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Two young girls explore a shattered world—filled with sound: a past to be uncoverednote 

"A harmony of light
awaits you in a lost world
of musical conflict..."
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Arcaea is a Rhythm Game for iOS and Android by lowiro, released on March 8, 2017 in all major regions.

The gameplay interface consists of four lanes of notes in a "hallway" perspective (similar to Guitar Hero, Sound Voltex, and CHUNITHM), and basic tap and hold notes may scroll down these lanes, and must be hit when they reach the judgement line. Unique to this game are Sky Notes and Arc Notes; both of these notes appear above the four lanes, with Sky Notes being "airborne" tap notes and Arc Notes being similar to hold notes, except that these notes in particular may twist horizontally and vertically. Harder charts often layer the "air" note types alongside the "floor" notes, requiring the player to use their sense of depth perception to hit the notes accurately.

The base game itself is free, including the initial "Arcaea" pack. Real-world money can be spent on Memories, which can then be used to purchase new tracks, song packs, and assist features in World mode. New tracks are added over time through app updates; while many of these are paid DLC, free-of-charge tracks are occasionally added to the "Arcaea" pack. The game also does periodic collaborations with other rhythm games, such as Dynamix, Lanota, Stellights, Tone Sphere, and Groove Coaster.

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In addition to the core gameplay, the game features an extensive story told through text logs that are unlocked as the player fulfills conditions for each entry. The story follows a diverse cast of girls who wake in the strange, desolate world of Arcaea where the shards of glass that surround them hold memories, but with no memories of their own. As the girls wander this world, each bears witness to different memories laying in the world around them. Centrally, the main characters discover memories with opposite themes; those oozing with bliss are attracted to Hikari, while Tairitsu only bears witness to those of turmoil and ruin. Each of them sets out in this unknown world alone, attempting to find purpose in the surreal land.

The main story was concluded on July 13, 2022, with the "Silent Answer" epilogue as part of the version 4.0 update, therefore no more story contents involving Hikari and Tairitsu will be added. However, the developers have stated that they will continue to add songs (including collaboration content) and story updates for side characters.

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A port for Nintendo Switch was released on May 18, 2021. The base game costs 39.99 USD, but comes with a large portion of the mobile version's songlist unlockable as part of it. Subsequent updates have added more recent songs through both free updates and paid Downloadable Content. Various existing elements, such as World Mode, were adjusted for the port. Finally, this version features exclusive Joy-Con controls that are compatible with the Switch's TV Mode in addition to traditional touch controls.

Compare Sound Voltex (which has similar "twisty" notes with the same colors, but only in two dimensions) and CHUNITHM (which has similar "aerial" notes and touch-input "note hallway" gameplay).


Arcaea provides examples of:

    Tropes specific to gameplay 
  • Absurdly High Level Cap: Partners max out at Level 20, but Awakening them will increase the cap to Level 30. However, the amount of EXP needed for the next level increases with each successive level. If you want to get all of your Partners to their respective caps, including Awakening caps for characters that have them, it is entirely possible to clear every non-infinite, non-event World Mode map long before then.
  • Aerith and Bob: Hikari (Japanese for 'light') and Tairitsu (Japanese for 'conflict'), the Series Mascots. Hikari is a normal Japanese name, but the same can't be said for Tairitsu. And that's not even getting into the side characters, who have strange, all-over-the-place names like Eto, Lagrange or Vita. Justified since most of them are only nicknames and not their real name.
  • Allegedly Free Game: The mobile game is free to start, but there are many features locked out if you don't do any in-app purchases:
    • Only one folder, the Arcaea folder, is available to play. There is also the World Extend folder, where you can unlock songs without paying a cent...if you can complete their maps before the event time runs out.
    • Before the version 3.6.4 update, said folders did not have any charts rated higher than 9+. While these folders had songs with unlockable Beyond charts, even those Beyond charts are capped at level 9+. No longer the case, as there is now a level 10 chart for a free song, "Bookmaker" BYD.
    • As a further consequence of the above, the maximum Potential you can reach is approximately 11.4, while paying players can go up to about 12.4.
    • You can't unlock any Partners, as all of them require purchasing packs, Memory Archive songs, or soundtracks (to get their unlock codes) to unlock. As a further consequence, you cannot use any Partner skills besides Easy, so you can't get Hard clears.
  • All or Nothing:
    • Zero Hikari's skill causes the Recollection Rate to fall to 0% on a Lost, so beyond a certain point in the song, this trope comes into play as even a single Lost will cause you to fail the song, as you're unable to hit enough Pures to recover the gauge to 70%.
    • Nono will give 25 Fragments if you get an EX rank, or 0 if you don't. This is because of her unique properties: She has a fixed 0.5 Step stat, giving her a 0.01 multiplier, with the pre-multiplier bonus being 2,525. Because multiplied Steps and Fragments are always given out as integers rounded down, if she doesn't get 100 or more Fragments pre-multiplier (which is impossible without her unique bonus, even if you stack First Clear, Performance, and Clear bonuses), the amount will round to 0.
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • If you unlocked a track that is currently a World mode unlock prior to the 1.5 update, it will stay unlocked instead of you having to grind for it again.
    • If you are playing online and you achieve an EX rank on a song or fail out mid-song with a Hard meter, your Potential will not decrease even if the calculation would have caused it to otherwise.
    • If you reach an Anomaly song but you fail to clear it and unlock it for regular play, you'll be shown an "Anomaly lost..." screen with a percentage counter; the counter increases every time you fail the song. If the counter reaches 100% before you clear the song, you'll unlock it anyway.
    • Playing the April Fools' Day songs, which are Joke Levels that introduce all manners of absurd gimmicks, will not affect your Potential.note 
    • You are allowed to unlock Story segments with a sealed Partner. This can be useful when the condition for a segment requires a Partner who has a skill that affects the Recollection Rate (Zero Hikari, GL Tairitsu, Fracture Hikari, Saya) or the chart (Lethe) or has parameters that reduce Step or Fragment gain (several partners at lower levels, Zero Hikari at higher levels).
    • Fail to unlock Tempestissimo Beyond? The game gives you fixed 11 Fragments so you can keep trying until you unlock it without worrying about breaking the same last two digits requirement, and it even gives 12 Fragments on xx99 Fragments.
    • Inverted with Tempest Tairitsu's unique Hard gauge. Normally, when you reach the end of the chart under passing conditions, that's it; you've cleared the song. However, should the gauge be in a state of increasing or decreasing (as hitting or missing notes controls its velocity rather than the gauge itself), the game will wait for the gauge to stop before giving you the Track Complete (if no notes are being hit, the gauge will gradually slow to a stop). Meaning if you missed a bunch of notes at the end, it is possible to have hit the last note...and still get a Track Lost.
    • Story unlocks involving Partner who are Temporary Online Content do not require you to have or use that Partner. Shirabe was eventually made permanently available to unlock, but her Story still does not require her unlocked.
    • After you unlock "Testify" in Final Verdict, all of your non-collab Tairitsu partners will be removed until you clear the next chapter, Silent Answer. Thankfully, Silent Answer is free, so you won't need to pay to get your Tempest Tairitsu you used for world mode back.
    • Several specific to the Switch version:
      • The Joy-Con control scheme (i.e. traditional controller) does not require you to hit specific buttons for non-Arc notes. Hitting any buttons for the correct group will work. Furthermore, while each side is assigned both shoulder buttons and two face buttons, they also each have two buttons on the opposite side, allowing for "cross-hand" patterns to be hit more easily.To elaborate 
      • For Joy-Con mode, some charts are adjusted to accommodate the limitations of the control scheme. Charts remain unaffected for Touch controls.
      • Arc notes are more lenient with direction changes in Joy-Con mode. In the same mode, straight arcs do not require any input, and will be hit as shiny Pures automatically.
      • The stamina system has been removed, allowing one to play in World Mode as much as they want.
      • No online connectivity is required except to update the game and purchase DLC packs.
    • Starting in version 3.6.0, if you have unlocked 14 World Extend songs through their maps, the price to purchase the World Extend folder will decrease by 100 Memories for every additonal song you unlock. This is mainly because the World Extend folder will be completed at 20 songs, so this ensures that players will never have to spend more than 100 Memories for each remaining song.
    • The 5th anniversary event has a time-limited map that awards a ticket that awards one Side Story, absolutely free of monetary charge. If you choose not to use it, it will later convert to 55 Ether Drops, which is useful for those who already have all of the Side Story packs purchased.
  • Anti Poop-Socking:
    • The Stamina system in World mode. Each track you play in World mode uses 2 Stamina out of your 12-Stamina capacity (formerly 6), and every time you play a track you gain steps and your partner gains EXP. Stamina can be recharged either by waiting in real time, following this trope, or by spending Fragments or Memories. Running out of Stamina won't stop you from playing the game, as you can still play in Music Play mode all you want, but you won't be able to make any World progress until you get at least two blocks back. Unlocking Beyond charts is more restrictive, costing three Stamina per play.
    • The first chapter of World Mode eventually became a "legacy" chapter, meaning now it only costs 1 stamina to play as opposed to two, but players can instead spend 2, 4, or even 6 stamina all at once to add a multiplier to their step count. Fragments can also be spent for an additional multiplier on top of all that.
