Dominate the Entertainment Industry: Arcade Tycoon Game Review 

Arcade Tycoon: Simulation has received much love since its release in 2021. So, we jumped at the chance to review this retro-themed management sim!

Dominate the Entertainment Industry: Arcade Tycoon Game Review 

Inspired by Two Point Hospital, Prison Architect, and Megaquarium, Arcade Tycoon was developed by Squidpunch Studios and Vincent Ltd. Promising humour and challenges in a stylised pixel-graphics design, we’ve got the low down on everything you need to know about this veritable gem. 

What Sped Did We Play On?

We played Arcade Tycoon: Simulation on an Acer Predator Helios 300 gaming laptop, with an Intel Core i7-10750H CPU, NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 GPU, and 16GB DDR4 RAM. 

CPUIntel Core i7-10750H
StorageSSD and HDD storage

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What is Arcade Tycoon: Simulation? 

Arcade Tycoon is a management simulator, where you can design, populate, and manage a thriving arcade for all to enjoy. There are hundreds of entertainment machines and decorative items, so you can build a unique arcade with every campaign mission or sandbox playthrough. Keep your guests and employees happy and put out (sometimes literal) fires as they occur. You’ll have to contend with thieves, upset customers, and even aliens on a day-to-day basis! 

There are twelve campaign levels to master and a sandbox mode, where you can unleash the full power of your creativity. We played through both modes, to give you a comprehensive overview. (Such a cross to bear, I know 😜) 

Arcade Tycoon: Simulation

Campaigning From Humble Beginnings

The first level of the campaign is a tutorial, run by your dog. Who could always talk, apparently. You are operating out of your garage, learning the ins and outs of running a successful arcade. It covers everything you need to know from buying a machine to researching ways to improve your operations. All so you can complete the three main objectives of each level, such as having an arcade value of $10K or own ten pinball machines. Once all three are complete, you can move onto the next challenge! 

The other valuable lesson the early levels teach is how to optimise space and money. They are all in locations with small square-footage, which in-turn limits your earning potential. Therefore, you have to maximise your machine placement so you can watch the money and stars roll in. 

There are two main in-game currencies: dollars and stars. Dollars are used for buying machines, paying staff, funding maintenance, and so on. Stars are earned when customers play the machines. The better the machine, the more stars you earn. These are then spent on research, unlocking new machines, and upgrading your current equipment. 

There is also a third currency, which you can earn by completing contracts. These are additional goals you can work on that generally coincide with the game progression. Complete contracts to spend $100,000, repair ten machines, or even pick up litter. Finishing five will give you an arcade token which can be spent on unique machines. 

Arcade Tycoon: Simulation

Sandbox Fun

In basic gameplay, the sandbox mode is similar to the campaign. But instead of starting your garage with a dream and a mission, you have the full creative freedom to shape your arcade. Loading up the sandbox mode offers you a sliding scale of starting cash and stars, and your starting space is a twelve-by-twelve grid. From there, you can develop and build your arcade into a sprawling feast of entertainment. Any research and machines you unlocked in campaign mode aren’t available, but the base models of every type are at your disposal. It’s up to you to pull in enough customers to generate the cashflow and stars to expand.  

Arcade Tycoon: Simulation

Mechanics and More

If you are at all familiar with management sims, like Rollercoaster Tycoon or Two Point Hospital, then the controls and facets of Arcade Tycoon will be very accessible. You can explore menus for your finances, current goals, and research, or toggle into build mode and place down new machines, flooring, and decorations. 

Of course, there are staff to look after too, as your machines will need frequent repairs and problem customers need escorting out. You hire repairmen, security guards, cleaners, and entertainers. They will need to be kept happy, with a staff room to offer a safe haven to rest and recharge. Without one, they will threaten to quit. But if you keep them happy, your staff will gain experience which can be spent on improving their skills or granting them a feat. I particularly liked these, as they help your staff to gain experience, make them more resilient, and even give them fun abilities like teleporting! 

There was one mechanic that particularly stood out: power management. The best management sims give you plenty of layers to think about and factor into your gameplay. Arcade Tycoon requires you to keep a close eye on your power consumption. Each level starts with a certain wattage available, limiting the number of machines and amenities you can place. Exceed your power availability and circuits will short resulting in your arcade machines blowing up. (Why yes, yes I did forget about my power and get startled when all my machines blew.) Thankfully, you can buy more power in line with your growing arcade. You just have to remember to up it every now and then! 

Arcade Tycoon: Simulation

Our Thoughts

Arcade Tycoon was a challenge, but enjoyable. Initially, I was playing on the “normal” difficulty setting and struggled. It took five attempts to complete the second level, and I only managed that after realising I could change down to “easy”. I needed to spend money to make money, but I had too many out-goings and therefore no money to spend. Then aliens came and bugged all my arcade machines, and it was a mess. 

Dropping down to easy made everything much more manageable. (I lack the skills, ok?!) 

Channel 4’s “Go 8 Bit” described Arcade Tycoon as addictive, and I concur. Once I had got the difficulty level to match my ability, I was able to progress through the campaign levels and develop my arcades. Having to take a break to see to my real-life responsibilities left me itching to get back on my computer and try the next level! This game is bright, colourful, and the next step is always in sight. The perfect addicting trifecta. 

Living My Best Arcade Management Life

Even on the easy setting, Arcade Tycoon presented a challenge and tested my skills. Resources still needed managing, upgrades have to be carefully selected, and customers kept happy. I enjoyed constantly having something to work towards, be that because of a contract or a new machine I’d just unlocked and wanted to purchase. It was also a satisfying challenge getting everything to fit within the confines of the arcade walls – really put my spatial awareness to the test! 

