November 30, 2011

Game review: Idolm@ster 2

Made by: Namco Bandai
Genre: Rhythm game, Raising sim
Summary: You arrive at Studio 765 where you will be working as a producer from now on. Your job is to raise a unit consisting out of 3 idols and help them become number one on the music chart.
I'm a big fan of music games (project diva, taiko, DDR etc) so when they announced Idolmaster for PS3 I knew I just had to have it

Idolmaster gives you 55 weeks to get your unit to the top. You'll be doing things like dance lessons, commercials, shopping new outfits and competing against rivals. Even though a unit exist out of 3 girls, you only go the route of the leader in the group. There is 4 endings for each girl, and a lot of achievement to unlock. 

Characters (Left to right)
Makoto
 
Tomboy with a deep but beautiful voice. Her best attribute is dance and she is known to have a large amount of fangirls who loves her somewhat androgynous look.

Miki
Carefree girl who simply just loves to sing and dance. She doesn't care about how much skin she shows or what she wears because "Miki is still Miki no matter what".

Takane
Ojou-sama from a far away country. Her beautiful silver hair and smooth voice have caused rumors saying she actually comes from the moon (?). The twins calls her "Kaguya-hime" which is a nickname from the old Japanese story about the princess from the moon.

Yayoi
Full of energy and always cheerful, Yayoi tries her best at everything. All the other girls are impressed by her commitment and her ability to make everything around her a little bit happier.

Hibiki (left, second row)
Hibiki loves animals and got all kind of different types at home. Her favourite types of song are often upbeat ones and she gets along well with Makoto and Yayoi.

Yukiho
Afraid of dogs, men and many other things, Yukiho became an idol to overcome her fears. She gets nervous a lot and cries easily.

Haruka
Friendly girl who gets along with everyone. Haruka wanted to be a star since she was young and is a very optimistic and outgoing person.

Chihaya
 Often quiet and not very approachable, Chihaya got a heavy background, her only wish in life is to sing. The one member she can talk to is Haruka and Chihaya tries to become more open like her.

Mami
Got a twin sister named Ami. Mami & Ami are cheerful, teasing types who loves to play tricks and call the other girls funny nicknames. Mami and Ami was separated when Ami joined Ryuugu komachi, making Mami realize she wants to follow her dream of becoming an idol as well.

Gameplay
You and your unit is aiming to win the Idol Academy award that takes place at the end of the game. To win the awards you must gather fans all over Japan, compete against the new famous boy band Jupiter and also your former idol colleges.

A regular day consist of four events: Morning greetings, daily schedule, evening goodbye+ music chart check. You'll be producing one song at a time with 5 weeks to do promotions and commercials until the release.

Idolmaster gives you three different choices of answer, just like in any visual novel. This also shapes your relationship with your girl and the unit you produce. The game is known for the dynamic relationship indicator which changes almost every day.

And geez, let me tell you this, producing a unit isn't an easy task. One day one of my girls were jealous of the leader, which resulted in the leader getting angry at the other member. The third person were standing beside them on the verge of tears and said she hated all the tension between them. The next day the two who were fighting had made up, but the third girl was still depressed and refused to do any work.  The above is just an example of all the things that can happen between your unit. You have to share the work between them properly, make sure you not give the leader more spotlight and try to do the events they tell you they want to do.
The daily schedule is free for you to decide over. There will be certain events you can't refuse and you'll eventually learn to plan your time around them.

Publicity/Promotions
Raises your fan awareness and how many fans you have in the area. Publicity/Promotions are short visual novel scenes with choices to make. Depending on what girl you chose, what choices you make and what type of event it is, the outcome will be different.

Live
The goal when doing a live is to make your audience happy. A status indicator shows the crowd reactions and you need to get the score up to a certain number. It usually starts on a negative number (-0.2) and the requirements to success the live is to make it above 4.5. Doing a live raises your fanbase a lot, but often costs to participate.

Festivals
This time it's a battle between you and another idolgroup! The group with the highest score at the end of the song wins. Festivals are great for making more fans, but you won't be paid for doing it.