    • Averted in the Switch port. You can play World Mode as frequently as you want without restriction.
  • April Fools' Day: Every year, players can play one of several different April Fool’s remixes with charts that boast gimmicks not seen in normal charts, with each year introducing a new song:
    • 2018 brought a joke song and chart "Ignotus Afterburn" which is "Ignotus" mashed up with other songs, and the chart is very screwy mimicking Sound Voltex's own April Fools. The track is credited to "Arcaea Sound Team", a nod to BEMANI's invoked"BEMANI Sound Team" controversy.note 
    • 2019 pulled a similar joke, adding a song only for that day called "Red and Blue and Green", a remix of "Red and Blue" credited to "fn(Arcaea Sound Team)" note . Its chart brings a different kind of Interface Screw, adding a third color of Sky Notes and using all three at once — it's the only chart in the entire game that requires players to use five fingers at once.
    • 2019 also pulled one on players who try to datamine the game: The 2.0.0 update (March 21, 2019) features skeleton data for a song called "Ignotus Afterburn 2". There is no audio file and chart file actually does not contain any chart data, just a message to miners ("You really thought it'd be this easy?"). When version 2.0.2 rolled around on April 1, the song jacket was changed to have "CANCELLED" written on it and the chart file message was changed to an AFD greeting.
    • For 2020, the game gave players the ability to delete World Mode by tapping and holding down on the button for it on the home screen. Doing this throws the player into the exclusive song "Singularity VVVIP", a remix of "Singularity" by "Arcaea Sound Team against. ETIA.", with levels of Interface Screw and Camera Screw on par with "Ignotus Afterburn".
    • For 2021, a new "feature" was introduced wherein players can change the difficulty ratings of each chart. Continuing to attempt to decrease the difficulty rating for "dropdead" past 1 will display a "?". If you keep trying to lower the rating, the game drops the you into the song "overdead.", where you are promptly bamboozled with notes coming in at different speeds on a per-note basis and notes coming in from the front a la "Malicious Mischance".
    • 2022 features "Advanced Potential Stats" when clearing a song, revealing a made-up breakdown explaining your also made-up Potential gain or loss, while your Potential is shown as "?.??". Tapping the Advanced Potential Stats window will bring up a notice informing you to "Please voice any concerns or dissatisfcation regarding your Potential on any social network of your choosing." Repeatedly touching the Potential change box will start the song "Mistempered Malignance". Meanwhile, the official Twitter account features a Take That, Audience! against people who try to game the Potential system:
      It seems Advanced Potential Stats have revealed too much of Arcaea's internal workings, resulting in symptoms like viewing The Truth beyond the veil and swiftly succumbing to madness.
      For your sanity please shout your complaints out of your nearest window.
  • Arc Words: For the side story pack "Binary Enfold": "If you can".
  • Art Shift: Most of the Beyond charts' song artwork is just the original art with a distortion effect or flashier visuals, but "GOODTEK" notably has a completely different art style, done by Demae rather than Koyama Mai.
  • Ascended Extra:
    • Kou, Lethe, Eto, Luna, and Shirabe, and Ayu originally just appeared as partners and the artwork of songs to do with them, but later each got their own side or short story.
    • Exaggerated with Mir and Saya who originally only appeared only on the song artwork for “Miriam” and “Alexandrite” respectively before being made available as a partners with storylines.
    • Downplayed in the case of Nami and Sia; they first appeared on the song jackets for "IZANA" and “Blaster” before each becoming partners later, but without any story.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Chuni Penguin awards an extra 14 Fragments if you get a perfect score. No, not just a Pure Memory, which is already hard enough for the vast majority of players, you have to get all perfect Pures.
  • Bait-and-Switch: Nono Shibusawa's skill states that you get 2,525 fragments when you get an EX rank or higher. This seems hilariously broken...until you unlock her and see that her Frag stat is 0.5, or a x0.01 multiplier. Meaning you actually only get 25 Fragments. That said, she isn't entirely Schmuck Bait, as she's on the same map as Regulus (MDA-21), who is further up the map and is a legitimate Infinity +1 Sword. If you're thinking of leveling Nono up to raise her Frag stat, don't bother, because it will never increase.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Some of the chart design credits are Japanese-language plays on the existing charters' names:
    • 東星 is read as tōsutā, as in Toaster.
    • 夜浪 is read as naitorō, as in Nitro.
    • Shirorak, the chart credit for "Sulfur", is an alias of Kurorak. Black in Japanese is kuro while white is shiro.
  • Boring, but Practical: Using a Partner with the Easy modifier doesn't feel satisfying compared to using other Partners, Easy clears don't count towards your clear count in the folder listing or your profile, and they don't have the best Frag or Step stats, but they can still fulfill "Clear x song" requirements for unlocking other songs.
  • Bribing Your Way to Victory:
    • Intially averted, with song packs being the only things that could be purchased with Memories, but then World mode was added in version 1.5 and allows you to spend Memories to recharge your Stamina, if you don't feel like waiting to get it all back or spending your Fragments (which can only be done periodically), or quadruple your step gain on the next song.
    • 3.0.0 adds the World Extend folder. Previously it was this trope; as songs were added to it, you got limited time to unlock them by completing their World Mode maps...or you could just buy the folder and unlock all songs in it instantly, including new songs for the folder as they were added. With the World Extend folder no longer receiving new songs, the only way to get the songs now if one didn't is to buy the folder.
  • Call a Hit Point a "Smeerp":
    • The three judgement ranks are called Pure (accurate), Far (slightly off), and Lost (miss).
    • Combo is known as Recall, and a full combo (no Losts) is called a "Full Recall".
    • An all-Pure Full Recall is called a "Pure Memory".note 
  • Cap:
    • For partners, the standard level cap is 20. Some characters have an Awakened form that gives them a new ability (if any) and raises their level cap to 30.
    • Tempest Tairitsu’s bonus step is limited to a maximum of 60.
    • Fragments currently have a limit of 29997, having been increased from 999 and then 9999.
  • Colorblind Mode: Arc Notes are normally blue and pink, but a colorblind toggle changes pink Arcs to yellow.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Arcs typically on the left and which have to be hit with the left hand are colored blue, while Arcs typically on the right and which have to be hit on the rightr are colored magenta. However, sometimes Arcs appear on the "wrong" side for their color (e.g. blue Arc on the right), and you are still expected to hit them with the hand corresponding to that color (so hit the blue Arc with your left hand) anyway. Hitting the Arcs with the wrong hands won't incur a penalty by itself (as the game cannot tell which hand is hitting what), but you might end up in a position where other notes may become awkward or impossible to hit.
  • Continuity Nod: The collaboration content features more subtle references to the games they collborate with:
    • Pandora Nemesis's skill, wherein you get a Track Lost after missing 20 notes, refers to a somewhat common skill in CHUNITHM that gives you a large boost to your gauge gain, but which immediately ends the song if you miss 20 notes.
    • Areus's skill, a Hard gauge where you lose more gauge when missing the bigger your combo is, refers to a CHUNITHM skill where a counter decrements with each note until either the song ends or hits 0 for an immediate game over, and which only stops when you have a high enough combo and restarts if that combo is lost.
    • Yume's first skill gives you a Fragment bonus for every 100 combo, in a nod to the Trance multiplier for chain gain when you reach 100 chain in Groove Coaster. Her Awakened skill gives up to 10 Fragments based on max combo and 5 for clearing the track, referring to GC's scoring system, where you get up to 100,000 points based on max chain and 50,000 points if you clear the track.
    • Linka's skill prevents your Recollection Rate from decreasing on the first 10 missed notes, referring to the Safe item in GC that converts the first 10 Misses to Goods.
  • Crossover:
    • So far, there have been collaboration events with nine other music games: Dynamix, Lanota, Stellights, Tone Sphere, Groove Coaster, and the Performai trilogy (Chunithm, O.N.G.E.K.I., and maimai). The crossovers manifest in the form of DLC packs for each game, each with tracks from those games and their respective mascots to unlock as Partners.
    • The HARDCORE TANO*C collab, which features musicians from that label, although the songs that comprise it are Memory Archive songs (and thus must be bought individually) rather than in their own folder.
  • Crutch Character: Zero Hikari has some really high stats at level 1 and can be obtained as soon as the second song pack, but they decrease when leveling up, eventually going to 0.
  • Damage Over Time:
    • In the Anomaly event for the Luminous Sky pack, which is triggered on "Ether Strike" with the correct conditions, the Recollection Rate gauge turns into a Hard gauge and goes down every few seconds. Having it fall to 0% won't cause a Track Lost, but getting a Lost at that point will.
    • Tempest Tairitsu's Recollection Rate will decrease over time if notes are not hit. The only way to stop the decrease is by hitting enough notes to counteract it.
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory!: Mercilessly exploited in the Future chart for "Red and Blue". Players naturally try to hit notes on the left with their left hand and notes on the right with their right hand. However, for this chart, many blue Arc Notes (which typically appear on the left) will start on the right and magenta Arc Notes (which typically appear on the right) on the left, and for good reason: The chart's designer credit has the hint of "LEFT=BLUE RED=RIGHT", referring to which hands must hit which Arc colors, and many of these "wrong-side" Arcs lead into patterns that can't be completed if you hit the Arcs with the incorrect hands, on top of the game already penalizing the player by momentarily disabling Arc input should it detect an attempt to switch hands for the same Arc.
