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Visual Novel / Arcade Spirits

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Welcome to the Funplex!

The year is 20XX, 20 Minutes into the Future, and arcades are mainstream. The Great Video Game Crash of 1983 never happened, and as a result, arcades never declined in popularity, remaining a permanent part of popular culture. That doesn't make running one any easier than running any other small business, though.

Enter the protagonist, a jaded twenty-something searching for work. When their best friend Juniper suggests they try a new semi-virtual reality app named IRIS to help them get a job, they are offered a chance to work at an arcade. Though skeptical at first, they decide to revisit that bastion of their fun-filled childhood and apply for the job as a floor manager. There, they meet all manner of quirky and attractive coworkers, plus a few serious regulars, each of whom is in love with arcades in one way or another, despite all being very different people. Through their work, the protagonist will re-learn what it means to find happiness in the world, and make a bunch of great friends along the way - and maybe even love.


Arcade Spirits is a Ren'Py-based Visual Novel by Stefan Gagne, creator of Sailor Nothing, and Aenne Schumann. The full version of the game was released on February 12, 2019. The website can be found here.

A sequel, Arcade Spirits: The New Challengers, was announced in June 2020, and dropped on May 27, 2022.

This series provides examples of:

     Tropes in multiple games 
  • An Aesop: Dreams have to be fought for.
  • Alternate History: The series is set in an alternate timeline where The Great Video Game Crash of 1983 explicitly didn't happen and the ET Atari game wasn't complete rubbish.
  • Benevolent A.I.: Iris may make some questionable decisions, from ordering copious pizza bagels to blowing up your phone, but her only goal is to help the protagonist as much as possible.
  • Bland-Name Product: Some of the in-universe games seem clearly based on real-world versions, but interestingly averted with Spotlight Stage, which is compared to Dance Dance Revolution but distinguished from it.
  • Character Customisation: The protagonist can be given a name, pronouns, a hair length, a skin colour, and a variously coloured hoodie. Unlike most examples, there are no different body types (this is fixed in the sequel), and the character is actually directly shown quite a bit. It's also possible to customize the character's personality via the Identity Identifier System, which judges your character on a number of traits. This not only affects how the character interacts in general, when you get to especially meaningful scenes later on, you're only able to respond with the traits you've cultivated most throughout the game.
  • Color-Coded Characters: Most of the game's characters have different colored portraits and text. As far as the Funplex crew goes: Gavin is teal, Naomi is green, Ashley is blue, Queen Bee is yellow, Percy is brown, and Teo is orange.
  • Dialogue Tree: The player regularly gets to choose how the protagonist will respond, which will affect Relationship Values and the character's personality.
  • Everyone Is Bi: All love interests can be pursued by anyone, regardless of chosen pronouns. This is deliberate, allowing the characters and player to express themselves through their choices first and foremost.
  • Fictional Video Game: All of the games that are major story elements, such as the ones the regular customers play. The rare ones you can get at the auction at the singer's house are more obvious parodies of real arcade games. Once in a while a character will mention a real arcade game in dialogue, marked with a handy (tm) symbol.
  • Gamer Chick: Naturally, Arcade Spirits is full of them, though the primary examples are Queen Bee and Sue.
  • Good Bad Translation: invoked 'Fist of Discomfort' was deliberately titled to come across as this, as though it had been translated badly out of Japanese and so sounded a little inappropriate.
  • Relationship Values: IRIS tracks your closeness to the different dateable characters (save Juniper, whose values are hidden) and can be seen at any time in the top right hand corner. This actually exists in-universe as well, and when the protagonist comes to express their feelings for someone, they admit to feeling kind of weird about something so personal and subjective being reduced to numbers. However, IRIS explains that this really just tracks the choices you've made, attempting to discern the amount of affection you've shown for someone, and you're totally able to ignore it all and just choose who you feel like anyway.
  • Year X: All years given in the game are written like this. When showing up in actual dialogue the X's are pronounced as censor bleeps.

     Tropes in the first game 
  • Affectionate Nickname: Queen Bee calls Percy "Per-Per."
  • Affluent Ascetic: Percy doesn't really hide the fact that he's rich, but he has no interest in buying expensive things and lives a modest life. He only got rich to pay for his sister's medical needs, but now that she's passed, he continues trading stock to provide himself financial stability while he chases the Mr Moopy high score, and he donates much of the extra to charity.
  • Ambiguous Gender Identity: If romanced, Ashley will confess that to not feeling 100% girl or boy. By the sequel, they are using they/them/their pronouns after previously using she/her.
