REVIEW: King of the Arcade (Xbox Series S)

Released MAR 30, 2023

MSRP: $6.39 Category: Arcade Multi-game Simulator
Publisher: Super Villain GamesDeveloper: Super Villain Games
Reviewed on: Xbox Series SAlso on: Xbox One & Series X, PC/Steam

Description


Step into the neon-lit world of King of the Arcade, where the 80s never died. Take on the role of Mac McCormick, a former arcade champion who has fallen on hard times, as he fights to save Castle’s Arcade from a hostile takeover by the ruthless landlord Jimmy Joysticks and the seven members of his arcade gang.

With over 40 games and multiple genres, including classic-inspired games like Retro Invaders, After School Beat Down, Virtual Enforcers, Space Ravager, Shotgun Princess, High-Speed Racing, and many more, you’ll have hours of nostalgic fun.

King of the Arcade is an arcade experience that will transport you back to the 80s. Explore the open-world arcade, defend it against Jimmy’s goons in epic boss battles, and reclaim your title as the King of the Arcade. With nostalgic visuals, a pulse-pounding soundtrack, and endless arcade action, King of the Arcade is the ultimate arcade gaming experience.

The arcade needs you. So grab your arcade controller and get ready to become a true arcade champion. Are you prepared to be the King of the Arcade once again?

Review

King of the Arcade seems to be a retro-arcade simulator, kind of like Arcade Paradise, but with a different take on the concept. Instead of running a laundromat and earning money to upgrade an arcade you own, you are a former teen video game champion who seeks to get a job at a local arcade.

The story has a shady businessman seeking to take over the arcade, and he sends a gang of video game goons to do an “arcade takeover” to put the arcade out of business. You have to challenge each of the goons to a challenge in their favorite games to get them to leave.

Once you beat all of the goons (and the final boss) the businessman gives up and you become the hero of the arcade.

The story is designed to get you to play certain games and get to a certain level or score to “beat” them, but honestly most of the challenges are very easy (which is good considering the controls are pretty bad in general).

During, or after, the story you can play the other arcade games as well, including a Street Fighter knock-off, an IT-themed pinball machine, and other favorites.

The graphics in King of the Arcade are heavily stylized in a way that many 3D indie games are today, with basic looking character models, which lends itself to a certain aesthetic. That isn’t bad in itself, but you get the feeling, between the character models and the arcade game knock-offs, that there wasn’t a lot of attention paid to the graphics and most of them are likely pre-made asset packs (whether or not that’s true, that’s the way it feels). It just looks rushed and kind of cheap overall.

The audio in King of the Arcade is actually better than most of the rest of it, and you may find yourself humming some of the tunes after you’ve finished playing. The voice acting is cheesy, but it seems purposefully cheesy, and fits the overall approach. The audio in each arcade game is generally good enough that it seems to fit, although everything seems to be done with a “just good enough” level of effort.

The gameplay in King of the Arcade is definitely one of its weakest points, which is bad in a game all about video games. All of the games feel like cheap mobile games, even if they look ok. Some of the games still play just fine, like the basketball game, because the basic control scheme is simple enough to be effective, but the Virtua Cop game is very hard to control well enough to avoid dying over and over. (I almost quit my playthrough and gave up during the Virtua Cop game story challenge.)

You can watch my full playthrough of King of the Arcade’s story mode below:


Finally, the most important part of any game is the fun factor, and King of the Arcade is a very mixed bag, mostly trending downwards. While the story can be funny, and it’s interesting to see the developers’ take on classic arcade games, the general overall lack of quality and poor controls lead to frustration and suck the fun out of games that could have otherwise been enjoyable. Even for a budget priced game, some of the arcade games you have to play in the story mode are frustrating enough that you may just rage quit and give up.

FINAL VERDICT AND SCORE

King of the Arcade contains interesting ideas, and is certainly a different take than other Arcade simulators like Arcade Paradise, but ultimately its low budget approach and shoddy controls can’t support its vision.

There are quite a few different types of arcade games contained within it, but sadly they aren’t built well enough to make them fun or worth playing (imagine the cheapest free mobile games you can get on the App Store).

The game is value priced at $6.39, but even at that price you can pick up much better games on sale than this one.

If you’re interested in trying it out, I definitely recommend waiting for a sale, but you could just as well watch a Let’s Play to get the basic gist of it.


PROS

  • Interesting ambitious take on the genre
  • Generally funny story and retro aesthetic
  • Wide variety of games to play

CONS

  • Graphics are very basic
  • Many of the games are poorly developed
  • Bad controls suck the fun out of it

6.3

Graphics6
Audio8
Gameplay5
Fun6
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