    • The Beyond chart, "Red and Blue and Green" employs many of the same tricks but stands out with the opening seconds which match the Future chart except for requiring players to use opposite hands.
  • Death Is a Slap on the Wrist:
    • Failing a song in standard Music Play mode simply gets you less Fragments and makes you miss out on "Clear x song" requirements for unlocking other songs and Story chapters. Furthermore, Potential is influenced by a combination of song difficulty and grade, but not whether you clear the song. World Mode is even more forgiving on failure, as Step gain is not impacted by it.
    • However, if you are playing on a Hard gauge and it runs out, the song will be cut short. On the plus side, this will not cause your Potential to decrease.
    • Averted in Beyond mode, where whether you clear or fail the song does factor significantly into how much progress you make.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: The track title "SAIKYO STRONGER". Saikyo (最強) is Japanese for "strongest". So...Strongest Stronger?
    • This is possibly a reference to "BUCHiGiRE Berserker", which, if you translate the Japanese word, works out to "Berserker Berserker". REDALiCE, one of the producers on SAIKYO STRONGER, also worked on that (with MASAKI) for Groove Coaster — perhaps this is why BUCHiGiRE Berserker was eventually also added to this game.
  • Developers' Foresight: The chart credits for "Red and Blue" make references to the Arc Note colors: "-chartaesthesia- RED side" for Past, "side BLUE -chartaesthesia-" for Present, and "-chartaesthesia- LEFT=BLUE RED=RIGHT" for Future. However, if Colorblind Mode, which changes pink (i.e. red) Arc Notes to yellow ones, is enabled, all references to "RED" will be changed to "YELLOW" instead.
  • Hitbox Dissonance: An absurd amount of it.
    • Timing wise, arcaea follows the standard rhythm game tradition of basing its timing windows on time, not scrolling. In the worst case, during stutters, this leads to notes being hittable with pure judgement a noticeable distance away from the judgement line.
    • Positioning wise, all note types are hittable in a sizable area that extends a fair distance beyond the visual size of the notes. This generous hitbox size is further extended vertically so that notes at the top or bottom of the play area are impossible to hit too high er low respectively.
    • With arcs in particular, while they normally have quite strict No Fair Cheating measures in place, judgement becomes much more lax when two are close enough. In such instances, it becomes possible to let go with the fingers holding the arcs momentarily, hold both arcs with one finger, or even switch which fingers are holding the arcs.
    • Lastly, while arc and hold notes appear like they must be constantly held, it is fine to miss the hitbox if its for a short enough amount of time. These quirks are fully taken advantage of with fast moving zigzag arcs and patterns that require releasing hold notes momentarily.
  • Do Well, But Not Perfect:
    • In World mode, Stamina steps will only award the Stamina bonus if you stop on it, unlike other kinds of reward steps. If you go past it, you will miss the bonus. Thus a combination of carefully missing notes and a low-Step partner will be needed to collect the bonuses.
    • With Fracture Hikari as your Partner, a strategy for using her high Step stat without reaching 100% and thus going into Hard mode is to either play a song where you can easy-clear but are not skilled enough to reach 100%, or play a song where you can reach 100% but intentionally miss a few notes.
  • Double Unlock:
    • Some songs are earned in World mode, and some through DLC. Then there's songs that not only require DLC packs but also must then be unlocked in World mode. World mode song unlocks also have Present and Future charts locked behind Fragment purchases, meaning that unless you are content with playing them on Past only, DLC World mode songs are Triple Unlocks.
    • The entire main story takes this to ever increasing heights over its course to the point where even buying the final pack is gated behind having all prior main story songs and partners, several of which are double unlocks upon double unlocks themselves. The complete list of unlocks is listed under Guide Dang It!, but highlights include there being two quintuple unlocks, the last pack being almost all multiple unlocks, and Black Fate using double and triple unlock content from previous packs directly in its own unlocks.
    • For songs that have them, Beyond Charts. With the exception of the Black Fate anomaly, Beyond charts have to be unlocked from the Beyond Chapter. In order to even access the Beyond Chapter, your Potential must be at least 9.00 (making it the third unlock to be based on Potential, after Saikyo Strongest Future and the Singularity Challenge). Then, in order to open the map for the chart you want, you have to have unlocked the Future chart on the song. This effectively makes them a possible quadruple unlock: You need to own the song (which itself may require unlocking via World Mode), have the ability to play the Future chart, have raised your Potential to at least 9.00, and complete the Beyond Map for that song's Beyond chart.
      • The worst offenders are "Kanagawa Cyber Culvert", "qualia -ideaesthesia-", "Antithese", "Heavensdoor", and "PRAGMATISM". Each Beyond in the list requires unlocking the previous one to progress so that "PRAGMATISM" Beyond is a quindecuple unlock including all prequisites.
  • Downloadable Content:
    • The game has paid DLC packs available; each one comes with a set of songs and most of them also have unlockable Partners. Some of these also must be earned through World Mode.
    • Memory Archive is a collection of individual-purchase DLC songs.
  • Dramatic Disappearing Display: In the Black Fate "Anomaly" event, all UI elements other than the difficulty (which increases, yes even on Future), Recollection Rate, and the chart lanes disappear.
  • Dump Stat: Overdrive, which is used as a multiplier for progress in the Lost Chapter, where one can unlock Beyond charts. The problem is, each song's unlock path has Affinity multipliers applied to specific Partners. The Affinity multiplier even applies if you seal the Partner that qualifies for it, as a sealed Partner has their stats locked to 50 each. Thus, a sealed or average-Overdrive Partner with a high Affinity multiplier is better than a Partner with a high Overdrive stat and no Affinity multiplier, and the maximum Overdrive parameter is 100, equal to a sealed or otherwise 50-Overdrive Partner with a 2.0 Affinity. In fact, Overdrive is near-useless on collaboration Partners, as there are no Beyond charts to unlock for crossover songs.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Versions before 1.5 are a lot different than lateversions:
    • Speed modifiers were applied by multiplying the track BPM by your chosen multiplierexample , requiring players to do a little mental math to get the scroll speed they want. From 1.5 onwards, scroll speed is solely dictated by the speed settingexample  except when the chart imposes its own scroll multipliers or limitations on scroll speed.
    • World Mode did not exist. Instead, you had to unlock songs by clearing other songs, sometimes with a sufficiently high grade as well. This unlock method still exists for a few songs, but a lot of songs that initially had this condition got moved to World Mode.
    • Partners served no functional purpose.
    • You could add other players as friends by simply entering their usernames. 1.5 would make it so that each user has a static user ID that you add with.
    • You could only have up to 999 Fragments. 1.5 increased the Cap to 9999.
    • Initially, Floor Notes and Sky Notes that are pressed simultaneously did not have any indication of such. Then an update created an optional toggle where they are connected by a line; 1.1 made that feature no longer possible to turn off.
  • Earn Your Fun:
    • Unlocking new songs and Partners requires you to grind your way through World mode, where you climb up staircases to obtain the unlocks; climbing is done by playing charts well, with your Partner applying a multiplier to your step gain. And you can't just play World mode all day, because the game uses a Stamina system with a real-time Cooldown mechanic. And once you unlock a new Partner, they start at level 1 with mediocre stats, so to make them worthy for World Mode grinds, you have to...play World Mode to level them up.
    • Done more firmly in the Switch version, where all of the content is available under one purchase...but packs are unlocked roughly in a specific order due to the restructed World Mode maps and unlocks.
  • Easter Egg: Adding player IDs 000000001 and 000000002 will add Hikari and Tairitsu, respectively, to your friends list. Both of them have a Potential of 6.16 (a Goroawase Number of "lowiro") and neither of them have any song records.
  • Easy-Mode Mockery:
    • Hikari and the Partner pair Hikari & Fisica both have Easy gauges, causing you to lose less of your gauge when missing notes. However, their Fragment and Step parameters are lower than those of other Partners. Your clear status will also be rendered in a green font instead of purple as a reminder that you used a Support type skill to get the clear, as well as not contribute to the clear status in your profile card. Unless you cleared with a Full Recall or Pure Memory, in which case that takes priority instead, and does contribute to the clear status. Despite all of this however, "easy clears" still count for unlocking other songs and for unlocking Story segments, making it useful for those who play for the story or want to unlock one song but cannot normal-clear its prerequisite(s).
    • Inverted with DORO*C as a Partner; she revises the Life Meter system to instead measure your score and changes the clear condition to a AA rank (9.5 million points). Even though it's almost always harder to get a AA rank than it is to just clear a chart on a normal lifebar (the lifebar is lenient enough that if you secure a AA, it is unlikely you will go under 70% at that point), clearing with her constitutes an easy clear like with Hikari. Again, unless you get a Full Recall, as above. Additionally, a Full Recall also overrides the AA rank clear condition (A rank and below Full Recall clears will still count).
    • Zigzagged with Fracture Hikari, depending on your performance. She starts out the song with an Easy meter, so naturally clearing with her results in an easy clear. However, upon reaching 100%, the meter turns into a Hard meter, meaning that depending on how well you do in the last parts of the song it may be easier to just use a standard meter, but even if you reach the changeover you will still get an easy clear. That said, Fracture Hikari has one of the highest Step parameters of any non-Hard partner, so for some grinders the Easy-Mode Mockery is Worth It.