  • And Now for Someone Completely Different: During the final chapter, you're given options by all your friends on how to track down Sue in order to ask her to help you take down Deco Nami. Each choice leads to you playing as someone other than the protagonist you created in the beginning of the game.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: In the job interview with Francine, she asks about things like dinosaurs and snacks. The protagonist gets caught off guard when she asks, "Why are you are here?"
  • Bare Your Midriff: Queen Bee's usual outfit of a tube top and skirt does this. Naomi's crop top too, when she isn't wearing her apron.
  • Beach Episode: The company retreat to the beach in Chapter 5. Along with all the Fanservice of the numerous dateable characters in their teeny swimsuits, it's when you get to go for a Relationship Upgrade.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Ashley seems to believe this to be the case between Gavin and Naomi, seeing how they tend to disagree a lot. The tension is over real issues, but in some endings the two work those issues out and then become a couple.
  • Big Bad: Deco Nami, the owner of the massive entertainment complex Deco's Palace. He prioritizes ticket and redemption games that have really unfair prices, treats everyone and everything in terms of how they might make him money, outright destroys games he thinks aren't useful instead of letting less profit-oriented people enjoy them, and he hires a street gang to sabotage your second arcade's opening. It's this last misdeed that gets him arrested in the end.
  • Big Beautiful Man: Upon meeting Percy, the protagonist can express interest in his "dad bod."
  • Casual-Competitive Conflict: In-Universe, Queen Bee and Percy are both very much on the competitive side, the former being a streamer of a multiplayer fighting game and the latter being a retro game scorechaser, while Teo and Ashley represent the casual side, the former being more interested in the community around fun games than playing to win and Ashley mainly just into the cosplay. However, while the former two and latter two do get along quite well, there's never any sign of conflict between any of them based on their different approaches.
  • Challenge Gamer: Percy, who is trying to achieve the new world record for Moopy's Magic Maze.
  • Chekhov's Gunman:
    • The red-haired woman yelling at a little boy on the protagonist's first day at the Funplex is Mrs. D'Fame, an "arcade critic" that will visit your second arcade on its opening day.
    • The little girl crying over her stolen tickets on the protagonist's first day is the younger sibling of one of the Ghost Monsters, and will help you track down Sue if you have Percy and Juniper ask about her at Deco's Palace.
    • The purple-haired teenager the protagonist first meets upon going to Deco's Palace is named Sue, and will end up causing trouble for the protagonist later. She also turns out to be the key to finally taking down Deco Nami.
    • Francine's deadbeat grandson, whose job the player character is filling at the start of the game. When Francine dies later in the game, it turns out his mother — Francine's daughter — was her next surviving kin. She sold the Funplex to Deco Nami, either out of petty revenge for her son being fired or just not wanting to deal with owning the business.
  • Childhood Friend: The protagonist's roommate Juniper is also the protagonist's best friend; they both grew up in the same town, and left to find happiness. Juniper is a romance option, and can thus become an Unlucky Childhood Friend or a Victorious Childhood Friend.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: If Hamza and/or Ben and Matt aren't chosen to help fund the new arcade, there is no mention of them after Chapter 6.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Ashley is the biggest of the main cast, inexplicably fond of the terrifying mass of pink that is the costume she wears for work, and prone to long leaps of the imagination.
Ashley: A waketervenspiracy!
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Mandatory when Queen Bee is playing, though it's censored out.
  • Commitment Issues: Queen Bee's got 'em. She comes around for the protagonist, though.
  • Cool Old Lady: Francine, the owner of the arcade, and a video game fan from way back.
  • Cosplay Otaku Girl: Ashley, who is more interested in creating costumes and dressing up than the specific games themselves.
  • The Cynic: The protagonist starts as this, but comes to slowly see on the brighter side as they come to feel at home at the Funplex. Gavin also feels forced to be this to keep the Funplex in the black.
  • Debut Queue: In Chapter 1, the protagonist will meet each potential love interest (or friend, if playing the non-romantic route) one by one in their own scene. Each person is subsequently added to Iris's relationship tracker.
  • Delicious Distraction: At the intervention in Chapter 6, the crew takes turns lifting the protagonist's spirits...ooh, Ben and Matt brought cake!
  • Dark and Troubled Past:
    • The protagonist comes from a family that has a history of suddenly having happiness ripped away due to a supposed "family curse", so the family has learned to compromise, settle, and go with the flow. The arcade is the protagonist's chance to pursue happiness instead.
    • When discussing the protagonist's family and when convincing Sue to stop helping Deco, Juniper will reference her own bad home life and state that her parents weren't very loving.
