Since Bamco decided to localize the three iDOLM@STER Shiny Festa games for the iOS (and especially make it look nice on the iPad), I’ve been enthralled with them yet again. Well, specifically, I finally got to play all three this time, thanks to a friend whose favorite is Chihaya, which rounds out the one game that I don’t own in some form. If it wasn’t clear, I own “Rhythmic Record” on the iOS (that’s the team lolicon version) and “Groovy Tunes” on the PSP (that’s the one everyone buys, ie., Makoto, Miki, Yukiho & Takane).
In some ways if you are familiar with iM@S, there are no surprises here. It’s the same smooth cool-aid that I’ve been drinking since almost 2 years ago. The games offer new songs, old songs, popular songs, character songs, meaningful songs, and some duds. I still don’t think much of the music in the game, but seeing the girls dance to the rhythm is a fun thing. Turning the experience into a video game, though, is something else entirely.
It’s exactly what you don’t get when you go to an idol concert. Maybe this is where wotagei can transform these group-participatory experiences into game-like situations. It’s as if someone turned the ritual of Mass into achievements and on-beat motions, or pulling off a PPPH with the preacher gets you bonuses? I’m not sure how to feel about that exaggeration that I just made. But it’s not far off the mark.
Which is to say, Shiny Festa is still a set of video games. It’s fun, because of the songs, of the dancing, of the core game design decisions, because it’s well-polished, it looks nice on an iPad, and it’s got our oshimen in it.
And lots of jokes. Jokes are the studs and buttons and the stitches of iDOLM@STER fandom. The entire franchise is a series of corny jokes, interspersed with showsmanship, gameplay, and spending of money. And I’m barely exaggerating.
You know, AmiMami up there reminded me of these girls just for a split moment. What does TBC mean? How is ecology a hobby? Wait, what are HOOBIES?
Naturally, the Animal Tamer is right. Because idoling is not a competition where you win by making up the best name for a pet.
At this point you’re just like, OKAY! Haruna’s unbelievably campy catch line feels absolutely normal in comparison.
Even Akizuki Ryo feels awfully welcomed, despite his issues.
Not so welcomed are members of Jupiter, who wear SSS ranks (765Pro girls are just SS ranked). I guess there are few prettier final bosses.
Anyway, I can keep going. I’m only about half way through all the card capturing (on Rhythmic Record) so I’m sure more outrageous opponents will still appear (aside from the 765Pro/876Pro regulars and Jupiter).
Maybe this is a better measure of my current progress:
Ready is probably the easiest of the Master songs, so I have a long distance to go yet. I mean srsly, Kazahana wth.
The game aside, there’s a weird dissonance. I think iM@S is basically the spiritual successor of the 00-era Sakura Taisen franchise. In a lot of ways it deserves all the hype and fanfare of such a thing being localized. The only problem is that Sakura Taisen landed ashore in the form of the corpse of its former, glorious self, with a thud, as the franchise cycles through the later phases of a dying star. THE iDOLM@STER, however, is glowing at its brightest yet. How many game franchise takes 8 years to get this big? ZUN’s Touhou? Halo? LOL. This is something entirely different than Sega’s bishoujo star franchise. But this localization effort has the same making as Sakura Wars for Wii/PS2. Well, even less than that. On the bright side it’s on a system where people have access to via the widely popular iOS platform (there are way the hell more iOS 5+ devices out there than the Wii and PS2 combined). On the down side, the time is not ripe for real console games on iOS. And the marketing feels at least kind of corpse-y, if not outright petrified.
Having the game in English also somehow makes it hook harder. I spent quality time with Groovy Tune last autumn, but because it’s PSP and it’s an import, I just didn’t get as much traction with the game and ended up playing stage mode a lot more than I do now. I think in less time, I’ve spent more time playing the iOS version of Funky Note in English than I did on the PSP, so that says something. Part of that is obviously the improved graphics and higher definition video, part of that is how Shiny Festa has been ported to the iPad Mini nearly flawlessly, Hoobies (and other typographical issues) aside. Most of it is thanks to the localization. I can’t speak for iPhone or iPad users though, in terms of the visuals and gameplay elements. When I played it on a 3rd gen iPad, the tablet felt too heavy to play for prolonged period of time if I were to hold it up. Playing it on a flat surface or on the lap is not a comfortable position, and tapping too hard can move the tablet around if I wasn’t holding it. I assume on the iPhone 5 the experience would be similar to the Mini, plus the game isn’t meant for a 4:3 screen to begin with.
Lastly, we’re working on a review for Jtor, that will somehow cover all three games. Too bad it’s more a general-audience review and not something that goes into the nitty gritty, but please read it when it comes out. That said, where are all the reviews for this game? If someone’s seen a serious review of the English-language Shiny Festa iOS games, please do link. It seems that nobody got review copies and none of the mobile game sites even dared to touch it with a 10′ pole. Meanwhile, wait warmly for ours while you read this rant (and has links to a bunch of reactions). It makes me want to write about piracy, again.