This is a reblog of my site http://geekysweetie.com – Other stuff may appear here such as reblogs from other wordpress.com sites. I blog and reblog about anime, video games, kdrama, toys, technology, and kawaii fashion and decor.
When you think of MMORPGs, it’s no surprise for the big three to come to mind: World of Warcraft, Guild Wars 2, and Final Fantasy XIV. Up until recently, I would say these three have been pretty evenly matched with the exception of Guild Wars 2 not seeing as much popularity as the other two. But with the release of Stormblood, I would say Final Fantasy XIV has taken the lead!
If you haven’t seen the official launch trailer yet, check it out here!
Stormblood is the second major expansion after Heavensward. The first installment of Final Fantasy XIV in 2010 ended up as a failure as it drastically failed to meet expectations. Since then, the next three installments and expansions, A Realm Reborn, Heavensward, and Stormblood have all been massive successes.
Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood follows the story of the Warrior of Light played by yourself, the player character. Stormblood focuses on the conflict between Eorzea and the Garlean Empire that has oppressed the land of Ala Mhigo for 20 years. See the new sights that Stormblood has to offer with this tour of the East.
With Stormblood, we see a complete revamp to the combat system with new features and functionalities. This allows for a much more dynamic battles and gives you the ability to be more involved. Strategizing based on your fellow players’ roles and skills will also be crucial for taking down the realm’s most powerful bosses.
If you thought that was cool, just wait till you try out the new DPS jobs, Red Mage (RDM) and Samurai (SAM). I mean, just look at them! With so much versatility and heavy damage dealing respectively, RDM and SAM just feel so impactful and fun to play.
If you’re thinking that the other jobs have been left in the dust, not to worry! Every job in Final Fantasy XIV is getting a revamp with Stormblood. This means new skills and actions for a completely new feel! Below, you’ll find a video of every job’s actions, including RDM and SAM.
With new challenges in the form of dungeons, raids, and all kinds of new enemies and allies alike, you’ll be in for one heck of a ride. Stormblood increases the level cap from 60 to 70 so even if you were completely maxed out in Heavensward, there’s still so much more to do! Acquire new items, weapons, armor, mounts, and of course, we can’t forget about glamour now can we?
FATEs now have an added feature called Twist of Fate. Here, you get bonus every time you dispose of a special enemy. In this case, you get a dramatic boost to the amount of experience gained from FATEs. So let’s hope this makes leveling our jobs to the new level 70 cap much easier!
The first major expansion, Heavensward, gave players the opportunity to fly across the skies in Heavensward areas with flying mounts. And now with Stormblood, the ability to explore surface and deep swimming in new areas as well as old ones has been introduced.
If Stormblood didn’t sound awesome before, I bet it sounds pretty darn awesome now, right? Just like with flying, in order to unlock swimming you just have to go through your main scenario quests. Time to get to exploring the world beneath the surface of the realm of Eorzea. See all the underwater sights and don’t forget to take some beautiful snapshots with /gpose!
If you’re new to Final Fantasy XIV or have never played it before, now’s the time to at least give it a try. It really is the complete package: an amazing story, intricate design, fascinating lore, an expansive world, engaging combat and mechanics, and a friendly and helpful community. I thought I had seen it all with Heavensward but Stormblood takes the cake!
How to Get: You can check out my review of Aikatsu Photo on Stage to learn how to get free Japanese Itune items by creating a free Japanese Itunes account. In Aikatsu Photo on Stage, I was unable to help android users locate the game as it does not run on Bluestacks (or any rooted devices). I do not know if the same holds true for Idolmaster Theater Days as well. If so Android users may need a VPN Tunneling Service, which I know nothing about. Sorry.
Also in the case of this game when registering for a new account, be sure you select Japan as your country. This cannot be changed later. You can leave “English” as the language, but this only affects emails Bandai will send to you, and does not affect the language actually in the game – which is sadly only available in Japanese. Later, if Bandai ever releases the game in North America and in English you will have to make a new Bandai account to play the English versions of the game. But we’ve never received a single IdolM@ster game, despite success of their Love Live series which is very similar, so I don’t think the chances of English localization are very high! 🙁
Graphics: 10/10 – The best part about Theater Days is that the girls are rendered in Live 2D just like Ensemble Stars, Dream Girlfriend, and countless other anime games. This technology allows for very lifelike anime renders. While 3D would feel stiff and 2D would feel flat, Live 2D finds a balance between these two. I can’t get enough of these Live 2D games!! In fact I wish to see the technology used even more, not just on mobile games, but PC and Console Games as well. I don’t know if this technology was used on Nekopara, but the result is VERY similar. The models look more clean than the cel shading technologies used in Catherine and School Days. Live 2D is the best thing to ever happen to anime games. More companies need to take notice.
Not only do they look great, the girls appear on stage as full bodies, not just a tiny face in a circle like in Love Live School Idol Festival. Aikatsu Photo on Stage also has full bodied — but static — images (which kinda “bounced” up and down at times on the screen). But here, in Theater Days, thanks to Live 2D, the girls dance and sing on stage with unique dance routines choreographed for each song and each singer; and it’s just so incredibly cuuuute!!! I can’t stop playing, watching, and taking like a bazillion screen shots, seriously! Just check out my instagram account lol.
Music 10/10 – Aikatsu Photo on Stage seemed lacking in the quality of the music compared to Love Live, but Idol Master Million Live Theater Days is at least as good, if not even better, in music when compared to Love Live. The songs are seriously addictive. I really like some of the earliest tracks like “Brand New Theater” and “Sentimental Venus”, but all of the songs I’ve heard have been good. I’ve played and watched the music videos (in game after beating the song at least once), over and over, all weekend. The music is so good, and the girls’ dancing is so well timed with the music. It feels so real, like you really are at a concert. The lights on the stage, the audience, the movement, the emotions, omg. It’s indescribable. There’s also excellent voice acting in the story scenes as well.
Gameplay 8/10 – And like Aikatsu Photo on Stage and Idol Master Cinderella Girls you can dressup your girls in different outfits. I haven’t figured out how to do this yet. I’ve won, what looks like white, wedding dress, looking rewards from several songs, but can’t figure out how to use them or equip them. But I do see that we can change the uniforms for each member of our party, I just don’t have anything showing up when I go to this menu to change their outfits, except the starting red/white/blue outfits they are given at the beginning of the game. Perhaps the white dresses are materials or tokens to draw new outfits or something else useful and related to outfits. I just know there are costume changes, and the costume changes will be represented on stage when playing or watching / listening to the songs.
There are also visual novel like elements to the game. I can’t read Japanese, but luckily there is only 1 response / option to select. I’ve only found 2 instances where I’ve had to make a “choice”. The first time was when choosing which starter card I wanted. I picked the girl in the pink sweater with side pony tail. The other time that the game asked me to make a choice was shortly after that, when a new girl is introduced, she has very short hair, sometimes in short pigtails with red ribbons and a green dress. — I think the main girl I had drawn already was jealous of the new girl, I think based on their facial expressions / interactions. My “main girl” and 2 other “starter girls” were in another room talking about something/one when the “new girl” overheard them, and they apologized and got embarrassed. I was presented an option, probably something encouraging the girls to get along. Whatever I picked seemed to surprise the girls. Story went on for a bit, then they all sang together, after the performance, my “main girl” came to me and asked something of me. There were 2 options, and the one I picked seemed to make her happy / satisfy her a bit.
There will be other chances to interact with your girls, any time you are logged in, you can move around different rooms, and find your girls randomly going about their day. Sometimes they will have an “!” or a “…” bubble above their heads, when tapping on a girl, you can listen to what they have to say, which usually doesn’t even require any feedback from you – and rewards you with XP and the rare/summoning currency.
You rank up as a producer by completing these “quests” and of course by putting on live performances which is where the majority of the gameplay comes from. You assemble a team of 6 girls. They have different attributes such as Princess, Fairy, and Angel. The song attributes change every day. For example, yesterday the songs wanted Princess, and Today they want Fairy. On my first day of play they wanted “All” which I guess would require a balanced approach. You can have several different teams built and saved up and switch freely between them. It also seems you can have it build the teams for you by hitting the pink “recycle” looking icon, and then choosing the attribute you want. For example, Princess would autofill your highest scoring Princess cards into the team. This doesn’t mean that only Princess members would appear, because you might have a fairy or angel who has high Princess points too. This probably all sounds familiar if you’ve played other titles such as Love Live School Idol Festival.
