Gakuen Idolm@ster has Dropped

Everything that needs to be said about Gakuen Idolm@ster can be found on Twitter/X. There’s also this wonderful thin slice on the visual contents side from Sakugabooru–feeding us 9 proper music videos will do this. I personally enjoy the music, not only because “Hajime” is the most IM@S song I’ve heard since Starlit Season, but also because each of the 9 felt like some Asobinotes persons took each one and ran.

Between QualiArts lifting IDOLM@STER into the 2020s, that we are onboarding into an official Discord server, or that ultimately the game still isn’t available in another language besides Japanese, there’s a lot to be said of the game that is both a content delivery platform that Ps are familiar with, and idol-slay-the-spire strapped on top of a gacha game engine. The first banner and event already dropped, 1 week into launch. I spent a lot of Acen avoiding to play it, and a lot of Animazement playing it….which speaks more to which con is more laid back than the other and less about how compelling the game is.

I have not much else to say than, again, finally IM@S is a game that is new. It is so hard for Japan to create something new but still maintain what was great about the original, yet they are able to do it from time to time in spectacular fashion. I ate up the pre-launch promo like a child in a candy store, waking up early for each character reveal. The rivals, the Chokaigi streams, the daily video drops, it was a lot of fun. This doesn’t even mention the curve ball like Apple Music’s regular show. Or Chihaya.

So yes, the Famitsu in-depth interview confirms that the lead creatives are otaku influenced by works from the 00s, which explains why the vibe feels like the 00s. It answers many of the questions.

As for the game… it is a card game roguelike, in terms of getting the performances/practices. You raise the idol by using P items and building the deck, and gaining stats (ViVoDa) by achieving a certain number of points during audition or practice. There’s the full uma inheritance thing with 4 cards you can bring with you each produce trip, plus stats/bonuses from those previous runs. Support and P gacha cards add more special cards or items (persistent artifacts/items) plus other bonuses to stat/health to your game.

It’s also a lot of fun. I know some might want to have a more long-form roguelike experience (closer to STS) but I like this shorter format where you can really grind in small chunks. Each run takes about 30 minutes. The SSRs gate the songs for each idol in this game which is an unusual trick versus the previous games. The idol performance, as you roguelike your way each time, improves until you get to the True End.

Gakumas is all clicking and firing on all cylinders. Shiny Colors anime or Miriani may be for “existing” fans, but so is Gakumas in a way. It’s so fun to see how this game came into existence and to me it isn’t how different it is as an imas game, but how much it took from the past and made it its own that seems amazing to me.

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