Arcade Paradise VR is both fascinating and exhausting all at once

Arcade Paradise was always one of my favorite simulator games and the VR version has allowed my eyes to see it from a close up perspective and my back to absolutely feel it.
Arcade Paradise VR screenshot from Wired Productions
Arcade Paradise VR screenshot from Wired Productions /

I've always loved Arcade Paradise. From the moment I first played it, I loved it. In fact, after a bit of playing I went over to Limited Run to make sure I could snag a physical copy of it.

It's simple repetitive loop of throwing in customer's laundry, to cleaning up around the shop, to managing the arcade in the back, it's stressful but enjoyable, And a little ways back I saw that Arcade Paradise VR was going to be coming out for the Meta Quest 3 I preordered that thing so fast that it woulda made my head spin if not for the fact that I didn't want my headset falling off.

It finally came out recently and I figured I'd have a day to just chill and play it and have a reason to start from scratch, figuring my memories of the game were gonna let me fly through this. And, I was kinda right but my god I didn't realize which memories I was going to pull from.

As is expected from a VR game, there's more of a physical component to it than your standard console game. You learn about what you need to do and then you start doing customer's laundry. The baskets appear on the counter, you have to throw them in the washer and make sure they're set to the right settings. You open the door's, physically thrown in a few clumps of clothing, shut it, hit start, and go.

I was getting the hang of it when the business hours ended. I hadn't paid attention to the time and I knew the orders that weren't finished were going to cost me money. So I had to move faster. Suddenly I had a whole routing in place. Carry two baskets at a time, Throw the close in, set the settings before closing the door so I didn't accidentally his start with the wrong setting, all that. My game mind was working overtime so I wasn't paying attention to my body. I started hurting. That's when I realized, I was hunched over, flailing my arms. Leaning down a little, doing rapid arm movement, standing back up, swiping the door closed and then doing it again.

Arcade Paradise VR screenshot
Arcade Paradise VR screenshot from Wired Productions /

If you've ever worked as a cook in a sports bar you IMMEDIATELY know this feeling, especially if you worked at BW3. If you're unfamiliar, BW3s is a sports bar that has the worst design for their cooks. The drawer all the wings are kept in are at about knee level so you'll spend the majority of your day with your waist bent 45 to 90 degrees, flailing your arms about as you throw wings into the sauce buckets.

I was back in this again. It was still satisfying but my god did I weirdly work up a sweat in the hour I played. It was punishing but it was still fun. I felt like each work day I had to do some weird physical challenge out of the old Double Dare show. Throwing things into baskets, throw trash into the dumpster from far away to get more money, pulling gum off the wall, all within the confines of the day.

It wasn't due to a poor design though, I was just out of shape. The game's design is actually pretty stellar. Unlike games like Car Mechanic Simulator and House Flipper, they didn't provide a dumbed down version of the game. Instead, they added new details to make it more entertaining.

One of the coolest new things they added were the new arcade machines. They added several that incorporate the VR to create the kind of things you'd have to move around to enjoy. For example there's a light gun game where you actually pick up the gun and fire at the screen. One of my personal favorites is a meta joke. If you unlock the VR machine for the arcade, you can step up to it and put the virtual virtual headset on your head. When in there the Quest external cameras click on and you see the real world around you. You can then take arcade machines you've unlocked and set up an arcade. It's a VR arcade simulator within a VR arcade simulator. Brilliant.

All in all the game is a blast. The way your character sees mundane activities as pixelated games. They smooth movement tracking. It's very satisfying. I don't even have to hit a button to close the doors, I can just swipe my arm and my hand will bump it closed meaning my movements are more realistic.

In fact, there were only two flaws I could think of for this game. One, the cut scenes are done in a weird way. Despite being made in game, the cut scenes are done in a small floating rectangle in your view like you're watching a video file. Didn't love that.

The other are the knobs. They throw knobs at you from every angle. The washers and dryers have new knobs and to deposit money you have to open a safe using a combination. This would be fine but the game, well the Quest in general, is terrible at tracking the twisting motion of the hand so I'd grab the knob and turn my hand 180 only for it to MAYBE click over one setting. I feel like this could have been done with buttons instead of a knob. It's a constant problem as you start getting through the day moving at a good clip and then suddenly you find yourself unable to turn a simple knob. There's times where I'd try to turn it counter-clockwise then let go only to watch the knob fly all the way over clockwise. But the game is still new so patches are more than likely en route.

All in all though, the game is really fun. As someone who played the original, I liked accessing the watch menu by simply looking at my wrist. I loved how easy it was to just quickly check the game time without needing a ton of hubs on screen at all times, letting me just immerse.

Arcade Paradise VR (Meta Quest 2 & 3) Score: 9/10

Despite some minor flaws in the twist tracking and the poor quality of the cut scenes, the game is a pleasant surprise. They went above and beyond what most trips to VR do and actually gave us something better than the original experience as opposed to watered-down cartoonish versions like House Flipper VR did. Just be forewarned, if you're looking to get all your work done before the end of the day you are absolutely going to break a sweat.