idolmaster

Review: The IDOLM@STER Cindrella Girls Season 1

Jul 12 // Jeff Chuang
The Idolm@ster Cinderella Girls Season 1 Studio: A-1 Pictures Format: Streaming via Daisuki/YouTube Release Date: January 10, 2015 The idea behind Cinderella Girls as the next iteration of the franchise is that by opening the gates with a large swath and wide variety of characters, each player (or viewer in the anime's case) will invariably find somebody they like. It works for AKB48, so why wouldn't it work for anything else? I guess the question sits at the center of the Cinderella Girls experience. But that's in reference to the whole of Cinderella Girls, which, beyond the anime, holds itself as one of the pioneering and successful mobile games in Japan. It's not too different than, say, how thanks to the Rage of Bahamut mobile games, we got an sword-buckling adventure anime to go with. Where these two franchises diverge is the way how Cinderella Girls is just one head of a multi-headed hydra that makes up the IDOLM@STER franchise. Beyond the anime and the mobile game, we're talking about a mix of media, besides obviously the anime on home video. It includes also live events, radio shows, and the sub-unit CDs that the anime sells in an almost-direct way. When you watch each episode of the anime as an invested fan, there's a lot more to it than sitting back and enjoying the story. Of course, like any other type of fans, everyone gets on social media and chat about the latest episode as soon as possible (and thanks to Daisuki's prompt simulcast even I can do that to a degree). Easter eggs and other nods to the rest of the IM@S franchise often are the biggest cues for discussion among fans. What's more, new announcements and reveals relevant to the entire franchises sometimes happens within the latest episode of the anime. To take the last episode in the first half as an example, do you know Triad Primus? Just that scene between Nao and Karen sent some into frenzy, only because it's one of the more popular sub-groups within the game that was quietly done away with after New Generations was initially announced from the first Cinderella Girls anime promo. That's not even include more obvious ties like the weekly bonus audio drama in-game, or the freebie SR cards and other loot that go live in the proper Cinderella Girls game right after you finish watching the week's episode. The Japanese broadcast even reinforces its full-force consumer message through its self-sponsored commercials in the CM breaks of its own anime. That's a view from deep inside the rabbit hole. I think most of us out west don't care for it, at least at first. A lot of us out likely found out about the IDOLM@STER franchise first via the 2011 TV series, curio news reported from oversea fan being silly, or various MAD videos featuring IM@S. The line of games had been in the purview of hardcore importers, or people willing to think differently about iOS apps by paying the asking price on Shiny Festa. There may be an underground group of English-speaking, mobile game types that cling to the three major IM@S social games, but nowhere is that visible above the surface of the world wide web, so to speak. You had to dig down to find these Producers. When Bandai-Namco focused its mainline 765Pro IM@S products and events to point to and collaborate with the two social game platforms, some fans worried--the original characters (and their voice actresses) are not getting any younger--will this bring about a drastic change to the franchise? At the same time many Producers are simply getting familiar and are welcoming the Cinderella Girls. Under that context, our 346 Production idols are in a battle of their lives to find longer-term acceptance within this multi-head hydra of a family that is the IDOLM@STER. That road is not particularly complicated, thankfully. In the context of the Cinderella Girls anime, well, it's idol anime, where the audience come to enjoy cute girls singing catchy songs while doing cool dances. We also see at times how these girls fail and then overcome various obstacles, personal or otherwise. I think that really sums up the core idol anime experience. Of course, your mileage may vary, but everyone seems to have the best time together when the experience come together, each part of the idol concept firing on all cylinders. In the shadow of these daunting questions, I can safely say that is exactly the IDOLM@STER Cinderella Girls that we got. But for those of us who are watching the show for what it is--A-1's animation featuring a new brand of animated idol--does it deliver? Will the extra baggage get in the way? It's the most important question, and one that I am now ill-suited to answer. One of IDOLM@STER's trademark themes has to do with people struggling emotionally that come together to face their mutual challenges. The performers and their producer have to come to term with their differences and opposing views to achieve their shared goals. Several times in the story so far, the problem in a particular plot arc may lie in the way how the Producer character fails to communicate with his charges, and vice versa. A lot of the times conflict arise because people have mistaken expectations or out of inexperience, and we see it across the board. In that sense, Cinderella Girls is an admirable vehicle to express these struggles. It's about overcoming them with uplifted feelings, and not so much ticket or CD sales. At the same time, given its progress at the half-way point, it is pretty difficult for Cinderella Girls to achieve even just a fraction of these objectives.  There are just too many characters, too many in-jokes, and too many thematic and story checkpoints that the narrative has to play things very directly. Mio's breakdown in mid-season, for example, became somewhat of a point of confusion because the story didn't take time to explain her mentality clearly. The way Dekorations got separated or how the producer was unable to explain himself to the cops is yet another. I guess these contrivances are not deal breakers, but discerning viewers might argue it adds to the pile of small problems that degrades the experience. The animation too, had its up and downs. At times Cinderella Girls anime looks sublime, such as the pilot episode. Sometimes, however, it looks rushed. The mid-point recap, as adorable as it was, is not exactly the best thing. (Producer's CV, Takeuchi, is only 17 years old! His natural voice is deeper than the Producer's voice.) I think to be fair, Cinderella Girls is a competently put-together production, but there were some seams showing throughout the series that might rub against the more picky viewers. When it comes to where rubber meets the road, so to speak, the dance and new musical numbers from Cinderella Girls are pleasing, perhaps even very exciting. Moreover, the series avoids a monster-of-the-week issue with enough unpredictability thrown in there. The girls are cute, and if one of them appeals to you, congratulations. What does it leave those of us who aren't warming up to any of them? I'm guessing the second half of the Cinderella Girls anime experience will continue to focus on some of these characters while introducing more. One of my pre-anime favorite, Anzu, played the role of a wise-cracker. Rin, Cinderella Girls's iconic cool beauty, didn't get very far besides the initial induction into the 346 fold. But at the same time, I'm not sure if that's enough of a carrot on the stick to keep those of us who are not into idols for idols's sake going forward. Maybe that's okay. For those of us ever become curious as to what IDOLM@STER Cinderella Girls has to offer, the anime is a splendid gateway to become a patron of IM@S's multi-faceted castle of a franchise. Just be aware that not only there's a deep rabbit hole beyond it, there are also a bunch of pitiful creatures living off of said animation like yours truly, clinging on to every word and visual symbol. [This review is based on a streaming copy viewed by the reviewer.]
Idolm@ter CG Review photo
And it didn't even cover half the idols
What happens when you take one of the longest running media-mixed franchise about idols and give it new life? What happens when you take a mobile game money mill and try to develop its CCG-style characters? What is an idol? T...