  • Empty Levels: Zero Hikari's stats decrease as she levels up. At level 19, all of her stats are zeroed out. You can raise her level one last time...which does absolutely nothing. About the only reason to bother with the final level is if you're trying to increase Temptest Tairitsu's Step stat (which has a bonus based on the sum of all partners' levels, bounded at +60 Step), and even then you can level up other Partners to increase it.
  • Final Boss: The last chapter Final Verdict introduces "Testify", which is uniquely labeled "Fatal Choice" instead of "Anomaly Song" or "Terminal Song". Unlocking it requires a long chain of unlocks involving "Axiom of the End", and upon unlocking, warns you that you are at the Point of No Return. It is the first, and only, song to have a level 12 chart.
  • Flawless Victory:
    • "FULL RECALL" — For clearing a track with no Lost (Miss) notes, and at least one Far note. note 
    • "PURE MEMORY" — For clearing a track with all Pure (Perfect) notes.
    • Downplayed with getting a perfect score (all "max Pures"). While there isn't a unique message for it, your score will have a teal glow.
  • Game-Breaking Bug:
    • Due to the way Android processes sounds, the hit sounds are comically laggy on the Android version. This is why that version defaults hit sounds to off (whereas the iOS version, which doesn't suffer from this problem, defaults them to on).
    • The Future chart of "Axium Crisis" had a bug at the last Arc note that randomly gives one less combo, preventing you from getting Full Recall or Pure Memory even if you don't have a single Lost. This was patched soon after.
    • For colorblind players, Colorblind Mode doesn't work correctly on the April Fools' Day song "Red and Blue and Green". It changes both green and red Arc Notes to yellow.
    • There was one bug with one of the April Fools' Day tracks that could potentially give someone who got a Pure Memory a Track Lost instead.
    • The Switch version seems to have a problem with Potential calculations, and lacks the safeguards that prevent Potential penalties on a Track Lost under a Hard gauge or an EX grade. One of the most well-known cases is Laur (who contributed songs to the game) getting a Pure Memory on "Nhelv" FTR and losing 0.25 Potential. EX grades still enabling Potential reduction was fixed in the first patch, but you can still lose Potential on a Hard fail.
  • Gameplay and Story Integration:
    • The charts are not made randomly and often they follow what actually happens lore-wise. For example, "world.execute(me);"'s chart has a sine wave-shaped Arc within it. The end of "Last|Eternity"'s chart also has only one trace as opposed to the 2 on its Moment variant, symbolizing how Tairitsu was Killed Off for Real and Hikari was left alone if she accepts Arcaea.
    • In Final Verdict's 6th cutscene, Hikari kills Tairitsu. Therefore the game literally deletes your story Tairitsu partners and renders her name mojibake in her collaboration variants. If you have a Tairitsu friend, her profile picture will also vanish. All of these are done to drive to the point that Tairitsu is Deader Than Dead. And you'll have to view the first ending cutscene in "Silent Answer" to get them back.
    • Zero Hikari has high stats at level 1, but the more you level her up the more her stat decreases to the point of exactly zero in all parameters. This is to represent her literally losing her mind from an overdose of positive Arcaea.
    • Hikari's Fatalis variant is designed in a way similar to Tempest Tairitsu. She has abnormally high stats all over the board, an exclusive hard gauge and a debilitating drawback for balancing reasons (See Necessary Drawback). Both of them can also raise their stats above the usual maximum in different ways. On top of complementing Hikari as Tairitsu's Mirror Character, it also represents how Hikari believes that she had became the villain she did not want to become by killing Tairitsu.
  • Gimmick Level:
    • "dropdead" on Past and Future force you to play with a multiplier imposed on your speed setting: 10% on Pastnote , and 25% on Future with some occasional "overdrive" sections that turn your speed up to over 100% of its setting. Averted on Present which does not have any effect on scroll speed.
    • "Red and Blue" on Past has all of its Arc notes be red Arcs (hit with your right hand) and on Present has all of its Arcs be blue (hit with your left hand). Future has both Arc colors, but they often start on the "wrong" side, and hitting the correct color with the correct hand is required or else your hands will be in a position where they cannot complete patterns.
    • All of the charts for "HIVEMIND" have no Floor Notes. This also leads to an additional gimmick on Past; since Sky Notes don't appear on that difficulty, it means the chart is made up entirely of holds.
  • Glass Cannon:
    • Generally speaking, high-parameter Partners are saddled with the Hard skill, causing you to fail and negate the high Fragment or Step bonus if you are not careful. Regulus and Pandora Nemesis are the biggest examples of this trope; they have the highest Step and Fragment parameters, respectively (x2.16 and x2.10 multipliers), but use Harder Than Hard meters, with Regulus also losing health when getting Far judgmenmts (not just Lost) and Pandora failing out after 20 misses.
    • Saya, in a different sense. She uses the standard Recollection Rate meter, however she gains twice as much meter on a Pure, none on a Far, and loses three times as much meter on a Lost.
  • Guide Dang It!:
    • To unlock Grievous Lady, you need to play Axium Crisis, while playing with Tairitsu as your partner.note  Then, at a specific point in the song, if your Recollection Rate is high enough (depending on difficulty and Tairitsu's level), you'll then be sent to play it as an anomaly, which you must clear with a hard gauge or play enough times to get 100% on the song menu to unlock it for free play at that difficulty or below, as well as the World chart for GL Tairitsu. Nothing details this.
    • Obtaining the other anomaly in the game, Fracture Ray, is even worse. First, you have to unlock Zero Hikari. Then, you need to level her up to a certain point based on difficulty,note  and when you hit level 8, it becomes even more painful to level her up further due to her skill which makes all LOST notes empty the entire recollection gauge. Then, you have to play Ether Strike with a Sealed Zero Hikari as your partner, and have your recollection gauge above a (level-dependent) threshold at the song's drop. Unlike Grievous Lady, doing this will instead change your recollection gauge to a continuously-draining challenge gauge, and you'll have to clear the remainder of the song without suffering a lost that would put you at or below 0, with the screen fading to white as it approaches 0. Doing this will cause a brief extension of the chart to appear (and the fail condition to be lifted), followed by Fracture Ray as an anomaly song (with a Hard Gauge). Clear the anomaly song (or repeatedly obtain it and fail it enough times), and it will be unlocked on that difficulty and below as well as the World Map for Fracture Hikari. Just like with Grievous Lady, nothing in the game details this, and this is one of the two times in the game that an unlock is tied to using a specific partner that is sealed.
    • Unlocking 2-3 for Binary Enfold is a pain, too. This time, you need to unlock Eto from 2-2, level her up to at least Level 6, then play Singularity, but if your potential is too high, you'll need to play on the Present or even Future chart (5.0 and 10.0 respectively) in order to get the chance. At the "If You Can" part, the floor will disappear and Luna will appear in the background. You need to clear this part of the song without getting too many Lost notes (the maximum losts you can get depends on Eto's level) then clear the song.
    • Taken to its logical extreme with the Black Fate Anomaly, which has the longest series of steps required of any unlock in the game: You must unlock the song Lost Desire from Chapter 5 in World Mode and progress through the VS Chapters in the Story until you reach the one blocked off by the Anomaly symbol. After this, you have to perform a series of steps to unlock the last Black Fate song, none of which are told to you until after you perform them, and they all have to be done on at least the difficulty of the chart you're unlocking:
      • Using a Challenge-type Partner (HARD gauge), clear Equilibrium.
      • Clear Antagonism with a max recall of 300 or above.
      • Clear Equilibrium, Antagonism, and Dantalion consecutively without playing any other songs.
      • Tap on the far-right condition box and enter a password. It only has to be done once, but the source of the password is found through an Alternate Reality Game. This is thankfully removed and you only need to clear "#1f1e33" to unlock it.
    • But wait, it gets even better: All of the above only unlocks the last Black Fate song on the difficulty you performed them on. The anomaly is triggered by matching the last two digits of your Fragments, then using Fracture Hikari to play Tempestissimo and obtaining and maintaining a high enough Recollection Rate determined by her level (or having no LOST) before the halfway point. Doing so forces you to play the second half of the chart from the next difficulty up. If you do this on Future, good luck with sightreading the latter half of the game's first Beyond Chart.
    • Extra icing on the cake: The above is all for the Anomaly visible in the song selection screen. Black Fate has a second hidden song, triggered by unlocking Tempestissimo and then clearing three songs from before Black Fate in Hikari's Story Packs that feature Fracture Hikari in their release order (Pragmatism, Fracture Ray, Ringed Genesis) while using - guess who? - Fracture Hikari. Doing so will immediately cut to a new story sequence and dump you into a new song on Future ? (or Present ?, if performed on Past difficulty), with the background continuously glitching and no way to quit or fail out. Upon completion of the song, the screen will cut out, and the game will appear to restart.
