PS5 Review: Arcade Spirits: The New Challengers

Can you spare a quarter for this romantic visual novel?

Arcade Spirits: The New Challengers is the follow-up to 2019’s Arcade Spirits, a visual novel of love and pixels, in which you seek friendship and romance while working in an arcade. Now the tables are turned, as you seek friendship and romance while PLAYING in an arcade. In the distant future year 20XX, an alternate timeline where arcades never went away… you’re an aspiring gamer searching for esports glory on the Fist of Discomfort 2 Pro Tour. Seeking a partner to play with, you join a team of players who hang out at Good Clean Fun, a combination pizzeria / laundromat / arcade. It’s up to you to rally the team, learning more about who they are and how best to support their dreams along the way. Defeat rivals, conquer tournaments, build relationships, and uncover a strange arcade conspiracy as your team walks the road to victory!

I didn’t play the original Arcade Spirits game, so I didn’t know what to expect here, but if you’ve played a visual novel game before then you know the drill. You pick dialogue options which lead to your character progressing through the story and making choices such as picking who you romance and so on. The game even lets you design your character and rival before beginning, as well as their name, online handle and even their pronouns to fully include the audience.

The arcade setting itself is great and the characters you will interact with have amazing personalities with hilarious dialogue. The good thing about the game is that you can ultimately play the way you want to, whether you actually want to date anyone or not. Trophy hunters won’t be surprised that they can skip huge sections of text to make the choices and move on, but you’re ultimately missing out here on a great story that you can make your own.

The visual style is also well done. Even though the game is set in year “20XX” it definitely has the classic 80s arcade look and feel to it. Voice-acting is also impressive, and the soundtrack has some great moments too.

The Verdict

While not adding anything new to the visual novel genre, Arcade Spirits: The New Challengers is a delightful game from start to finish with a great story, setting and inclusive to everyone. I’d recommend it to not only fans of visual novel games, but to arcade fans as well.

Score: 8.0