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.
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:
As mentioned in another post here, I spent much of this past weekend playing Stardew Valley on the PC. Stardew Valley is a game that harkens back memories of popular retro games such as Harvest Moon and Rune Factory. The game is fun and relaxing… however, like most games in this genre, the gameplay can get tedious and repetitive at times. Stardew Valley also suffers significant development delays and setbacks, which is not surprising considering the entire game, from the graphics, to music, to programming, was all made by just one person. It doesn’t get anymore “indie” than that. Despite these few small flaws, the game is one of the highest rated Steam games of all time with nearly 50,000 Overwhelmingly Positives since its release in February 2016. If you’re still wondering if Stardew Valley is worth playing, read my Stardew Valley Review below.
Title: Stardew Valley
Platform: PC (also recently released for Xbox One, PS4, and soon to be released for Nintendo Switch)
Geeky: 2/5 – This is a low budget indie game, so you won’t see triple A graphics here. And given the genre and nature of farming simulation games there isn’t much action going on. I also feel the controls and UI are clunky, to the point of detracting from the gameplay (read more about that later in this review). However, given that 1 man made everything in this game, that’s pretty impressive and worth an extra star at least for effort!
Sweetie: 4/5 – Everything about this game exudes charm and cuteness. However, the characters feel impersonal and the story a bit lacking, costing it to lose 1 heart for “sweetie” factor.
Overall: 60/80 75% D- “Average Game for Girls”
Concept: 8/10 It’s hard to believe this game has been out for less than a year; it’s so wildly popular and became an instant fan classic, that even games by fully staffed development teams have not made nearly as successful games or seen as many sales or positive reviews in years worth of time. And day by day new fans come to experience Stardew Valley for their very first time and fall in love, and continue to share their experiences. I was somewhat late to join the party, starting back in maybe July of 2016.
At that time, people were growing restless with lack of progress made on features that had been promised such as multiplayer. Here we are another 6 months later, and there’s still no word on when multiplayer will be added, just simply that it is in the works. The game has received several updates and improvements, including finishing “routes” for “new” characters (The characters were already present, but now you can date more of them).
And that’s important because really… the game of Stardew Valley is like the game of your life. Stardew Valley’s open sandbox environment and multiple choices and decisions that you will make, all shape what will happen. Will you get married? have kids? Choose a life of adventure exploring dungeons, fishing all day, or focus on rebuilding your grandfather’s farm? Or maybe just sit at the tavern, playing games, and wasting your virtual life – the choice is yours.
Although the game starts slow, once it picks up, there will be numerous choices you must make (which you’ll start to notice around maybe Fall of the first year or so)… Things such as deciding if you want to let fruit bats live in the cave near your farm or if you want to use the cave to grow mushrooms. Hopefully by Fall of the first year you’ve had time and resources to upgrade your house or add new buildings that let you craft new recipes and add new gameplay elements such as making pickled vegetables, fruit preserves, wine, cooking meals from your crops in your new kitchen, etc. Characters at times may also ask you questions which may impact the game or change their friendship towards you, such as asking you what types of books you like to read, etc. Lil bit by lil bit you will begin to see how YOUR farm in Stardew Valley differs from that of your friends’ farms. (Or how it will differ for you on subsequent playthroughs).
There are also numerous in-game events held throughout each season such as festivals, cooking contests, dance parties, and more. If you’ve been working on your social skills in the game and making friends, or even romances, these special events will be even more special, having someone to share them with.
You start with little in way of resources to begin the game and with little to do. When I first started playing, it was tedious. It felt like work, like real life. It was made somewhat worse by bad controls and UI… However now, as my first year in Stardew Valley draws to a close, the game has me firmly hooked. I couldn’t believe I stayed up until 1am playing it lastnight, and I want nothing more than to go home and play it again as soon as possible. — Soon you will be able to take Stardew Valley with you everywhere you go with the Nintendo Switch! For many, this means starting all over from scratch though and replaying through these tedious first few hours of gameplay as I seriously doubt it will sync your game saves — though it would be awesome if it did!
Stardew Valley is slow paced, and definitely not for everyone. There is some combat; however, at least on the PC, the combat is simple and basic at best, and involves no strategy, and just mindless clicking. The controls also make any actions, from combat, to fishing, to farming, a real pain at times. However, despite these flaws, Stardew Valley shines because of the charming retro vibe and relaxing gameplay mechanics. It’s one of the best casual games around and guaranteed to make you feel warm and fuzzy. It is just simply a “Feel Good Kind of Game”.
