Neon love and a fist full of quarters. An Arcade Spirits review

Neon love and a fist full of quarters. An Arcade Spirits review

We have seen it before, countless times! Those dating simulators where you play as a clumsy school girl that somehow gets the attention of five different guys and you have to decide when one will steal your heart in only five quick days…Yawn!
Yet in the last few years there have been some impressive dating sim games to break the mold! Some including Mystic Messenger and Doki Doki Literature Club (the latter diving into an unexpected and gory genre). And now a new game is ready knock the socks off your feet! Or should I say slap the arcade coin from your fingers? ;)

The newest dating sim game is a visual novel named Arcade Spirits. And it launches February 12th, just in time for Valentine’s Day! The creators Stefan Gagne and Aenne Schumann take you into a near future world of 20XX where the 80’s arcade game crash never happened. In this new futuristic yet old tech obsessed society, you play as yourself! Unfortunately, you don’t seem to be in a very good place at the moment. In the beginning of the game, it’s revealed that you lost your job… again.

Your roommate and childhood friend Juniper is there at the door to cheer you up with her optimistic ways. Soon enough she introduces you to a “virtual life coach” app that is supposed to help people get…well get their life together! And with the new technology of 20XX, your personal life coaches able to appear in front of you as Iris! This cute little hologram introduces herself and her functions to you, yet the game gives you a choice right from the get-go. Use her to find a proper job for yourself (and possibly romance) or do it by yourself! Quite the difference to what one would expect from a dating sim game.

And so, with a customizable avatar, you are launched into the first chapter of Arcade Spirits! I don’t want to give away too much of the storyline, but basically what happens, should you choose to accept Iris’s offer to lead you into a better life, is that you end up in front of a small arcade apart of a strip mall named Funplex
You have an interview with the old owner of Funplex, who turns out to be much quirkier and weirder than you expected, but you end up getting the job and you’re off to work almost immediately! Upon the first couple hours of working at Funplex, you are introduced to six different characters with their own job at the funplex. There’s Gavin, the straightforward and steady business manager of Funplex; Naomi, the carefree and quirky tech guru of Funplex; Percy, the loving and kindly Mr. Moopy’s Maze player; Ashley, the silly and equally as quirkyas Naomi cosplayer; Queen Bee, the vulgar and gutsy champion of Fists of Discomfort; and Teo, the lovable and kindly dance game champion. All six of these characters are possible love interests in your journey to find happiness in your life, with a seventh option available… not dating anyone! You can choose to not date anyone and stay friends with them.

Now you may be wondering, why would certain traits be bolded and used twice? That’s because these are four of the five personality traits you can develop while talking with these amazing people! Each has their own pros and cons in different situations that will affect which ones you use and how often or with specific people to get close to them. But what’s the fifth option? That would be basically! This option is not bad at all and is often very useful in situations you are unsure of and is usually guaranteed to get you a good response!
And to make sure I don’t give too much away of the plot with the character I whoo’d over (hint: it was Teo, the lovable and slightly self-conscience dancer) and other characters fates, I’m going to move onto the game graphics and gameplay in general.
Now as a veteran player in dating sim games, this really fun to play. It had a different a completely different premise than other more modern dating sim games (*cough* Japanese and Korean centered *cough*). Even as someone that doesn’t play many old style games, I understood many references and games included in the game! Not to mention the graphics are very cute, bouncy, and really reflect the bright, vivid colors and quirkiness of the 80’s society. What really is my favourite part of this game however, is the soundtrack as odd as that seems. To me, music can make or break a scene, and Arcade Spirits does a perfect job of pairing beautifully made music with a classic dating sim game style. From loving scenes between you and a character to intense fighting scenes between some gangs, the music adds a whole other level of immersion and the game features a stellar voice cast with LilyPichu, Stephanie Sheh, Price Johnson, and Graham Stark .

However, there are some things I would like to critic!  Although I love the art style of the game (seriously I would commission these artists if I could), I wish we, as the gamers, could see more outfit changes for the character we play! For instance, in the beginning of the game, Iris tells us to change outfits for the interview she made for us, however when we go to the arcade, an open shot shows that we are in a sweatshirt and pants. This outfits stay on for the entire game. I know art is really complicated and hard to create, however I believe the game would benefit quite a lot from creating another outfit or two, such as an outfit for the main character to wear while in the Funplex and another outfit they wear after they find true happiness in themselves (you will see when you play the game).

There were also a couple of spelling errors from the texts of other characters however it was nothing that I couldn’t overlook, just something that happened once in a while. I also wish that along with the different clothes for the main character, we also get more choices with the hair styles of our character. We have the choice for “short”, “medium”, and “long” but nothing other than that. I hope that in a future update they will add certain hairstyles with the different lengths, like maybe a ponytail, curly hair, or other hairstyles that are found with different ethnicities .For an all-inclusive game it could use more inclusivity.

Overall? I love love LOVE this game! For me the game has brought a totally new spin on dating sim games! Since I’ve only played through it once, I’m planning to play through once again, this time going down another character’s route, possibly the gutsy Queen Bee! Or the lovable dad-like Percy! The game clocks in at about 7 hours so it is over quick, but there is a hint that DLC might be coming.
I’m excited to see more from the creators of Arcade Spirits and hope they can get a DLC or second part out soon! I hope anyone who reads this article can see just how much I really love this game and plays it too. Speaking of potential characters, the game is totally PG 13, with swear words blurred and beeped out and no sexual scenes. Although there are some comments with some double entendre, the game does not contain outright adult material.

So if this sounds like a game you or your kid or a friend would like, just know that it is SO worth it and there will also be a deluxe edition featuring the synthwave soundtrack from Greg Mirles, as well a 54-page digital artbook containing early character sketches, full-colour high-quality art, background information and notes on the game's development, you better bet that I am buying it.

Happy Valentines!!!

Game information:
Title: Arcade Spirits
Developer: Fiction Factory Games
Publisher: PQube
Release dateFeb 12, 2019 (PC)
Platforms: Windows, Mac and Linux
Version Reviewed: PC ( Steam)
Official Site:
ESRB: - -


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