Let’s say it’s 1983. You’re at the arcade, about to drop your last quarter into your favorite game when everything shakes. The quarter slips from your fingers, rolls across the floor, out the open arcade door and stops on the sidewalk. You run outside to pick it up and notice no one is moving. Instead, everyone is staring into the sky. Some are pointing. You look up and see an army of non-trademark-infringing but still recognizable creatures attacking the earth. What happens next?

Ideally, you and two or three other kids build a weapon out of bike parts, a microwave and a metal trash can that sends the attackers running with their tails between their legs or equivalent appendages. Realistically, you run and hide. Or get captured and/or eaten when you foolishly decide to stand and fight only to learn the Asian kid you always see at the arcade isn’t, as movies have led you to believe, a super genius, but a regular kid completely incapable of turning your Walkman into a sonic grenade. Ultra-realistically, you pick up your quarter and go back into the arcade to play one last game because there aren’t any alien invaders.

You and I are stuck in the boring, ultra-realistic world. But we can pretend to live in the kick-ass, save-the-world-from-alien-invaders world thanks to Defend the Arcade, a new retrogaming-themed card game from Neo Games. And like the classic arcade games that inspired it, Defend the Arcade is for one player at a time, which means you can play it whenever you want without bribing your wife or kids to do another stupid old video game thing with you when they’d rather be doing literally anything else.

The premise of the game is simple. Turning over one card at a time from the deck you attempt to create sets of four, either four of the same invader or one each of the four different invaders. Once a set is complete, use an Attack card to send those aliens to the great arcade in the sky. If you can complete four attacks, you win. The invaders aren’t going to go without a fight, though. They came armed with Laser Bombs. Turn over four Laser Bomb cards before you drive back the aliens and the arcade is toast.

Like most solitaire games, there is some strategy to Defend the Arcade, but winning or losing mostly comes down to the luck of the draw. You can be the most brilliant group-of-four-aliens creator the world has ever seen, but it won’t help you if all four of your Attack cards are at the bottom of the deck. That’s not a knock on the game. That’s simply the way solitaire generally works. It’s a fun way to kill a few minutes before your plane boards or your lunch break ends, not an engrossing war simulation.

Defend the Arcade is a deck of 43 full-color, standard-size playing cards. Even if you don’t plan on ever playing the game, the artwork makes it a worthy addition to any classic gaming collection that will look great next to the factory sealed Atari 2600 games you never play. But I recommend playing it. And the Atari games.

Defend the Arcade is available from Game Crafter for $9.99 plus shipping.

Ric Pryor Ric Pryor (25 Posts)

Ric Pryor started playing video games when he could barely see over the control panel of a Monaco GP machine and he hasn't stopped playing since. Well, except for that break he took between the Crash of '83 and the release of Williams Arcade Classics for the PC in 1995. He collects and plays old and new games for pre-crash systems and is the creator of the Atari 2600 homebrew game Galactopus.