PS VR

Review: Pierhead Arcade – PS4/PSVR

If there’s one thing I used to love doing with my parents, it was going to the arcades. Mum and Dad would give me a pound and tell me to bugger off while they gambled their money on the in-house bingo. Good times. No more than 15 minutes later would I be back at my parents’ heels with my incessant, pre-pubescent, high-pitched moans for more coins for the machines. And I’d always get them. Sometimes I’d have to wait until the Bingo Gods shone on my parents’ bingo cards, but the coins always flowed eventually. It was a waiting game. Why am I telling you this? I don’t know. It’s sort of related to the game I’m reviewing?

Pierhead Arcade is exactly what it sounds like – an arcade located at the end of a pier. These are typical haunts for families during the summer months in Great Britain, though I’m not so sure about the U.S.A and other countries. While this game may give me happy joy-joy feelings of nostalgia, it may just be a collection of weird games for those not familiar with the British tradition. Anyway, let’s crack on with the actual review before I start telling you how I used to wet the bed as a child.

This pier in Llandudno, North Wales, was my real life Pierhead Arcade as a child. The middle building houses a great arcade. Classier than Rhyl, but not as good as Blackpool.

Pierhead Arcade is a PSVR game. As is the norm with PSVR games, you’ll need a PlayStation VR headset. No, I’m not assuming you are stupid, but some people will still ask if they need a PSVR to play the game, so this is for them. You’ll also need a pair of PS Move wand controllers. DualShock 4’s are no use to anybody here, nor is your PSVR Aim controller. Two wands and a headset is all you’ll need, as well as a decent bit of space to swing your arms around.

Getting into the game is simple enough. There are no lengthy tutorials, nor are there any fancy menus to get lost in. You simply boot into the arcade and you’re free to go around playing any of the dozen or so games available. It’s really simple, too, as you just teleport to the game you want to play, look for the coin slot and press the move button on your PS Move wand to deploy a 20 pence piece. Perhaps this is the most unrealistic part of the game; I can’t remember paying as little as 20p for a go on any arcade machine. Moving on…

Once you’ve activated the machine, play! Depending on what game you choose to play, you’ll need to do different things. For instance, the claw machine (it probably has an official name, but this is the universally accepted moniker… in Britain) has two buttons. One will move your claw forward, the other will move it sideways. Just like in real life you’ll need to line up your claw in the hopes of picking up a prize. Personally, I have yet to win. I would love to one day. In the game and in real life. Feel sorry for me.

All actions are carried out by using your wands. With the claw machine it’s as simple as tapping the buttons in front, but with others there’s a little more interactivity. One of the best games in Pierhead Arcade is the zombie shooting gallery. You pay your fee, pick up the shotgun, and fire away at the zombies that pop-up and move towards you. The added layer is that you need to manually reload your shotgun after each shot. I did find this a little awkward at first but I was soon popping zombies like the baddest of bad mans. Ya get me bruv?

Then there’s the boxing game. You teleport over, plop your coin in, pick up your gloves and hit the pop-out pads as they, er, pop-out. The idea is to get as many points as possible and to collect those glorious tickets that can be exchanged for prizes. I actually really like the boxing game; it was nice to play it without there being a group of pissed-up chavs competing to see who is the hardest. Plebs. Plus, it’s a helluva workout. Make sure you’ve got your wrist straps firmly secured.

The variety in Pierhead Arcade is what really makes it a great game. Each game by itself wouldn’t stand a chance as a solo release, and the arcade itself is looking a little bare in the decoration department, but it all comes together to give you a nice collection of games that you’ve likely not played for many years – or at least that was the case for me. Hopping from one machine to another without having to beg Mum and Dad for coins – and I’m not shitting you here – genuinely made me happy. Like proper happiness like you see on the TV and in movies. I’d said to myself when I booted the game up that I was only going to have a quick go and then get to bed.

It was actually 4 hours later, but I couldn’t find the right image after 23 seconds of Googling.

Four hours later and I’m gleefully running back and forth to the prize counter to spend my tickets on silly little toys. Well, actually, some of them are pretty decent! The first thing I bought was a sparkler. Alas, I had no way to light it. No worry! If you’ve got the tickets, you can buy a zippo lighter! Now this is just like my childhood – health and safety didn’t exist when I was a kid and you could buy a bunch of fireworks from the corner shop if you had the cash. Ah, the good old days.

Fun Fact: Pierhead Arcade is less than 300MB – nice and quick download!

Some of the prizes are a little more fun than others. The sparkler kept me entertained for like, 15 minutes, maybe? But the xylophone kept me going for a good hour. No, really, it did. I like playing music but I don’t get the chance to play my piano that much as my kid is a bit of a dick and always wants a go of it. You can even get a drum. A mother flippin’ drum. I’m a grown arse man and I’m not even allowed a drum in real life! So… yeah. I spent a lot of time playing with toys in Pierhead Arcade, which I suppose goes in the game’s favour; the main attraction is the variety of arcade games to play, but if I’m having just as much fun with the silly in-game toys, the developer has done something right. Or I’m just not quite all there? Who knows.

Alright, we’ve had a bit of a lark. We’ve all chuckled at the expense of my intelligence, but let’s find some faults. Balanced reviews and all that.

Pierhead Arcade isn’t perfect – what game is? As is common with many PSVR games, the PS Moves can let you down. Some games require you to throw with accuracy, but with the Move controllers it’s not always accurate. You think you’re lining up your shot just right, but then the Moves shit the bed and you’ve lobbed the ball ten feet left of your target. It’s a pain in the neck when it happens, but thankfully it’s not all that bad. With a little practice and patience, you can make every shot count. I don’t know if that’s really true, but looking at the leaderboards and the scores posted by other players, I assume it must be. Either that or I am just, well, just shit.

And that’s my only real complaint. The fact that Sony cheaped out and used the PS Move tech for tracking rather than something that’s, you know, not shit. So fair play to the developers as everything else is top-notch. Even the graphics are decent. I can’t actually remember having any negative thoughts towards the game’s presentation. It’s an arcade. It’s not that hard to make it look decent. Probably. I dunno. I don’t make games. I play them. Now, I’m off to try to win on the claw machine. I’m 27 years old. At this point it’s a matter of self-respect.

Pierhead Arcade PSVR Review
  • 9.0/10
    Overall - Must Buy - 9.0/10
9.0/10

Summary

Pierhead Arcade is one of the best value for money games available, no question. You've got a whole bunch of classic arcade games that you can play over and over and over without spending more than your initial purchase price which, for the record, is bloody cheap! It could use a bit of multiplayer to have a muck around with friends, and the Moves are showing that light-based tracking isn't amazing, but it's all good fun.

Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a copy of the game provided by the publisher. For more information, please read our Review Policy. 

Reviewed using PS4 Slim. 

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