Important Importables Review: Idolmaster 2 for PS3

April 8, 2012 - 2:00 am No Comments

Hot Japanese Imports Review: Idolmaster 2 for PS3



Title: Idolmaster 2
Price: It’ll probably cost at least $89 to import a copy.
System(s): PS3 (Also Xbox 360)
Release Date: October 27, 2011
Publisher (Developer): Namco Bandai (Namco)
ESRB Rating: N/A, Cero B for Ages 12 and up
Pros: There’s a good assortment of songs and tons of costumes and accessories included in the game, the PS3 version includes the first few rounds of Xbox 360 DLC, there are 9 idols to choose from, there are three different kinds of classes, you can send them off on promotion events and there are three kinds of performances to choose from. Amulets can be purchased after shows to boost stats. Producer level, money and purchased clothes/accessories/amulets carry over from one playthrough to the next. There’s also a mode to just watch the idols sing and dance and online leaderboards. You can have the idols automatically train and perform on their own, without your supervision.
Cons: You can’t produce Jupiter (the boy idol group). You can’t have Iori, Azusa, Ritsuko or Ami. It’s pretty much impossible to get one of the best endings on the first or second playthrough.
Overall Score: 9/10

The Idolmaster series a huge in Japan. It’s in arcades, on consoles and on handhelds. However, for a long time it was an Xbox 360 exclusive. Namco Bandai decided it was time to do the unexpected with Idolmaster 2 – bring the series to the PS3. While the move may break some Xbox 360 owners’ hearts, as the PS3 version included all the DLC from the Xbox 360 version’s first three “catalogues,” it also meant people worldwide would finally get a chance to import and play since the PS3 is a region-free system. It was worth the wait, as Idolmaster 2 is wonderfully difficult and it’s easy to plan multiple replays in the hopes of forming the best pop group ever.

“Ready!!”

Idolmaster 2 takes place in a world where the original Idolmaster never happened. That producer never joined 765 (Namco) Productions. All the idols from that era were signed, but most never went anywhere because they didn’t have the right guidance. The only exceptions were Iori, Azusa and Ami, who were turned into the trio Palace of the Dragon by former idol Ritsuko.

Which means it’s up to you to give these girls a second chance at stardom. The player is a new producer for 765 Productions and has been tasked with picking three of the girls working for the company and turning them into a successful singing group. You have to pick ones whose abilities compliment each other and will be able to work together as a cohesive unit.

Of course, your idols aren’t the only ones out there. You’re competing against Palace of the Dragon as well. Also 961 (Kuroi) Productions, the constant “villain” of the series, is working on a new boy band group called Jupiter. Your goal is to sell lots of singles, make lots of fans and get awards for your performance from the Idol Academy at the end of the year. You have 55 weeks, use them wisely.

“My Song”

The Idolmaster 2 is a management simulation where you have absolute control over the fate of your trio. When the game begins, they’re all novices who’s idol levels are abysmally low. You have to send them to super or regular Voice, Dance and Visual classes to build one of those three stats. Voice involves pressing the right button when a circle reaches an onscreen indicator, Dance requires pressing the L1 and R1 buttons in time with a metronome and Visual makes you click the right colored words floating on the screen. All three classes are times, with a status bar on the top. Getting “perfect” scores means they’ll level up quicker. Shopping is also critical at this stage as the right outfit can boost the singing, dancing and appearance levels.

Then there are the performances. There are three kinds, auditions, lives and festivals, though they proceed in somewhat similar manners. In each one, your group is being judged. Auditions has them in front of a director, Lives in front of an audience and Festivals against another singer or group. The goal in each is to get the highest score possible, though with Auditions and Lives you’re told beforehand a minimum score you have to reach. You then have a short period of time to Appeal by pressing the square, triangle and circle buttons in time with the music. Each Appeal button relates to a certain stat. Pressing it gets a score based on that stat. However, Appealing too often to one stat decreases its multiplier, making it less effective, but increasing the multiplier of an opposing stat. Appealing successfully raises a Voltage gauge that can result in a Burst Appeal that lets one member of the group break out and perform even stronger and more valuable Appeals than usual. There’s also a Memory Appeal, determined by how many hearts you’ve collected, that allows a single girl to do a series of Appeals automatically to boost the score and Voltage gauge.

You can’t forget about communication events though. These happen every day in the morning and evening, as well as at promotions. The morning and evening communication helps determine the group harmony. You want to pick the answers that will make the most girls happy. If one or two girls feel left out, then the group harmony suffers, they get into fights and they won’t work or perform. Promotion events allow you to get closer to a single member of the group while also boosting fans in an area and building up the Memory Appeal gauge.

What people don’t often realize is the strategy that has to go into an Idolmaster game. They look it and think it’s all about fanservice, but it’s not. It’s actually challenging. While you can build a level of trust with the characters during promotion events, it’s more about getting close enough to get more Memory Appeals during an Audition/Live/Festival than it is about relationship building. (Though that is there too.) Likewise, if you just go in randomly, you’ll crash and burn. You have to carefully plan schedules, using the beginning of the game to build the idols’ vocal/dance/visual skills and then the second half to work on building a fanbase and keeping singles as high on the charts as possible. You also have to keep track of which reporters are following you and what they’re

In fact, the Dotop TV show should be a primary focus in Idolmaster 2. You want your idol group’s songs to be in at least the top 20. That means actually paying attention to the kind of performances you do. After releasing a new single, you want to do a Festival or a Quintet Live within 10 days. That will result in a Break, where the single will break onto the charts. Then you want to do a Live or two, to make sure the song keeps climbing. If you don’t have any new singles, then you may want to do an Audition, to Revive and old single and make it sell again. You also should be trying to get at least 10,000 fans in one area of the map, so you can get an award from that area at the end of the game. Namco Bandai gives players everything they need to win in theory, it’s just about people knowing how to use the tools and events in the right way.

“The World is All One!”

Idolmaster 2 is a really complicated game. Adorable and easy to play, but still very complex. If you enjoy simulations where managing every single aspect can mean huge profits and rewards, then this is definitely a game for you. Every single idol in Idolmaster 2 has the potential to be a huge star, and if they fail it’s because you did something wrong. The result is a game that’s challenging and incredibly fulfilling. Just avoid the DLC, as it’s ridiculously overpriced.

Just don’t get disgruntled if you get the Acapella “Bad” ending after your first playthrough. It happens to everyone. Just pick yourself up, perhaps consult the Idolmaster Gameplay Wiki and try again.

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