    • And, yes, somehow that's not the worst of it; Every song in Final Verdict (save for Defection) is a Terminal song, in the same way Arcahv was; to translate, that means every song in the pack has absolutely insane requirements to unlock. There are no hints given, either; you are only shown when a requirement is met, but never what it is (save for a cryptic phrase shown after meeting it). In a rare example, the pack seems to deliberately invoke this trope; the intended method of unlocking is very much for the community to brute-force the requirements, and to tell others what they were doing when the requirement unlocked so others can gradually fit the pieces together. As example, one unlock requires you to start a song when your device's system clock is on the first 10 seconds of a new minute; another is having no even numbers in your fragment total before starting a song; yet another is idling for 5 minutes on the screen showing your unlock progress. All this to even TRY unlocking the songs, too - then you have to actually play them! Hope you're ready. The first-ever Beyond 12 is in here, by the way.
    • After you complete all the Final Verdict unlocks, the game also outright deletes all of your Tairitsu partners save for her collaboration variants. There is absolutely no warning before this happens save for an ominous Point of No Return prompt before you unlock the Final Boss song. You can get them back, but you must clear "Loveless Dress" and "Last" after you play a Light song with any Hikari variant. Again, there's no directions about what you should do save for an extra story log accessible after the credits roll.
    • Last but not least, to unlock "Last|Eternity" and "Callima Karma", you have to read the first ending, then play "Last" without touching any notes with a sealed Fatalis Hikari. Finally, you'll have to click the "Accept Arcaea" button that comes out after a few seconds and read the other ending that comes with it. There's absolutely no hints or directions on what you should do. And to play "Last|Eternity" itself, you also need to have a Reunion Hikari & Tairitsu partner swapped to their Light Side, at which it will replace "Last|Moment".
  • Hard Mode Perks:
    • "Grievous Lady" Tairitsu and Ilith both have the "Hard" skill, which gives you a traditional Life Meter in place of the standard Recollection Rate gauge that starts at 100%, will result in a Track Complete if you finish with any percentage remaining, but will result in a Track Lost if the gauge hits 0% at any point. Ilith in particular will also take 100 Fragments away from you if you get a Track Lost. Both of these Partners also have higher Step parameters than any other Partner in the game, accelerating your World mode progress. Your clear status (if not a Full Recall or Pure Memory) will additionally be rendered in a red font instead of the usual purple one.
    • Inverted with Zero Hikari. She has perhaps the hardest meter of any partner, instantly falling to 0% on a Lost, yet clearing with her only counts as a normal clear, and her initially-high stats decrease as she levels up, withering away to 0 for both parameters at level 19.
  • Harder Than Hard:
    • Initially, the difficulty scale went from 1 to 9, followed by 9+. However, a later update introduced level 10 charts, causing the 9+ rating to become a subversion of this trope. As of 3.0.0, 9+ has been changed to 10 (and the old 10 to 11), averting this trope.
    • In addition to the Hard gauge that is used when you have Grievous Lady Tairitsu, Ilith, or Brillante as your Partner, more difficult Hard partners exist:
      • Regulus takes away a little life on Far notes, not just on Lost notes.
      • Pandora Nemesis has a non-recoverable lifebar that drains out after 20 Losts.
      • Summer Ilith's gauge only recovers once you have a combo of 20 notes or more.
      • Seele Haze's gauge stops recovering in the last 25% of the chart's notes.
      • Areus's gauge decreases more on a Lost the higher your combo is (you lose roughly 50% if you break combo at 1,000).
      • Isabelle's max gauge will decrease if you fall below the current maximum minus 30%.
      • Tempest Tairitsu has a gauge where the rate at which it changes will increase if you are hitting notes and decrease slowly if you are not. Missing notes will further negatively accelerate the gauge, possibly to a point where even if you start hitting notes again, it may not be enough to save the gauge from reaching 0.
      • Fatalis Hikari has what seems to be a normal Hard gauge at first, but the bottom of the gauge creeps up as the song progresses, effectively reducing your health. Note that your numerical Recollection Rate is still shown as the distance to what is normally to the bottom of the gauge, meaning that if the bottom of the gauge has risen to where 60% is, for example, dropping below 60% will immediately lower your numerical Recollection Rate to 0%.
      • Any existing Hard gauge can be made into this by playing in the Beyond chapter, which has a special condition where getting Fars on notes, not just Losts, will decrease the gauge if they don't already for the gauge you have. Pandora Nemesis suffers most from this, because Fars now take away life equal to half of a Lostnote , and again her gauge cannot recover.
    • The hidden Beyond difficulty contains more difficult charts and unique gimmicks to a selection of songs.
      • Subverted on Singularity where the Beyond chard is rated lower than Fututre.
  • Hope Spot: Tempest Tairitsu's unique gauge is not controlled directly by your performance; rather, hitting or missing notes affects the rate at which it increases or decreases. Therefore, if the gauge is draining as you hit the last note, it is possible to suffer a Track Lost anyway.
  • Idiosyncratic Difficulty Levels: Past (easy), Present (medium), and Future (hard). With the release of Black Fate, a fourth difficulty was introduced: Beyond, the charts of which must be unlocked either from anomalies or from the special Beyond Chapter.
  • In the Back: Simulated in "Malicious Mischance" on Future difficulty. At three points in the song, a sample of someone whispering "It's behind you" plays and the chart scrolls backwards to reveal one or two Sky Notes popping in from the front, giving the impression that the player is being backstabbed.
    Nitro (the chart designer): It feels like Ilith really is behind you and about to stab you in the back. *That* gimmick is the ultimate betrayal of trust between the player and the game.
  • Interface Screw:
    • Upon fulfilling specific requirements in the track "Axium Crisis", the game appears to glitch out, with the sound going haywire, the note track changing angles, and the background image breaking up into pieces. The track then cuts out to introduce the Vicious Labyrinth's Anomaly (and one of the game's two Final Boss tracks), "Grievous Lady".
    • Similarly, fulfilling even more specific requirements in "Ether Strike" causes another interface screw: The recollection gauge turns red as if it were a Hard Gauge, and the screen starts whiting out more the closer it gets to 0. Finishing the song under those conditions triggers that the Luminous Sky's Anomaly Track, "Fracture Ray", the other Final Boss track, with no other advance warning just like as the other Anomaly.
    • Some tracks will override your speed multiplier setting, either by introducing its own speed multiplier (which is applied multiplicatively) like in "cry of viella" or "dropdead", while others will cap the scroll rate so that excess multiplier over a certain point won't have any effect, like in "memoryfactory.lzh".
    • While playing the song "Testify" for the first time, the screen will start to pulsate and become blurry, and also have added chromatic aberration effects. It will continue to pulsate and make the effects even more intense. At the end of the song, the lane itself breaks apart! The effect can be replicated again by playing "Testify" with Fatalis Hikari while being sealed.
  • Infinity -1 Sword:
    • Tairitsu's Grievous Lady form has only the third highest Step stat at maximum level (102), but unlke two of the Partners who exceed her Step stat (Ilith (105) and Regulus (108)), she does not have a time constraint on her unlock. There's also Tempest Tairitsu, who naturally caps at 100 Step but can go higher based on the levels of other partners, but the bonus is based on the sum of those other partners divided by 10. GL Tairitsu is also less risky than the other three, as Ilith takes away 100 Fragments if you get a Track Lost, Regulus loses a little meter every time you get a Far judgment, and Tempest Tairitsu has a special Hard gauge that is extremely punishing on consecutive misses.
    • Hikari's Fracture form has slightly lower step than GL Tairitsu at max level (99), and takes roughly the same amount of effort with no time restrictions. Unlike GL Tairitsu, she has a special "Overflow" gauge that starts off as an Easy gauge and turns into a Hard gauge if it reaches 100%, making her a less risky partner for the World Mode grind with only slightly less returns.
    • In terms of Frag-based partners, an unawakened Kou tops out at 90 (x1.80 multiplier) at level 20, and unlocking her simply requires purchasing a DLC pack. Kanae does a bit better at 95 (x1.90 multiplier), but in addition to buying her DLC pack you also need to get her from a World Mode map. The Awakened forms of Pandora Nemesis and Kou can do better, with 105 Frag for the former and 100 Frag along with a score-based bonus for the latter, but Pandora Nemesis has limited time frames for her unlock and Awakening partners takes a substatial amount of World Mode grinding to get the necessary Cores.
  • Infinity +1 Sword:
    • Ilith and Regulus have higher Step stats than GL Tairitsu at maximum level, and Pandora Nemesis has a Frag stat only rivaled by awakened Kou, but you need to complete limited-time maps in order to unlock them, as well as the CHUNITHM Cores needed to raise their level caps, which are also part of those limited-time maps.
    • Tempest Tairitsu doesn't have a time constraint on her unlock, but she is effectively a Double Unlock, requiring the use of any other Hard partner as part of the process of obtaining her. And to get the most out of her, you also need to level up other Partners, as she only naturally caps at 100 Step and gains a bonus proportional to the sum of all of your Partners' levels. Finally, she has a Harder Than Hard life gauge that can fail out the player from missing as few as five notes, meaning that she's reserved for the best of players.
  • Irony:
    • "A Light" from Tone Sphere gets the Conflict lane skin instead of the Light skin. This is because for the Tone Sphere collab, songs get lane skins based on what Tone Sphere folder they're in: Solarsphere songs get Light lanes while Darksphere songs (of which "A Light" is one of) get Conflict lanes.