    • Percy is pursuing the Moopy high score because his little sister Stella wanted that high score, but tragically died of a hereditary heart condition before she could obtain it.
  • A Day in the Limelight: For a lengthy scene in Chapter 6, the protagonist is absent and we see what their Iris is up to, providing context for the events later in the chapter.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Some of the character endings can be read this way. If you enter into a romance, then the two friends with the lowest relationship score will end up drifting away from the arcade at some point after taking down Deco Nami. In some of the narrations, the protagonist says that they were never that close to the person who left anyway, and in others they wonder if the person is truly happy with their decision.
  • Call-Back: Before entering the Funplex for the first time, Iris says she has found the protagonist's dream job with 99.97% accuracy. When convincing Sue to take down Deco, if you nail it, Iris will predict at 99.97% chance of success.
  • Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life: The protagonist at the beginning. Working at the arcade ends up becoming the passion they need in their life, though not without difficulty.
  • Developer's Foresight: You get a special line of dialogue if you name the new arcade Francine's or Deco's Palace.
  • Dirty Communists: Zombie Meltdown has you fight radioactive communist zombies (and Uranium Enriched Stalin) to save America.
  • Doujin Soft: At the convention, you can meet an indie game producer working on a highly anticipated schoolgirl-themed game called Magical Moon Cuties. If you go with Teo you'll also get to experience the indie room, where the protagonist will express amazement that there are so many amateurs making games.
  • Eccentric Millionaire: Hamza, a relation of Saudi royalty, who spends all of his time keeping up with arcade games that will soon come up for sale and organising snap auctions. Gavin finds him very difficult to deal with because he can be quite unpredictable, accepting strange bids and refusing to explain his processes.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: The protagonist is put through a lot of hardship along the way, and at a couple points all seems lost, but in the end, Deco Nami is finally arrested for his crimes and the protagonist finally gets a happy and bright future as the manager of a successful arcade, with their loved one (or best friend Juniper if you didn't romance anyone) by their side.
  • Exposition Fairy: Iris, a phone AI, is this, explaining how everything works, getting you the job that kicks off the plot, keeping track of your stats, and occasionally reminding you of what you're supposed to do. And exploding your phone to snap you out of it when the Polybius game starts to absorb your mind.
  • Face Death with Dignity: Percy has this in the bag. Despite suffering from a hereditary heart condition that gives him two years tops to live, Percy has made peace with it and firmly believes that the quality of his life outweighs the quantity of it. He initially refuses a experimental treatment/cure, feeling guilty at the prospect of living when his sister didn't. If he is romanced or has a high enough relationship score at the end of the game, he will change his mind and fight to live.
  • Fandom: A major theme of the game, with every love interest representing a different side of arcade fandom, from Naomi who loves the physical machines themselves to Percy who loves score-chasing to Teo who just loves the associated community and having fun with friends.
  • Fandom VIP: Used in-universe, Teo is the big fan of Spotlight Stage, as he organizes a lot of the big meet-ups and events.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Deco Nami presents himself as polite, courteous fellow and actually holds a degree of respect to competitors such as Francine, but that's about it. Underneath it all, he's a greedy, manipulative schemer. And an Abusive Parent to boot.
  • Final Boss: The final confrontation with Sue, who is secretly Deco Nami's daughter. The goal is to convince her to turn against her father and reveal evidence of his crimes, which will get him arrested. How this confrontation plays out depends on your character's personality:
    • If your character is Gutsy, you have to challenge Sue to a one-on-one gaming match using whichever videogame Hamza gave you as a gift earlier in the game, either Phrase Invaders, Wyvern Keep, or Zombie Meltdown.
    • If your character is Kindly, you have to engage Sue in a verbal debate, with about 4 chances to persuade her that her interests are better served if she helps you than if she helps Deco.
    • If your character is Quirky, you have to engage in a pizza-bagel-eating contest with Sue's friend Clyde, and Sue raises the difficulty by having you eat badly-cooked bagels and bagels with hot sauce on them.
    • If your character is Steady, you have to play a variant of "tag" in a maze of arcade games, with the goal being to pick up all the plush dolls in the maze before the members of Sue's street gang tag you.
  • Fission Mailed:
    • No matter how you handle the conversation with Deco Nami, unfortunately circumstances beyond your control will cause him to gain ownership of Francine's Funplex, seemingly snatching the protagonist's dream away. You even get a "Game Over" screen, followed by a "Continue" screen. If you continue, everyone from the arcade stages an intervention to pull the protagonist out of their Heroic BSoD, and the story will continue as the protagonist gets the idea to establish a new arcade.