Im@s Cinderella Girls photo
Im@s Cinderella Girls

Idolmaster Cinderella Girls begs for your love and fandom


Fairy Producer
Nov 30
// Josh Tolentino
Given that The Idolm@ster was my favorite anime of its year, I feel almost obligated to find something to like about this new adaptation of Idolm@ster Cinderella Girls, the mobile game spinoff I gave approximately zero ...
IM@S CG photo
IM@S CG

Idolm@ster Cinderella Girls anime trailer sure is pretty


Flowers, flowers everywhere
Sep 22
// Jeff Chuang
The era of warring idols continue with The Idolm@ster Cinderella Girls turning into an anime next year. Above is the first real trailer for the TV series with a massively profitable, idol-raising mobile game behind it. It also looks gorgeous.

Happy Birthday, Makoto Kikuchi!

Aug 29 // Jeff Chuang
[embed]32988:4118:0[/embed] [embed]32988:4119:0[/embed] [embed]32988:4120:0[/embed] [embed]32988:4121:0[/embed] [embed]32988:4122:0[/embed] [embed]32988:4123:0[/embed] [embed]32988:4124:0[/embed] [embed]32988:4125:0[/embed] [embed]32988:4126:0[/embed] [embed]32988:4127:0[/embed] [embed]32988:4128:0[/embed] [embed]32988:4129:0[/embed] [embed]32988:4130:0[/embed] [embed]32988:4131:0[/embed] [embed]32988:4132:0[/embed] [embed]32988:4133:0[/embed] [embed]32988:4134:0[/embed] [embed]32988:4135:0[/embed] [embed]32988:4136:0[/embed] [embed]32988:4137:0[/embed] [embed]32988:4138:0[/embed] [embed]32988:4139:0[/embed] [embed]32988:4140:0[/embed] [embed]32988:4141:0[/embed] [embed]32988:4142:0[/embed] [embed]32988:4143:0[/embed] [embed]32988:4144:0[/embed] [embed]32988:4145:0[/embed] Still not enough? Tons on Pixiv under her tag! You'll do well to start with this one.
Makoto Birthday photo
Makorin is the best
Makoto Kikuchi, from The Idolm@ster series, celebrates her birthday on August 29th. It'll be her ninth annual celebration this year as the maturing arcade-turned-multimedia franchise kicked off its 9th year via a full length ...