    • Despite its macabre namesake, "World Ender", also titled "魔王" (Demon King) in Japanese is a Light side song instead of a Conflict song with Fracture Hikari on the song cover. Also acts as Gameplay and Story Integration especially when Hikari realizes that she went below Tairitsu's level of low by killing her and atones by destroying Arcaea to revive her.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: Originally, the difficulty level of 10 (11 as of version 3.0.0) was a spoiler and was restricted to a couple of hidden "boss" songs, but then the TANO*C collab introduced "SAIKYO STRONGER", which was plainly listed as level 10 on Future even if you hadn't bought the track or unlocked the chart yet.
  • Later Installment Weirdness: The 3.0 update changes the menu and results themes, some sound effects, and the score HUD, all of which had been constant since the game's initial release.
  • Life Meter:
    • The game has a "Recollection Rate" gauge that must be built up to 70% or higher to clear the track.
    • Two partners, Tairitsu's "Grievous Lady" form and Ilith, have "Hard" gauges that start out full, don't need to be at 70% for a clear, but will fail you instantly if they hit 0% at any point.
    • The Chunithm event adds two more HARD gauge partners that are even stricter: MDA-21 [Regulus], which makes any FARs you get decrease the Recollection Rate instead of increasing it, and MTA-XXX [Pandora Nemesis], which auto-fails the song if you miss 20 notes. In addition, the non-event Chunithm partner uses a Chunitm gauge with a clear requirement of 7 (which is effectively just a reskin of the standard gauge).
  • Luck-Based Mission: Ayu's ability gives you one of several different random amounts of fragments for clearing a song. Unfortunately, some of those amounts are negative, meaning that you can potentially lose fragments. There is also an exceedingly rare chance you may get 616 Fragmentsnote  and an even rarer chance of getting 9999 Fragments.
  • Master of None: Partners with balanced stats are only really useful if you haven't unlocked Partners that specialize in either stat, as Music Play only lets you earn Fragments and not Steps while World only lets you earn Steps and not Fragments (not counting the Fragment rewards for reaching certain tiles, which are fixed regardless of your Partner's Frag stat). The only exception to this trope is Pandora Nemesis, who has 99 Step to go with her 105 Frag, making her still a relatively viable partner for World Mode.
  • Necessary Drawback: Fatalis Hikari has absurdly high Step and Over stats. However, using her in World Mode will use up twice the amount of Stamina used, and you’re locked out of World Mode for an hour after using her, stating that she "overloaded" World Mode. The cooldown can be bypassed by instantly refilling Stamina using Fragments or Memories.
  • No Fair Cheating: If the game detects you attempting to switch fingers on the same Arc Note or the same finger for multiple Arcs of different colors, the Arcs you attempted to abuse will turn red and you'll be unable to interact with them for a brief moment. If you try to use multiple fingers on the same arc, the game will also disable it, preventing the strategy of cheesing Arc-exclusive sections just by having a bunch of fingers on the screen.
  • Non Standard Game Over:
    • If you fail an Anomaly track and your progress towards unlocking it for regular play hasn't reached 100%, "Anomaly Lost" will appear on the results screen along with your current progress.
    • If you fail "Ether Strike" with Anomaly mode active, the screen will fade entirely to white, the music will fade out, and the shutters will close without the "TRACK LOST" text.
  • Not Completely Useless: Low-Step Partners naturally don't get as much mileage as higher-Step Partners, but they can be used to either land on Stamina tiles (the only reward tile type where you don't get the reward if you pass it), or to stop right in front of a challenge-type tile (Restriction, Random, or Stamina) and then go past it on your next song.
  • Numerical Hard: Some Partners alter the difficulty of clearing a song by changing how much your Recollection Rate is affected when hitting or missing notes:
    • The Easy gauge inverts this trope, making you lose less gauge on a Lost.
    • Saya makes you gain twice as much gauge on a Pure, lose three times as much on a Lost, and not gain or lose any gauge on a Far.
    • Eto & Luna (as in the Partner that consists of both of them) starts you off with 30% gauge, however you also build the gauge up more slowly.
    • Haruna Mishima starts you off with 40% gauge, but makes you gain 40% as much as well when hitting notes.
    • Mir starts off gaining a lot of gauge with each note hit, but the amount per note decreases drastically as the song progresses, punishing mistakes late into the song.
  • Obvious Rule Patch:
    • Prior to version 3.0, players could farm Potential by playing the same song over and over. However as of 3.0, the player's play history now only allows one entry per song, so raising Potential now requires doing well on many different songs.
    • In the mobile version, you are always guaranteed 2.5 steps in World Mode (before Partner multiplier), no matter how poorly you play. So if you are just a step away from topping off a World Mode map, you can just choose a Hard gauge partner, pick any song, and throw it to instantly finish the map. Just in case you think this will allow you to grind effortlessly in the Switch version, which has no Stamina mechanic: This guarantee is NOT present and you will simply earn 0 steps.
  • Ominous Visual Glitch: How Anomaly events play out:
    • In the Vicious Labyrinth DLC pack, fulfilling certain requirements when you reach a certain point in "Axium Crisis" causes the background image to break up, red lines to appear on the screen, and the playfield to shift around in angles. After a few seconds of the game appearing to malfunction, the shutters close to introduce the pack's "boss" song, "Grievous Lady".
    • For Luminous Sky, meeting the requirements at the end of "Ether Strike" causes the track to keep going past where it's supposed to end while the background image starts to warp. After several seconds, it does the same effect above before transitioning into the pack's boss song, "Fracture Ray".
    • While it isn't an anomaly, The Future chart of Aegleseeker suddenly just... ends. To fit with the abrupt stop of the music, a complicated pattern of upcoming notes just outright disappears when the song ends - as you're in the middle of a stream, no less.
  • Over 100% Completion: The maximum score appears to be 10 million, but if you hit a Pure extra-accurately, or keep a hold or Arc note held down for a tick, you will gain 1 additional point, and if you get a Pure Memory you'll have a score of slightly over 10 million (for example, if you get a PM and you hit 300 notes with these "super" Pures, your final score will be 10'000'300). In practice, it's impossible to have a score of exactly 10 million if there are any hold or Arc notes in the chart.note 
  • Power Creep: Tempest Tairitsu from the 3.0 update in May 2020 has a special gimmick where in addition to her inherent Step stat that she increases by leveling up, she also has a Step bonus equal to the total of all Partners' levels divided by ten, up to a maximum bonus of 60, meaning that she can go up to 160 step, far more than any other partner in the game (the second highest being Summer Ilith at 110), even more than limited-time unlock Step-focused Partners that also have Harder Than Hard lifebars such as Ilith and Regulus. While she's meant to be balanced out by the fact that she has easily the most difficult lifebar in the game, and you do need to level up other Partners for the bonus, once you do get her to more than 120 or so Step even just playing level 7 and 8 charts with her can yield more World Mode progress than other Partners doing level 10 or even 11 charts, making all of those other Partners virtually obsolete for anything besides contributing to her Step bonus.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: In order to accommodate the game for the Nintendo Switch and the "pay once for all content" model, a lot of tweaks were made:
    • World Mode no longer has the Stamina mechanic. Maps have been rebalanced accordingly, and Chapter 0 (along with its repeatable map) has been removed entirely.
    • Partners have been rebalanced, mostly reflecting where they are unlocked:
      • Hikari and Tairitsu had their stats Nerfed, and Zero Hikari had a sledgehammer taken to her stats.
      • Fracture Hikari and Saya gained significant buffs to their stats. Saya in particular begins with over 100 Step despite not being a Hard partner purely because she's unlocked in Chapter 4.
      • Tempest Tairitsu actually received a buff to her stats while still keeping her Step Bonus, allowing her to get over 160 Step well before you even unlock all the other partners and start leveling them up.
      • A few non-collaboration event partners (Ayu, Shirabe, Illith, and [technically] Sia) are now obtainable from standard maps. With the exception of Shirabe (who has a short 20-tile map for her and her side story songs), they are the final unlocks of long maps containing Memory Archive songs.
    • Partner XP requirements after level 8 were reduced, and while Ether Drops give half as much XP (compared to Mobile), you can spend fragments to raise the level of partners, with 2500 fragments being enough to take a partner from level 1 to level 20.
    • Since there are no in-app purchases, song packs are unlocked either by paying Fragments, progressing in Story Mode, or reaching them in World Mode.
    • Many songs that were previously World Mode unlocks (primarily in the Arcaea pack) were made simple Fragment-based unlocks.
    • The World Extend folder in the mobile version relies on a free/paid-hybrid model where players can either pay to unlock all songs in the pack or complete temporary unlock maps. The Switch's port's solution is to just move the World Extend songs to the Arcaea folder and make them Fragment-based unlocks.
    • Memory Archive in the mobile version consists of songs that can be unlocked with individual in-app purchases. These songs are instead made World Mode unlocks for this port.
    • The unlock condition of many charts outside of the Arcaea and Memory Archive packs were changed to "Play XX song(s)" (or, on future, "Clear XX song(s) on Future with a AA or above") paired with a fragment cost. Within Memory Archive, a few songs also require playing earlier songs in the corresponding maps to unlock.
      • The one unlock condition for Tempestissimo that previously required accessing a web site was also changed to clearing a specific song on the relevant difficulty (or above). Notably, on Future, this in turn requires clearing all of the other prior songs in the pack with a AA on future.