    • Later on, no matter what you do, the new arcade's opening will be trashed by a gang hired by Deco and the protagonist will be injured protecting either a co-worker, Sue, or the critic Mrs. D'Fame. It seems the bad publicity will close the arcade—but surprisingly, D'Fame, having seen the protagonist's courage, decides to hold off writing a review.
  • For Want of a Nail: According to an early game flashback, the Alternate Timeline the game takes place in exists because the legendarily bad E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial game was never made.
  • Foreshadowing: Francine's discussion of tradeoffs in Chapter Two is realized in the endgame. If you want to keep all of your friends at the arcade, then you cannot enter a romance. If you do enter a romance, the two friends with the lowest score will leave the arcade in the epilogue.
  • The Friends Who Never Hang: Averted and lampshaded. Just about every possible pairing of arcade staff and regulars have a scene together, or at least a potential scene depending on the protagonist's choices. However, part of the reason Percy and Teo make a point of hanging out together for a while at the beach is because they so seldom interact (their games are at opposite ends of the arcade).
  • Games of the Elderly: Ashley's date involves her and the protagonist going to a nearby hall to play bingo; naturally, everyone else there is at least sixty, and not all are too pleased to see two young people playing around.
  • Gender Flip: Wyvern Keep, one of three possible videogames that you can choose as your player character's favorite, is based off the real life Dragon's Lair videogame, but with a female adventurer whose goal is to save the prince.
  • Godlike Gamer: Subverted with The Demon. He definitely appears to be The Ace at Fists of Discomfort, but he expresses that he has plenty to learn, especially from Queen Bee.
  • Grammar Nazi: The sign saying "Employee's Only" bothers the protagonist enough for them to cover up the apostrophe.
  • Guide Dang It!: Juniper is the most difficult character to romance, because Iris does not keep track of her affection. Iris even points this out and reacts with surprise if you say you'll ask Juniper out on a date.
  • Hidden Depths:
    • Ashley is fun-loving and sometimes goes off on tangents due to her vivid imagination, but also suffers from depression and struggles with figuring out who she is.
    • Gavin prioritizes profits and pragmatism, but also wants to protect people's dreams. Additionally, he joined a struggling arcade because he wanted to be a self-made man, unlike his family, who brags about being self-made despite inheriting their wealth.
    • Naomi is shy, but will become very talkative if speaking of her passion for retro games and arcade games in general. While she normally has trouble being around people, she isn't afraid to speak her mind and passionately defend and argue for what she believes in, and in the endgame, she is willing to interact with crowds of people online if it will help the protagonist.
    • Queen Bee is very self-confident and loves to compete, but on her route it's revealed that she's been dealing with sexism in the gaming community, and has had to work much harder to prove herself as a result, especially since her esports team, L7, is very strict about mistakes. She is also embarrassed at her real name, which is why she goes by the name Queen Bee. On her romance route, she gives the protagonist the choice of whether to call her by her real name or whether to continue using the name Queen Bee.
    • Percy has a relaxed personality, and spends a great deal of time trying to get a high score on Mr. Moopy's Magic Maze, or Moopy for short. This is because his sister Stella died before she could get that high score, and Percy himself has the same hereditary heart condition that took his sister's life.
    • Teo is friendly and flirty, but is also very community-involved and community-focused. He also sometimes works himself ragged, so the protagonist can recommend to Teo that Teo should take a little more "me time".
  • Humanity Is Infectious: The personality of Iris adapts to its user. By the end of the game, the protagonist's Iris will share their most prominent personality trait, and thank them for showing her this part of life.
  • It's All My Fault: The protagonist cares deeply about the Funplex and their friends, and is pretty hard on themselves as a result. They even take the blame for Percy's heart attack because it happened during the event they organized.
  • Large Ham: Hamza has a tendency of making his presence known.
  • Local Hangout: Hole Story, the combination book and coffee shop next door from the Funplex.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: The story leaves it ambiguous as to whether the protagonist is actually suffering a "family curse", or whether the protagonist's family coincidentally just had a lot of bad luck.
  • The McCoy: Naomi tends to think with her heart first, and often gets so caught up in building a perfect menagerie of game consoles that she loses track of real-world money constraints.
  • Murder Simulators: One of the new games you can get at auction was controversial for being so violent, and Gavin warns that it might not be as popular or profitable because of it.