What worked especially well for me was the sense of continuity as you progressed through the campaign levels. The most annoying thing about RCT is that you have to unlock the research and rides every level. With Arcade Tycoon, once a subject was researched, you had access to that benefit from that point onwards. Same with the arcade machines. Often these were unlocked by completing the silver or bronze goal, and once you had that trophy you could buy the new types of machines. Instead of just starting your arcade with Retro machines, you can put down Pinball, Pusher, and Modern ones. No starting at square one every time and slogging your way through the early stages. 

At times, it was a little slow – waiting for enough funding or stars to progress – but I do find this is a drawback of the genre, rather than Arcade Tycoon in particular. Plus, I could keep myself busy in these lull moments, because of the litter picking tool. Even with bins and cleaners, customers will drop their rubbish anywhere (and then complain about the litter, because logic). The litter picker allowed me to systematically go through my arcade, picking up all the rubbish as it was dropped. This had the cheeky benefit of saving money on a cleaner, as I could essentially do their job for free! Granted, this is not a tactic to use on larger arcades, but it worked for me on the first few campaign levels! 

Final Thoughts

Overall, I enjoyed playing Arcade Tycoon. I’m eager to see that challenges that await in the campaign mode and all the different style arcades I can build in sandbox. Plus, the pixel graphics suit the retro theme, and the music does an excellent job of transporting you to the arcade setting. This game has been put together well and will provide plenty of entertainment. 

If you like a management sim that puts your skills to the test, then Arcade Tycoon will hit the spot. 

What Platform Can I Play Arcade Tycoon: Simulation On?

Arcade Tycoon: Simulation is available to play on PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and now the Switch, after being added to the Nintendo shop in January. 

It is a singleplayer adventure but would be perfect content to stream

Arcade Tycoon: Simulation Official Specifications

What does it take to run a busy and beloved arcade? Here are the official specifications for Arcade Tycoon: Simulation:  

ComponentMinimum SpecsRecommended Specs
Operating SystemWindows XP*
Windows 8 / 7*
ProcessorDual-core at 2GHzDual-core at 2GHz
GraphicsHardware Accelerated Graphics with dedicated memoryHardware Accelerated Graphics with dedicated memory
Storage1500MB available space1500 MB available space
*Starting January 1st, 2024, the Steam Client will only support Windows 10 and later versions.

Best PCs to Play Arcade Tycoon: Simulation

With entirely reasonable specs, you can happily play Arcade Tycoon: Simulation on an old machine. But that’s not what you want to do. We totally understand that you want to game on a shiny PC kitted out with the latest and greatest hardware. We are all about that life. As such, we’ve picked a cross-section of gaming PCs and laptops from the Overclockers UK website that we think would be perfect for playing Arcade Tycoon: Simulation and all your other favourite management sims. If these don’t pass your vibe check, then we have the full ranges available for you to browse. 

Refract Gaming Crimson Pre-Built PC 

The Refract Gaming Crimson is the perfect entry-level gaming PC to kickstart your management sim career. The AMD Ryzen 5 5600G APU features integrated AMD RX Vega graphics, negating the needs for a dedicated GPU. This makes it perfect for casual games and has the added bonus of requiring less power to run the PC as a whole. Paired with 16GB DDR4 RAM and SSD primary storage, the Crimson operates with efficiency and speed. Plus, there is an extra 1TB HDD for holding all your files, media, and music. 

As part of Refract range, the Crimson is pre-built, fully tested, and ready to ship when in stock. All you have to do is plug it in and play! Better yet, it is covered by our comprehensive three years parts and labour warranty for that extra peace of mind. Sadly, alien invasion isn’t covered! 

Refract Gaming Crimson 2023
MSI GF63 NVIDIA RTX 4050, 16GB, 15.6" 144hz, Intel i5 12450H Gaming Laptop

MSI GF63 Gaming Laptop

Manage your arcade from anywhere, with the MSI GF63. This gaming laptop utilises an Intel Core i5-12450H CPU, with hybrid core architecture and Intel Thread Director to optimise all your workflows. The 16GB DDR4 RAM and NVMe SSD storage will keep operations running efficiently with near zero-latency and ultra-fast loading times. What’s more, the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4050 GPU and 15.6” FHD screen with 144Hz refresh rate will bring Arcade Tycoon to life in vibrant colour and smooth frame rates. 

To keep cool in a crisis, the MSI GF63 is equipped with Cooler Boost technology. This thermal solution is fine-tuned to provide noticeably quieter and cooler performance, even when under load. You just have to worry about the fires on screen, nothing else. 

OcUK Gaming Tanto Configurable PC

Great things come in small packages, and the OcUK Gaming Tanto delivers. This gaming PC is housed in a Micro-ATX case, keeping the form factor small but the performance big. It features an Intel Core i3-12100F CPU, with four cores, eight threads, and boost speeds up to 4.3GHz. Enjoy smooth and seamless performance in all your workflows! Plus, with an NVIDIA RTX 3060 GPU and the power of Ampere architecture, you can experience immersive gaming thanks to beautifully rendered details, high frame rates, and photo-realistic quality. 

The OcUK Gaming Tanto is one of our configurable gaming PCs. This means you can adjust the base spec from a pre-selected list of hardware to better suit your needs and playstyle. Customise the storage solution, operating system, and opt to add a WiFi USB adapter. Any changes to the spec will affect the pricing. 

OcUK Gaming Tanto - 12th Gen Intel Quad Core, GeForce RTX 3060 Gaming PC

Check Your Power and Game On!

Have you been playing Arcade Tycoon: Simulation? Let us know your thoughts on this management sim in the comments below! 

PC specs are subject to change.

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