, was this scruffy back room of a video rental shop. That's basically what the player has to begin with. We wanted the player to feel almost trapped in this dead end job to begin with, but have both the player and Ashley have aspirations for more. You're a gamer, so is Ashley, so the ultimate goal is to transition the business from this crappy job doing people's dirty underwear and picking up trash, into being the manager of this amazing cool arcade. Ashley is driven by the desire to break out of the crap future in front of them. The player has agency to do that too but also has the motivation of seeing what games they can play next, and seeing the scruffy back room turn into this awesome arcade.
The loop itself centres around Ashley's day. Getting to work in the morning, and then making money to upgrade the arcade and buy new machines, upgrades to make life easier and so on. The player can approach this however they like. If they just want to play the arcade machines and ignore the laundrette they can. If they're into min/maxing and tweaking settings they can. We try and reward them for almost everything and we've tried to make everything you can interact with (and there's a lot) actually have a tangible effect. e.g. games where you flush the toilet... what's the point? In Arcade Paradise the toilet cleaning minigame is set up like a boss fight, it also adds a bonus to your business reputation so it's worthwhile doing.
We wanted to make the most generous game ever created.
The arcade games shown so far seem to have a blend of '80s and '90s styles, can you talk a little about the variety of minigames on offer?
Visually we go from the late 70s right up to the late 90s in terms of look (with a bit of artistic license - we're set in 1993). We've tried to offer up as many styles visually as possible with vector graphics, Monochrome games, 8-bit pixel art, 16-bit pseudo 3D (Mode7 style), pixel art and full early 3D stuff. It's a game for gamers and also a bit of a walk through history. In terms of gameplay though our influences are MUUUUCH wider. Everything from puzzle games from the 1800s (Towers of Hanoi) to modern stuff like Animal Crossing or Modern Warfare. We didn't just want to do old arcade games, we wanted to do modern games, but dress them up in Arcade stylings, so there really is a huge range of stuff to play across all genres from multiplayer shooters to puzzle games etc.
Oh also... we don't refer to them as minigames
Some of them have their own upgrade systems, stories, and can take a good 2-4 hours to complete in their own right. We wanted to make the most generous game ever created.
Do you have a favourite Arcade in the game, one you'd have liked to play in a real arcade 'back in the day'?
Blockchain is probably my favourite. It's heavily influenced by one of my favourite games of all time on mobile, Drop7 (which sadly was removed from the stores a while back). As a player of the game I wondered how it could be improved (Drop7 is a near perfect game... honestly brilliant) and so we did a quick prototype of it where we added a bunch of power ups, tweaked how stuff works little and added a silly conspiracy theory storyline which made a huge difference to how it feels and plays. I still have Drop7 installed on my phone, but I actually think I prefer Blockchain!
As a 'love letter to gaming', can you perhaps give an elevator pitch for what our readers can expect from Arcade Paradise later this year?
Hmmm.... that's a very open question and I ramble a lot (as you can see from above). I'd like to think we've created something really generous. Systems wise and gameplay wise we offer something massive. Like really, there's such a variety on offer, but we also think the whole management and story and progression helps tie it all together coherently, with everything you do having a meaningful effect.
We'd like to thank Andreas Firnigl for their time, and Wired Productions for arranging the interview session.