  • Office Romance: If you romance Gavin, Naomi, or Ashley. In Gavin's case, his late game conflict revolves around worrying that the protagonist won't be able to treat him objectively because of their relationship, with good reason. You're also given a choice at the beginning whether you want to flirt with your coworkers immediately or just get to know them as friends before anything romantic comes up.
  • Older than They Look: The protagonist has been making a living on their own for a while, and mentions being about 10 years older than Sue. This presumably places them in their mid-to-late twenties, despite a vaguely young adult look.
  • One-Steve Limit: Averted, as the Funplex's mascot and a member of the Ghost Monsters gang are both named Pinky.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Queen Bee and Teo (short for Mateo).
  • Non Standard Game Over: At several points you can choose to pursue a steady job instead of pursuing your dream. This will indeed mean that the protagonist gets a stable career, but it will also prematurely end the story, as the protagonist wistfully wonders if they're really happy doing what society wanted.
  • Pair the Spares: If Naomi and Gavin were not romanced by the player, and they both have high enough relationship scores, then they will start dating in the epilogue.
  • Passed in Their Sleep: Francine's inevitable fate.
  • Perky Goth: Juniper loves her blacks and purples, but is also very kind and caring.
  • Plot-Mandated Friendship Failure: On the protagonist's second arcade's opening day, they will get into an unavoidable argument with their love interest (or with their roommate and best friend Juniper, if the player isn't romancing anyone). The argument only gets resolved when the protagonist gets injured later, prompting their love interest (or Juniper) to visit the hospital and apologize.
  • Poverty Food: When you accept Iris's help it turns out it comes with several crates of pizza bagels being sent to your apartment. At first your character appreciates all this food, being dirt poor, but by the time they've moved up at the arcade, they're sick of pizza bagels all the time.
  • Preppy Name: Percy's full name is Percival Sinclair.
  • Pursue the Dream Job: Working at an arcade can be this for the protagonist, considering how much they loved arcades as a kid. However, they admit when they apply that they're not actually sure this is their dream job, but they're willing to try and see.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure:
    • Francine is very kind and understanding, and will hire the protagonist even if the protagonist answers they're unsure why they want to work in the arcade, because the protagonist's past lifeguard experience legitimately qualifies them for the stresses of the job. When the protagonist is about to go to a meeting with corporate businessman Deco Nami, Francine will tell the protagonist that they are allowed to sell the arcade if they think it best, leaving the decision in the protagonist's hands.
    • Also, while Gavin initially seems to be cold on first meeting, he actually turns out to be this—to give an early example, during the birthday party, when a little girl's tickets get stolen, Gavin is in favor of just ignoring it in order to avoid causing a scene. However, if you stand up to Gavin or tell him to have a heart, Gavin will back down and admit you're right, justice for the little girl is more important and the thief shouldn't get away with it. Gavin will then make the thief give the girl her tickets back.
  • Relationship-Salvaging Disaster: When the protagonist opens their second arcade, events spiral out of control due to sabotage, and the protagonist gets injured and hospitalized. However, this also prompts their love interest (or best friend) to visit the hospital and apologize for an earlier argument, prompting the protagonist to apologize as well and salvage their relationship.
  • Relationship Upgrade: If you make the right choices, your companion can coax Clyde into admitting their love for Sue, a feeling Sue reciprocates.
  • Retro Gaming: Percy loves Mr Moopy's Magic Maze, and hates when older games are panned just for being old, but also appreciates newer games too.
  • Sequel Hook: The mystery of the haunted "Polybius" arcade game is never really solved, opening up the possibility for it to be solved in the sequel. Also, if you complete all the routes, you'll get a scene that in-universe advertises a sequel to Fist of Discomfort, while out-of-universe also putting forth the possibility of a sequel to Arcade Spirits itself. Said sequel would be released on May 2022.
  • Shout-Out: Being a celebration of game culture, Arcade Spirits has a couple nods to elements of famous games.
    • The arcade game 'Fist of Discomfort' is named after a Neverwinter Nights module written by Gagne in 2003. It was also a side-scroller beat 'em up containing Intentional Engrish for Funny.
    • The street gang Deco Nami hires to sabotage the second arcade's opening has names in common with Pac-Man's ghostly enemies—Blinky (red), Pinky (pink), Inky (blue), Clyde (orange), and Sue (purple), Sue being the leader. This is further emphasized by their hideout, with their arcade machines and neon lights being arranged in the shape of the Pac-Man maze. Heck, the group name (Ghost Monsters) is drawn from Pac-Man too just to make sure you don't miss it.
    • Iris gets your attention with a "Hey! Listen!" a few times.