IM@S toys photo
IM@S toys

So some guy has 13 Idolm@ster character standees


And I managed to get one too.
Aug 03
// Jeff Chuang
So over the past couple weeks, the internet is circulating all kinds of pictures of fans posing (or not posing) with their latest purchase. Big deal, right? It's only notable because standees are really cool, and they're rare...
IM@S OFA photo
IM@S OFA

IDOLM@STER One for All to feature new character Leon


Perhaps first of several?
May 07
// Jeff Chuang
Ramping up to the launch of the next mainline IDOLM@STER game, One For All, Famitsu is reporting not only that a new idol will appear as a rival in the new PS3 game, but also some initial details. First off, she goes by the s...
Tekken <3 IM@S photo
Tekken <3 IM@S

Tekken meets IDOLM@STER: Tekken's Harada tells his Iori Minase obsession, dark history


Happy Birthday Iori Minase...?
May 05
// Jeff Chuang
The project lead for the Tekken franchise at Bandai-Namco, Katsuhiro Harada, is an ebullient guy, and he'll swat down nonsense on twitter like the best of them--in both Japanese and English no less. What's somewhat less known...
Video Games photo
Video Games

The Idolm@ster: One For All to feature DLC Cinderella Girls and Million Live idols


These new girls are totally ready to lady
Apr 18
// Elliot Gay
To be quite honest, I wasn't expecting a whole lot from Bandai Namco's The Idolm@ster: One For All. The fact that it's not a numbered game made me suspicious that it'd be a throwaway entry in the series. That may still be the...
IM@S VR photo
IM@S VR

Sony's HMZ-T3 lets you visit 765Pro office, say hello to IM@S girls


This generation's head-tracking tech demo is a prelude to Project Morpheus
Mar 28
// Jeff Chuang
The video above is not Project Morpheus, Sony's newly announced VR initiative at this year's Game Developers Conference. This is existing tech using the head-mounted display that Sony released in 2013, plus a new head-tracki...
IM@S Ads photo
IM@S Ads

Twitter remixes copywriting with IM@S, surprisingly effective


These 2D idols sure do just as good of a job as 3D ones
Mar 13
// Jeff Chuang
It's been an exciting 6 weeks for the Producers of Japan. The Idolm@ster movie and concerts a few weeks ago brought upon Japan a wave of marketing and promotion. For people following the series, like me, it is a tad eye-openi...
IM@S ML photo
IM@S ML

IM@S Million Live gets original anime promo clip


Meet Mirai Kasuga in this anniversary event
Mar 10
// Jeff Chuang
The Idolm@ster Million Live is an online idol "card" game developed by Gree for mobile devices. It's currently only open for Japanese accounts, but it has reached its first anniversary this past weekend. Naturally for these ...
Video Games photo
Video Games

Rejoice?! The Idolm@ster SideM officially announced


For Mobage of course
Feb 23
// Elliot Gay
It was only a matter of time before Bandai Namco realized there was a whole demographic in the mobile space they could be reaching out too. The Idolm@ster SideM has been announced for the Mobage platform here in Japan. Much ...
Idolmaster photo
Idolmaster

Hot new trailer for The Idolmaster: One for All


The second trailer for Bandai Namco's upcoming Idol sim
Feb 22
// Tim Sheehy
Here's the latest trailer for the latest entry in Bandai Namco's popular rhythm franchise and idol-management simulator, The Idolmaster: One for All. Like previous entries, Japanese gamers will have the opportunity to m...
Video Games photo
Video Games

Are you lady?! New Idolmaster: All For One details


Changing the world one song at a time
Feb 21
// Elliot Gay
I'm a secret Idolmaster fan. Ok, maybe it's not so secret since I'm publishing that fact on the internet, but oh well. The reality is that I'm pretty excited for the new PS3 game, The Idolmaster: All For One. Players wil...
IM@S Movie photo
IM@S Movie