When playing the actual song, you can choose different difficulty settings. The easiest difficulty features just 2 “bubbles” to tap. The medium difficulty features 4 bubbles. and the highest difficulty I believe has 6 bubbles.
These bubble “holders” are located across the bottom of your screen. As the song goes on, rainbow white shiny “pearls” will fall down the screen towards one of the bubbles. Tap the bubble at just the right time to gain the most points and chain “perfect” time attacks for bonus points. Once again, very similar to Love Live.
Unlike Love Live. there’s a few new game mechanics, a large floating butterfly “bubble” will appear to give huge bonus points when timed correctly. Other bubbles require sliding/gliding your finger to “follow” the bubble’s path, or tapping and holding, or tapping repeatedly to correctly receive points from that bubble.
The other big draw to these games is the Waifu collecting aspect, and this game is no exception. You can draw cards using diamonds or pink coins. The diamonds have a higher chance to yield Super Rare or Super Super Rare girls to add to your team. The diamonds is the “paid” currency, but there are ways to earn it free in game.
So this all sounds lovely, so why did I take 2 points off? There are no events yet – but keep in mind, the game just launched a few days ago in Japan. In Love Live, there’s almost constant events which allow you to play against or with other players to earn limited edition super rare cards. Nothing like that has happened yet in Theater Days. If they up the rate of events, then Gameplay would probably be a 10/10 too!
Also while playing, your stamina drains so you may find yourself having to wait, or pay, for it to refill. No different from Love Live or the other rhythm games. Those are the only downsides I’ve seen so far!
Story: 5/10 – There is a story, but until they release this game in English (which will probably never happen) I can’t say if it’s a good or bad story. Therefore, a medium score seems the most fair here, given that I’m reviewing this game for my readers, who are also, largely, English speaking gamers.
Characters: 5/10 – The characters are cute! I think I may have seen some from other Idol Master games. But since I’m missing out on their backstories, I still can’t enjoy the characters to their fullest, though I do have some favorites already just based on looks and voice actresses.
Replay Value: 8/10 – No Waifu, No Laifu! lol. The game needs some more events, and to continue to release new girls, new clothes, and new songs, as long as those things continue to happen, this is a game I will be playing and recommending for years to come. In my opinion, it’s the best rhythm game ever of all time! A Must Play Mobile Masterpiece, and a shame we will probably never see an English version of this game.
One note: I think the songs may change slightly – or I’m imagining things? based on which characters you have in your team when performing the song. For example, the first song has a part, where I think, the girls are saying their names and throwing their hands in a circular high five like cheer shape. Obviously there’s more than 6 different girls that could be in your party, and I think they would have used vocals for different names here. — Also, I think… but could be REALLY wrong …. each girl’s voice actress has recorded each “part” of the song…. because… not only does “which girls” you have effect the sound of the song, but “where those girls are” also affects how the song sounds and who gets more time in the spot light and who sings which lines. — My time with the game is short thus far, and I could be imagining this entirely. That’s why I did not factor it into my review score above – however, if it is in fact true, it’s fascinating and makes me want to try all the combinations I can make for each song by choosing and arranging my girls in different ways.
Geeky: 3/5 Gameplay is simple, but production values are surprisingly high. This title is sure to appeal to all Pokemon fans who will see not just Magikarp, but many of their other favorite Pokemon as well.
Sweetie: 5/5 – Adorable 2D colorful monster taming game with everyone’s favorite most useless unloved Magikarp as the main character. This game is full of a lot of heart and charm.
Overview: 10/10 Magikarp Jump is a cute, free, seemingly innocent Pokemon Game for Mobile IOS and Android devices. The gameplay is very simplistic and reminiscent of Monster Rancher in that you take home a pet to train and raise and enter league battles. Pretty basic stuff, right? But actually it is perhaps one of the darkest Pokemon Games of all time, because for the first time ever, your Pokemon can die! There is no going back into their Pokeballs, and no amount of healing from Nurse Joy can bring a KoiKing back after he has become lunch for a wild flying Pokemon.
Gameplay: 7/10 Alright, so being a free mobile game, the gameplay, as you might expect is pretty primitive, but yet, oddly addictive. You begin the game by choosing a fishing rod (your first one will be given to you), and fishing up your very own Magikarp.
The karps come in different colors and patterns, and also have unique stats and bonuses. The main stat that your karp has to worry about is JP (Jumping Points). These determine how high your Magikarp can jump in special league battles where you face off against computer controlled AI opponents.
You can raise JP in one of the following ways:
Feeding your Magikarp by tapping food that randomly appears on the screen
Training your Magikarp, in randomly selected training regimens. You get 3 TP (Training Points) that will refill over time and/or refill when your trainer rank increases and/or refill as a result of a random event.
Speaking of random events, there are lots of them, and they can either make, or break, your karp. You are given a choice here… to try the events or ignore them… If you do try them, and fail, you may lose your karp forever! Or your karp may lose several hundred or even several thousand JP. However, if you succeed, your karp may earn several thousand JP, or you may be given the special currency “diamonds” which are rare and usually only given during league battles or quest rewards (or purchased with real currency).
These diamonds let you buy other Pokemon to come help cheer your karp on and decorate your pond. These Pokemon have time activated abilities that will grant a permanent amount of JP to your karp, as well as appearing at random to give a temporary boost to your karp’s JP in each league battle. I’ve seen as little as a 5% increase, to as much as a 25% increase so far.
Your time with each karp is relatively short, especially early on in the game. Once they reach max level they are taken to the league battles to try one more time for the hall of fame. They can continue battling until they lose a match and then they are retired. They might float around in your tank in the background from time to time, and clicking on them will show their name and JP, but they serve no other purpose. If your karp dies (yes, this really happens), he will be immediately retired, and of course will not appear in your tank. After a karp dies or retires, you will be tasked with selecting a new fishing rod, and fishing up a new karp.
As you raise your karp your rank as a trainer goes up which in turn, raises the max level for the karps you can fish up. If you do a good job raising your karp, you also get a permanent motivation bonus that allows the new karps to earn JP at an increased rate.
There are many patterns and colors of karps available. As your karp grows, his patterns will become clearer, and new patterns will be added to your Pokedex. Gotta catch ’em all.
Your tank can be decorated with themes that change the background of the tank, or decorations which add stat bonus such as increasing JP from food or training, or increasing coins found from random events, etc.
The Pokemon “friends”, food, training regimens, and decorations can all be purchased from either the coin or diamond shops, and then also “invested” into after purchasing to continue to power and level up their effects and usefulness. As your rank increases, new food, friends, training regimens, and decorations will become available for purchase. Pokemon friends are also sometimes given as league battle rewards.
The game is simple and addicting and very cute too. However, there are some missed opportunities that could make the game more fun. It’d be nice to have online play with other players to be able to challenge their karps. It’d also be nice to have an online leader board tracking the highest jumps from Magikarps all around the world. And lastly, it’d be really nice to customize the look of the trainer character to make them more personalized.
Despite these flaws, the gameplay is solid, though repetitive, and yet strangely addictive. I spent way too much time this weekend playing Magikarp Jump.
Story: 6/10 There is a story, though I can’t say it’s terribly good. It is a super cute story, with detail and fleshed out at least in the intro. They introduce a new “professor” type character, this time a mayor, who serves as your guide. They set up an intro to the game by describing the town (name escapes me), and explaining that the quiet little town loves Magikarp and that all the residents participate in league battles to see whose Magikarp can jump the highest, but that lately, the Magikarp don’t seem as motivated as they used to be, and so something mysterious must be going on, and maybe you will be the one to raise a Magikarp again who can jump into the sky. I mean it’s brief, and not overly deep, but honestly, it’s about as deep or interesting as any of the actual Pokemon games or anime. Pokemon is not well known for story. I’m not far enough into the game yet to see where the story goes, if it goes anywhere at all, or if it just leaves it as an introduction. I’ll give it the benefit of doubt and give it a 6 instead of a 5 “average”. The extra point because it’s cute, and set up in such a way very similar to the story telling of the actual Pokemon games.
Characters: 6/10 The worst part about the character system is not being able to customize your trainer character. We don’t even get to name them or choose a gender. This is a step back from almost every “modern” Pokemon game over the last several years.
Despite that small complaint, the other characters will all make any Pokemon fan feel right at home, from the “Mayor” who is basically taking the “professor” like role, to the Magikarps themselves, to the “Pokemon Friends” which range from classic favorites such as Pikachu, to more modern Pokemon such as Litten. I’m sure future updates will add more Pokemon Friends as well.
