The game casts the player as a college dropout newly appointed as assistant-manager of an old laundromat owned by their rich, always-absent, paternalist businessman father. Being his very first business acquisition, the place has seen better days, and he is only giving them this responsibility in order to get their life back on track and knock some sense into them. As such, players are tasked with filling and emptying washing machines and dryers as laundry baskets come in, while periodically emptying coin hoppers, and picking up garbage every morning. The laundromat also starts with three arcade machines stored in the backroom.
As the game progresses, players can purchase additional arcade cabinets and expand the arcade room, eventually bringing it forward and shrinking the laundromat portion. As the business becomes more successful, its popularity will grow and bring in more customers, not only to the arcade but to the laundromat. Players can also acquire new abilities and bonuses, and even additional songs for their jukebox, with a second in-game currency earned by completing daily challenges.
The business simulation aspect of Arcade Paradise is mostly basic, with players choosing each cabinet's difficulty (easy, medium, or hard) and price ($0.50, $1, or $1.50). However there are other barometers that determine the profitability of each game:
- Basic Popularity: Predetermined value of the game's cool factor.
- Playtime Bonus: As players spend more and more time on a set arcade machine, its popularity increases. The bonus resets over time.
- Goal Bonus: Every machine (even the jukebow) has a number of specific goals players can achieve. As players complete those goals, its popularity increases.
- Fame Bonus: Bonus based on the arcade's overall popularity.
- Location Bonus: Less popular games become more profitable when placed next to more popular games.
- Cleanliness Bonus: A well-kept location increases games' popularity by 25%. On the flip side, an untidy location cancels the bonus, even decreases the bonus by 25%. This includes litter, blocked toilets and broken-down machines.
Games are unlocked as the player expands their arcade and purchases every game available. Games with asterisks also have multiplayer modes.
- Space Race Simulator (Outrun)
- UFO Assault
- Zombat 2*
- Knuckles and Knees*
- Meteor Madness* (Asteroids)
- Table Football*
- Woodguy Golf