Cynicism in the form of a creepy pink rabbit.
Released: November 12, 2015
Free-to-play, microtransactions purchased
Nintendo Badge Arcade is the latest attempt by Nintendo to crack into the free-to-play market. Though Nintendo pretentiously calls it “free-to-start” in an effort to make it sound more impressive than it is (Edit: after receiving comments and thinking about it, I’m inclined to agree and change my mind. It IS at least a more honest term). It’s pure freemium stuff, however, and this cynical new 3DS release does nothing but cement such a fact.
What is Badge Arcade? It’s a virtual UFO catcher in which you pay money for almost literally nothing. For a dollar, you get five attempts at a pretend arcade grabber machine, all in the hopes of picking up “badges” with which you can decorate your 3DS home menu.
These “decorations” take up at least one space on the home menu, a menu that’s already an inconvenient and poorly optimized way of navigating software. Essentially, your “reward” for handing over cash is junk. Digital trash that further clutters an already cluttered system.
Badge Arcade tries to present itself as a “good guy” in the form of a pink rabbit. The rabbit regularly reminds you how little pressure there is to stump up real-life cash, at such a regular passive-aggressive pace it incidentally comes off as pressure. What makes this especially creepy is how the rabbit is clearly designed to endear itself to children, its words carefully designed to absolve Nintendo of blame should a kid steal their parents’ credit card, while constantly encouraging players to stump up the green.
It’s creepy, is what it is. This lagomorphic huckster, constantly attempting to convince you that you’re having so much fun while doing its best to encourage further expenditure – all while transparently doing its level best to not look like it’s encouraging everything. I despise this rabbit. This cottontailed conman, the family-friendly face of capitalism unchained.
Kill the rabbit.
There are no daily free plays, but you get one go on the “practice” catcher a day, with a chance to earn some free plays that way – provided you catch a “bonus” badge. Unlike many other free-to-play games, there’s really not much to do for those who don’t spend. Then again, there’s not much to do even if you’ve paid up. The “gameplay” consists of holding down a button and letting go, hoping chance does the rest.
You can blow through your five plays in literally seconds, then Nintendo Badge Arcade will ask for another dollar.
When I say it’s a virtual UFO catcher, I mean just that. There’s nothing special beyond it, no added gameplay that keeps it zesty. Well, there’s one mode that swaps the traditional claws for a hammer, but it’s ultimately the same game.
Just like real-life grabber machines, it’s a total waste of time and money. Perhaps worse, because there’s not even the illusion of value here. You can “win” these badges using Google Image Search and looking at them all day long. The only potentially valuable badges are the ones that replace home menu functions, swapping out the usual Store of Settings buttons for something a bit more picturesque. You can also “win” 3DS menu themes, if you’re into that.
Is it worth a buck a gamble? No.
I can see how this is potentially addictive. As with all free-to-play games, it’s been designed as such, a psychological tick planned to bore into the mind of the compulsive collector. I spent a few dollars just so I could say I was doing my job, but I have no desire to go back. This is hollow fluff, a pure nothing of an experience.
It’s not like I even find it particularly offensive. It’s free, and it’s upfront about what it is, that much I can respect. I just think it’s completely worthless. Its only redeeming factor is that it’s free. Lots of things are free though, like jpgs of Nintendo characters if you need pictures of them this badly.
I remain interested in Nintendo’s F2P endeavors, but this one isn’t even trying. It’s close to Final Fantasy: All The Bravest in terms of providing the absolute minimum amount of “gameplay” in order to act as a dressed up middleman between you and your wallet. It’s not as disgustingly tacky as All The Bravest, but it’s not much better.
And the rabbit’s a total prick.