Chasing scores in the upcoming 502’s Arcade

Hailing from Guatemala, 502’s Arcade is a collection of retro-inspired games spread over a variety of genres. There’s a colour-matching puzzler, a top-down dungeon crawler, and a fixed-screen shooter.

As you’d expect, they’re all the kinds of games you can get to grips with in a minute or two, and all offer a tough challenge – the overarching aim being to hone skills at each one and make your way to the top of the high-score table. “At their core, each game is a high-score chaser, even when they are all from different genres,” explains developer Bryan Alvarado. “The length of each one is different, and also depends on the skill of each player. We have this principle of respecting the time of the players and with that in mind, we are trying to design each one of them to be enjoyable from a few minutes to a few hours. Some of them have a clear progression and others have more of an endless feel to [them].”

Potions Panic sees you matching and clearing flasks of colourful elixir. Think Puyo Puyo, but with a hint of witchcraft

Although 502’s Arcade was always conceived as a collection, it offered the team a chance to bring together ideas and prototypes they’d had in various stages of development for some time. The most fully realised concept among the game ideas was Mighty Strike Team – this was because the team had already released a version of it as a mobile app a few years earlier. “We kept getting feedback that the game would be great on a platform where you could actually use something other than touch as input, and have tighter control over the characters,” Alvarado says. “We took the opportunity to improve a lot of things that we couldn’t do in the mobile version, and we’re confident that this version feels way better than its predecessor.”

As well as the challenge of getting on the collection’s leaderboards, there’ll also be separate achievements to attain in each game, as well as additional challenges that Alvarado and his five-strong team are still working through. “We’ve discussed adding some extra modes to some of the games, like a boss rush to Ghost Hunter Hana, but we’re still discussing the best way to implement them, so it might take a while and will probably happen after release.”

Ghost Hunter Hana draws heavily on Japanese folklore for the enemies infesting its proc-gen dungeons

Real amusement arcades would change their line-up of games over time, and all being well, Alvarado says 502’s Arcade could follow suit, with new titles being added to the roster after its launch. “We’ve had a lot of game ideas and prototypes – more than we have time to work on, actually. Some of them are easier to adapt, but other ones might get their chance to get in later, when we figure out how to make them a fun experience.”

For now, 502 Studios is working on honing the three games it currently has lined up for the collection – along with a fourth title that hasn’t been announced yet. Its launch is pegged for the first half of this year, and will serve as a considerable milestone for a studio that, since its inception in 2014, has had its fair share of ups and downs. “For a good number of those years,” Alvarado says, “we’ve had to take other jobs and do our own work on the side, as the company wasn’t making enough to sustain itself. But that hasn’t stopped us from making games and trying to move our local industry forward.”

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