A new challenger approaches! Arcade Spirits: The New Challengers Review.

  Introduction I enjoyed playing the first game of Arcade Spirits back in 2019. It was a fun and relaxing dating sim I could go through and ...



I enjoyed playing the first game of Arcade Spirits back in 2019. It was a fun and relaxing dating sim I could go through and forget the woes and troubles of my soon to be ending HS career as my junior year was coming to an end and I’d be a senior in a few months. I’m now about to graduate college in 2023 when I’m suddenly told the developers of Arcade Spirits made a sequel and I was so excited to see what changed, what the storyline would be, etc.

And I can say with 100% certainty that “Arcade Spirits: The New Challengers” is a big improvement from the first game. Its general atmosphere feels more natural and well put together and doesn’t randomly remind me that I am in fact a single introverted 20-year-old with no dating experience (although that seems to oddly make me and the Arcade Spirits MC one in the same). It’s an overall naturally flowing game that has a lot of heart, love, and soul put into it. 



A big part I feel that was lacking in the original Arcade Spirits game was customization. There was very little of it and it just kind of felt like an empty placeholder - sort of like those grey profile pictures you have on social media accounts until you upload your own pfp. But the customization of this game really stepped up! Not only are there more options for previous customizations (such as hair, skin color, etc.) but new customizations that make the in-game character model feel more personal. Of course, I will always love the addition of more customizations till the day I die, but it did have a big step up from the last game. 

Not only that but you can even customize your main rival in the game! If there’s a certain anime character, irl crush you have, or you just want to mess around with the customizations - you have the option and freedom to do so. I’m not very picky when it comes to those types of customizations, so I left my rival as the default. 

Not only that but there are a wide range of pronouns available for players to pick, choose, and experiment with. The players are even able to change such pronouns/customizations between chapters!


While the representation was already very good in the first game - The representation in the new game was upheld to the previous standards and built on it. Not only did Arcade Spirits include characters with varying body types, physical disabilities, mental health problems, and various homelives - it used such traits to enhance the characters and really make them feel like people and not just stereotypes of said representations. 

This game included real world problems, issues, and situations unique to certain characters because of who they were - and although it could get sad at times - if just made me even more invested in these characters and the storyline. 

And one last note for this section - there even seems to be a polyamorous route you can take. I haven’t gone down this path yet, but an option early on in the game allowed me to say that the 2 characters had caught my eye simultaneously. {see picture below} What’s even funnier is that right before this I had decided I wasn’t going to go for either Jynx or Grace because I didn’t want to split them up and I had already decided they were girlfriends (as a personal head Cannon). It’s a very interesting path you don’t see often in dating sims and opens up a lot of possibilities. After all - what’s better than 1 partner who loves and cherishes you? 2 partners that love and cherish you!!! 


I just really love the artwork of this game. Both in game and the art you sort of “earn” by completing events and goals with different characters. While all of the art is technically sfw, some of them can be a bit “saucy” - including the final splash art of characters when you successfully complete their romantic routes. 

It was a bit embarrassing to be reading the heartwarming ending and my marriage with Locksley when my dad turned around just in time to see him half naked amongst plushies he had obviously won for me.

When you’re coming up to the end of your routes - be wary of any embarrassing comments that may come from friends, roommates, or family if they happen to see your favorite arcade gamer in a lewd position on screen. 


Overall, the navigation of the gameplay is easy to understand and customizable depending on how you want to play. You can choose to see or hide personality traits, you can choose a full platonic or full romance route (which can be changed multiple times in the story), etc, etc. It’s also easy to see what dialogue option you have highlighted (very important in high stress situations). 

However, the navigation of the menu was rough for me. Don’t get me wrong, I love the sort of 90 sci-fi-esque theme the main menu has; but the selection color sucks beyond belief. It’s this sort of medium neon purple color and with the grid pattern base of the menu screen it was very difficult for me to find what options I had highlighted. I actually accidentally saved over my original save file and had to start over when I first began to play. It was super frustrating. Along with that - whenever you pause the game/go to the save menu - the cursor starts at the bottom instead of the top and it always confused me and I felt like I had to triple check everything I did and even then, I was fearful I’d press the wrong option. 

I’m no artist or color theory expert but I think the main problem (for me at least) is the saturation of the colors. Most of the time, sci-fi movies are associated with this sort of neon billboard and cluttered aesthetic - which isn’t bad - but in a navigation screen with a lot going on at once it was very frustrating.  

Content/Trigger Warnings

While this game is wonderful, fun, quirky, and a great escape from reality (although don’t go too deep or a certain evil software may nab your consciousness) there are some very serious topics and discussions in Arcade Spirits that players should know in case such things are triggering. 

It is very important that media such as games and TV shows talk about these issues rather than pushing them down and out of the way to keep up appearances. I applaud the Arcade Spirits team for doing their research on how all these problems affect real people in their very real lives and put it into the game. It not only makes the game realistic, but makes it normal, ok, and encouraged to talk about and address. 

That being said, potential players should know that this game contains themes, mentions, and depictions of the following:

  • Intense anxiety

  • Depression

  • Attempted Suicide

  • Family trauma 

  • Ableism

  • Online bullying and harassment

  • Depressive episodes/spirals 

  • Controlling, borderline abusive behavior

  • Self-blame 

The amount of such events you see will depend on the route you choose to go on. My first run I went through I chose Locksley, who has his own personal problems, however most of the triggers listed above were minor characterizations of other characters that I was not pursuing/choose to not pursue when it came up. So, some of your runs through the game will give you more or less exposure of said issues depending on which route you go. 

The triggers you are most likely/will definitely see is attempted suicide, online bullying and harassment, anxiety, depression, and controlling behavior. The rest will fluctuate depending on which character(s) you pursue and get to know on a deeper level. 

Final conclusions

This game was such a blast to play. It’s very long with lots of content and has so many options and possible paths to pick - I feel like I could play for months and still not get to everything!! Overall, everything has improved and I’m excited to see where the developers go from here. 

The new Arcade Spirits can be a standalone game OR a game that can be a continuation from the first game (a cool feature I have yet to try out where you can basically use the end of the first game as a jumping point in the new game). I personally like to think of the new game as a sort of alternate timeline/universe of the first game. Many characters from the first game are present in the new game with varying levels of importance - but all brought a smile to my face. 

The humor can be a little awkward sometimes and miss the mark, but as a Gen Z kid who grew up as social media boomed from the end of the 2000s onward - my humor has been warped into complete obscurity - so take what I say with a grain of salt. The humor does seem more geared towards millennials rather than a college student in her twenties who will laugh her ass off at a picture of a frog in a top hat with the caption “bottom text”. So, if there’s any young'ns out there like me - prepare to cringe a little at some of the humorous banter - but end up quickly getting over it because obviously winning over the hearts of your potential 2D lovers. ♥️♥️

I’m very excited to keep playing through the game and discovering all the different paths and stories - and I hope you enjoy it too!!! 

Game: Arcade Spirits: The New Challengers Review
Publisher: PQube
DeveloperFiction Factory Games
Release DateMay 26th 2022
Platforms: PC, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and 5, and XBox One and Series X
Review Platform: Playstation 4
ESRB: T Teen  for Suggestive Themes, Use of Alcohol

About the writer: Kat is a college student with a love for all animals, especially fluffy bunnies. She loves anime, 2D-men and videogames. 


xbox 3079365542126135383

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