Personally, I am looking forward to this one in August.
“We’re trying to make the most generous game ever created,” says Nosebleed Interactive’s Andreas Firnigl about upcoming adventure Arcade Paradise — in other words, it looks like this is definitely one game to keep on our radar! Luckily, Firnigl was kind enough to answer all our questions about Arcade Paradise. Put the kettle on, sit back, and have a read through…
Arcade Paradise is an arcade adventure set in the 90s, which tasks you with transforming a laundromat into “the ultimate arcade.” Arcade Paradise is developed by Nosebleed Interactive and published by Wired Productions.
We now have a release date for Arcade Paradise, which launches on August 11th!
Arcade Paradise gives you, Ashley, a mission: to turn the family laundromat, King Wash, into a true arcade paradise. It’s an interesting premise, and we asked Firnigl how and why Nosebleed Interactive decided on featuring a laundromat and arcade together. “I’ve had some sht jobs in my time,” Firnigl explains. “First job working in a hospital kitchen washing an endless conveyor belt of plates and post, whilst daydreaming about the types of games I’d make if I could be a game designer. We needed something for both Ashley and the player to strive for. A sense of agency and a thing to break out of. So washing people’s dirty underwear just fit. Ashley wants to break out of this dead end job and that aligns really well with the player wanting to get the next arcade machine and see what it is. There are various arcade collections but they mostly fall kind of flat and just rely on nostalgia,” Firnigl continues. “We wanted to break that mould as we always want all our games to have deep metagame systems where everything you do has a reason and there’s a proper feeling of progress. Starting in this shtty laundrette with a scruffy back room with a few machines (which is very close to the first arcade I ever went to — a room in the back of a video rental store) and ending up running this booming Arcade where everything is playable and playing it feeds into the success of the business makes a big difference to the whole concept.”
Well. There’s a lot to say about this bit — as Firnigl points out, “to Ashley, everything is a game” — so let’s dive in. Ashley’s time can be split between the laundromat chores and the arcade games, but Firnigl adds that it’s “really down to what the player enjoys doing. We try to balance things so the player is rewarded for everything. If you like doing the chores, then we reward you. They’re intentionally set up to seem mundane but are fun little minigames in their own right. To Ashley, everything is a game. So collecting rubbish is like a mini RPG fetch quest ending with a little basketball game throwing it in the bin.
"There are so many games where you can walk up to the toilet and flush it, but it serves no purpose. We try and make everything meaningful, so cleaning the toilet is a little boss bottle, and winning increases the business’ cleanliness/reputation, and so gives you a little boost. Alternatively, you might just love to play games all day,” continues Firnigl. “Each game comes with its own set of ‘goals’ which are basically internal achievements. When you complete these the popularity of that machine goes up. It also goes up if you’re simply playing it for fun, or beating high scores. Then there are daily chores (heavily influenced by Modern Warfare and Animal Crossing’s daily’s — damn you Tom Nook) which update at the start of each day and earn you pound sterling, a secondary currency used to buy upgrades to make your life easier.” Firnigl explains how you can set up the arcade as you see fit, adding, “You can min/max and move machines around, placing unpopular ones next to popular ones, or setting difficulty and price to get the most profit you can. Basically there’s a bunch of systems at play all the time and you’re always progressing and being rewarded for doing stuff. We’re trying to make the most generous game ever created but tie it all together with systems that complement each other.”
And what sort of arcade machines will we be able to play? There are over 35, each of which has its own gameplay, missions, and more! “They play a huge, huge role in the game,” Firnigl explains, and reflects on the Next Fest demo, which featured around five arcade machines. “I basically watched every single let’s play,” Firnigl says. “It was basically a massive focus test, it was absolutely brilliant and really valuable.” The actual influences for the games themselves range “from 1800s actual physical puzzle games like Towers of Hanoi, which we made into a kind of arcade-y game, right up until stuff like Modern Warfare and Animal Crossing and so on. There are influences from pretty much all genres and all types of games, it’s not just restricted to arcade games. The way we’ve structured the arcade games,” Firnigl continues, “is to have sort of like ‘anchor games’ — I mean, I’ve just made that up, but you know, like anchor stores in a shopping centre — like the big showcase games.”