Latest IM@S Movie commercial is top sakuga


Idols and camera tango on the silver screen
Feb 03
// Jeff Chuang
What makes an idol anime compelling? Is it the story of these lonely girls who find themselves at peace with their careers? Is it the story of the average girl transforming into the extraordinary performer? Maybe it's just s...
IM@S Movie photo
IM@S Movie

The Idolm@ster Movie opened to 150M yen, 39 theaters


Tops Nanoha A's 2nd, Madoka Beginnings
Jan 27
// Jeff Chuang
The IDOLM@STER Movie grossed over 149 million yen (1.46M USD) over its opening weekend, screening in 39 theaters and sold 81,262 tickets. It sets the bar for late-night anime-turn-movie for 2014, hot on the heels of a few oth...
Idolm@ster photo
Idolm@ster

The Idolm@ster: One For All dated and listed, with LE


Is your wallet L@dy?
Dec 19
// Jeff Chuang
As revealed by this week's Famitsu and confirmed by Namco-Bandai, the next major installment of The Idolm@ster, One For All, will be out in Japan on May 15. This release will be both digital and physical, and as usual there w...
iM@S photo
iM@S

iM@S Cinderella Girls get animated music video


Some idols to go with your turkey
Nov 28
// Jeff Chuang
The free-to-play social card game spinoff The IDOLM@STER Cinderella Girls is now two years old. To celebrate, an animated music video is made for its theme song, "Onegai! Cinderella." I also just cannot get enough of Rin's e...
The Idolm@ster photo
The Idolm@ster

New The Idolm@ster: One For All screenshots emerge


Go my way with that shiny smile
Nov 08
// Elliot Gay
Bandai Namco's upcoming PS3 idol producing simulator, The Idolm@ster: One For All, is the first main new entry in the series since the second game on the PS3 and 360. As such, it's not too surprising that the folks over there...
iM@S news photo
iM@S news

iM@S: New movie and All for One videos


News from Akabane Secret Live
Nov 02
// Jeff Chuang
New Idolm@ster info! Namco-Bandai Japan has released a new video trailer for the upcoming iM@S movie and the first video for the upcoming PS3 game, All for One. Great news for Million Live fans! Seven of them will join ...
iM@S photo
iM@S

New Idolm@ster PS3 game produces all 13 girls (updated)


One for All, all for your money
Oct 28
// Jeff Chuang
After the launch of iM@S Channel with the PSN download games Shiny TV and G4U!, Namco Bandai has teased two new additional games or features via the "???" prompts in the main menu of iM@S Channel PS3 app. This could very well...
God Eater 2 photo
God Eater 2

God Eater 2 and The Idolmaster collide for DLC action


And not a single person was surprised
Oct 01
// Elliot Gay
Namco Bandai is teaming up with Lawson convenience stores and HMV to bring preorder The Idolmaster Million Live! DLC to their upcoming PSP/Vita game, God Eater 2.  That's right! Now you too can dress fan favorite Alisa l...
Idolm@ster Movie photo
Idolm@ster Movie

Idolm@ster Movie date announced


Get ready to sing and dance!
Aug 05
// Josh Totman
Over the weekend, at the Yokohama Pacifico leg of The Idolm@ster 8th Anniversary Hop! Step!! Festiv@l!!!, producer Yozo Sakagami announced that the Idolm@ster movie will be in Japanese theaters January 2014. See blurry p...