Gameplay: 6/10 If you’ve ever played a Harvest Moon or Rune Factory game then you will be right at home in Stardew Valley. The basics of gameplay include planting, watering, and harvesting crops, conversing with townsfolk, dating/marrying a townsfolk, upgrading/decorating your home, exploring dungeons, collecting and crafting items, and joining in various events. — It was also marketed as an “Online or Multiplayer” farming game (which drew many fans who have long dreamed of an Online Harvest Moon — however, that feature, which arguably is the game’s MAIN feature, is still no where to be seen and with no estimated release date a year later.
I’m critiquing the gameplay for the PC version right now since it’s the only version I have played as of time of review. While the features of the gameplay would get high marks here in terms of the vast amount of things to see, do, choices and consequences, and customization, the score ultimately suffers due to terrible controls and UI. Please note for this review I play on a laptop and do not use a mouse. I am a keyboard only user. As such, there are some things that just DON’T work. Period.
Like for example, I read that to put bait on a fishing pole you left click the bait then right click the fishing pole, but nothing happens when I do this. Luckily, you can fish without bait, but with some tools you aren’t so lucky. I assume that loading the slingshot with stones also works in the same fashion but can’t figure out how to load it with ammunition either which makes it completely useless to me. At the fall grange faire, the controls for fishing were different than fishing on the main map too! In the main map I can use my button shortcode which is C as opposed to mouse clicking, — this for some reason does not work at the fall grange faire and you have to use the mouse (in my case keep in mind, I’m using my laptop’s “touchpad” which you can click/scroll/operate like a mouse.) —
I have read that PS4 controllers will now work in Steam so I may have to try that and hope they are supported in Stardew Valley. I also do have a usb mouse – but given that I play largely from my bed, it makes finding a place to put the mouse a challenge. I am surprised because quite simply, this is a casual game. If I were expecting to smoothly play a triple A title without a mouse, from my bed, well that would be my own fault for having unreasonable expectations… but the truth is, there’s nothing here that should require finesse or skill.
And it’s not just a little bit cumbersome, it’s that things completely don’t work in some cases as illustrated above at worst. At best, I find myself constantly turning away from my target while fighting in the dungeon, or watering an empty square next to the plant I’m trying to water. Or I’ll forget I have an axe equipped and accidentally kill a crop I’m trying to work with (OK so that last one is my fault 🙂 lol).
The gameworld is not that large, but you walk really slow, which makes it seem a bit larger (Please note for this review, I’m critiquing the default map, not the new ones added in after release). You will also find that you get weak from exhaust and/or injuries easily when you first begin playing, and that even adding new weapons, armor, and accessories, doesn’t seem to speed up combat as much as you might hope.
Despite these weaknesses, the gameplay is actually fun and enjoyable with a wide variety of things to do and see. In fact, there’s often not enough in-game hours in a day to do everything. I love rainy days in the game so I can go fishing or explore the dungeons without wasting half a day tending to my crops. I also love that as you continue to do something in game, such as fish or fight monsters, you gain levels of proficiency with different skills and at certain levels, these skills branch off and force you to choose a path, with different pros and cons, which further customizes your experience from that of your friends – and also greatly adds to replay value.
There could be some other features added that would further enhance gameplay, difficulty and challenge, such as making certain foods expire – would also create need to use the preserve machine — or making for example icecream melt after so many in-game hours. As it stands right now you could buy or grow an item in year one, and eat it 5 years later without risk of getting sick, etc. They could even add a temporary debuff “Food Poisoning” that would wear off after so many in game hours.
Story: 6/10 – Well the story is that you write your own story. You decide exactly what you want to do, who you want to be with, and shape your own virtual life. It offers a ton of customization and the story does branch and reveal different routes based on who you date and other decisions you make within the game, but largely, by the end of the first year, the story has felt weak and bare bones at best. The in-game events do help to spice things up however, I suspect that after the first year they will be less exciting since you’ve already seen them. — However, it makes up for this in the amount of customization, freedom, and exploration that these open world sandbox games are best known for. Watching slowly as your farm takes shape and beginning to set a path for yourself and discover how to make your farm uniquely your own is truly the best aspect of this game, and that will become even more of a big selling point once multi-player finally gets implemented so you can visit friends’ farms.