One example of these ‘anchor games’ is Knuckles and Knees, which Firnigl says “is a side-scrolling beat ‘em up, kind of like Streets of Rage, but it’s got its own levelling system within it and it’s got persistence, so you can level up your skills.” Firnigl adds that Knuckles and Knees “has got my favourite achievement in it, which is the ‘Arcadeception’ one — so you’re Ashley, walking around in first person, you walk up to this arcade machine, this brawler, and you can play it up to four players as well — within that pixel art thing there’s a laundromat which you can go into that has arcade machines in it, so you’re this little pixel person playing actual little arcade games.” There are about five little games in there, but Firnigl adds that these aren’t even included in that total of over 35 games in Arcade Paradise: “they’re daft little games… they’re just like little extra throwaways — little mini or micro games. Playing those gets you the ‘Arcadeception’ achievement — like, ‘hey, we heard you like games in your games, so we put a game in your game in your game.’”
One of the games shown in the Next Fest demo, Firnigl adds, was Racer Chaser. “I think people liked how silly it was… it’s this kind of 3D PS1-looking top-down game that plays pretty much like Pac-Man, except it’s 3D and you’re in a little yellow Lamborghini, and you’ve got a pink cop, a red cop, a blue cop chasing you, using the same AI as the ghosts, and you’re collecting cash — instead of power pellets there’s like skulls and you turn into a tank and can run over them — but when they hit you as cop cars it’s not game over. You can get out and you can run around, and the cops are chasing after you and you can shoot them with music with a boombox, with a little hat nod to the Saints Row dubstep gun, and then they start dancing on the spot and you have to run back to your car to get in.” Basically, Firnigl says, “It’s GTA meets Pac-Man… but we’ve given it our own kind of spin, we’ve tried to do that with pretty much everything.”
And out of all those games, which would be Firnigl’s favourite? Probably Blockchain: “It’s based on a game that I played on mobile called Drop7, which if you haven’t played it is one of the greatest games of all time, but unfortunately it’s been taken off the stores, so you can’t get it anymore. I played that game probably upwards of 1,000 hours — it’s a mobile game, so I played it in bed, on the train, on the bog, wherever — I always wondered what would happen if you did X,Y,Z in the game,” Firnigl continues, “So we did a quick prototype, and the stuff that we’ve added has meant that I actually now play our version of the game that was influenced by Drop7 more than I played Drop7.
“We added like a bunch of power-ups and a daft conspiracy story, and it’s dressed up like a 90s arcade game, but it is based on a mobile puzzle game. The influences are wide… we don’t just have arcade games, we’ve got the sort of stuff you’d expect to find in an arcade, like pool, darts, whac-a-mole, and so on.” We’ll apparently see recurring characters, as all the arcades and machines come from a few different (made-up) companies, “so you’ll see recurring characters from our previous games, like Woodguy and Woodgal… they reappear in various guises across a few of the games… it’s kind of like this universe that is built around these games.”
Another favourite, along with Blockchain, is Woodgal’s Adventure. “It looks like a SNES era 16-bit, it’s got Mode7 graphics, pseudo-3D stuff; it kind of looks like a JRPG, but instead of battles you play match three, sort of like Candy Crush or Zookeeper DX, but it’s got this whole RPG quest which probably takes around three or four hours to complete, where you’ve got upgrades and you unlock new stuff and there’s a whole little story going on.” Firnigl adds that this “would be one of the anchor games… and then you’ve got simpler stuff that’s a bit faster to play, but we’ve always tried to pick something that you would either want to keep going back to beat your high scores on, or that takes a couple of seconds to have a game and then instantly go back to it, so you could do that in between washing or something that you could literally sit and play for like the whole in-game day or beyond even.”
So, in other words, a whole lot of games! We wondered, out of all that, if there was anything in particular Firnigl was most excited for players to experience. “There’s absolutely loads. We’re trying to make the most generous game ever created, so even though it’s small — the street outside, the laundromat, and the arcade in the back — we try to make it almost this open world, but in this tiny little thing, so you’ve got a little fetch quest, a little hide and seek, you’ve got all these different things and a whole bunch of games. What I think players are going to do is… when they start playing the games and see some of the depth in the games, I think there’s going to be people that get addicted to games within the whole arcade and are going to be like, ‘wow this could be a standalone experience by itself.’ Some of the smaller indie games that exist that you get really hooked on.