Review: The Idolmaster Shiny Festa

Jul 24 // Josh Tolentino
The iDOLM@STER SHINY FESTA: Melodic Disc/Harmonic Score/Rhythmic Record (PSP, iOS [reviewed])Developer: Namco BandaiPublisher: Namco BandaiReleased: April 22, 2013 (NA)MSRP: $54.99 each**As of press time the game is at a promotional price of $26.99 each Josh Tolentino To kick this combination review/discussion off, let's tackle the big question: Is Shiny Festa worth the nearly $55 asking price? And that's just for one version out of three. We bought our copies at personal expense, so that's technically a "yes" in our case, but what's the rationale, both for us, and for the "average" gamer, who's had virtually no exposure to Idolm@ster? What is Shiny Festa, and does it merit the kind of green that might be laid out for a Call of Duty or Assassin's Creed? [embed]28602:2656:0[/embed] Jeff Chuang I'm probably the worst person to answer that question. Nothing happens in a vacuum. It's not like someone put a gun to my head, but after following Idolm@ster for a couple years now, and that this is a legit, English-language localization of a franchise that probably will still never get the full light of day in English-speaking countries, it is a miracle. Unfortunately it is also a miracle fueled by money, and as an import gamer that is something I've already accepted. I really have no idea how someone who is entirely unfamiliar with Idolm@ster at all would even want to play this game, let alone paying for it, if they didn't already know what it is. And maybe that's just the thing, triple-A joints have triple-A marketing, Shiny Festa has just us poor Producers. Even if the game is great, I'm not sure it will make any sort of impression outside the established fan base.  What I want to know is, what made you choose the Harmonic Score edition of Shiny Festa? What...or who is so special about that version? Josh: I'm in something of the same boat regarding motivation. Doing the math, importing the original PSP version from Japan at retail prices would cost me more. And I don't hate iOS, so this is basically the cheapest way for me to get the game, short of me asking a local to buy the game at a secondhand store and mailing it slow, and in that case it still wouldn't be localized. So yes, a miracle indeed. In the end I picked Melodic Disc, which was Groovy Tune, which is the one with Miki Hoshii, Makoto Kikuchi, Takane Shijou and Yukiho Hagiwara. Of the thirteen idols in the core cast, those are the ones I care about (except Yukiho), so that's the version I picked. I'm lucky, actually, since the characters I like are all in just one version, so whoever's in charge of the roster is on the right wavelength. For me. Sorry to people who like, say, just Miki, Chihaya, and the Futami twins or some other wallet-destroying combo.  That said, since the game has a selection of full-group songs that don't just feature my core four, so the character models are in there. I imagine that UMD storage and the like motivated the three-way split on the PSP, but iOS has no theoretical size limit (beyond the device itself), so having the same split active for this port, with all still at full price, feels a bit sleazy. I suppose Namco couldn't be bothered to rejigger the game that much, but again, that price. Even for a fan it stings, you know? Elliot Gay I'm the unique position of living in Japan, therefore I'm used to paying upwards of 7,000 yen ($75.00) for some new releases. Media here is expensive, and even digital copies of games aren't even close to being as cheap as their western counterparts. Indeed, these iOS versions of the Shiny Festa games are actually about the same price as it'd cost me to grab physical copies. That being said, I no longer own a PSP, so downloading games for the Vita is my only option, meaning that the idea of paying full price for an iOS game isn't all that scary to me. I do get that Namco isn't exactly aiming to expand the brand out west, so much as they're testing the waters to get an idea of how far the western fanbase is willing to go. I think somewhere in the $30-40 range would have made more sense, but as both of you said, the iM@S fanbase is one that is likely used to the high cost of importing. That doesn't make the situation any less unfortunate, but I suppose it does add some perspective to things. As for the games themselves? I picked Harmonic Score, featuring Haruki Amami, Chihaya Kisaragi, Azusa Miura, and Ritsuko Akizuki. I thought the track list would be significantly more focused on these four idols, but I too was surprised to find that there are plenty of songs featuring the entire cast. I would suggest folks grab the version that has your favorite characters though, considering the story mode focuses entirely on them.  How are you guys feeling about the game itself? I'm actually really pleased with the mechanics and the song list. The touch controls feel natural, and I've yet to encounter any substantial slow down on my iPhone 4s. I also checked out the "DLC Store" expecting the worst, but all the songs there are free. I'm assuming these were tracks included in the original PSP releases, but taken out of the base game to save space? Josh: As far as I can tell, the iOS version unpacks to a hefty 2.6GB on my iPad 2, which is larger than a UMD can store. Without the actual PSP version to compare I can't tell how much or how little was left out, but I'd like to believe that the songs on there are DLC that's just been made free as opposed to space-based cuts. Personally I figure all three games could have been consolidated into a single app without a substantial increase in size, but I'm no iOS developer, so that's just speculation on my part.  Indeed, the "sweet spot" pricing point - that still ignores App Store psychology, mind - would have been about $40, or about the same as DJMAX Technica Tune on the PS Vita. In fact, DJMAX is an interesting point of comparison for me, as well. Some discussion surrounding that game already balked at the idea of paying $40 for a game on a dedicated gaming handheld, one that offers roughly three times the songs and slightly less fluff (no story mode or real-time dance graphics).  That said, the actual rhythm gameplay so far isn't as complex as a DJMAX game. It's more purely timing-based, and centered around tapping the screen in time, rather than hitting icons ala Ouendan/Elite Beat Agents. That feels a little simpler, and at the lower levels, less satisfying.  