Characters: 6/10 – Well, there’s a lot of them, but none of them are terribly interesting… They will recycle through the same dialog over and over. In the beginning, as to be expected, many of the characters are distrustful of you (You’re a stranger afterall!), and so they do not talk about anything meaningful or overly deep. Getting close to people, just like in real life, takes time. Relationships take work, and Stardew Valley is no exception to that rule… I have yet to see if the characters, or story for that matter, get more interesting past the first year, but with well over 30 hours of real life put into the game, that’s more time than one should be expected to “wait and see” if things improve.
Right now my highest relationship, according to the fortune teller at the fall grange fair, is with Shane, one of the newly added routes in a recent update. He is sorta the Tsundere type. Rough on the outside. He often plays guitar in the tavern. He likes Hot Peppers, Spaghetti, and Pizza for presents, and he is a cold unfeeling jerk lol. At least initially. I think there may be more to him, which is why I was curious to pursue him. I think his route shows the most promise for “character development” if written correctly. It will be nice to see him warm up and hopefully be less of a jerk over time lol.
Other characters seem to pay homage to various Harvest Moon games, there’s a guy named Linus (not dateable) living in a tent who reminds me of Gustafa from Harvest Moon on the Gamecube. There’s Harvey who is a doctor, Demetrius a scientist (who at time of this review is not dateable), Sebastian who is a stereotypical Emo/Goth guy, Alex a fitness nut, a Magician (I don’t believe he’s dateable either), Clint who is a Blacksmith, and Elderly couple. The tavern workers, a Museum worker, a Carpenter (female), Goth girl, Librarian (female), and a handful of others.
Despite not having much “depth” to the characters (at least after almost a whole year of time passing in game), the characters themselves are charming, and always busy and on the move. They breathe life into the game and keep it feeling active and bustling year round. Not only these human characters, but the animals on your farm, the monsters in the dungeon, and even just little touches like birds and butterflies randomly flying or a squirrel quickly climbing a tree, or a rabbit running through the bushes, they all make the game seem… living. It seems as if every character has a mind of their own and a life of their own. This is a big plus and part of the game’s unique charm.
Graphics: 8/10 – Keep in mind, this is an indie game that wanted to go for a retro-vibe. If you’re not a fan of “outdated” graphics, RPG Maker style games, and Isometric Top-Down view style games, then this is not the game for you. — That said, Stardew Valley is for you if you grew up with the 16 bit Harvest Moon games, don’t mind “indie-retro” games, like to customize the appearance of your character, and like “cute” bright graphics.
Everything about Stardew Valley is exceptionally charming. And there is a lot of work that went into everything from the tile sets used in town or your farm, to the dungeons, character portraits, or animations. As mentioned above, the environment really feels almost like it’s alive somehow, with so many small details and little touches, falling leaves, wind, rain, animals, and background animations that really add to the charm and little extra love that was poured into this game.
I’d like to see maybe a tad more detail on the character sprites, and even more options added for character customization and more interior decorating items, or more various monster designs and not just recolors – but that’s just a wishlist, already, the artwork is pretty great if you’re a fan of pixel style games.
I did take off a few points for the following:
It gets pretty hard to see where I’m going at night. I dunno if it’s my monitor settings – and I am well aware you can craft items like torches and etc to brighten things up, but I get pretty lost.
Also some items can be hard to see if they’re behind trees, or other tall graphic items, and this too, can at times cause you to feel “stuck”.
Lastly, back to the UI again, it is just a lil bit clunky and could use some refinement.
Music: 10/10 – The soundtrack is one of my favorite things about this game. It is infectiously catchy. Not only does it feature great music, but sound effects are skillfully used to further create immersion and once again give rise to a game world that feels bursting with life. Sound effects for weather effects, animals, monsters, and machines and tools all help paint a picture of what life in Stardew Valley is all about.
Replay Value: 10/10 – Despite myself criticizing many things in this game such as terrible controls and user interface, lack of promised features and development setbacks, and a rather barebones story and characters who are dull and cliche, there’s just something indescribable about the gameplay itself. It is just a fun game. It’s not a perfect game… but it is one that I would recommend. I can seriously see myself sinking hundreds, or even thousands, of hours into the game, a single playthrough takes probably a hundred hours or more, and if you want to try a different profession or pick a different husband or wife, you’ll be starting a new farm, as the game autosaves every night which takes the freedom of creating multiple save files from a single playthrough out of your hands.