      • The one notable exception to all this is Saikyo Stronger Future, which not only kept all of its unlock requirements (including that Potential Requirement), but also added one more song to the requirements.
    • A new control scheme that uses traditional controllers was implemented, due to a mandate by Nintendo that all games for the system must be playable in TV Mode.
    • Features that previously required an internet connection (Partner stats and skills and World Mode, for example) were made available even in offline play. The only thing you need an online connection for is updates and purchasing DLC packs.
  • Purposely Overpowered: Saya in the Switch port has one of the best Step stats of any Partner in the game, with 110 Step at level 1. This is due to the fact that she is one of the last partners that the player can unlock.
  • Rank Inflation: After the A rank for score, there're also the AA and EX ranks. 3.0.0. adds the EX+ rank.
  • Rare Candy: Ether Drops are items that can be obtained in World Mode maps that instantly give EXP to the Partner they're used on.
  • Repeatable Quest:
    • The Video Game Setpieces for "Singulariy" and "Aegleseeker" can be repeated by playing with a sufficiently high level Luna or Lagrange respectively, although repeating them does not give any reward.
    • After completing Final Verdict, all special unlock setpieces from the main story become replayable in a similar manner. This does not include the Axiom of The End music videos, though.
    • Each World Mode area has an infinite map which can be endlessly repeated for level and fragment grinding.
  • Retcon: The Stellights collaboration used to be its own folder, but the two songs that made up the folder were later moved into Memory Archive.note 
  • Scoring Points: The maximum score is nominally 10 million points. You get 10 million divided by the number of notes for a Pure, 5 million divided by the number of notes for a Far, and 0 for a Lost. Additionally, if you get a very accurate Pure, or get a Pure from maintaining a hold note or Arc note, you'll gain one additional point; in practice, pretty much all Pure Memory runs have scores of just slightly over 10 million each.
    • So the *precise* maximum score for a given chart, then, is 10 million, plus the maximum combo of the chart (e.g. 10,001,000 for a chart with a maximum combo of 1,000.)
  • Series Mascot: Hikari and Tairitsu, the two girls prominently shown on the title screen and in promotional artwork. Other characters appear in the game but these two are the most recurring.
  • Some Dexterity Required: Arcaea is the first mobile rhythm game specifically stated to be designed for thumb players whose charts require thumb players to cross thumbs, due to the arc notes going everywhere in higher difficulties. And even now, hardly any other mobile rhythm game has even touched on such an idea, mainly because of this trope.
  • Suddenly Voiced: Luna mouths "If you can..." in "Singularity" if you unlock her challenge.
  • Surplus Damage Bonus: Borrowing a page from their home game, Luna & Mia award an "Over Damage" bonus when your Recollection Rate reaches 100%. Specifically, every time you reach 100%, your Over Damage counter ticks up by one and the gauge goes back down to 80% so you can keep getting more Over Damage.
  • Suspicious Video-Game Generosity: World area 4-8, where you unlock "BLRINK", has a +4 Stamina step as the second-to-last step. The step also has a length of 115 that you need to complete before you can finally unlock the song.
  • Temporary Online Content:
  • The One Guy: Tenniel, as part of the Alice & Tenniel Partner pair, was the only male character of the main cast. While there have been minor male characters before, such as Donovan in Saya's side story, Tenniel was the first male character to be a Partner and have a portrait. No longer the case as Chunithm's Areus is able to be obtained in game.
  • Too Long; Didn't Dub: Originally, the Chinese translations only translated gameplay text such as skill descriptions and terminology (such as "Memories" and "Fragments"). However, a later update started including story translations as well.
  • Trick Boss: How the Final Boss track, "Grievous Lady", is introduced: Once the requirements are met, play "Axium Crisis", and have your Recollection Rate at or above a certain point when you reach the "anomaly" within the track. The game interface and audio will briefly go ape and then the "track loading" shutters will appear, introducing the unlocked track. The other Final Boss track, "Fracture Ray", has something similar with "Ether Strike".
  • Uncommon Time:
    • "dropdead" by Frums is mainly in 15/16, with a few parts in 11/16.
    • "Got hive of Ra" by E.G.G. is a rollercoaster ride of compound timings, with a final b*tch-slap at the very end in the form of an INCREDIBLY precise nested tuplet.
    • "Bamboo" by Risyuu and Choko switches between several odd 8th-note time signatures during its runtime, with its second verse adding 2 more pulses every other measure.
    • "amygdata" by nitro (one of the game's charters), while a steady pulse anchors it in 4/4 for the most part, has many sudden tuplets and other rhythmic trickery to throw off the player through its runtime.
    • "overdead." by fn (Frums vs. Nitro), the 2021 April Fool's song, is at 17/4 and a blistering 500 BPM. It would be fine(-ish) if it stayed consistent - it tends to feel like common time, but with a slight gap between measures - but it's also a highly unpredictable song structurally. It eventually switches into "additive time" - practically disregarding measures as a whole, and simply building off of itself.
    • "Aegleseeker" by Silentroom vs. Frums appears to use an absurd amount of signature changes, seemingly switching between 5/4, 3/4, 2/4, 3/8 and free-time constantly, but has been confirmed by Silentroom to actually be entirely in 4/4.
  • Unintentionally Unwinnable: The April Fools' Day 2020 special song, "Singularity VVVIP", has a unique gimmick in that it is supposed to disable non-Normal Recollection Rate meters, forcing the normal one instead. However, Pandora Nemesis does not recover Recollection Rate even with this gimmick intact, causing you to be stuck at 0%, so even if you get a Pure Memory, the game will still declare a Track Lost.
  • Version-Exclusive Content:
    • Joy-Con mode is obviously exclusive to the Switch version, and does not have a mobile equivalent for those with mobile-compatible gamepads.
    • The following are only available in the mobile versions and not the Switch version:
      • Collaboration content for games that do not also have Switch versions, as well as the Lanota collaboration (while Lanota has a Switch port, its updates were quickly abandoned).
      • The songs "Your voice so... Feat. Such", "Particle Arts", and "Anökumene".
      • Beyond difficulty, except for "Tempestissimo".
      • All April Fools' Day content.
  • Video Game Setpiece: The game does this for some boss unlock events:
    • Vicious Labyrinth DLC: Meeting certain requirements (a combination of the correct Partner, Partner level, and a high enough Life Meter) on the song "Axium Crisis" triggers what appears to be a malfunctioning of the game itself, with the graphics getting garbled, the sound distorting, and the player seemingly unable to hit notes. After several seconds, a special shutter comes down on the screen to introduce the Final Boss track of the DLC, "Grievous Lady".
    • Luminous Sky DLC: Fulfilling the correct requirements on "Ether Strike" causes the player's Life Meter to suddenly change to a Hard meter (70% pass requirement lifted, but now there is a Game Over if it drops to 0%). The player starts taking Damage Over Time, and as their lifebar decreases the screen gradually fades to white, giving the impression of slowly dying. Should the player make it all the way to the end of the track, it goes on longer than it's supposed to, the player may start getting more points than what is supposed to be the maximum, and visual glitches like in "Axium Crisis" begin to take place, before the song is cut off to introduce "Fracture Ray".
    • Black Fate DLC: Fulfilling a set of conditions will allow you to play the song "Tempestissimo", and should you fulfill specific conditions during that, most of the HUD disappears, the Recollection Rate meter is swapped out for a Harder Than Hard variant of the Hard gauge, Tairitsu appears on the right side of the screen, and the difficulty is kicked up by one level (Past becomes Present, Present becomes Future, and Future becomes Beyond).
    • Esoteric Order DLC: Playing Aegleseeker with Lagrange as your partner causes the background to turn desaturated and gray, and the screen gradually darkens as you approach the song's drop. When the screen fully fades, text appears along with the song's Arc Words; "and in that light, I find deliverance." The background then explodes to full color, and all interface elements dissappear. This also unlocks Lagrange's ability, and after it's unlocked, this event can only be caused when she reaches level 10.
  • Wake-Up Call Boss: Before the 1.5 update that overhauled song unlocks, "Snow White" on Future was a prerequisite for many unlocks in the free-to-play Arcaea folder, and it wasn't uncommon for someone to get stuck on it because of the floor note streams and the winding Arc notes that can confuse players not accustomed to Arc notes with vertical movements. Anyone who couldn't clear it was more or less not ready for the game's later challenges.
  • Wham Episode: Final Verdict, in particular Axiom of the End.
    • The pack itself shows 5 songs, only one of which is even properly revealed at the start, with the rest having to be unlocked from the Axiom of the End. Just like Black Fate before it, there's a 6th song buried within it.
    • All four of the songs unlocked from Axiom of the End have clearly visible Beyond Charts, the first time any main story pack came with multiple songs having all four difficulties.
    • As you unlock songs from Axiom of the End, they are presented in a manner not unlike the boss songs from Lanota, with an animated visual introducing the song.
    • Additionally, after each song is unlocked, a 5th song starts slowly getting uncovered. After all four are unlocked, this final item becomes the next to be unlocked.
