Arcades have slowly been phased out of American culture as time moves on, which makes us quite sad here at Honey’s Anime. We know Japan still has plenty of booming arcades and many of us have been to them, but those who have grown up in areas without them—or if they have closed—know the envy of being in one of those amazing places. Here at the hive, we have always wondered what it would be like to work at an old-fashioned arcade and maybe fall in love with a regular customer or a fellow employee. Arcade Spirits has us covered with that exact scenario being fulfilled. Does this visual novel lead us through our dreams with a smile on our faces or would that dream have been better left unrealized? We find out as we review Arcade Spirits down below!
What to Expect
Arcade Spirits is a visual novel title that has players finding a new job working within a privately-owned arcade. Here, players will need to help customers by making smart and thoughtful decisions all while impressing various ladies and men during their time as a floor attendant. Can you win over the girl or guy of your dreams and survive the chaos of an arcade?! Enter the world of Arcade Spirits and see for yourselves as you make every choice matter!
After losing your most recent job, you have found yourself in a bit of situation. What do you do now and can you find a job that at least was enjoyable like the last? Your roommate chimes in during your time of need and says an app is available that helps further your life. With very few options left, you boot up the app and are amazed to meet a virtual AI. Known as Iris, this AI claims she can help turn your life around and find your dream job and future partner. Despite the ridiculous notion, you allow the app to guide you and from here, your future awaits…
Most people tend to only think visual novels are reserved for anime or manga-based franchises. Yet, that couldn’t be further from the truth. There are a surprising number of smaller studios that work tirelessly on visual novels and we always feel bad when their works don’t get the recognition they deserve. Hopefully with today’s review though, we can change that. Arcade Spirits by developer Fiction Factory Games and publisher PQube, jumps into the world of visual novels and we pray this won’t be a title that falls into obscurity. Though we don’t think this will happen and you’ll see why as we review Arcade Spirits for the PC.
Arcade Spirits follows the story of a young man who just found themselves unemployed rather suddenly but wishes to not take another soul crushing job. An app downloaded to their phone unveils a new job working at a local arcade and this begins the player’s new life henceforth. Players will need to make choices to guide the newbie to doing well at his job and to possibly finding a romantic connection with one of several character he will interact with in the arcade. Like most visual novels—VN for short—you’ll spend most of your time reading tons of dialogue and occasionally making a choice that affects the story’s outcome. This is where Arcade Spirits shines best, the choices and story.
Akin to most VNs, Arcade Spirits has a stat system that regulates what choices affect a character and how that choice changes the character’s personality. However, unlike most VNs, Arcade Spirits gives players a small advantage if they don’t wish to be kept in the dark about how a choice affects the character or characters. Players can opt in for choices to contain a color-coded symbol that correlates to the stat system. If a choice will help the player’s Quirky sense of nature, then it will have a small smiley face next to the choice. If a choice means for a more Gutsy response—there are five stats in total in Arcade Spirits—then a red star will be on that choice. We can see some players opting out of this system if they like to be surprised by each choice’s consequence, but for those who don’t want to save every choice and reload the game, this system actually makes Arcade Spirits stand out.
Choices in general are really well done in Arcade Spirits but these choices are helped by the stellar writing and dialogue. Every character in Arcade Spirits feels realistic and genuine. The techie girl Naomi loves to marvel at arcade cabinets and the quirky Ashley seems very similar to girls who love cosplay and all things geeky. Teo—one of the male characters—is cool and popular but has an easy-going nature that hides a more interesting background. These are just a few characters you’ll run into in Arcade Spirits, but they are people we can see being quite real in our everyday world. There were some moments of Arcade Spirits that hit home with us dramatically here at Honey’s Anime and it shows a strong sense of writing from the creators.
The art and music for Arcade Spirits is also another gold star for this impressive VN. You can clearly see a lot of time went into creating these characters as each feels different than the usual VN styles characters have. Equally, the music blew us away with an OST that sounds like retro video game music—which some sounds you can hear are clearly from retro games like Pac-Man—and modern age beats. The voice acting was also quite strong—with some famous voice actors and actresses like Stephanie Sheh— but its minimal and only is used here and there. We do appreciate hearing the characters voice occasionally in Arcade Spirits as it allows some moments to be more impactful than others.
Honey's Gameplay Consensus:
Arcade Spirits is an impressive visual novel which took us by surprise here at Honey’s Anime. We loved the refreshing art direction of the characters and backgrounds which clearly was loved as it was created. The music for Arcade Spirits also needs quite a bit of praise as we could listen to the OST while working and are right now while writing this review! Arcade Spirits doesn’t go above and beyond with its visual novel gameplay format, but that allows it to be a simple title that has plenty of different characters to choose from and see what their ending path will reward you with. If you like less anime-like visual novels and want a breath of fresh air, you’ll certainly want to download Arcade Spirits when it becomes available this February! The demo is currently available too in case you want to experience a tidbit of the gameplay for yourself.
Unique character models and settings
Great retro themed story with some truly emotional moments
Dialogue from the various cast is truly realistic and fun
Amazing soundtrack that is worth buying by itself
Simple visual novel choice system that can be made easier by showing how a choice reflects various meters in game
Several characters to choose from allows multiple playthroughs
Main character could have used a few more design choices
Honey's Final Verdict:
We consider ourselves VN masters here at Honey’s Anime having played more than we can count. That’s why when we say we’re impressed with a VN, we mean it 100%! Arcade Spirits is an amazing visual novel that truly doesn’t disappoint with wonderful storytelling, a relatable cast of quirky individuals and a simple but effective choice system. Arcade Spirits is a title we can’t recommend enough for fans of VNs or choice based games, especially if you love that nostalgic feel of the 80s. Are you going to try out Arcade Spirits by playing the demo or waiting for the full release? Let us know in the comments below and be sure to keep stuck to our hive for more game reviews like this one courteous of us here at Honey’s Anime!
Hey everyone I’m Aaron Curbelo or Blade as I’m called by my YouTube Subscribers. I’ve been an anime/manga fan since I was a young kid. In terms of anime I have watched nearly a thousand shows and have read hundreds of manga series. I love writing and honestly was so happy to join Honey’s Anime to get a shot to write articles for such a wonderful site. I’m a firm believer in respect in the anime community being the most important embodiment we should all have. We all love anime and we have varying opinions of series but we should respect one another for those differences! Life is too precious to spend it making needless arguments in a community that should be the shining example of loving an amazing medium. I hope as a writer for Honey’s Anime I can bring you folks some amazing articles to read and enjoy!