Being an aficionado of all types video games, I do have certain reservations on what I get drawn into. With never touching an Rhythm/music themed title before or exactly fond of the mobile ecosystem, I am pleasantly taken aback with how mesmerizing Love Live! School Idol Festival is while keeping itself away from the usual slimy and avaricious driven tactics most games of this nature employ. If you like anime series and enjoy the rhythm genre, this should be right up your alley.
Title: Love Live! School Idol Festival
Genre: Rhythm, Music
Developer: KLab (Published by Bushiroad)
System: IOS and Android Device(s)
As a secondary preface to the aforementioned: everything in Love Live! School Idol Festival is truly free-to-play. With the mild expectation of things like LP and Love Gems (more on that later) that can be brought to hasten progress, the game basically throws you what you need via daily login bonuses and you earn them yourself as you play – so the concept of a paywall doesn’t exist in the traditional sense. Now with that out the way, the overall game is very simply to explain as it is enjoyable. The gist of the story has you take on the role of a helper to μ’s – managing their training regimen, live performance, and helping them to rise in popularity. At the start of the game, you get to choose any 9 of the cast members to set as a leader and gather 8 other members to perform in the group. As you progress through both the story and live modes in tandem, more prospective members will join allowing you mix and match different combinations of characters to clear different challenges.
The game flow is surprisingly very simple, too: You watch portions of the story mode (that are fully voiced), perform in live shows, and once you reach the required objective – you are able to proceed. Most objectives don’t require strenuous work like: getting your level rank up, but that does become increasing more difficult as time goes on. LP (Life Points) determine how many live shows you can participate in and with three modes of difficult that ramp up that amount, you can burn through it very quickly. You can just wait for the timer to refill your points, but you can also spend Love Gems, a currency obtained from certain live performances and daily logins to fill it up again. If you happen to run low on gems, you can purchase them, but really pointless, especially if you’re not going to be playing that long and given that waiting 20 minutes (5 minutes per LP point) isn’t much of a hassle. The Love Gems also serve the dual purpose of helping you scout special students (aka different variants of the main cast) that you can get via live performances or in-game events. Regular students only cost friendship points that is easily accumulated, but they end up having average stats. The game is nice to give you one free scout chance daily for regular students that usual have better stats if you can’t do well enough to score in lives to get them. Of course, before performing, there are other things you can do to help you better succeed.
With your group you can choose various things: practice – which allows you to fuse two or more girls together to increase the base one’s level and attributes (more on that later), special practice – taking two of the same girls in name to turn them into idols (also increasing their stats and changing appearance), or disband a girl from the group. When you build your groups, you want to do it around the song you are playing, since songs like the girls have an overarching attribute that govern how well you will perform. Smile, Pure, and Cool are what you have to work with and sometimes best to have a homogeneous group than diverse to tackle songs that match. When you final get into the lives, the mechanics act similar to most rhythm titles: hit the button on cue, racking up combos that will increase the score. You fail if you miss too many notes that deplete the stamina gauge or voluntary quit. After successful completion based on your score you will might obtain new students to use, G (currency that allows fusion), bond points (a factor that allows you to view idol side stories), and Love Gems. If you want to make onto the leaderboards – the meta-game of: bond points, idol placement, levels, and other nuances do play a role, but fun to learn about just to improve in general. I’m not going to even bother explaining all of it. Although for people like myself, you probably only care about getting a C or better on a song that was thoroughly kicking your tail on hard. When are not doing performances and have girls are fully idolized (think it is called something less awkward in the JP release), you will have an opportunity to view their side stories that does clue you into their personalities rather than seeming like generic characters. If their rarities – you might also get those stories fully voiced.
For a mobile game, School Idol Fest runs about as smooth as it looks and the visuals are pretty good. With the original idols designs reprised by Arumi Tokita, the collaboration with Bushiroad and KLab brings newcomers into the mix that range from relatively normal designs to generic. None of them actually play a role in the story, though. During the initial setup of the game, I did experience a lot of trouble getting the game to install the main module that comes after the tutorial, but will work. All the music you hear vocally is from the anime, so unless you aren’t privy to it, everything will be as it was. Some pieces are modified to fit difficulty and the gameplay, but it is largely the same as the animation. Like most games that feature or use online connectivity, new events also bring new songs and collectables, the former being available for download to unlock new challenges.
From a novice of rhythm games to others more or less experienced (most of you can clear hard with one arm tied behind your back), School Idol Festival is one of few games that is genuinely fun as it keeps away from the travails free-to-play push onto the user. You probably won’t care to play it hours on end, but also won’t be badgered to death to spend cash either. It’s good in short burst and how most mobile game should be. And with the rhythm mechanics and music just about as good as any commercialized product, that is about all it takes to get you drawn in – especially if you’re a fan of the genre or anime. In theory, it is formula that should work and practically, does just as intended. Whether you are fan or not, rhythm fiend or hapless novice like myself – Love Live! School Idol Festival is an experience you want to check out for yourself and mostly likely will find satisfactory.
Pros: Intuitive game mechanics, involved metagame mechanics, online leader boards, content updated frequently, nice tutorial section, unlockable side stories for both the main cast and secondary.
Cons: Initial setup can be frustrating, few bugs/lag moments during startup,