    • When the conditions to challenge the final song are met, you are given a warning before actually challenging it, noting that you are at a Point of No Return. Completing the final song successfully results in The Erasure of Tairitsu's existence at Hikari's hands, giving you a new Hikari variant in exchange for losing all non-collab variants of Tairitsu, including those you haven't unlocked from World Mode yet AND the special variant from the soundtracks. Even in the Collab Variants that remain, Tairitsu's name doesn't exist anymore, rendered as mojibake.
      • Furthermore, on Beyond, that song's difficulty rating is 12.
  • Wham Line:
    • At the time of the 1.5 update, players unlocking "Grievous Lady" on Future were in for a nasty surprise:note 
      Future 10
    • Repeated again with even more impact with the Black Fate Anomaly in 3.0. The song in question, after unlocking it, is plainly listed as a Future 10 (what used to be a 9+). Play it and satisfy certain conditions, and...
      BEYOND 11
    • Played for Laughs with Nono's stats. Her skill is described in promotional material as giving you 2,525 Fragments if you clear a song with EX Grade, but when you go to unlock her in World Mode and see her entire stat card...
      0.5 FRAGnote 
  • You Are Already Dead: Because Tempest Tairitsu's gauge constantly drains or increases, if it's draining really fast you can end up in a position where even if you start hitting notes again, there's nothing you can do to stop your gauge from running out.

    Tropes specific to the story 
  • Appearance Is in the Eye of the Beholder: What characters see from the Arcaea shards depends on the person viewing them. This also applies to the surroundings they end up at.
  • And Now for Someone Completely Different: For the most part, each chapter is unlocked with and from the perspective of a different character. At least the main story does settle down into focusing on Hikari, but it does still flip to Taritsu’s perspective a few times.
  • Beautiful Void: The expanse of Arcaea’s world is dotted by just over a dozen girls. Their number is sparse enough that any two meeting is a significant event.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The "One Last Dream" ending. Hikari uses her god-like powers to destroy Arcaea in exchange for reviving the real Tairitsu within the copy's body, and they become friends for real before departing to places unknown. By extension, the side characters are also departed to a "distant place". However, the copy Tairitsu (aka the Tairitsu Hikari actually wants to befriend) is left for dead, and the real Hikari's fate is left unknown, presumably being as sad and depressed as she always is.
  • Bloodless Carnage: All over the place. Despite the in-game text displays the wounds on each character by detail, if there are any pictures they will not show the exact situation at all. Even when Hikari kills Tairitsu in Final Verdict, the picture shows Hikari impaling Tairitsu's heart with a sword, but no blood comes from Tairitsu's body.
  • Dead to Begin With: Ephemeral Page, Esoteric Order, and Unseeing Eyes all have revelations that certain characters are dead. In particular, Unseeing Eyes starts when Vita was alive, and concludes when she wakes up in Arcaea. Subsequently, Final Verdict clarifies that the world of Arcaea is an afterlife-like realm where souls have been copied into, meaning every character (sans Hikari) in the story is dead.
  • Downer Ending:
    • Chapters 1 and 2 of the Main Story each have a premature bad ending, with the main branch only being able to be continued if the player unlocks Anomaly songs:
      • Chapter 1-ZR: Hikari is overwhelmed by the positive Arcaea and is left a mindless husk.
      • Chapter 2-D: The tower that Tairitsu is on crumbles and she falls, presumably to her death.
    • "A Perfect Wish": After seeing the credits once and playing "Last" under certain conditions, you're given the option to "Accept Arcaea". Clicking the button results in a rather depressing alternate ending where nobody ends up happy. It reveals Tairitsu and Hikari's background story, then shows a scenario where Hikari leaves Tairitsu for dead, seals Arcaea from the outside world and becomes its goddess. However, she finds no joy in her new state, being as miserable as she was after she kills Tairitsu, and every side character was either doomed to render themselves catatonic or wander around for an eternity.
  • Duel to the Death: The climax of the story consists of a brutal one-on-one deathmatch between Hikari and Tairitsu.
  • Eldritch Location: The titular world is actually a place wished upon by the real Hikari at her lowest point. Unintentional by its creator, it has the ability to drag souls of the dead from all timelines and realities into it and make blank-state clones of them, with these clones being the characters we all knew and loved.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Hikari's first character song is titled "PRAGMATISM". Later on it gets a rearrange named "PRAGMATISM -RESURRECTION-". The former foreshadows that Hikari's actions are mostly based on a mix of self-preservation and a mindset that hinges on I Did What I Had to Do, and the second foreshadows Tairitsu's resurrection in her hands in the "One Last Dream" ending. Its charter(s) also use the alias "The Last Dream", which is a word away from One Last Dream".
    • One of Luna's song is "Live Fast Die Young". Near the end of "Final Verdict", it was revealed that nearly everyone in Arcaea is the copy of a dead person. Since Luna and her sister Eto are pretty much child-like in appearance, they literally lived fast and died young.
    • Lagrange expresses distaste against Arcaea and its creator in her side story, believing it to have been failed its purpose as "a sancturary for a weak heart". Everything began when the real Hikari, actually a depressed, lonely girl, wished for her own Lotus-Eater Machine, but isn't even aware that she created it and was barred from entering it. In her story's last chapter, she also sees that Hikari and Tairitsu's Duel to the Death will progress into a tragedy, and this is what exactly happens when Hikari's emotions compel her to drive a sword into Tairitsu's chest, killing her and driving the girl in white into a breakdown.
  • Genius Loci: The titular setting of the game somehow has a will of its own, mindless as it is.
  • Impairment Shot: In the moments where Hikari’s consciousness is failing, the background fades to solid black or gray.
  • Improbably Female Cast: There are no male partners, only young women. Tenniel, Alice's brother seems to be an exception, but he turns out to be a fake and Alice was all alone all the time, meaning that the number of real male partner characters is zero. Even if collaborations are put into equation, Areus is designated as a genderless AI War God despite his masculine appearance.
  • Interface Spoiler: Unlike other partners, Hikari Fracture's partner type is "???" instead of the more appropriate "SUPPORT" or "CHALLENGE" partner types. The same thing also happens with her Fatalis variant, despite Tempest Tairitsu, another partner with similar mechanics, is marked as a CHALLENGE partner. It's because their true partner type is "CREATOR" since they're variants of the real Hikari's clone, and that's the Physical God who created Arcaea.
  • Irony: The world of Arcaea is a world of various memories, yet all of the characters wake up in it with no memories of their own. Lethe is the lone exception, as she retains some memories of her past life as a reaper.
  • Lotus-Eater Machine: Everything began when the real Hikari wished upon one for herself. It didn't work for her and it unintentionally trapped the souls of dead girls into it.
  • Memory Jar: The titular Arcaea are shards of glass that hold random short memories. How these memories are experienced varies between characters, but always involves viewing it in some way or other.
  • Multiple Endings:
    • There are two premature bad endings in the split routes of Chapter 2:
      • Luminous Sky: Clear "Ether Strike" with Hikari (Zero): Hikari overdoses herself on light Arcaea and renders herself catatonic.
      • Vicious Labyrinth: Clear "Axium Crisis" with Tairitsu (Axium): Tairitsu attempts to destroy the tower she was in, but the tower collapses and presumably crushes her.
    • There are two possible endings after clearing Final Verdict, a normal ending and a secret ending. You have to unlock the normal ending first before you can unlock the secret one. Note that the secret ending contains its own songs.
      • The normal ending: Click the "Refuse Fate" button after clearing "Last": After killing Tairitsu, Hikari makes a resolve to atone for her sin by reviving her and destroying Arcaea. She uses her Reality Warper powers to her fullest potential, destroying Arcaea and all of the souls trapped within it are sent to "one distant place", and the real Tairitsu was revived within the copy Tairitsu's body. Once she sees her revived counterpart, Hikari sobs in tears of joy, but quickly calms down and the two girls become friends with each other, departing to places unknown. Reading this ending unlocks Hikari & Tairitsu (Reunion) and "Last".
      • Secret ending: Play "Last" with Hikari (Fatalis)'s skill sealed, have a score of exactly 0, wait for a few seconds then click "Accept Arcaea": Tairitsu and Hikari's pasts, as well as the origins of Arcaea are explained in depth. Back to the present, Hikari ascends into becoming the God of Arcaea after leaving Tairitsu dead for real, but becomes an nihilistic blind idiot goddess who turns it into a World Of Stasis where most side characters are rendered catatonic in eternal life, with Alice shown staring at the sky and being corroded by crystals. Reading this ending unlocks "Callima Karma", "Last|Eternity" and turns Hikari's Fatalis and Fracture variant's types from "???" to "Creator".
  • Silent Scenery Panel: There are some story cutscenes that don't show anything but a single scenery image.
  • Single-Palette Town: Rather, single palette universe. Arcaea’s setting is constantly described as being a world of white. Purple, blue alongside the occasional green are featured in some of the cutscene images, though.
  • Spirit World: Final Verdict establishes the world of Arcaea to be somewhat like this, as the original versions of all characters bar Hikari copied their souls over after death.
  • Trash the Set: Hikari and Tairitsu's Duel to the Death caused Arcaea to collapse. And when Hikari fatally wounds Tairitsu, it's said that she used so much energy that their surroundings had been further blown into a crater. In the "One Last Dream" ending, Hikari also destroys Arcaea once and for all to revive Tairitsu, leaving nothing but the ruins of a destroyed world.

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