Character depth from a story standpoint is weak or even nonexistent. But the inclusion of fan-favorite Pokemon, in a game where Pokemon are the main characters, is sure to please old and new fans of the franchise alike.
Graphics: 10/10 The graphics, like everything in this game are super cute. Your Pokemon friends may be sleeping or playing on the screen, your loveable, ugly-but-cute, goofy, karps and you will forge a bond as you train them which endears them to you. Your tank can be customized with all sorts of decorations, and the karps come in various common and rare colors and patterns. The animations during training are quite cute as well. Everything is very brightly colored, and surprisingly “detailed” and full of personality for a cute simple 2D game.
Music: 6/10: Like most Pokemon games, the music is cute, snappy, and cheerful, full of fighting spirit and creates an atmosphere of innocence and adventure.
Replay Value: 10/10 – Since your time with each individual karp is so short, and you are forced to start over with your “current” league that your last karp left off in, and the levels and progress of your karps goes up bit by bit, you will have to play through multiple generations. I’m up to about Generation 8 now with the last karp maxing out around 53,000 JP I think. Some of my league opponents have upwards of 60k JP, so it will take me a few more generations before I can claim my next league badge. There’s also the collecting of decorations, Pokemon friends, and different colors and patterns of karps which makes playing more exciting for those who love to collect new things. Hopefully they continue to add new items and karp colors in future updates. Would love to even see some time-limited releases for items/karp colors in the future.
I love Magikarp, and after playing Magikarp jump, you will love him too! Next time, can we get a mobile game for the other underdog Pokemon, such as Psyduck?
The original is one of my all time favorite games. I love all the songs, the heart warming, touching story, the cute characters, adorable graphics, simple grid based turn-based Strategy JRPG gameplay, and use of the puppets in battle.
I greatly prefer the version by Atlus on the PS1, much more than the version by NIS on the DS, because Atlus dubbed all of the songs in English, while NIS only left them in Japanese. If I remember correctly, the version by Atlus let you choose to play them in the original Japanese as well. If it’s a musical, it’s more fun in English, so we can sing along, am I right? 🙂 I still can remember the words/melody to a lot of the songs even though it has been years since my first or subsequent play throughs. NIS also changed the gameplay from a grid based system to a straight forward turn-based traditional JRPG style of combat.
For the purpose of this review, since I prefer the original, and the two games are significantly different in terms of gameplay, this review only covers the PS1 game by Atlus. Now onto the review…
Title: Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure
Alternate Titles (Also Known As): Marl Kingdom, Little Princess Marl, or Marl Okoku no Ningyo Hime in Japan. Also referred to as The Adventure of Puppet Princess.
Overall Score: 73/90 81% B- “Very Good Game For Girls”
Geeky: 3/5 – Dated as this game may be, its bright colorful graphics are still quite pretty. The combat is nothing spectacular and it is linear and simple. The big “geek” points go to the fact that the game is literally a musical. The characters break out into song and dance and the soundtrack very much tells us the story. There are well over a dozen or more vocal tracks and all of the characters are fully voiced. Interestingly enough, wikipedia tells me that it was almost entirely a one girl show, what a talented voice actress! She gave voice/song to all except for 3 or 4 of the characters.
Sweetie: 5/5 – the graphic style is so cute and colorful, the characters are very full of emotion and there is a ton of humor, as well as romance, and a message about the meaning of family, and morals, and just… everything. Also strong female leads, which was pretty rare “back in the day”. This game is a must play for all girls.
Overview: 10/10 – There is simply nothing else in the world like this game. It’s an anime musical JRPG. It has adorable graphics, touching, amusing, and likable characters, and is brimming with “feels and emotions”. From a technical standpoint, there’s really nothing ground breaking here. It is very typical of gameplay in most other Strategy JRPGs of its time. But the music and characters set this game apart and make it an extremely unique experience.
Gameplay: 5/10 – Gameplay isn’t bad, but it’s not the reason you play this game. This game is very easy and simple. The main character takes a back seat, supporting her army of puppets who move around a grid and use various items, attacks, and abilities to thwart their foes. It’s a linear game that takes you from point A to point B, pretty monotonously and mindlessly. This game is carried by the music, voice acting, memorable characters, and touching story. There are different costumes you can find and different puppets you can add to your team, but other than that, it’s a pretty straight forward experience if you’ve ever played any other Strategy JRPGs before.
Story: 10/10 – Cornet is a kindhearted girl who has a magical gift in that she is able to communicate with dolls and puppets. One such doll is Cornet’s faithful sidekick, Kururu. Kururu has guided the young Cornet all her life. Cornet is often lonely as her mother passed away at an early age. However, despite her loneliness, Cornet remains cheerful, kind, and helpful to all of the villagers in part thanks to her puppet friends. She is regarded as a simple and sweet girl, and many of the villagers take pity on her for not having a mother.
Although she is just a common girl, Cornet has fallen in love with the Prince. Unrealistic as her love may be, Cornet has always believed in “dreaming big” and her innocent outlook on life leads her to hope that anything is possible.
Cornet isn’t the only one with eyes for the prince however. A beautiful witch appears in the kingdom one day with her sights set on the prince. When the prince refuses her advances, the witch casts a spell on him turning him to stone.
Thus begins Cornet’s series of quests to reverse the witch’s curse. The witch has many henchmen and lackeys who try to interfere in Cornet’s plans.
As she travels, Cornet will make new friends and enemies, both human and puppet alike. Also she will learn more about herself, her mother, and her unique gifts and talents.
Characters: 10/10 Cornet is the star of our show, a simple, pure hearted girl who can talk to puppets. She lost her mother when she was very young and has mostly been raised by a strange talking puppet named Kururu.
Prince Ferdinand is the prince who early in our story is turned to stone. Cornet and Marjolly are both in love with the Prince.
Marjolly is a wicked but beautiful witch who vengefully curses the prince when he refuses her romantically. Marjolly is also not very skilled at magic, and somewhat of a “bumbling idiot”. Her spells often have very unintended consequences and/or back fire. She is often less “evil” feeling and more of a “comedic relief” despite being the main villain in the game.
Kururu is a “living doll” who has always watched out for and guided Cornet. The two are extremely close. And there is a secret that Cornet does not know about her puppet friend.
Etoile is a wealthy and beautiful, but ill tempered and spoiled girl who is close to Cornet’s age. Although she is “better than” Cornet in almost every way, she still feels jealous and inferior and threatened by Cornet. The two have an interesting love/hate relationship, frenemies if you will.
There are many other delightful and wonderful characters as well.
Graphics: 7/10 – Although dated severely, the graphics remain bright and colorful and still attractive, even 17 years after its initial US release. Also in a time when retro gaming is very popular, and pixel art is “in” – what was once old, is now hot again. An interesting thing to note, although there are many, many cutscenes, these are done with the same sprites and pixel graphics as the rest of the game, unlike other anime games of that time such as Persona and Lunar which use a more hand-drawn or anime style for their cutscenes. This in one way helps keep things cohesive and flowing well from one moment to the next, however, it does result in less detailed cutscenes. The sprites are still adorable and animated and capable of conveying a lot of emotion despite the simple sprites. I would love to see a new release with anime cutscenes (like Lunar and Persona) and/or celshading used throughout the game and cutscenes (such as with Catherine).
Music: 10/10 – Easily 10/10 – one of the most memorable soundtracks of all time because of the huge number of vocal tracks and how they tie in so closely to the story – in fact, they ARE the story. Many of them are insanely, like seriously insanely catchy!!! I love the songs in this game!!
Voice Acting – 10/10 – They sing and act, and as I mentioned, one girl gives voice to about 6 of the main characters – very talented! If you hate dubs (which trust me, I usually do too!) you can also play with the Japanese audio. 🙂 But then you can’t sing along, or as easily get the song stuck in your head the next day lol.
Replay Value: 3/10 – It’s linear, and simple, and the only reason you will want to replay is to re-read the heartwarming story, and hear that awesome soundtrack again. I’ve replayed this at least 3 or 4 times now and love it every single time – but objectively, yeah there’s really nothing here story or gameplay wise for increased replay value.
Overall Score: 73/90 81% B- “Very Good Game For Girls”
Nikki is back in an all new game, and this time, it even has English voice acting. As you may recall, I reviewed Hello Nikki Let’s Beauty Up awhile back on my blog. Sadly, that game closed its doors a few months ago. As I mentioned in that original review, there were a ton of other Nikki dressup games available in the app store, but none of them had the gacha, rpg, and quest mechanics that I enjoyed so much in Hello Nikki – Let’s Beauty Up.
