Theater Days: Year Three

Theater Days launched June 28, 2017. I still remember having to deal with it on the flight to Anime Expo after it went live server-side and thinking about how much to kakkin in the early days. It would not be hard to guess that I will still be playing it 3 years later, at the time.

To reminisce a bit more, on June 28, 2019, I was in Japan, just finished with day one of ML6th Tour Fairy Station. Days later I would get to see the anniversary celebration in Akihabara, while I was en route to Anime Expo. Notable, mainly, because I had changed my flight to do it. This paints the backdrop for 2020, as the pandemic has wrecked a lot of it.

Going from the highs of having UNION@IR Special announced to this year’s general blank of (almost) 6 months since Kanshasai, we’re in the same place the rest of the world is in–a lot of uncertainty and adjustments. As a non-essential good/service, Million Live generally took a back seat to the real life crises the world face today, but at the same time it can be a salve to those hunkered down at home during this time.

I think this is a nice pivot opportunity for the franchise. One, it did the full month of live streaming leading up from the make-up nico nama (thanks Zoom) to the anniversary stream. That brought the fans together online and celebrated when the world didn’t give us much to celebrate. Personally I did the exact thing they did in the months leading up to June so it was a nice reliving the same thing, but once again with more experience.

With UNION@IR and the end of the MTGeneration phase of things, I thought it was good that the series didn’t take a break and swapped into the MTWave series. It chopped up the units to form new ones, although separating 765AS from the Million Stars. With Theater Challenge though, it was pretty sweet to see how Emily or the handful of 765AS might surprise guest in each other’s events.

Well, that was just wishful thinking. What really should have happened, as it were, was Million Live’s first outdoor live concert at FujiQ, complete with sunset UO songs, Glow Map, and fireworks when the stars came out. There we would have shed buckets of tears (assuming the weather held out) while they announce the TV anime project. Imagine all of that PLUS all the TC cameos? That would have been nuts.

Instead, none of that happened. At the most, we got to buy 3rd Anniversary goods from Gift, Amiami (btw one retail staff caught the rona recently), and Asobi. Yes, for about a week there were some stuff in Akiba Animate and Atre by the station, as things were. But it’s probably not a great idea to go there, in this kind of a situation. At least a month ago the coronavirus cases in Japan didn’t spike like it did recently as of this writing.

The Third Anniversary event came and went. Just a brief note on that–even though I wasn’t at Anime Expo as it was cancelled, I ended up being super busy running KuroCon. At least after it was over I had some time to grind up top 1000 for Matsuri, although what was hard is the forced nature of the rest-and-boost mechanism. I had a busy dayjob, so there were only so much of time outside of that 9-hour rest period in which I can play, and I had to also grind that boost once a day during the week after KuroCon. It was not the easiest thing, just because 9 hours is a tad too long. I certainly do not even (get to) sleep 8 hours a day, and before and after I sleep were my prime playing hours.

Bugs and repatriation aside, the Glow Map event went by uneventfully. Glow Map itself is sort of just OK, maybe not as cool as Flyers but also not as emotional as Union, so a happy middle. The outfit glowing was almost as impressive as how it was basically the menu background from the game. I mean, really? That is cool in a very dorky way–but not dork enough to be fashionable? Maybe? Not sure I dig the shoes but it was a focal point of the outfit.

The QOL changes from the game as of the 3rd Anniversary was mostly in the new outfits that you can now unlock via getting the 3rd Anniversary SR to four-stars. It now require you get points to awaken the cards, most of it coming from playing lives and unlocking missions that give points. Some of the biggest sources are Full Combos, and number of Million Lives.

Believe it or not that is a real game changer. Fundamentally, people like myself play Million Live Theater Days for content. And I think it’s not just me–a lot of people do this over trying to rank highly or get a high score. It’s not that kind of a rhythm game. Content, as I mean it, comes in the form of lives and commu–so songs, performances, stages, special characters, and outfits. Anniversary SRs give new outfits (and free gems–which gives outfits and characters and commu). So now there is a reason to get Million Lives and FC, beyond FCing each song once and forever. Because, let’s be honest, most achievements in Theater Days are next to worthless.

Also, the game now introduces the B-side type event, which revives MTG B-side tracks as new event songs, using existing MTG units. As of this writing the BORN ON DREAM event is going on, and so far it is both a good move to open up more content (Another outfits for the full team) but also a definite minus as it replaces rebooting a pre-Theater Days unit into Theater Days. In essence no new unit is introduced unlike every event up until now (save for the Anniversary ones I guess). We got a fun minigame, even if it doesn’t really keep your attention for long. Having a booster deck like the Twin Stage event seems gimmicky, since it took no effort for me to hit that 20% bonus. The bonus commu lines are bare-bones, but at least it’s good if you are a fan of the unit.

Since none of the MTG units really wowed me, I’m not too sure how to feel about this new event type, or having to deal with another 11 more units. It’s hard for me to not see this as a way to “ramp down” the content in the game so more stuff can be regurgitated. That in itself is not a huge problem, and I don’t have an issue with that per se–maybe after all the pre-Theater Days content is in game, I’ll be happier about this.

The more important thing has to do with a slew of other changes introduced in the 3rd Anniversary updates. One is the Birthday Live gacha. Not that you can pay 2500 paid gems for some next-to-worthless bragging rights, but you can gacha for all the SSRs for that idol up for the first 2 years. That is turning out to be a great bargain, even if it isn’t a guarantee, due to the high rate and the small pool. There are other small tweaks, like the booster deck in the b-side events, that rewards some players over another, and in ways that’s not exactly predictable. You can see why they did these things, both as balance and as a way to get new producers caught up, to lower the barrier a little. For a price.

Will it work? I don’t know. I’m not sure if I like these changes, but in the big scheme of things it is not a big deal. Just like how eventually all the LTH, LTP, LTA, and LTF events will have their week in the game, well before the heat death of the universe.

It just feels a little weird for folks who have invested $$$$$ into the game during earlier days, or into pre-Theater Days content. I mean, sure, do what you want… What I want, really, is more content: songs, dances, outfits, subunits, everything. And switching it up, not doing the same thing again. And blow it up. All the things that made Chupacabra great, and maybe not the things that makes Chupacabra divisive.

PS. Major feelios when 765AS live goods on sale included unit goods for Arcana and Xs. Man that would be flight worthy to see Rabbit Fur lmao.

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