The end of 2019 is upon us. It’s been a great year, giving me some of my favorite games. While I haven’t played as many games as I would have liked, I am pleased with the games I have discovered during the year.
Considering my lukewarm feelings about Fates and Shadows of Valentia, Three Houses renewed my love of Fire Emblem games. I was hesitant with the academy angle from the pre-time skip, but I grew to enjoy the exploration, the characters’ growth and goals, and the supports. It was nice to have the supposed downtime activities to bolster relationships and stats alike, as well as giving the option to do skirmishes every week. That, and the cast of characters in Three Houses has been one of my favorites in some time.
We’re huge Pokemon fans on this blog, if you haven’t noticed. Despite the criticism that had surrounded the eighth generation of Pokemon, I’ve really enjoyed Pokemon Sword! The new character designs are great, the world is fun, and the Wild Area has been an amazing feature to the series. I’m also certain that the Galar region has my favorite gym battle music!
A visual novel set in a video game arcade sounded right up my alley, and I was not expecting the variety of choices and outcomes Arcade Spirits offered the player. With fun characters — both in personality and design — a great plot, and conscious enough to cater to non-binary and aroace folks, Arcade Spirits was an awesome experience.
I was enraptured with the images of the art style of this game before I even knew what it was about. This bittersweet tale of grief and moving on was wrapped up beautifully in its unique graphics and accompanying music, and was the first game of the year that made me tear up.
What were your favorite games of 2019? Let me know in the comments below! If you liked this post, please share it around.
We hope everyone had a wonderful weekend, and happy Father’s day to all of you out there! While Father’s Day generally includes celebration and relaxation for dads and father figures, it’s also important to take some time to relax yourself.
June has been rather interesting with life. Nothing bad has happened, thankfully, we’ve just been very busy. Busy enough that our regular routine of writing up posts and scheduling them has been interrupted throughout the month, and this comes after last month of us just being tired — physically, mentally, and emotionally — for various reasons.
We haven’t really played any video games lately, not new ones, at any rate. While we would like to pick up something new — Cadence of Hyrule, Little Friends, for a couple of examples — we’ve been finding ourselves vegging out with Animal Crossing: New Leaf while old Twitch and YouTube streams play in the background instead. Game Dev Tycoon is both on our Steam account and on my phone, so I’ve come home from my day job just to plop on the sofa and drain my phone battery with the game. This past week, I’ve been booting up Arcade Spirits more often than not in the evening instead of, say, working on blog posts (hence why this post is being posted a touch late rather than having been scheduled and published already). We’ve been focusing on some comfort games lately than crashing into new things.
Everyone needs a creative break sometimes. Stretching your creative limits can be exhausting and you can fall into a self-depreciating hole for not creating enough or taking too long of a break. Rachel and I have tried to find other creative endeavors to make that faucet flow again — me with a new sketchbook and canvases, Rachel with bracelet weaves and magnets — and we were excited at the idea of starting something new.
Yet, at this time, my pack of canvases is still shrink-wrapped.
But that’s okay. I’ll have a weekend off soon and maybe that’s when I’ll start throwing paint around again. It’s difficult always being creative all the time, and it’s okay to step back and take a break. It’s okay if that break is only a couple of days, maybe a week, or even a month. There is no time limit on caring for yourself.
What do you do to give yourself a creative break? Any comfort games? Let me know in the comments below! If you liked this post, please share it around.
Title: Arcade Spirits Developer: Fiction Factory Games Publisher: PQube
Platform: Windows, MacOS, Linux
Category: Visual novel/Dating Sim
Release Date: February 12, 2019
How we got the game: Bought it on Steam
I had never heard of Arcade Spirits before Rachel and I discovered a Let’s Play of it on the ProJared Plays YouTube channel. We haven’t finished his entire play through of it just yet due to me getting interested enough in the game to play it myself. And, honestly, I freaking love it. A visual novel set in an arcade with a fun story and fantastic characters had me sold almost immediately!