Geeky: 1/5 – The only real reason to play this game is because it’s so mind numbingly cute. Cute as it may be, it is full of bugs – It actually does not run well on my Iphone 6S with IOS operating system 10.3.2 – I can’t see the menus in the dressup, and can’t view tips. I can only access clothes by searching for them by name. Because of this, I play, whenever I can on my PC with a bluestacks emulator to play the android version. I could not get past the tutorial on my Iphone because I couldn’t click where it wanted me to click. And there are still times when I will click and it will be nonresponsive.
If they fix that IOS issue (and yes, I’ve already tried the built in fix utilities), then I’d probably be inclined to give the Geek score a 3/5 because it does feature online play, ranked leader boards, events and quest mechanics, and other interesting features to make it much more than “just” a dressup game.
Sweetie: 5/5 – So many cute outfits, events, and the characters are all cute. Just packed to the brim with cuteness.
Overview: 10/10 – Love Nikki Dress UP Queen takes a lot of what made Hello Nikki Let’s Beauty Up so much fun and throws in a few new surprises as well. If you login each day you get all kinds of rewards, basic login rewards, as well as ongoing event rewards, and other goodies. If you compete in the Stylist Arena you can get ranked against others and earn more rewards. The Arena is broken into seasons and the scores reset with new seasons which help new players catch up. You can enjoy the story mode by challenging various NPCs, or you can dress up freely – the choice is yours. With so many ways to play, Love Nikki Dress UP Queen is sure to keep you coming back.
Gameplay: 7/10 — This would be close to a perfect 10 if they could fix the game breaking bugs that exist on the IOS version right now. If you’re playing the android version, then you don’t need to worry about the negatives I’ve mentioned earlier in this review. I just can’t give “gameplay” a high score in good faith, when the game is so buggy (almost unplayable) for IOS users right now. Your Mileage May Vary depending on your device and what version of IOS you’re running. You can also switch freely between both the Android and IOS versions by linking your facebook account and have access to your same account and items in both versions of the game.
The actual gameplay itself is super solid. As mentioned under overview, there’s several different gameplay modes to choose from, and you can also craft, decompose, dye, and modify your clothes.
Like Hello Nikki Let’s Beauty Up, the main objective of the game is to collect different articles of clothing, and layer and combine them to create new outfits.
In the Story Mode, you will explore various maps; each point on the map presenting a brief story and new dressup challenge. You will be shown tips as to what styles or feelings your outfits should evoke, then you will face off with the NPC where your outfits will be scored on various standards such as warmth, liveliness, purity, maturity, sexiness, casualness, etc. depending on what the challenge calls for.
You’re also able to learn new skills as you level up which boost your score, or negatively impact your opponent’s scores when used in battle.
You will receive a letter grade and corresponding reward F through S rank for each challenge. Some maps may require you have a high amount of high ranked challenges to progress to the next map. Other maps may let you by with a C or higher.
In the Stylist Arena, you are paired with other real people playing from all around the world. Unlike Romantic Diary, there is no limit to how many pieces of clothing you can carry into the challenge. You (and your opponent) will have access to all of your items in every arena battle. You can rise to the top of the leader boards each Arena “Season” to get top rewards.
In Free Dress you can just put together whatever outfits you would like and have fun without worrying about meeting certain challenge requirements.
Be sure you look at the events, quests, and get your sign in bonuses every day. Click everything you can click; there’s so many rewards that it can be easy to miss some awesome freebies here.
Don’t forget to also collect your free gacha items each day. This is your chance for free rare items! Treasured items are good, but Super Treasured items are even better!
You can also earn retired / out of print outfits for linking your Facebook account or referring friends! So many ways to get free stuff – YAY.
Story: 7/10 Love Nikki Dress UP Queen has a new story to explore. Legend tells of a kingdom ruled by fashion battles. These fashion battles even have the ability to determine who will rule each kingdom as its king or queen. In the latest fashion battle, there was a tie, between a Princess, and a common girl. The Princess was very beautiful and refined with dark hair. The common girl had long pink hair, after the last fashion battle, the pink haired girl mysteriously disappeared, and the Princess became the new Queen. She ruled her kingdom harshly and brought about an age ruled by her cold blade. Nikki finds herself somehow in this strange kingdom, with her talking cat, Momo. Nikki shares an uncanny resemblance to the pink haired girl of legend who could challenge the current queen. Nikki will make her way to meet the queen while encountering strange new characters who either want fashion advice, or want to battle (in a fashion battle that is). – The story is there, and this time it’s even fully voiced, but it’s still not terribly interesting or engaging
Characters: 7/10 – all of the characters are voiced, have their own unique sense of style, and all of them are super cute, but it feels like they’re just there to keep you moving from point a to b, and of little story significance.
Graphics: 10/10 – Pastel pink is everywhere. Everything about this game is girly, feminine, charming, cute, and kawaii AF. The ability to layer items, from dozens of different “item slots” makes the dressup possibilities almost endless. The amount of different items also is mind boggling.
Music:5/10 – Meh, just average. It’s there, it exists, I just don’t pay much attention to it. It doesn’t get on my nerves, unlike many mobile games that I have to play on mute, but it’s nothing too impressive or memorable either.
Voice Acting: 8/10 – I’m torn on this — It’s the first Nikki game to have voice acting in English — or “first English Nikki Game to Have Voice Acting” period – by that, I mean that Hello Nikki Let’s Beauty Up removed ALL the voice acting from the original game before bringing it to North America – not only did it not have English Voice Acting, but it also removed the original Japanese Voice Acting as well! I was really disappointed by this.
So I’m really really happy that the new Nikki game is fully voiced – I would have liked for it to have included an option to keep the Japanese voice acting — Or if I could only choose one or the other, I would’ve preferred the Japanese voices. But I know there are royalties and licensing fees associated with doing so…
The English voice acting is actually… for the most part… not bad…. I’ve met a few questionable characters but on the whole, overall, most of the characters’ voices seem to fit well and deliver a decent performance that is not cringe worthy or over dramatic. I actually kind of really like some of the characters’ voices in fact. So yeah, we have voice acting, and it doesn’t totally suck, so yay lol.
Overall Score: 60/80 75% “Good Game for Girls”
NOTE: if playing the Android version or if they ever fix the bugs in the IOS version, the score would be closer to: 66/80 or 83% “Very Good Game for Girls”
Overview: 8/10 Curious Expedition is a rogue-like adventure game with retro style pixel graphics. It puts you in the role of one of several famous explorers from history and lets you compete for fame and fortune. If you become the most famous explorer, you win, and are honored with a large statue in your likeness.
That is, if you can survive long enough to even return home from your expedition. The game uses some interesting mechanics such as a sanity meter, which when it gets low, bad things begin to happen. Mutiny breaks out among your crew, or random disasters begin to befall the group.
You can restore sanity by eating, drinking, or sleeping. There are also certain units you can recruit, or perks you can receive that increase your max sanity, making it a bit easier to explore without going insane.
There are other resources for you to manage as well, such as fresh water, ammo, first aid kits, torches to explore dungeons, ropes and climbing kits, and numerous other tools to help you discover treasure.
While out exploring you will sometimes enter into battle using various dice (amount of dice and colors of dice are determined by which party members you have with you at the time.)
You can always select from 2 different expedition routes, and are presented with a randomly generated objective to complete while on expedition. You can choose to return home after completing your objective, or continue to search for treasure to bring back.
Your movement speed is greatly reduced when your inventory is over burdened. This will make it even more challenging to manage your sanity and other resources. Terrain obstacles such as sand, snow, ice, mountains, and forests will also slow down your expedition and require careful resource management.
Perhaps the most unforgiving element is if you die, you get one chance to load your auto save, and then that’s it, you’ll have to start a new game. And you will die often. 6 expeditions may not sound like much, but I have yet to make it past the 5th.
The overall experience of the game left me both addicted, and annoyed. I have yet to successfully complete a full series of expeditions. But yet, I played all night, and can’t wait to get home to go on new expeditions.
Pros: Strangely addicting Gameplay paired with retro pixel graphics. D&D style dice-rolls and turn based combat system. Fairly large maps (I typically have to return home without fully exploring the maps). Rogue like elements make it great for multiple replays (but admittedly need some tweaks).