“There’s a really daft thing I just love, this is very much based on me being a kid,” Firnigl continues. “So when I was a kid, and bought a new game for Game Gear or Commodore 64, I’d buy it in town, I’d be on the bus on the way home, and I’d be reading through every page of the manual and looking at all the screenshots, and I couldn’t wait to get home, I’d get off the bus and leg it home and just be like, ‘yeah I don’t need to eat,’ and just load it up and be like ‘ahh!’ We really wanted to recreate that sense of excitement, like ‘ooh what’s it going to be like,’ but a whole bunch of times. Every time you buy an arcade machine — first you have to save up for it — you have to order it on like a PC, a little 386 PC from the internet with like dial-up modem sounds and stuff, and then you don’t get to play it until the next day,” Firnigl continues. “That’s very much Stardew Valley, like ‘ooh I wonder what’s going to happen tomorrow,’ you can’t play it until the next day, and when it gets delivered it’s the most over-the-top loot chest style animation of it arriving, and then you place it where you want to, and then finally you get to go play it. I’m hoping that some players are just going to be like, ‘ooh that’s cool,’ and ‘ooh I can’t wait to see what it’s actually like and play it.” Apparently, what the game actually is will be quite vague until you buy it, to increase that sense of excitement as you wonder what it’ll be like to play. “You see a screenshot of the cabinet and there’s sort of almost a press write-up of what the game is going to be — but it’s really vague, and there’s some where you’re going to be like, ‘oh ok, this is Nosebleed’s take on Space Invaders,’ but then there’s this three or four hour-long thing with its own story and levelling system, and you’re like, ‘ok, this is, like, wow, I would have bought this for £4 on the Xbox store’. We want players to be surprised with the amount of stuff they’re getting and the depth they’re getting.”
Arcade Paradise prides itself on its faithful recreation of the 90s, in everything from the arcade itself to the music and the “mind-blowing dial-up connection,” so we asked Firnigl what made the team decide on this decade in particular. “A few reasons really. The biggest of which was that I was a teenager throughout the 90s so there’s a lot of stuff that’s directly from my own hazy memory,” replies Firnigl. “It also allowed us to take a much broader approach to the games we could do, with everything from early monochrome and vector graphics games right up to early 3D stuff. There’s a bit of artistic license with some of the newer games like 97 instead of 93 etc but as I say it gave us a big canvas.
“Another reason is that 90s fashion is quite in right now. We can have people milling around the arcade who look cool. Rather than everything being all synthwave and 80s (which I personally love, but it’s a bit played out) we can include some of that but have a bigger soundtrack and influence including the 80’s but not limiting ourselves.”
We don’t yet have the Arcade Paradise achievements, but Firnigl talks us through how the team approaches achievements. “So both I as the game director and CEO and my co-director are both big trophy/achievement hunters. The game has so many systems at play and so many games and minigames within it that actually it was really easy to do achievements for it,” Firnigl explains. “So much so that the ‘Goal’ system and ‘To Do list’ of daily chores were kind of born from having WAAAAY too many achievements in the first place." Of those goals, which are “basically mini achievements," each arcade game has between three and five, and there are 35-plus machines, "so there are a lot of mini achievements. Some of them are tied to actual achievements, some are not; some were going to be achievements but we had too many.” The achievements themselves, meanwhile, "take quite a few forms. Some are linked to progress in the story, some are skill based, some are grindy, and some are there to reward silly experimentation or discovery. To me that’s what makes a really compelling achievement list. A good mix of everything. There are some types that we’ve avoided though, for example, we offer couch multiplayer for up to four players on some games, but I hate achievements that force you to play online or have a second controller. Also we’ve avoided really, really hard skill ones. If a player loves the really high skill type ones we have those reserved within arcade machine ‘goals’.”
So, what do you think? Will you be trying out Arcade Paradise when it launches later this year?