Being a visual novel, Arcade Spirits does not have difficult gameplay. Rather, the most action you do is choosing your choice in a small list of answers at certain points in the levels. Yet, there are plenty of options and dialogue choices for you to make, even if sometimes the menus of choices aren’t that long. Indeed, there were some menus that only gave you two choices aside from a basic option.
Each choice that you made would help develop your avatar’s personality, whether it be Quirky, Steady, Kindly, Gutsy, or Basically. The choices indicate which answer goes with which personality trait, but there is an option in the short tutorial that allows you to hide the indicators so you have less of a chance to “gamify” your personality. Every multiple choice set would have a Basically answer, while the other few options would point toward one type of personality or another. When speaking with other characters, some would prefer certain types of responses over others, but there are no bad choices. You cannot get kicked toward a Game Over screen for the “wrong” choice (except for a couple of instances where you have to really try for a Game Over).
Not only are there no bad choices, but the game is clever enough to remember your choices in later levels. In Level 1, you may help a little girl at the arcade who will then remember you in Level 7 and want to help you in return. Certain choices from the beginning of the game — such as why you decided to get a job at an arcade — pop up as motivation for other choices in the game, as well as interactions with other characters. Visual novels, especially dating sims, have branched paths with the choices you make, but Arcade Spirits is the first game in my memory to actively have earlier choices be referenced to and the reason as to why choices later on happen.
My other favorite aspect of this game? In the beginning, you can actually choose if you want flirting and romance, a slow-burn romance, or just friendship. Considering I’m asexual, this is huge to me. I like slower romance, but the fact that there is a route where I can just befriend every character so we’re all working to save the arcade is fantastic!
The graphics of this game is just so much fun! The characters are really well-done, as are the backdrops of each scene. Most of the backgrounds have small, animated touches that both draw you into the scene while not being too distracting from the character(s) are are interacting with. I was also impressed with the customizable avatar. There aren’t any choices with clothing and only three hair styles — short, medium, or long — but skin, hair, eye, and clothing colors are whatever you’d like them to be. Your avatar is featured in several scenes no matter what crazy color combo you choose. Most importantly, you can choose the pronouns you go by, which was also something really nice to see.
Being a video game about… well, arcade and video games, the sound effects were on point. The music was subtle but went really well with the game overall, each scene having its own ambiance sounds. I really enjoyed the partial voice-acting and quips from all of the characters. A couple of my favorites were two dudes who owned the book and doughnut shop next to the arcade. The voice actors were phenomenal going back and forth with each other!
The gist of the story is that your character has lost another job and feels that… it’s rather normal. The avatar’s backstory involves their family always having to settle with what they had, and the avatar seemed to be resigned to that fate. They do not have a real dream to follow, prompting their roommate to suggest a special app that helps their user stay organized and in control of their life. This app then searches for the avatar’s “dream job” which lands them at an arcade called the Funplex.
The Funplex has interesting and dynamic characters to meet and befriend, and woo if you so choose to, ranging from your fellow coworkers to some of the arcade’s regulars. As the avatar, you try to figure out your dream, the reason as to why you decided to join Funplex’s team, and in doing so, you do your best to protect the Funplex from collapsing or being sold to a bigger arcade tycoon.
And that’s just the first half of the game. I fear I’ll spoil the finale if I continue. The story itself is heavily focused around dreams and finding out who you are and what you want out of life. The writing is both impressive and thought-provoking, with humor and some serious topics thrown in to keep everything in balance.
Considering all of the routes — romance, friendship, all the characters — and plethora of dialogue choices you can make, this game has amazing replayability. At the time of this review, I’ve done one romance option and am currently exploring the friendship route, but there are a couple of other characters I’d like to get to know and romance down the line. Right now, I’m just eager to get back to the game!
Arcade Spirits gets…
5 out of 5 lives.
Have you played this game? What did you think? Let us know in the comments! If you like this post, please share it around!