Cons: Normal mode is very challenging… like seriously challenging (There is an easy mode (which I have not tried) and an even more difficult mode as well though so this is not really a bad thing). My chief complaint of Curious Expedition is that there’s not enough choices in places to explore. Maps all feel very same-ish. Scenarios seem to repeat, and even when you get a new scenario, there’s nothing terribly unique about the quest to make it memorable or exciting. Need more maps, more variety in quests, more variety in classes, npcs, treasure, random events, etc. My other chief complaint is there’s no multiplayer mode. This seems like a great game for some multiplayer fun as it does show you how much fame/fortune your competitors are earning. It could even make a great persistent online game with credit going to players for being the first to discover new regions, items, animals, native people, etc. So much potential here for interesting multiplayer options, but instead, your competitors are always controlled by the computer. And lastly, my last complaint is that there’s no Steam Achievements. A game like this would be PERFECT for steam achievements. There are steam trading cards, but no achievements which seems once again like a missed opportunity to add some fun gameplay elements.
Geeky: 5/5 – The retro vibe and random rogue like elements, as well as references from D&D and other old school games make this a blast for all geeks who grew up with fond memories of the 80s/90s.
Sweetie: 3/5 – Although it is very text heavy, a lot of the text repeats and is not very interesting on subsequent playthroughs. However, there are some notable female playable characters that represent real women throughout history, which is just awesome. This game highlights women who did extraordinary things and emphasizes their brains over beauty, making this a great game for young girls.
Gameplay: 7/10 – When the game begins, you select which explorer you want to play as. Some will be locked and can be unlocked through game play to be used on subsequent playthroughs. You will be given a few supplies and some animal and human companions.
You’ll then be shown a map of the world. It will have many expedition points, but only ever 2 at a time will be selectable as your competition will be exploring the other parts of the world. Select one of the two routes and you’ll be offered a quest. You can either accept or reject the quest. I assume if you reject it, you can just freely explore the expedition area without a quest in mind. Or maybe you’re presented other quest options before embarking on your voyage. I’m not really sure.
If you can successfully complete a quest objective you’ll get a large bonus to fame and/or fortune. But if you fail the quest after choosing to accept it, you’ll lose a great deal of fame or fortune as well.
Before leaving the docks, you’re given time to buy supplies, and sometimes you will find new crew members who wish to join your expedition. You can only take 5 members at any time, so if you find new members you wish to recruit, you will have to part ways with someone else first.
While out exploring you are shown a map with perhaps a few areas uncovered, but largely, hidden from your view. You click around the map to move and explore. Points of interest or interaction are designated by a white question mark symbol. As you approach, they will reveal themselves to be one of several different locale such as:
Native Villages: Here you can recruit members for your expedition, buy, sell, trade, rest to restore sanity, compile research, complete various quest objectives, and more. Your likelihood of success depends on the villagers feelings towards you. These are determined by how long you’ve stayed in the village, as well as decisions you make to story prompts both inside and outside of the village, as well as certain class roles of your crew, and any special status conditions possessed by your crew, and lastly, the amount of trading you’ve done with the village thus far.
Caves: If you have a torch, or a class member with “perception” skills (blue dice roll with white eye symbol), you can usually safely explore the caves. If you choose to loot treasure, you may anger the gods, villagers, or spring a trap, but it’s almost always worth the risk, as you can trade the treasure in for fame or fortune after you return home.
Stone Circles: You can use these monuments to reveal more of the map.
Temples and Pyramids: Similar to caves, mostly used as a place to loot treasure which usually has some negative consequences as mentioned above, but still is imperative in raising your fame and fortune which is how you ultimately win the game.
There are different types of maps / expedition areas such as:
Icelands, Jungles, Drylands, Deserts, Mountains, etc. I find the Jungles to be the easiest to traverse. Icelands can be conquered with Snowshoes and sled tickets. Drylands and Deserts requires you to carry more water.
While exploring your food and water rations deplete, and also your sanity begins to dwindle (rapidly). You must eat or sleep or drink to restore these meters. If you ignore them, you will suffer a lot of negative random scenarios, such as killing your crew, sometimes you’ll eat them though which will restore your sanity at least lol.
Encounters with various “monsters” (typically wild animals), happen when you enter an area designated by a red border, you can also see a circle icon representation of the beast in question as he also moves around the map. Should you draw attention, he will likely chase you, and be faster than you. Sometimes it’s better to face your opponents head on. If they sneak up on you, they get a free combat round before you can react.
Combat takes place using various dice rolls. Different items in your inventory, and different class roles of your party members, determines which dice you have available.
Each “turn” consists of 3 “rounds”. Each “round” allows you to either keep or re-roll dice. If you have a combination of dice that result in a combo move, they will shake on your screen. Mousing over a shaking die will show the other dice needed to activate the combo – they will shake too. If multiple combos or other dice had been shaking, their shaking will stop when you’re moused over a die from a combo they don’t belong to.
You can activate your combos each round.
For example, your first roll could reveal that you have 3 dice that activate a combo. You can click on those dice to “hold them” once all three have been held a dialog box will appear – click the box to activate the combo, then select reroll. Your next roll may have another 3 dice that activate a different combo, you can again play this combo in the same way, and roll again for your final round. Each time you hold dice, or activate a combo, however, will remove those used dice from your available dice pool, making it less likely to get good combo rolls as the rounds go on.
If you survive, you may be given items, or fame and fortune. If you should die, you will be taken back to the main menu where you can reload your game. Should you die again, when returning to the main menu you will notice there is no longer an option to continue and you must start a new game.
Also as you explore and fight your way to glory, you will be able to promote your party members to make them stronger. There are also numerous random events that may impact your party members’ skills, stats, and abilities.
Return home with your treasure. You can choose to donate to the museum for fame, sell for fortune, or hold onto various items. When you return home you’ll also be presented with any applicable quest rewards and allowed to select one “perk” from a handful of randomly generated ones. Some of these perks are really neat and significantly alter your gameplay, such as allowing you to do culture studies on native tribes, giving you additional dice rolls, permanent boost to max sanity, increased viewable map areas, or more benefits. After choosing your perks and preparing again for your next adventure you’ll again have an option of 2 expedition areas to explore and be shown a random quest.
Survive all six expeditions and have the highest fame to win the game.
Story: 5/10 – You write your own story. This game plays much like Oregon Trail, Horizons New Dawn, or Banner Saga, so if you’ve played any of those, you have an idea of what to expect here. Unlike Banner Saga, however, Curious Expedition is not very well written, nor engaging, simply because it is almost too random, and at the same time not random enough, so that when you hit subsequent playthroughs, it becomes a bit repetitive. I know the game is only just now at patch 1 point something, but after being out for 2 years now, that’s rather concerning too that there hasn’t been more big content updates. It needs more scenarios and random events, but even that can’t save the story because of the nature of the brief random encounters and quest. Lacking a central story, does not detract from how fun and enjoyable this game is, but for those looking for a solid story and great characters, look elsewhere.
Characters: 8/10 – There are a lot of randomly generated characters including various races, classes, genders, likes, dislikes, stat bonuses, ailments, and little quirks, that really make your party more interesting. There are a few, but not many, scenes that may endear some of these characters to you, but most of the time, they are of little consequence from a story standpoint. As mentioned earlier in the review, I am quite pleased to see the inclusion of many female and minority historical figures as playable characters. Curious Expedition is a great game with great rolemodels and unique characters inspired from historical events.
Graphics: 7/10: Pixel graphics are hot right now. I understand they’re not to everyone’s taste, but as an older gamer myself, I enjoy retro feeling games such as this. I did deduct a few points in this area though simply because of the “sameness” of all of the maps / areas / npcs / etc.
Sound: 6/10: The soundtrack is also extremely retro which gives it a fun 80s feeling with lots of nostalgia. But ultimately, the soundtrack is just not too memorable overall.
Replay Value: 9/10: Although it desperately needs some more variations, more options, and more items, npcs, places, and skills, the game does indeed present a fun randomly generated gameplay element that makes each playthrough unique. The challenge of the game also dictates the need for subsequent playthroughs.
Overall: 58 / 80 73% C “Good Game for Girls”
Other Games You May LikeInclude Horizons New Dawn on SNES and Oregon Trail Classic or Banner Saga on the PC.
Have you ever wanted to be a Top Model and walk down the catwalk in a Fashion Showdown between other beautiful and successful girls? Here’s your chance to be the best model, in XS Software’s Lady Popular Fashion Arena.