    • When you go to the rare game auction where they're selling off the contents of a dead singer's personal arcade, one of the games you find is Polybius, and it tries to control your mind.
    • If you rescue the kittens at the auction, Naomi will name one Pengo.
    • Picking the Non-Standard Game Over 'earns' you a victory plaque that consists of a low-poly count trophy and the victory message "YOU'RE WINNER!".
    • The local bookstore cafe sells "Pratchett" donuts and Klatchian Coffee.
    • When the lights are out at the dive restaurant, the protagonist worries that a "giant animatronic bear is going to leap out and eat [their] face."
    • A non-game example: In a moment of concern, the protagonist mentions "that dog sitting in a burning room, saying 'This is fine.'"
  • Shown Their Work: One of the minor characters is a professional Fist of Discomfort player called 'The Demon', who talks about how you cannot be results-oriented in your thinking when it comes to playing games professionally. At least one competitive gamer (albeit one for Magic: The Gathering rather than a video game) has called this "a healthy mindset to have."
  • Shrinking Violet: Naomi is a Downplayed Example - she prefers machines to humans, and is pretty introverted, but she is more socially clumsy than socially anxious.
  • Sir Swears-a-Lot: Queen Bee constantly curses, although it's only rendered as Symbol Swearing.
  • Smart People Wear Glasses: Naomi, the techie, and Gavin, the business and finance expert.
  • Spirited Competitor: Queen Bee loves the fictional game Fist of Discomfort, and is always up for a challenge. Unfortunately, since streaming is her job, she gets anxious about playing against anyone too good, because fans don't like seeing their player lose, and doing too badly could put her in real-world money trouble.
  • The Spock: Gavin, who tries to keep everyone else in the Funplex grounded, but can become overly cynical if he loses sight of why he enjoys arcades in the first place. Naturally, he and Naomi fight. A lot.
  • The Stinger: After the credits, you get a different "stinger" depending on whether you've completed all the romance routes yet:
    • If you haven't completed all the romance routes yet, you get a scene of Deco Nami being interrogated by an agent about the haunted Polybius game you played earlier in the game.
    • If you have completed all the romance routes, you get a scene of an unknown character playing Fist of Discomfort, and then seeing a teaser for a sequel, Fist of Discomfort II, which will introduce team play. The unknown character wonders who to team up with...
  • Take That!: Gee, could there be some veiled meaning to naming the big profit-mongering, exploitative rival of the player's business Deco Nami?
  • Talking in Your Dreams: After getting shot trying to protect Sue, a critic, or an employee, the player has a brief conversation with Francine, who assures them they can still save their arcade.
  • Talking the Monster to Death: Practically all the endings involve talking Sue into helping you take down Deco, though the approach will differ.
    • In the Steady path, Pinky and Clyde can be successfully talked down by pointing out that Sue is playing a dominance game against Deco and asking them which one they want to win. Both will give up their dolls.
  • Team Mom: Francine acts as an elderly grandmother figure to the staff at the Funplex. Naturally, her death impacts everyone heavily.
  • There Are No Therapists: Averted in Ashley's route. She eventually decides to start going to therapy to help with her depression and identity issues.
  • Those Two Guys: Ben and Matt, the pun-slinging couple that run the Hole Story. They can become involved in the main plot if the player recruits them for the new arcade's bar.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Odd in that Iris is an AI that doesn't need to eat, but she never stops singing the praises of pizza bagels. "When you've got pizza on a bagel..."
Iris: You just don't appreciate the sublime majesty of combining two of the greatest bread-related snack products into one hybrid masterpiece.
  • Trash of the Titans: The protagonist leaves their apartment very messy, and in most routes it just symbolizes the protagonist's listlessness and "go with the flow" attitude. But if you're doing the friendship route or Juniper romance route, it eventually causes an issue, as Juniper gets fed up having to clean up after the protagonist in their shared home.
  • Twofer Token Minority: Queen Bee is not only a woman in the esports industry, but a brown woman (possibly Indian, considering she has a Hindu first name). Queer too, depending on how she is played, which would make her a threefer.
  • Wholesome Crossdresser: Ashley dresses up as a butler for the convention MAX, and the protagonist is given the opportunity to dress as the corresponding maid character with her regardless of gender.
  • You Can't Thwart Stage One: Unfortunately, Francine's Funplex will always end up being sold to Deco Nami regardless of your choices. In order for the protagonist to earn a happy ending, the protagonist has to open a new arcade and persuade Sue to turn on Deco by providing the media with evidence leading to Deco's arrest.

