Arcade Spirits [Video Game Review]

2019_Kris_Video_Game_Review_ArcadeSpirits

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

krismii
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!

gameplayBeing 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!

graphics-music

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!

storyThe 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.

replay-value

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-lives
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!

Connect with us:
Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr | Twitch

Advertisements

Monday Memories: Ace Up My Sleeve

Double Jump Kris MiiHappy Monday everyone!

Technically, this memory is only about three years old. This post is a bit more personal and it took me a little too long to write and decide to share it. However, I believe it’s an important topic and it is certainly something that has shaped who I am today. 

Kris_Post_Ace.jpg

I am passionate about representation in media, obviously including video games. Gender, race, and especially sexuality need to be represented so they are normalized as much in media as they are in the real world.

The success of movies like Wonder Woman, Black Panther, and Captain Marvel testify to the need of representation. The same goes for the later Pokemon and Harvest Moon games that allow female and darker skinned avatars. One of Stardew Valley’s biggest selling points was that your avatar could marry any love interest despite their gender.

It was due to a video game that I realized my sexuality.

Three years ago, a visual novel dating sim featuring the popular YouTubers from the groups Normal Boots and Hidden Block was released. Considering that the two groups were some of our favorite content creators — and the ones who inspired us to talk and share more of our love of gaming — we were excited about the game, and really enjoyed its the writing, art, and music.

One of the characters in the game is gay. He states it after the female avatar asks him to go to a festival with her. Literally, he says, “You do know that I’m gay, right?” complete with the music cutting out with a record scratch sound effect. The character is a fan favorite and was prominent in the fandom through art and stories.

It was through this fandom that I found out about asexuality, the absence of feeling sexual attraction.

I was in my mid-twenties and had never heard of this sexuality. Throughout high school, I’ve had friends and acquaintances who had come out as lesbian or bisexual, and we were always supportive of each other. I had believed I was completely straight, but as I got older, I realized I wasn’t looking at men the same way my friends were. They had… interesting stories from their college campuses about being with another and I couldn’t for the life of me see what the appeal was. I had fallen for a couple of men throughout my lifetime, ones that were easy on the eyes and made me laugh, but I had no interest in any more physical acts.

Then Asagao Academy came out, I met some fellow fans online, specifically Tumblr, and the representation of a positive LGBT+ character helped so many teenagers and young adults, people who had grown up without seeing much of anything other than the “default” straight way to be. Including me.

One day, someone I followed mentioned that she believed she was asexual. I was surprised at how relieved I was from the epiphany I had that the word asexuality fit me. It was closure that I never knew I needed.

I am a heteromantic asexual.

Asexuality is still a fairly new concept — rather, new in the sense that it is being talked more about — but it has gained rapid support within the past couple of decades. Despite this, asexuals still get flak both from the LGBT+ community — for wishing to be “special” or, especially in a heteromantic ace’s case, “basically straight” — and straights who are not allies. We’re only about one percent of the population, and it wasn’t until 2013 that asexuality was excluded as a mental illness in the DSM.

I spend my time advocating for representation in media and by being available and open to those who may need the support of a friend. I’ve connected with a handful of others online, ones who have reached out because they took a chance from seeing my LBGT+ positivity posts. I’ve spoken to fellow aces, transgender people trying to figure themselves out, and those who merely needed a stranger to listen as they navigated through their own labels. Most, if not all, of them are teens, and I hope that I can help just a little.

Because, while my memories of going through puberty consist of feeling like I was missing a puzzle piece, we should be moving forward with representation. There is no default hero, and all media — video games included — should showcase that. Strides are being taken, but it will still be a while before we’re all on equal footing. No one should have to grow up without being represented as the hero.

(Besides, think of all the years I spent unable to make asexual puns. All of those times I could have told people that I have an ace up my sleeve… because it’s me. I am the ace.)

Are there any video games that caused you have a revelation about yourself? Anything in particular that you would like to collect? Let me know in the comments below! If you liked this post, please share it around.

Connect with us:
Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr | Twitch

Currently Playing: Dream Daddy

Double Jump Kris MiiRachel’s and my Steam account has been getting more of a workout lately, which is awesome. One of the games that’s getting the most love at the moment is a visual novel called Dream Daddy.

…Yeah, I know, the name threw me off a bit too when I first heard about it.

dream-daddy-lineup-615x271

Dream Daddy is a visual novel dating sim game that was released on Steam this past July. It was developed and published by Game Grumps, a popular gaming YouTube channel that Rachel and I occasionally watch.