You can play this amazing dressup game for free in your web browser without needing to download or install any software. You can register either by email, or by connecting your facebook account.
Overview: 10/10Lady Popular Fashion Arena has a lot to offer. You start the game by choosing your hair, makeup, skin tone, outfits, and accessories. As you begin to complete quests within the game, you level up and gain access to new activities such as a photo shoot, new shops to explore, pets to dressup, or even find a boyfriend and dress him up too. It also has a dating sim element and wedding planning element. It’s the perfect game for young girls dreaming of falling in love, being beautiful, popular, and having an amazing career.
Gameplay: 8/10 – When you first start the game there will not be much for you to do in the early levels. This can be frustrating, but it does make leveling up and playing every day much more rewarding, as you will gain access to more features that help to mix up the gameplay.
Like most games in the Dressup Game genre, the main gameplay focuses on purchasing new outfits and accessories. To earn in-game currency you will complete your quest log, or face off against other real players in ultimate fashion battles.
In addition to dressing up, you also have to undergo extensive training to learn how to become a Top Model. You can choose from many different courses to improve your scores in Style, Beauty, Creativity, Devotion, Generosity, and Loyalty. All of which affect how popular your model is.
The user interface and tutorials in the beginning make this a very intuitive game to pick up and play without much of a learning curve. This makes the game great for young girls, even if they’re not experienced playing similar games of this nature.
The extra and unique features that begin to open up as you advance in the game, set Lady Popular apart from many other dressup games that focus only on fashion. As mentioned, Lady Popular also has a dating sim element later in the game and even allows you to plan your own engagement party.
Lady Popular also focuses more on social interaction and encourages you to play with friends, which is different from most dressup games that are more of a solo experience.
A recent update, totally revamped the questing system, making it much more exciting and rewarding to complete your quests which help you advance through the game. Once you begin to advance in the game, the sheer number of shops, outfits, activities, and little touches really hooks you in playing this game each day.
Story: 5/10 There is not much of a story, especially in the early levels. Your imagination becomes the story, and it allows you to choose your own path and determine what type of model you want to be.
Characters: 7/10 The characters in this game are all other models playing the game too. You can interact with your friends in real time, and compete against other players. On the downside, this also means there’s not much of a “story” behind these characters.
Customization: 10/10 The ability to customize everything about your avatar, from her hair, facial features, makeup, outfits, room, and the ability to customize pets and boyfriends, and then even customize your wedding and engagement, make this game a perfect 10 for customization options. You can be a cute, preppy, classic beauty, or rock out an alternative look with bright pink or blue colored hair or anything in between.
Graphics: 10/10 Lady Popular is a very brightly colored and attractive looking 2D game. The interface is intuitive, and the sheer number of clothes, accessories, and dressup items, make this game super cute.
Music: 5/10: Honestly, I usually play games like this on mute, or while watching tv or playing other games. If you’re playing with music on, like with most games of this nature, the music is fine, but nothing extraordinary, and due to the repetitive daily gameplay, the music can get annoying after you’ve heard it over and over again.
Replay Value: 10/10 What makes Lady Popular so much fun is the ability to interact with or against other players, as well as the mini games and other activities which open up later as you level up. To really appreciate this game you need to slog through the first few levels to get to the good parts. After that, you will be hooked by the number of things to do, and millions of different ways to customize your model and shape her life.
My Nyan Place allows you to run your own cat cafe while collecting rare and cute cats, decorating the cafe, and playing fun mini games. You will need to feed, play with, and groom your cats. They need ample space to play, hide, climb, scratch, and sleep. And all of the accessories that come along with it.
Guests will come to the cafe and play with the cats as well as purchase food and beverages which earn you gold which can be used to purchase new items for your cafe.
As you level up, you can begin adding more cats and even more floors or buildings to hold the cats which will then need more decorations and more items for your cats and attract even more guests and earn even more gold.
Gameplay: 5/10 – Gameplay is simple and intuitive enough that you can enjoy this game without knowing Korean or Japanese languages. There are some quests and tutorial items that can be challenging at first to get past without knowing the language, but luckily, you will clear many of these obstacles through the natural flow of the game.
You start with a completely empty cafe and are given a few items such as a table, feeder, and cash register to get you started. You also get to select one free starter cat from the old man’s shop to begin your game.
The old man’s shop refreshes once every 24 hours and gets lots of rare and unique cats. These cats cost a lot of bells, but give you the benefit of knowing exactly what type of cat you’re purchasing.
The alternate way to obtain more cats early in the game is with tickets or bells that can be exchanged for “blind box” type cats. With this method, you can exchange tickets or bells to receive one random cat. You may get a rare cat this way, but you’re much more likely to get a common cat. Different types of boxes have different cats, including rare event boxes and cats that appear only for a limited time.
Now you will need to add some important items to your cat cafe to make sure your cats are healthy and happy. With the cat feeder, you can cook your own food and treats for your cats. Each cat is a unique individual and has likes and dislikes when it comes to food. Feeding your cats food and treats that they like will boost their mood and earn you more gold from your guests. You can also grow your own catnip, which can also be used as a treat for your cats. The catnip can be harvested once a day.
Your cats need a place to sleep. Some beds can hold multiple cats, while others are only enough space for one cat. It’s better to select items for multiple cats because they take up less room on the “grid” layout of your cat cafe.
You can expand your cat cafe to hold one more row on the grid per each upgrade, but there are level blocks that prevent you from expanding too quickly. There are also level blocks that prevent you from holding more cats, or having more than X number of certain items (tables, feeders, beds, etc).
You can hire staff to help run the cafe when you need to go offline. Your friends can also help you by visiting your cat cafe and clicking on up to three items that need attention.
Cats love to play; there are a lot of items which the cats can interact with which help to boost their mood, which as mentioned, help make your cafe more profitable. These items range from scratching posts to exercise wheels to cardboard boxes and anything in between.
The cats in the cafe will play with these items on their own. When you see them playing, boost their mood by clicking on the pink hearts. You can also tap on a cat and interact with that cat directly to boost its mood by grooming, feeding, or playing with the cat.
Cats also like to sleep, but they won’t sleep on their own. You need to monitor their moods and if you see a bubble with a “Zzz” click it to make the cat go to sleep. You also feed cats in the same fashion. A bubble will appear with a blue food dish; click the bubble to feed your cat.
When an NPC guest character visits your cafe, place one of your cats on each of your open tables. The NPCs will sit and pet, feed, play with, and take photos of your cats. They will also order food and drink for themselves to enjoy as well. You will need to restock, clean, and arrange the food and drinks several times a day.
Although the game is in Korean (or Japanese depending on the version you choose to download), the game sends me notifications in English, telling me “the food stand is strange and to hurry and come clean it”. As well as other notifications in English, which also help with figuring out the gameplay.
Be careful not to accidentally sell your favorite cats. I speak from experience. When trying to transfer from your apartment to your cat cafe, one of the buttons will let you sell the cats. Another screen will pop up asking to confirm, but since it is not in English it is easy to accidentally click the wrong button and accidentally confirm that you want to sell the cat. I recommend if you see the popup, and you think you may accidentally be selling your cat, to restart the app completely. (To do so on an IOS device you hold the power button for a few seconds, then release, and hold the home button for a few seconds, this will cause any IOS app to restart).
Each cat is an individual. While some may look alike, they have different personalities and also grant different stat bonuses such as increased gold, increased luck, better moods, and other status effects. Make sure you’re using your best cats on the best tables for the best results and keep an eye on their moods, sleep, and hunger levels.
That is the basics to the gameplay. As you level up there will be new features unlocked to you such as capturing stray cats in the wild to add to your cafe, you new minigames that allow you greater interaction with your cats.
Story: 0/10 – There might be some loose story, but since it’s not in English I dunno what it is. Story and dialogue boxes are not presented very often in game, so whatever story there may be, probably isn’t very detailed anyways.
Characters: 5/10 – The cats are cute, but just as with story, since it’s not in English, they have no substance to the characters, beyond being just cute pixels to collect. This means that there is no real character development or emotional attachment to any of the characters.
Graphics: 10/10 This game has super cute artwork and more than 50 different types of cats. There are new events added constantly which add more cute cats to collect. The decoration and dressup items are also incredibly cute.
Music: 5/10 The cats make cute meows and purrs, but the music itself is very simple and lacking.
Replay Value: 7/10 – The limited time events and cute cats keep you wanting to play again and again. The simplistic gameplay makes it a good game for some mindless cute cat interaction. The lack of story (at least one I can understand in English), and lack of some features common in other cafe simulation games, makes this a game best enjoyed in short bursts and not played too long at any one time.