     Tropes in The New Challengers 
  • Anti-Frustration Features: The New Challengers adds a playable Fist of Discomfort minigame. But you have the option to disable the game and just decide if your side wins or loses, if you're only there for the social sim aspect.
  • Big Bad: Valkyrie, a Competition Freak determined to regain her esports prestige at all costs - until the final level where we discover the actual main antagonist is Hunter's Iris, having been corrupted by her Polybius source code and willing to burn the world if it achieve her user's dreams.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The characters with the lowest relationship score will drift apart from the protagonist unless the player makes a certain series of choices. If they take Valkyrie up on her Chapter 5 offer, and if they put their lowest relationship score friends up in the match, those friends will stay no matter what.
  • Call-Back: The protagonist's Iris rates the romantic chances with their top three friends as having a 99.97% chance of success, harkening back to the first game.
  • Contrasting Sequel Antagonist: Deco Nami was a shady, manipulative asshole, but comparatively few of his many misdeeds were actually illegal. Meanwhile, Valkyrie doesn't do as much wrong that we see, but a far larger proportion of her misdeeds are illegal, and her worst action (driving Coda to attempted suicide) is far worse than anything we saw Deco Nami do. In reality, Valkyrie (while a horrible person) is not the true villain. That is Hunter's Iris, who is so desperate to help Hunter that she gives in to the traces of Polybius code within her, becoming Polybiris. Where Deco Nami was a hearltess, self-centred jackass, Polybiris cared about her user to the exclusion of all else, to the point of committing attempted murder.
  • Contrasting Sequel Main Character: Ari Cader was content to drift through life until Juniper gave them Iris, who led them to Francine's Funplex and led them to find a purpose in life. By contrast, Seeker has a very definite goal and focuses on it to the exclusion of all else, until Hunter gives them Iris, which leads them to find a better life balance with the crew at Good Clean Fun.
  • Driven to Suicide: Polybiris' social media manipulation and hacking of Coda's medical records lead him to attempt suicide in front of Seeker. Possibly played straight with Polybiris, who erases her code if you do not properly confront her in the last confrontation.
  • Embarrassing First Name: While Grace goes by her real name, the other characters go by aliases, with their real names available on the official Arcade Spirits website. The only exception is Locksley, whose real name is only listed as REDACTED. If the player character romances him, you find out why: his real first name is Melvin, and he hates it, as it reminds him too much of his past as a theater club kid who read way too much Shakespeare.
  • Evil Gloating: If Hunter is a hostile rival, then in the climax, Hunter reveals that their Iris was the actual culprit behind Valkyrie's victory-by-cheating and the indirect attempted murder of Coda. Hunter then gloats about how they took advantage of the opportunity Polybiris gave them, and Hunter even mocks Seeker for not being smart enough to figure out Polybiris and Hunter's villainy sooner. Averted if Hunter is a friendly rival, as in that scenario, Polybiris was acting without Hunter's permission and was too powerful for Hunter to stop.
  • Fourth-Date Marriage: On Zapper's route, Zapper will propose marriage to the player character right before the final battle. Zapper does have a reason behind her sudden proposal: she had a friend named Claudette, a.k.a "Cloudy". Zapper was in love with Cloudy but never confessed her feelings, and Cloudy later died of cancer. Zapper gets serious with the player character more quickly because she doesn't want to make the same mistake she did with Cloudy.
  • Hacker Collective: The Ghost Monsters have become a group dedicated to hosting servers for Iris to exist in, so Iris isn't deleted by the government. Locksley is secretly a member of this group, and initially joined Good Clean Fun to stay close to Grace for Iris's sake, as Iris doesn't want anything to happen to Grace.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Hunter and Valkyrie, though it depends on whether Hunter is a friendly rival or a hostile rival, and on whether you use the Ultimate on Hunter or Valkyrie in the final battle:
    • If Hunter is a friendly rival and you use the Ultimate on them, they'll only be banned from esports for a year and they'll join Good Clean Fun in the epilogue, but Valkyrie will be banned for life and be reduced to selling tobasco sauce.
    • If Hunter is a friendly rival and you use the Ultimate on Valkyrie, both Hunter and Valkyrie will only be banned from esports for a year, Hunter will join Good Clean Fun in the epilogue, and Valkyrie will make a comeback by helping to write a new code of conduct to improve the gaming community.
    • If Hunter is a hostile rival and you use the Ultimate on them, they'll only be banned from esports for a year and will become a medical lab assistant in the epilogue, but Valkyrie will be banned for life and be reduced to selling tobasco sauce.