Elliot: It's very much like Hatsune Miku: Project Diva in the way it plays, with lower levels being almost deceptively easy, and higher levels being mind numbingly difficult. I've been mostly playing on Master level, and it sometimes feels like my fingers aren't fast enough in the way they respond to my brain. Hah!  As far as the visuals are concerned, I've yet to play on the iPad, but on the iPhone 4s' retina screen, it definitely looks a whole lot better than it did on the PSP or Vita. Since most of the backgrounds are essentially video files, I wouldn't be surprised if the bump in resolution caused a hefty bump in terms of file size. Josh: Speaking of video files, each version of the game comes with a full exclusive episode of the Idolm@ster anime series, animated by A-1 Studios. You can't even miss it, because it starts playing the first time you start the app (at least, that's what it did when I started). As I may have mentioned, Idolm@ster was my favorite anime of 2011, so that would be a big draw for someone who's thinking about watching the show for themselves. From the looks of things each episode is different and stars the cast of the version you bought. My Melodic Disc version naturally starred Miki, Takane, Makoto and Yukiho going off to perform at an island "Shiny Festa" (hint hint) and practically dragooning the Producer into taking them on dates to better understand how to sing love songs. Really.  How did your versions go? Jeff: I picked up the PSP version of Melodic Disc, or Groovy Tunes, as it's known in Japan. Not only I might have to share a waifu with Josh, but that game simply had the best track list and that's why I went for that one. I thought Rhythmic Record (aka Funky Note) has the second best list of songs, which is what I ended up getting on the iPad Mini when the English version came about. The music video for "Kyun! Vampire Girl" is quite hilarious... And my tolerance for Yayoi and the twins has gone up by a magnitude since a year ago, making the dip into the loli version of Shiny Festa a lot more bearable. Any fans of Hibiki walking downstairs around here? Playing on the iPad Mini is rather nice because of its relatively large screen, especially since you could play while holding it up, similarly to how one would play the game on a PSP. Actually, I recommend playing that way if you have a Mini, since if you don't hold on to it, you're likely to push the tablet around while trying to ace some of the high BPM songs. Maybe it's not as bad with a full-size iPad plus a case with grip? The resolution of the videos definitely got a bump versus the PSP version, especially when you compare the anime portions. But on the iPad Mini, you can see some jaggies for the various music videos and the still images during the story mode looks obviously resized to fit the bigger screens. Gameplay-wise, Elliot has summed it up. Shiny Festa is a surprisingly fun game that has a nice and easy learning curve until you hit Pro and Master modes. And unlike most (if any?) rhythm games, getting perfects on your notes is everything. When you want to get that triple-S rank, "Good" is simply not good enough. It's probably the only game of this kind where you can get a full combo and only come away with an A rank (which is scored below 90 percent, making it more like a B?). It's probably also the only game of this kind where you can use helper charms (cheats you can buy with in-game money to make things easier) guilt-free, similar to the mainIdolm@ster games. Shiny Festa is twice the fun if you are already familiar with the songs from the Idolm@ster franchise, like I am. It's too bad that about a third of the songs on each of the games are the same, because I will eventually get all three versions. Granted, those 7 songs are some of the most popular songs from the franchise, so at least I enjoy replaying them over and over again. The two other noteworthy things I would also bring up is that hitting the upper left corner when you're in the middle of a song brings up the in-game menu (which sometimes I hit by accident, since there aren't too many places you can hold up an iPad securely and still hit the screen), and there are still some minor difference between the iOS games and the PSP games, such as what the achievements are, that you can access the iOS Game Center for public rankings and such, and probably some other differences that I haven't run into yet. One other way to have fun with Shiny Festa on an iPad is to set it for loop playback using a random playlist via the music video mode. It feels way less pointless than doing the same thing on a PSP. If you enjoy watching the videos it's a great way to have it play it in the background, setting the iPad on a stand. Elliot: Interestingly enough, the OVA that came with Harmonic Score is significantly different from what you described, Josh. The Producer (who is the player character in the core Idolm@ster games) only appears at the beginning and at the very end of the episode. It mostly centers around the girls discovering how music can connect people who don't speak the same language. The episode essentially serves as the first half of Shiny Festa's story mode, which took me off guard completely. By the way, am I the only one who absolutely adores the new "Music" track? It's ridiculously catchy and probably one of my favorite songs on the playlist.  Jeff: "Music" is a great track. Too bad Columbia or Namco-Bandai feels like taking their time releasing any versions of it other than what we got with the games. "Eden" is probably my favorite new track out of the whole deal, though. [The four Shiny Festa theme songs have been solicited for CD release since time of writing.] Josh: Interesting point on how different your OVA seems from mine. After seeing mine I initially figured each variation would simply be a "branching" style: same events, different characters. That they basically went and made three different original episodes pumps the value for true fans I guess. "Music" is pretty good, though I've still got a soft spot for "READY!!" and "CHANGE!!", which were the opening themes of the anime. As a filthy casual who doesn't even own the core Idolm@ster game yet the anime is my main exposure. Still, after this and once my wallet recovers, I might just be *ahem* LADY for more Idolm@ster. Random Ace Combat skins will no longer be enough. On a tech note, did anyone have trouble with input response? Since unlike DJMAX this thing is more purely tap-rhythm-based I'm wondering if you've encountered situations where, like, you're sure you tapped in time but the note didn't register. I