Arcade Spirits [Video Game Review]

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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

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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. 

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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.

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Game Ratings and Content Warnings

Double Jump Kris MiiHappy Monday everyone!

Despite the backlog of games that we have, we’re always on the lookout for new (to us) and interesting games. One such game that we’ve recently found was a bit confusing with its rating…

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There’s a newer game available on the Nintendo Switch called Cinders, a visual novel that was originally published in 2012, then put on Steam in 2014. It’s a retelling of the popular Cinderella fairy tale, one that was rated M on the Nintendo eShop.

I’ve never heard of this game before. We enjoy point-and-click visual novel games, especially ones with multiple endings such as Cinders, but we generally are not interested in games rated M, mostly due to gore and sensitive topics. I’m interested in this game, but wasn’t able to find the reason as to why it’s rated M.

Since I started this post, apparently Nintendo corrected the rating of the game to T, which makes more sense to me.

Due to trying to figure out the game’s rating, I have spoiled a little bit of the story and possible choices for myself. It’s pretty much on par for whenever Rachel and I get our curiosities piqued by a game that’s rated higher than what we usually go for. Generally, our games are rated for everyone or teen, and we don’t have too many games rated higher than that.

It reminds me of a time that Rachel and I started watching a play through of Doki Doki Literature Club from one of our favorite YouTubers, ProJared. Like the game itself, the play through started out lighthearted enough, and Rachel and I figured that the game couldn’t be too bad. However, on the third or so episode of the play through series, ProJared took the time to reiterate that the game was supposed to have some strange, possibly disturbing themes — he was doing a blind play through, so he wasn’t positive what the exact themes would be — which prompted us to pause the video and spoil it for ourselves.

We’re glad we did, as the themes were disturbing and potentially triggering. While we’re not fond of too much gore when it comes to rated M games, we do our research to ensure that any other content wouldn’t bother us as well. It’s something that we want to be conscious of when we do games for reviews and on our Twitch channel.

I can admire horror games and psychological thrillers for their writing and setting the scene, if you will, but with how important mental health is nowadays, having the correct ratings and content warnings is a must.

How important are game ratings and content warnings to you? Let me know in the comments below! If you liked this post, please share it around.

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“Dream Daddy” Comics

Double Jump Kris MiiHappy Monday, everyone!

On a fairly recent post, I mentioned how a comic app was coming to the Nintendo Switch. Then I heard about a mini comic series based on a game that we played and enjoyed almost a year ago…

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Way back in November 2017 Rachel and I did a review for a visual novel/dating simulation game produced by the Game Grumps, a popular YouTube channel, called Dream Daddy. It was a fun game, one with fantastic characters, writing, and graphics, as well as celebrating gender and sexuality diversity.

Recently I heard that the Dream Daddy game is going to have comics based off of them. There will be five issues, with one available now and the rest being released within the next couple of months. Each issue will feature one to two of the dads that your character can romance in the game, and they’ll be available on quite a few digital platforms — Steam, Google Play, iTunes, Comixology — as well as a print version through Oni Press online shop, the folks who are publishing the series.

Considering Rachel and I enjoyed the game, I figured if we have a little extra money on our Steam account we’ll get an issue or two. Depending on the writing and the artwork, maybe we’ll splurge on all of the issues to see how the comics expand on the game lore.

Did you play Dream Daddy? What kind of comics based off of video games, or vice versa, have you read?

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Dream Daddy [Game Review]

Dream Daddy Game Review

Title: Dream Daddy
Developer: Game Grumps
Publisher: Game Grumps
Platform: 
PC (Steam)
Category: 
Visual Novel
Release Date: 
July 20, 2017
How we got the game: 
We bought it

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The Game Grumps are a popular channel on YouTube, with a plethora of different gaming videos with rapid uploads. Sometimes their commentary is a bit NSFW, but if you can overlook that, they’re entertaining. When Dream Daddy was announced, we thought it sounded like a random and, perhaps, silly concept. However, we were quickly impressed with not only the quality of the game, but with the gender and sexuality diversity within it.

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We’ve only played one other visual novel game before and it was another dating sim based on a group of YouTubers. It was an amazing game and we had a feeling Game Grumps wouldn’t disappoint.

gameplay

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Dream Daddy is a visual novel, so the game controls are simple. Players read along with the story and, whenever they’re available, choose multiple-choice answers that will determine how other characters feel about you and, in some cases, how scenes will play out.

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That’s pretty much all there is to it. Some of the choices are difficult, some aren’t. Based on what you answer, the Daddy you’re currently with will either get happy at your response or sad. This all determines whether you get a good ending or bad ending for them.

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You are able to go on a couple of dates with each Daddy, with most having mini games that you need to complete to help boost your date score. The date scores, along with the choices made during the multiple-choice responses, help to determine the kind of ending you receive. The game itself is mostly point-and-click, but remembering certain details about the characters and their backgrounds will help you make the correct choices to get the good endings.

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I found the mini-games to be the most clever part of the game. There’s a fun Pokemon battle kind of game as well as game that mimicked Bejewled. Some were pretty creative and others… we just didn’t understand and didn’t do well with. Still, they were pretty cool.

graphics-music

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The graphics were so much fun in this game! The scenery was beautiful, especially during the date nights with the eligible bachelors of the game, but also with the characters themselves. No one looked alike and their expressions were always on par.

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I think that’s my favorite part about visual novel games. I love seeing the expressions on the various characters. Each one was unique as were their houses and the various scenery of each date. I also loved the fact that you could customize yourself. Apparently, if Kris and I were boys, we’d have red hair and green eyes.

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Red hair, green eyes, glasses, clean-shaven, and named Dean Jay. That was our Dadsona, haha! Considering your character was completely customizable, I was definitely impressed with the level of graphics and the programming that enabled your custom Dad to be present by the dialogue box whenever he spoke. The music was on point as well, with some talented scores and mood music whenever it was called for.

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Yes, the music was great. I especially loved the opening theme on the main menu. Every time we played, I got it stuck in my head.

story

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Upon beginning the game, you create yourself, a single father. You and your daughter have just moved into a cul-de-sac and now you have to meet and get friendly with all your neighbors, who also happen to be fathers, most of them being single.

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While the main goal is to make friends, as per your daughter, you can connect deeper with the fathers via Dadbook, a social media platform for dads. With Dadbook, you set up and go out on dates with the other fathers, getting to know them better as you decide who you ultimately want to pursue.

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We went on two dates with each Dad and then on the third date we had to choose who we want to hook up with. Of course, you can go on three dates with one Dad right away. Or you can go on two dates with some, one date with others, and zero dates with other guys. There’s no right or wrong way to go about your love life.

replay-value

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Dream Daddy has a couple of different endings per character, not only with the date-able dads but also with your daughter. If the multiple endings are not enough reason to replay the game, then the plethora of dates and mini-games would certainly help. The graphics, music, and even the characters’ backstories and development arcs are also fantastic points to keep playing this game until you uncover all of the achievements.

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We’ll certainly be going back to the game to try to get the good ending with all of the Dads. We also wanted to get the bad ending with our daughter. Well… we don’t want to, but we’re still curious as to what happens.

Dream Daddy gets…
5-lives
5 out of 5 lives.

Have you played this game? What did you think? Let us know in the comments! 

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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.

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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?

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Asagao Academy

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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!)