Auditions
It's recommended to do a audition when releasing a new song. Just like a real audition, you dance in front of a group of judges, trying to impress the director. The goal is to raise your rank (just like when doing a Live) except this time the prize is to sing your new song on TV. There will also be chances to do an audition to sing on a nationwide TV program, which raises your fan amount greatly.

So how do you play it then? Below is a gameplay screenshot from a festival, but the gameplay is the same to both Live and Audition.

1. Your score
 Based on your timing, value of button and voltmeter, the score gets higher with every buttonpress.

2. Voltage and Appeals
While playing, your voltage bar will slowly fill up. When it's 100% you can do a burst appeal. A burst appeal is when the girl whose name is listed left (you can change between the members) takes place in the spotlight, earning you more points compared to usual.You start out with only one appeal, but gets more as you spend time with your unit.

3. Dance, Visual and Vocal button
When you pick your members, it's very important to think about the stats. It's recommended to do a group who all focus on one of the following appeals. For example: Pick 3 girls who all have high dance stat, when you later play you'll notice the dance button is worth much more points compared to the other ones. When choosing an outfit and amulet, this is also very important to think of.

When pressing a button, the value will go down and the button next to it will instead rise. You can chose either to focus on just one button, or switch when the first one no longer is worth any points.
Some of the songs in Idolmaster are very fast and if your not used to a rhythm game, I can imagine it being very hard to keep up the pace. Luckily there are also a couple of slow songs which doesn't require much button pressing and will be much easier.
 
4. Rival's score
As I mentioned above, the screenshot is from a festival. When doing an audition and live, the score is replaced by the crowd reactions. Note that the rival also got a voltage bar and have hidden appeal hearts, how many is unkown. Be careful using your own, because your rival might have been saving theirs for a sneak attack.
Idolmaster have ofcourse other modes than just the story one. You can anytime dress up any character (up to 6 of them) and make them sing any of the songs in the game. This time you don't have to worry about button pressing or stats. Just enjoy the dancing or take some photos at the same time. You can also save the full dance if you want to keep it a memory or liked the girls sining together.

Final Score:
Story ?/10
I've only finished 4 girls so far, but the stories in them have been very up and down. They all have a main storyline abou the new rival group Jupiter, but the thing you notice most when finishing the true/good end is character development. Sure, it might not be a lot, but all the characters grow during the game and all become a little more adult.

Music 8/10
 I'm not one of those hardcore Idolmaster fans since years back, but I do love the music. Many of the songs are from the first game and since it's a re-relase from the 360 version, some selected DLC were added to. I'm not usually the type who buy DLC after finishing a game, but if they release any good songs, I'll be tempted to buy it.

Art ?/10
Another hard topic to judge. Compared to the 360 version, the textures are much more sharp and the colors looks gorgeous in HD. The dance animations are super b and I never noticed any drop in framerate at all. So thumbs up!

Voices 9/10 
It's hard to dislike any character in Idolmaster. Sure, there are a few girls I care a little less for, but one thing is for sure, they all got great voices. Chihaya, voiced by Asami Imai, is easily the best singer in the bunch. Mayako Nigo pulls of the cutest songs with the most hyper pitch I've ever heard and Yumi Hara, voice to Takane, sings beautiful ballads with a smooth and gentle voice.

Total: 7/10
I really love rhythm and music games and I'm not even close to unlocking everything in Idolmaster. So far it's been a very fun, sometimes stressful, but also very addicting game. The anime is still ongoing, so if your interested but don't want to buy the game, I recommend checking it out instead. Well, I'm off to make some superstars
(ノ ̄ω ̄)ノ

3 comments:

visualnovelaer said...

wow I totally dismissed this game as a lamey otaku-bait merchandising machine but there's actually quite a lot of interesting gameplay to it!

Yumii said...

@Visualnovelaer
Yeah I had my doubts too when I first ordered it. The game is actually pretty hard and very stressful (or maybe it's just me feeling the pressure) and it's known for being almost impossible to get a good ending on the first try. It's still very fun though!

Rita said...

MAKOTO-CHAN~!

I'll be absolutely honest, it was NOT what I was expecting XD I haven't played the first one either, but it's surprisingly a fun game...??? XD; Well I'm glad for that though.

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