have, and I'm not sure how much blame to assign to hardware or me just sucking at rhythm games. We're all playing on different device models to boot, so checking how it works across "platforms" should be important to note. Jeff: The primary Idolm@ster game is a slippery slope to financial ruin, just to let you know. But at the same time maybe you are READY for it, if you can swallow the price tag of Shiny Festa... I haven't encountered any input problems playing the game on an iPad Mini. Actually there were a few times where I registered a tap by mistake because my finger got too close to the screen. It's a different play experience than the PSP because it's so much ever slightly less precise due to that fact, but at the same time you don't have to wait for the buttons to "bounce back" before you hit the next note, pressing the same spot on the screen. So theoretically you can hit the notes even faster on a touchscreen with just one finger on each side. Josh: So you would say that the increased speed makes up for a comparative lack of diversity in inputs? I know it changes up the appearance of note paths to keep you on your toes, so if it can't change the input itself, it alters the presentation. Jeff: The way the notes flow down the lines is both decorative and can impact gameplay like you said, Josh. I also found that it can help you measure out beats in some cases, such as the "stairs" pattern in some songs where how and when the notes "turn" can give you an idea the beat it will come across when it gets to the center point. Josh Tolentino's score for Melodic Disc: Ultimately, what I keep coming back to is that The Idolm@ster Shiny Festa is a perfectly decent rhythm game, with good iOS implementation and substantial content geared towards preexisting fans. What its music does for you depends on your preferences, but like any proper rhythm game there's enough there to get you into the familiar groove of pushing for the perfect run. The story mode and extra character moments work, to an extent, but again, only in a specific context: that of an Idolm@ster fan. When it comes to writing reviews, I hate having to bring up price or the idea that a game is "for fans", but I'm finding it unavoidable when trying to regard Shiny Festa. That price tag - that triple price tag! - thoroughly narrows the value proposition, and it's hard not to wonder a bit what could have been (or what could be) for the game had Namco Bandai opted for a price point with a wider appeal. As I said, it's a perfectly decent rhythm game, but costs far too much, and for the non-fan, even selecting which variety of the game you want is an exercise in guesswork.  But for fans of Idolm@ster who haven't yet imported Shiny Festa, there's no real reason not to get this, unless they dislike playing games on iOS. And if they don't, they're actually saving money by doing so. Incidentally, Japanator's descriptive text for a score of 7/10 fits how I feel about the game quite well:  Score: 7 -- Good (7s are solid games that definitely have an audience. Might lack replay value, could be too short or there are some hard-to-ignore faults, but the experience is fun.) Jeff Chuang's score for Rhythmic Record: The one solid gameplay/design aspect that underpins Shiny Festa is both how shallow and deep the gameplay is. For the casual producer who just like Idolm@ster like a fan of an idol group, he or she can enjoy the game through its 20+ music videos (or 40+ if you count special MVs), the anime it comes with, and the various character interaction and in-jokes baked into the game in the story mode. The game is easy and sufficiently challenging for people who normally don't play rhythm games, in beginner and normal modes. For those who are into rhythm games, Shiny Festa dangles big enough of a carrot on a long enough of a stick that it is still a good effort to achieve all the top accomplishments, and it's a fun ride to get there. Unfortunately that is also why it relies heavily on speed and accuracy to award the top and most difficult accomplishments, versus the wider variety of inputs or tricks many other rhythm games offer.  If you can rationalize spending real money to play games involving your waifu, then these are the games you are looking for. For me, it offers a good balance of effort-versus-reward in addition, making it fun to keep playing and seek out that second (and probably third, eventually) version of Shiny Festa as I slowly conquer the tracks in Master mode. And if you came into Shiny Festa already an owner of Idolm@ster on the PS3 or Xbox, for a couple DLC's worth of money you can have a slice of that dancing magic to go on iOS, in addition to all the extra perks the game comes with. It feels like a no-brainer. It also helps, however slightly, that compared to most iOS games, Shiny Festa just feels well-polished. Even if the character bio page says "HOOBIES."  Score: 7 -- Good (7s are solid games that definitely have an audience. Might lack replay value, could be too short or there are some hard-to-ignore faults, but the experience is fun.) Elliot Gay's score for Harmonic Score: Shiny Festa doesn't exactly set the rhythm genre on fire, but it never really tries to. The game was developed as fanservice for fans of the franchise (anime and game alike), and the inclusion of OVA episodes only further pushes that point. It's mechanics are welcoming to newcomers but remain challenging to veteran gamers as well. While the lack of more varied inputs is a bit disappointing, it's an understandable omission considering the platform. The music is catchy, and the entire package is of a substantially higher quality than the majority of games available on the App Store. This was initially a packaged release, and it shows.  If you're a fan who already owns the PS3/360 game and its myriad of DLC, I can't see why you wouldn't bite. Yes, the price is high, but at the end of the day, it's sadly never been cheap to be an Idolm@ster fan. If you were looking to grab a copy of Shiny Festaanyway, I think the iOS versions are the way to go.  Score: 7 -- Good (7s are solid games that definitely have an audience. Might lack replay value, could be too short or there are some hard-to-ignore faults, but the experience is fun.)
Idolmaster Shiny Festa photo
We paid thrice and still feel nice
When it arrived on the App Store in April, The Idolm@ster Shiny Festa made waves among English-speaking gamers, but unfortunately not for the reasons publisher Namco Bandai was hoping.  Rather than celebrating the f...

