Inherently there are a lot of elements that separate a traditional handheld and console game. When I play a console game, I intend to get invested. It can be the result of deep gameplay, story, or mechanics that aren’t as bite-sized as Angry Birds. Handhelds have the advantage of not requiring the player to be as invested. You don’t need to really pay attention to Game Dev Story. Jet Pack Joyride doesn’t ask the player to get in serious videogame mode like Dark Souls. Who the Hell would want to sit on their couch with an iPhone playing Walking Dead? What made me stop playing Persona 4 Golden was after 18 hours I threw my hands up and said, "Fuck playing this on a tiny screen!".
I think we can all agree that the XboxLive Indie Games platform is a bunch of great ideas not necessarily brought to its full potential. Most of the games on the channel are lackluster, at best. Or at least that’s the perspective with the extreme lack of marketing. I enjoy checking out any title brought to my attention.
Some of you on the Twitterverse brought Arcadecraft to my attention. Arcadecraft is an arcade simulation developed and published by Canadian indie developer, Firebase Industries. At its most surface-level, it’s easiest to compare this to RollerCoaster Tycoon. You’re tasked with running an arcade through the 1980’s. I’ve heard this game described as Viva Piñata. Upon closer examination, I buy that comparison. Mind you, Arcadecraft has nowhere near that level of complexity and awesome puns.
I named my business “MADDAWGARCADE”. It was a very small arcade without a lot of options for customization. During my several hours of play, I didn’t get the impression that you can unlock larger venues. You can add graphics to the walls, paint the floor, and add an X-Mas tree during December, but it doesn’t add a whole lot.
The crutch of the game is you constantly buying arcade cabinets. No, you can’t play the cabinets. Popularity is the game’s most important stat. The gameplay revolves around staying relevant. There are a limited amount of cabinets you can have at a time and as the game progresses, cabinets become less and less popular.
A lot of elements can contribute to popularity. “Professional Gamers” getting really high scores, games being next to their sequel, and so on. Having unpopular games doesn’t hold you back in any meaningful way other than taking up space. Arcadecraft encourages you to sell old dusty machines, but money is not an issue at all in this game.
That’s where the issue lays. Arcadecraft is too easy. So long as you’re adding a new machine every “month”, your popularity will stay at the top of the scale. This is generally a numbers game. But despite there being almost 20 different stats, Popularity is the only one that matters. You have options to customize price and difficulties of the games, but you’re best served not messing around with customization outside of the Arcade’s cosmetics.
It was rewarding enough for me to see MADDAWGARCADE grow. More and more folks were coming in every month and the continual grow in arcade noises made me envious of an era in gaming that was before my time. Game Dev Story was on my 2010 GOTY list and in the grand scheme very similar to Arcadecraft. It was a numbers game. There was little difficulty and the reward itself was seeing something artificial you made grow bigger.
At least with my play style, Arcadecraft doesn’t mix well with a console. I intend to sit down and play for at least an hour or two with my Xbox. Yes it’s an Indie Game, but that doesn’t excuse the lack of stuff. To keep my attention, I need more than one variable in a game’s environment. With that said, Arcadecraft would be well served as an iOS game. I would love to continually check on MADDAWGARCADE in between classes and on the toilet. Unfortunately, the lack of depth doesn’t provide a lot of entertainment considering how shallow Arcadecraft is.
I propose a few questions to the community. Where do you draw the line of something you'll play on a console or handheld? Are there any good Arcade Simulators? Can you think of any examples of console games that belong on a handheld or vice-versa?