I just recently discovered and began watching “Aikatsu! Stars”. Aikatsu! Stars is a sequel of an anime called Aikatsu! The anime is based on a card / arcade game by Bandai. The arcade card game involves dressing up idols with cute kawaii clothes and accessories to help them achieve a higher score. — From the success of these arcade machines, as well as the success of the anime (which I believe has about 6 seasons now), and the success of the other media related to the Aikatsu franchise — Bandai then introduced Aikatsu! Photo on Stage, a mobile game which is kinda similar to Bandai’s other Idol Collecting / Rhythm Games such as Idol M@ster which I’m just learning now, and Love Live School Idol Festival, which I’ve been meaning to also review, but haven’t really gotten around to just yet.
The main difference in Aikatsu! Photo on Stage compared to Love Live School Idol Festival, is the way in which the rhythm game is actually played. Love Live School Idol Festival displays characters’ faces in a half-moon arc like shape scattered around the screen. As a song plays, music notes, indicated by a ring shape, float out to one of these characters. Pressing on a character at the right time will score higher points. You “chain” “perfect” time presses for the highest score possible.
In Aikatsu! Photo on Stage, the rhythm game is completely different (and in my opinion more challenging). This time, you see your selected characters standing on a stage, and over top, overlaying these characters, you see a various number of boxes, outlined by white squares. As the song begins, these squares begin to fill, with what I would describe as playing cards. Spade, Diamond, Club, and Heart symbols begin to fill each box. Pressing when the shape has filled in the white outline the fullest will result in better scores. The number of squares, layout of squares, and speed with which they fill, varies not only from song to song, but within different parts of a single song as well. Some squares, indicated by a golden color, can be spammed over and over before they fade, letting you chain dozens of notes quickly. Often multiple squares appear at once and while playing which you can either press simultaneously or in rapid succession.
You may also unlock combos and abilities of your girls; This seems to be determined by who is in your team. When the song begins, there’s a lengthy animation showing your girls, and they “Pair off” It seems like certain cards when “paired together” will activate different abilities “together”. Sometimes a girl will also activate a single ability. All of these abilities will act as huge score multipliers for the duration that the ability is in effect.
The other significant difference is that Aikatsu! Photo on Stage has never been released in North America. This means the game is in Japanese. My time spent with Aikatsu Photo on Stage has amounted to probably an hour, spread over the past two days. I cannot speak or read Japanese, and am not an expert by any means on this game. In fact, twice now I’ve accidentally clicked things and wasted my stars (in game currency used to summon new idols).
There are people and places to get much better information on this game than what I’m about to share with you. I just wanted to share my love for the game and show how cute it is, and tell you you should be playing this game. You should also watch the anime, at least Aikatsu Stars! because it is super kawaii (cute). It’s like Harry Potter crossed with Love Live School Idol Festival. It follows a young girl as she enrolls in a special academy just for idols. She is given a phone and badge and even taken to pick out a special outfit. And it was discovering this anime that sparked my interest in the game. I thought WOW this would make such a fun game! I want to go to a school for idols too! Then I thought “I wonder if there is a game based on this anime already” There are numerous Nintendo DS games, and then there’s this mobile game (and of course the original arcade/card game).
Once again I’m no expert and the following info may not be 100% correct or accurate. I will include some resources at the end of this article that will probably prove more helpful.
First here is how to get the game if you use IOS (iphone, ipad, etc).
From a PC, log out of your Itunes account. In the bottom right corner you should see a flag to change your country/region. — If you don’t see this or if it has moved, don’t worry I’ll show you how you can change regions midway through this process later.
You need to decide which version of Aikatsu you want to play. I chose the Japanese version, but there’s also Korean and Chinese versions. The Chinese version for country code MO even looked like it was in English??? I can’t confirm that though as I chose the Japanese version believing it to be the most updated and least likely to close down later.
So if you want to play the Japanese version, select to change your region to Japan now.
Once you’ve selected your region, search for Aikatsu! – you’ll see a lot of anime and music here, you can narrow your results to just Iphone or Ipad apps to make it easier to find.
Once you find the Aikatsu! Photo on Stage app, click the “+Get” button.
You will then be prompted to create a new itunes account.
Here is where you can change your country if you didn’t already do so. It will say something like “If your billing address is not in the United States, click here to change regions” You can then search again for the Aikatsu app and click the +Get button and be prompted again to set up a new Itunes account.
The important thing is that you select the app and use the +Get Button BEFORE MAKING YOUR ACCOUNT. SUPER IMPORTANT DO NOT IGNORE THIS STEP.
Assuming that you followed this advice, the payment should be set to “None” by default.
Ignoring that step and trying to either change an existing Itunes account region, OR creating a new account before clicking the +Get button will result in you being asked for payment details even for FREE apps! And it will only accept Japanese credit/bank cards or Japanese Itunes Gift Cards. So It’s really important to remember to FIRST select the app, and THEN create your account.
You will then need to finish filling in your details, an email address that is not associated with any other Itunes account, you may need to create a new email address, which you can do for free on sites like hotmail, gmail, yahoo, etc. Then fill in your secret hints and select a new password.
You need a Japanese address, I have read that you can use a university address, your mileage may vary. My understanding is that as long as the Prefecture, city, and zipcode all line up, the rest of the address doesn’t matter.
You can use a US cellphone number.
You are now the proud owner of a Japanese Itunes Account. Congratulations!
Your app should begin downloading automatically after entering your password or thumbprint.
To get your app to your Iphone: Now from your Iphone, go to settings, and under the “Itunes & App Store” select sign out, and select sign in to use the new account you just created.
Now when you browse the App store you’ll be browsing the Japanese app store.
You can switch back at any time by going to settings and again signing out and back in to your US Itunes account.
Aikatsu! Photo on Stage will not Work on any Rooted Devices, so if you Jailbreak your Iphone it will no longer work for you. This also means Aikatsu! Photo on Stage will not run on android emulators such as Bluestacks. So I am not sure how Android users can enjoy this game. I think it involves using a VPN and Tunneling service, but then I don’t know if that would “flag” the “Rooted Device” warning signal, so unfortunately I can’t provide help or directions to get the app on Android.
But assuming you’re an IOS user, you’re now ready to Play Aikatsu! Photo on Stage. And I’m now finally ready to review it for you 🙂
Geeky: 3/5 – This app is over the top cute/sweet which can distract some from the actual gameplay and features. I read that it was originally aimed at young elementary school girls… However, Bandai was surprised that many “Hardcore” adult male gamers also play the game, perhaps moreso even than their original audience. The reason for the mass appeal is that, if you look past the pink girly graphics, the gameplay itself is quite challenging, and guys like to collect their virtual “waifu” – They may also be trickling down from the other two popular Bandai Franchises, Love Live, and Idol M@ster (or a slew of other Bandai Namco Idol Simulation game series). It loses some points in my opinion with some of the graphics… For example your girls are just motionless/still on the stage, and in the story mode, they’re still, but come “Bouncing in” like a child playing with a Barbie doll, walking her Barbie across the floor by picking up and lowering the whole doll. — This was maybe intentional, given Bandai’s original target audience, and the “dress up theme” but it’s none the less, strange to watch and distracting compared to the more “fluid” looking animations in the other idol apps. The UI also confuses me but that could just be since I can’t read Japanese — However, by contrast, the UI of Ensemble Stars, which I reviewed here, is so simple that it doesn’t matter that it’s Japanese. So I would say there are some overly complex issues with the UI in Aikatsu… but it’s not as bad as the UI in Idol M@ster Cinderella Girls which I’m having even more difficulty navigating (too many things to click/options/features, which yes, makes for an awesome game, but steep learning curve when not in your native tongue).
Sweetie: 5/5 – As mentioned, this game and the anime are unbelievably cute. Seeing your girls on the stage, instead of just a circle with their face is very cute, and outside of performing, you can set your home screen to different backgrounds (often with pink glitter, hearts, gems, etc floating by) and select if you’d like to see 2, 3, or all 8 of your girls. When you go to power up your girls, you will be “dressing them up” to even more kawaii versions of themselves.
