From the outside, Button City looks as though it should be a wholesome recipe for success. It has a wonderful visual style, cute characters and boasts a ton of arcade games to lose yourself in. All of this is set to be wrapped in a beautifully told story that pulls on those nostalgic heartstrings of sitting in the arcades when you were younger. Despite how Button City appears, it's unfortunately not long before you realise it has very little holding it all together.
It's a shame, as the narrative in place is actually quite charming. You play as Fennel, a recluse who is encouraged to venture out of his comfort zone and make friends. After stumbling across the local arcade, you're inducted into a group of fellow video game enthusiasts, working together to ensure the arcade isn't shut down for good. It's bundled with some amusing dialogue and moments, such as your friend who blasts heavy metal outside your house in the morning while doing yoga. It also has some lovely representation in its characters, specifically through physical disabilities.
While the narrative is fluffy enough to keep your interest, everything else in Button City feels like a slog. Since the game is based in an arcade, you'd expect to get your hands on a variety of games, but there's only a handful, none of which feel particularly great to play. A multiplayer inspired mode sees you collecting fruit to take back to your base whilst battling other opponents, but moves along at a snails pace. Other games include a rhythm game with a truly convoluted set of button inputs and a racing game that's as simple to win as holding down the accelerate and boost button. For a game that celebrates the arcade scene, it's a shame none of the playable titles feel fun to try out.
Outside of this, you spend your time completing an obscene amount of fetch quests, all whilst walking at ridiculously slow speeds. It's a chore making your way across the world from one character to another, artificially dragging out the runtime way longer than it needs to be. Couple in an array of side quests and collectables around the world, it does little to keep your interest both inside and outside of its arcade games.
There's a lovely story bundling all the lesser parts together, but it ultimately feels as though it's been put together with tape and glue. Your enjoyment will stem from how much you gain from its narrative, but in all honesty, other games take a similar concept and run with it so much better. Arcade Spirits comes to mind, and while it doesn't directly allow you to play any titles, is a beautiful visual novel that perfectly encapsulates that 80s arcade energy. We're sorry to say, but Button City is an arcade cabinet that doesn't do too much to justify its existence.