The premise of the game was that you play a single dad who searches for and romances other dads. It sounded a little silly to us when we first heard about it, but it was always highly rated both on Steam and from social media. The graphics looked fun, with the character designs and the interface of the game, and Rachel and I don’t mind visual novels, so we thought we’d download it.

Holy crap, it’s so much fun!

The writing is phenomenal, especially the relationship between your main Dad character and his daughter! There’s obviously a lot of love put into the script, and the reactions and dialogue can be so genuine and natural that Rachel and I have found ourselves spewing out lines before they show up in the text box.

Aside from the little “dates” that your character does with the other dads, there’s obviously an underlying story for each character, from your own character and his daughter to the “brooding dad” to the “goth dad” to the “youth minister dad” and beyond. While the characters start off as stereotypes, they develop and grow throughout the game enough so Rachel and I have a hard time picking favorites.

But my absolute favorite aspect of this game is the diversity. Right off the bat when you’re creating your “Dadsona,” you get the option of creating a transgender character. I’ve never seen a video game character that’s transgender, and to see the representation just gave me a warm and fuzzy feeling. The other dads in the game represent all sorts of different family dynamics, with the single dad, the divorced dad, the transgender dad, the gay dad, the bi dad, and it was fantastic.

Rachel and I are definitely looking forward to completing this game and uncovering all the stories of the characters!

 

Have you played Dream Daddy? Are there other visual novels you enjoy?

Connect with us:
Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr

Asagao Academy Review

krismii
Beware of the fangirlism ahead! Asagao Academy is a free visual novel dating sim that has been out since April 21. It’s totally free, but the creative team behind the game definitely deserve a donation if you are able to spare it.

rachmii
The game is by Illus Seed founded by Cara Hillstock, who happens to be the writer and director of the game, and Danielle Hargrave, who is Asagao’s creator, sprite and CG artist, and also the wife of one of the men you can date in the game. You can date the Normal Boots guys giving you seven different paths to take. Normal Boots is a group of video gamers, each one having their own YouTube channels.

krismii
Another group of YouTubers known as Hidden Block, and who are good friends with Normal Boots, also make cameos (and there’s been plenty of clamor for some DLC or a sequel to the game to date them!). All the guys are adorkable nerds who mostly focus on video games for their YouTube content.

rachmii
But enough about the guys… The game is based off of them, yes. But there is so much more to the game such as the writing, the artwork, the voiceovers, even the way the game is played is just fantastic and really well done.

krismii
Excuse you, what do you mean enough about the guys? Yes, this game definitely had so much preparation and work put into it. If you’ve ever tried to write a “Choose Your Own Adventure” type of story, you’ll understand how complex the writing for the story lines and the multiple choices can be. Each route is brilliantly written with its own story and focus, not only with the dude you’re trying to woo, but with also the main character’s friendships and her own development.

Rachel Mii Double Jump
Each main route is subtly added into the other routes. You won’t get a full understanding as to why some of the characters act the way they do in certain situations until you’ve played their route. The writing really is brilliant, as is the artwork. I can’t get enough of how beautiful the backgrounds are. The sprites themselves are true to the real life people and their expressions are wonderful.

krismii
Yes, we found ourselves smiling like idiots with the sprites’ expressions. I just can’t sing enough praises about the writing and the artwork. There weren’t as many choices as I thought we would be able to make, but the ones that we do make definitely have a strategy to them in order for the player to get the best ending.

Rachel Mii Double Jump
There are four endings total for each route: Best, good, bad, and worst. If you get the best ending, you’ll unlock an extra scene. In order to get the best ending, you need to have a good balance between the guy you’re after to like you as well as whether you’ll win the game tournament or not.

krismii
There are a few guys who have an extra ending (and effectively driving us crazier). After unlocking all the endings of the seven routes and the two hidden routes, there is a completion bonus that we’re definitely looking forward to. Seriously, Asagao Academy is a fun visual novel, and the YouTubers that were gracious enough to allow their likenesses to be used are fantastic entertainers on the video game scene. If you’re looking for a casual, new game that may give you some feels, go and check out this game!

Have you played Asagao Academy or another dating sim game? How did you like it?

Asagao Academy

photo-original

BRB, Kris and Rachel are busy giggling uncontrollably while trying to woo their fictional YouTube boyfriends in Asagao Academy!

(Seriously, even if you don’t watch the YouTubers that the characters are based upon, the game is a wonderful dating sim — the dialogue, the characters, the artwork, it’s all extremely well done! We encourage anyone who is interested in these types of games to give it a try. The ladies who created it did a marvelous job!)