Concept: 8/10 – I feel like feature wise, it’s a step up from Love Live, but a significant step down from Idol M@ster. You should play this game because it’s cute. But as for actually “dressing up your girls” Idol M@ster does this better and in a fashion much closer to the Aikatsu! Card Arcade game, which allows you to equip tops, pants, shoes, or a dress which can sometimes take the place of multiple items. By contrast, the Aikatsu mobile game “dresses up” your girls much in the same way that Love Live idolizes your girls. In Aikatsu you have Rare, Normal, and Super Rare “Tokens”, each card will require some combination in some amount of these tokens to “dress up”. It will also require a certain number of hearts… Despite that… I have met the requirements — saying “OK” for each type of token, and have more than enough hearts, and still haven’t been able to dress up my girls (so perhaps I am misunderstanding something about how this works. Like I’ve said a couple times, I’m no expert). But it still seems to me, a rather lackluster system, and seems that Idol M@ster actually has the “dressup system” that the original card arcade game was so popular for.
That said, I do think there is some way to scan your cards in Aikatsu Photo on Stage, but I haven’t figured it out, nor do I have any of the cards.
Music wise, I feel like it’s not quite as good as Love Live.
Overall, it’s just “another” idol sim and rhythm game from Bandai Namco, of which there are probably a dozen different apps and franchises to choose, each with their own anime and target audiences. But you just can’t look past how cute and addictive it is to collect all of the girls. Like most of these games, there are limited time events, and the desire to collect the rarest cards keeps players coming back.
Gameplay: 8/10 What makes Aikatsu stand out (at least compared to Love Live), is the way the rhythm game is played which involves squares filling with shapes from a deck of playing cards. If you read the first few paragraphs of my review, you have a good idea how that works already. If not, here’s a recap.
This time, you see your selected characters standing on a stage, and over top, overlaying these characters, you see a various number of boxes, outlined by white squares. As the song begins, these squares begin to fill, with what I would describe as playing cards. Spade, Diamond, Club, and Heart symbols begin to fill each box. Pressing when the shape has filled in the white outline the fullest will result in better scores. The number of squares, layout of squares, and speed with which they fill, varies not only from song to song, but within different parts of a single song as well. Some squares, indicated by a golden color, can be spammed over and over before they fade, letting you chain dozens of notes quickly. Often multiple squares appear at once and while playing which you can either press simultaneously or in rapid succession.
You may also unlock combos and abilities of your girls; This seems to be determined by who is in your team. When the song begins, there’s a lengthy animation showing your girls, and they “Pair off” It seems like certain cards when “paired together” will activate different abilities “together”. Sometimes a girl will also activate a single ability. All of these abilities will act as huge score multipliers for the duration that the ability is in effect.
Again deducted a few points for a somewhat overwhelming UI, as well as not quite as feature rich as some of Bandai’s other Idol simulation games.
Also another caveat to the gameplay is the ridiculous load time and frequency at which it keeps requesting to load things. Their loading screen is cute, but I see it way too often and it interrupts my game to the point of frustration.
Story: 8/10 – This is my assumption on what the story is about, based on what I’ve seen of the anime. I cannot read Japanese, so I can’t really grade the story within the actual game. But the story in the anime involves a young girl who goes to a special school for idols. When the girls perform they seem to become like Hatsune Miku or a Vocoloid, and “transform” into much cuter versions of themselves. In the anime, there’s some really bad/cheap 3D animation used when the girls perform their songs lol. But the concept is none the less cute. As the girls enter this special academy they are given all kinds of cute thing, and begin their special training to become idols.
In some ways, it’s very similar to Harry Potter; there are different houses (whose names I forget, but just winging it here) such as Star, Bird, Ocean, Whisper, etc. Students are assigned a house based on their personality and natural abilities. The houses compete with each other, as well as other schools, to be the top idol group in their school and in the world. The girls are given cute costumes and magic idol tools to use in their training and performances. They make friends and go to classes with a variety of characters as classmates and teachers.
The story in the anime is very cute. I prefer this story 100 times more than the story in Love Live because it has that sort of fantasy, Harry Potteresque, “magic idol school” setting. Once again I can’t confirm that the game follows this story.
The story is revealed in story scenes upon clearing certain song stages and ranking up, similar to how story is revealed in the Love Live mobile game as well.
I only wish it was in English so that I could actually read the story. As it is now, I skip all the story scenes because I just can’t read them.
The story is a bit juvenile / fluffy – but once again Bandai’s original target audience was gradeschool children with this franchise, so this is to almost be expected.
I also compared the story quite a bit to Full Moon Wo Sagashite – which this anime is really nothing like, except for the age of the main characters, and their desire to become Idols and their sorta similar personalities between the main girls.
Full Moon Wo Sagashite has much more substance, feeling, heart, drama, and strife than Aikatsu! Stars. But if you’re looking to get your idol fix, this may do it for you. Another anime to check out in a similar tone is Fancy Lala.
Characters: 4/10 – I feel like the character designs are hit and miss, both in terms of personality, and also in their visual appeal. I’m not super far into the anime, but the characters so far story and background wise, feel so cliche… actually many of them feel like a copy/paste of “corresponding” characters from Love Live. There’s one girl that could be a dead ringer for Kotori with the same hair style, half up side pony tail, twisted and clipped over her light blonde/silvery/grey hair. Despite the change in setting to a more fantasy / harry potter style of “Crazy Cute and Cool Idol School” the characters themselves aren’t that unique at all. However, the main character of Aikatsu! Stars is so cute…
She’s my favorite girl, and I was excited when I got her card, even though it’s only “Rare” and not “Super Rare” or “P Rare” (dunno what the P stands for? Precious Rare? Pretty Rare? Premium Rare?). (P Rares are what you want to be aspiring for, but Super Rares are pretty good too. Rares, just as the same with Love Live, aren’t really all that rare at all! lol.) — Anyways sure she’s cute, but how does she differ from any other magical shoujo girl main character? She doesn’t, even the yellow pigtails are sure to remind you of a certain well known shoujo magical girl.
Graphics: 9/10 – So Cute, this is probably the cutest app on my Iphone… I deducted 1 point for the “bouncing” animation in the story scenes where characters move across the screen by bouncing up and down as they glide stiffly across the screen – which looks pretty bad. The anime also is mostly cute 99% of the time, but when the girls transform to sing, it shifts to some really bad 3D animation that looks cheap and dated. Sticking to 2D would have looked so much better; but I think they wanted to show that the girls’ idol performances are using Virtual Reality like Hatsune Miku.
Music: 7/10 – The music is good – it better be, since it’s a rhythm game right? But not great. The girls’ vocals don’t have the same tone and quality as the girls’ in Love Live – or if they’re using some of the same cast, perhaps it’s that the song arrangements aren’t quite as catchy. Whatever the reason, if I were to play a game just for music alone, I’d stick with Love Live. The music in Aikatsu! is not bad, it’s “good” but I think it’s natural to want to compare it to Love Live, and it just doesn’t stack up.
Voice Acting: 6/10: The game has a few “one line” voice overs. The voice acting that’s there is good, really good even. I love the voice actor for the male teacher in the red track suit. He is funny and energetic. But the game is not fully voiced and I feel like the potential, especially in the story scenes, is not really reached, especially when similar apps do have full voice overs in this area.
Replay Value: 10/10 This cute game has addictive rhythm games, lots of cute rare girls, and lots of in game events. It’s one that will keep you playing over and over. It’s best in small but frequent doses.
Overall: 68/90 76% C “Good Game for Girls”
Overall Aikatsu Photo on Stage will appeal to you if:
You like Kawaii things, such as shoujo, magical girl anime or idol culture.
The rhythm game is fun, and it’s not impossible, but slightly frustrating to play since it is not in English.
If you like Aikatsu Photo on Stage, check out Bandai Namco’s other idol games such as Love Live, Idolish, and Idol M@ster Cinderella Girls. — For anime check out the original Aikatsu! and newer Aikatsu! Stars, as well as Fancy Lala, Full Moon Wo Sagashite, and Chance Pop Session. You may also like Wizardess Heart because of the harry potter theme which I reviewed here. You’ll also like Ensemble Stars which I reviewed here.
For Additional English Aikatsu! Resources Please Refer to:
Did you know this game has many things in common with the TV Series “Stranger Things”?
For example, both Beyond Two Souls and Stranger things focus on a young girl with strange powers. In both cases, they are raised by a government figure who at first treats the girl as if he was their father, in order to gain the girl’s trust and help her learn to use her powers. In both cases, the government uses the girl to open a portal to the other side which has unintended consequences of letting spirits cross over into this world. Also in both cases, the girl runs away, only to be hunted relentlessly by the government throughout both stories.