Phantom of the Arcade

by Susan Arendt, John Moulton, and Russ Pitts

Episode 1 of Phantom of the Arcade

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
A video arcade commentary--plus spooky ghosts!, January 21, 2010
by Pete Gardner (Vancouver, Canada)

I have always been a sucker for spooky games. Anything haunted, whether it be a house, an asylum, an abandoned church building, an amusement park--you name it. When I learned that the Phantom of the Arcade was set in a haunted video arcade I just could not resist.

The game started out interestingly, with the player arriving mistakenly at a run-down building that turns out to be an abandoned arcade. Initial explorations quickly reveal that it is not all that abandoned after all, although there are no corporeal entities to be found within. Nice start.

But then, as we get further in, atmosphere gives way to attempts at sophomoric humour. Some of the jokes work, but before long, sadly, they begin to fall flat, since it is essentially the same joke over and over again: "some games good, some games stupid, only strange people play these games". The puzzles consist of picking up things found along the way and handing them over to the various entities inhabiting the arcade. Any strategy rapidly becomes a simple matter of lawnmowering to decide what item to give each apparition. (These ghosts, by the way, appear mostly to be the type of youth one would have expected to inhabit arcades over the past ten to fifteen years. Perhaps the moral of the story is "arcades kill", because there were no older ghosts to be found anywhere, all of them apparently taken before they had emerged from post adolescence.)

I can't really recommend Phantom of the Arcade, unless you are interested in something very light on challenge, prose and plot. I see that two of the authors have written a sequel to this game a year later. Perhaps I'll give it a spin to see if they have improved.

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