iDOLM@STER film photo
iDOLM@STER film

Are you lady? iDOLM@STER film hits late 2013


Producer-chan also comments on the game series
Jun 17
// Elliot Gay
Things have been quiet ever since The iDOLM@STER feature film was announced a while back. Details are still light, but at least we have a time frame for release. The movie is set to hit Japanese theaters at the end of 2013, i...
Neptunia PP photo
Neptunia PP

These Neptunia PP videos are Idol-tastic


Neptunia Idolmaster? I can almost dig it.
Apr 24
// Elliot Gay
Every time I write something about the Neptunia franchise, I'm always a little bit taken aback by the fact that these games have made it this far. Having only played the first entry, I imagine they must be getting better wit...
iM@S game on iOS photo
iM@S game on iOS

The iDOLM@STER Shiny Festa available in English on iOS


Great news... except for that price.
Apr 22
// Elliot Gay
In a move that's sure to surprise pretty much every single iDOLM@STER fan ever, Namco Bandai has released all three The iDOLM@STER Shiny Festa games on iOS platforms. Each game has been renamed, with Honey Sound becoming...
 photo

Are you ready? The Idolm@ster to become a movie


Feb 10
// Elliot Gay
Rejoice, The Idolm@ster fans. It looks like Namco Bandai isn't done with those spunky girls from 765Pro just yet. At "THE IDOLM@STER MUSIC FESTIV@L OF WINTER!!" live event held over the past few days, it was announced that a ...
 photo

Gasp! iDOLM@STER Shiny Festa to get localized?


Let there be burritos for all!
Dec 04
// Elliot Gay
File this one under "wait, seriously?" Namco Bandai has apparently filed trademarks for both The Idol Master and Shiny Festa over in Europe, which is something that blows my mind. This franchise has been around for quite some...
 photo

PV: IDOLM@STER spin-off anime is looking chibi as hell


Puchimas! Petit IDOLM@STER is a real combination of words and not something I made up
Sep 23
// OxKing
What is the greatest thing to ever come out of Japan? If you were thinking about history or some science bulls--t, think again... because the real answer is The IDOLM@STER. Shown off at Tokyo Game Show earlier, the 4-koma man...

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