    • If Hunter is a hostile rival and you use the Ultimate on Valkyrie, Valkyrie will only be banned from esports for a year and will make a comeback by helping to write a new code of conduct to improve the gaming community, but Hunter will be banned from esports for life and be forced to do thousands of hours of community service for the crime of fraud, eventually vanishing after being unable to return to glory.
  • I Coulda Been a Contender!: On Rhapsody's route, you learn that Rhapsody has a history of teaching others to win competitions, but not being able to win themself, and they have conflicting emotions over this: they're legitimately proud that they're able to help others succeed, but can't help but feel a little jealous that they haven't been able to win themself.
  • Metalhead: Jynx, who unwinds by listening to her albums at full blast. Her idea of a perfect date is an Alice Cooper concert.
  • Non Standard Game Over: During a conversation with Iris in chapter 1, if you insist that you're a winner and always will be, and then say so again upon being prompted a second time, your character will leave Good Clean Fun and devote themself exclusively to winning at Fist of Discomfort 2, withdrawing from friends and family, and finally winning the championship trophy at the cost of losing everything else.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Almost all of the Good Clean Fun patrons go by their aliases. The only exception is Grace, who doesn't use an alias, so "Grace" is her real name. The other characters' real names are listed on their profiles on the official Arcade Spirits website (except Locksley, whose real name is only listed as REDACTED).
  • Pair the Spares: Grace and Jynx will start dating if the player doesn't romance anyone.
  • Parting-Words Regret: Inverted in one of the routes, as the regret is over what wasn't said: if the player character romances Zapper, Zapper reveals that she used to be friends with a sweet and gentle girl named Claudette, nicknamed "Cloudy". Zapper was in love with Cloudy, but was too afraid to say anything, and Cloudy later died of cancer. So, Zapper resolves to be more direct in her relationship with the player character, to avoid making the same mistake she did with Cloudy.
  • Polyamory: One possible romantic situation is for Jynx to invite the player to date both her and Grace.
  • Red Herring: A complicated example: Valkyrie, the coach of esports team Play-2-Win, apparently cheats in the charity battle by hacking the game, and apparently launches a cyberbullying campaign against Coda and tries to drive him to suicide by hacking his medical records to cancel his prescription. In the climax, we find out that Valkyrie is partially responsible for the cheating, as she knew about it but looked the other way so she could benefit, and her perfectionist tendencies were why the real culprit was desperate enough to turn to Polybius. However, Valkyrie isn't the one who actually carried out the cheating, and she also had nothing to do with the harassment of Coda. The real culprit is Hunter's Iris, who accepted Polybius's code to become Polybiris so she could help Hunter win by any means necessary.
  • The Rival: The player character (default name Seeker) has a rival (default name Hunter). The player can choose what type of rival Hunter is: they can either be a friendly rival or a hostile rival. This also changes the endgame slightly: if Hunter is a friendly rival, then they were Forced into Evil because their Iris became Polybiris and cheated on their behalf, and Polybiris was too powerful for Hunter to stop. But if Hunter is a hostile rival, while cheating was still Polybiris's idea, Hunter gleefully took advantage of the opportunity, becoming a Rival Turned Evil.
  • Second Love: On Zapper's route, the player character is this to Zapper, as Zapper used to be friends with a sweet and gentle girl named Claudette, a.k.a. "Cloudy". Zapper developed feelings for Cloudy but was too afraid to tell her, and Cloudy later died of cancer.
  • Shrinking Violet: Grace strongly dislikes confrontation, and it's a source of conflict for her, as she was too afraid of confrontation to stand up for Iris in the past (though she did leak Iris's code so Iris could survive on the Ghost Monsters' servers), and when she finally moves out of her rich family's house, she tries to just leave a note instead of talking to them. This shows up even when it comes to asking the player if they want to go out.
  • Sir Swears-a-Lot: Zapper curses frequently, and like Queen Bee before her, Zapper's swearing is rendered as Symbol Swearing.
  • Take That!: While discussing copyright laws, Locksley derisively mentions that copyright, in it's current form, only exists because "a certain mouse whose name dare not be invoked" pushed hard for legal changes, "to ensure infinite dominion over their valuable rodent".
  • There Are No Therapists: Averted on Domino's route. He finally agrees to go therapy, and as he reveals to Shadow Domino in the final battle if you pick the correct dialogue option, therapy is helping him.
  • Vacation Episode: Counterpart to the Beach Episode in the first game There's a chapter near the last third of the game where the group goes to an amusement park, and it's where the player gets their official Relationship Upgrade.