When I play Stardew Valley, I feel like I’m living a second virtual life, I come to care about my character, her friends and relationships, the farm, the city, and everything that’s going on in the game world. It offers me a challenge with several aspects being only discovered later in the game, and that too keeps the experience feeling fun and fresh and wondering what will happen each time I play.
Stardew Valley is a game that pulls you in with all of its charm — However, it could do with some fine tuning to greatly improve certain gameplay and story aspects.
Would I play it again? Absolutely. Given the sheer amount of things to see and do, it is impossible to accomplish everything on a single playthrough and no two farms are exactly alike.
It is that feeling, that my farm, my village, my animals, my crops, my house, my little virtual family, that they are unique and truly unlike anyone elses’ that is the driving force that makes me want to sit down and invest my precious time and energy into this game. That and the kawaii cute graphics and charming nature of the game that seem to just suck you right in.
And once Multiplayer gets implemented, kiss your real life goodbye, as the 50,000 people who think “Overwhelmingly Positive” things about the game, as well as thousand of new players, will be busy visiting their friends’ farms and experiencing brand new gameplay elements.
Stardew Valley is constantly evolving with new maps, new characters, new skills, new recipes, and new fun!
Do you enjoy city-building style games? These games focus on time and resource management to let you simulate the excitement of a real casino. Not only do these games allow you to design the floor plan and upgrade and install new poker tables, roulette wheels, or slot machines, they also may allow you to add a gift shop, restaurant, bar, or other establishment making the game much more in depth than just determining the payout rates for your casino games. Some games even allow you to hire and train your own casino staff such as blackjack dealers, entertainers, janitors, or bouncers. Many people enjoy playing at online casinos for real money, but when you can’t afford to pay to play, these casino management games let you get your gambling fix. These games can also be a great way to learn some new casino tips and strategies to help you win big the next time that real money is on the table.
Here is a quick list of some of the most popular Casino Simulation Games.
Casino Inc. – http://store.steampowered.com/app/361320/ Casino Inc allows you to relive the 1970s in a gangster/mafia ran casino. It blends both mafia style gameplay letting you attack or sabotage your rivals along with featuring casino management mechanics such as mentioned above by letting you design floor plans, place gaming tables and machines, and hire casino staff. Read More about Casino Inc.
Casino RPG – This game combines role-playing, tycoon, city-building and your favorite casino games in an open-world free-to-play MMORPG. You can play this one right in your browser without any downloads. Check it out here.
Sim City – Many versions of Sim City allow you to build casinos to attract tourists to your town. These casinos feature different themes such as Sci-fi, Roman, or Elegant themes. Each theme will bring in different types of tourists. You can compliment your casinos by building them next to other tourist destinations such as theme parks. You need to be prepared for the incoming visitors by first building ample mass transit and airports as well as hiring some extra police to fight the increasing crime rates that will result by adding the Casino to your cities. Read more about building Casinos in Sim City.
Sims 3 – The Lucky Simolean is a special casino that can be purchased in the Sims store to be added to your Sims 3 game. This will allow your sims to play blackjack or slot machines. It is also included in the gold edition of Lucky Palms or can be purchased separately.
Sims 2 – The DS version of Sims 2 allows you to build “Snake-Eyes Casino” in one of the hotel rooms. Inside the casino, there is a Slot Machine which costs 1 simoleon per go, and reaps small rewards. On one side of the casino, there is a table with a dealer behind some Keelhaulin’ cards which can be played. If the player wins Keelhaulin’, there is a moderate to large cash reward. However, if you lose there is no penalty or loss so it’s worth having a go. There’s also another Minigame which will unlock if you play on December 14th of any year in game time. Read more about these games here.
We recently did an article about Casino Management Simulation Games in which we mentioned that there’s a lot of custom content for Sims 4 that allows you to create a fun casino for your sims so when you can’t afford to gamble real money at a canadian online casino, but you still want to spin a slot machine or play roulette you can get your gambling fix by re enacting your casino dreams in Sims 4. This article will highlight and provide links to show you where you can get some fun casino themed custom content to add to your game.
One of the things I recommend to help you create a casino in the Sims 4, is the Sims 4 Get Together expansion game. It just happens to be on sale for 50% Off at time of this post as part of their winter sale too. You can grab it for $19.99 for a limited time at https://www.thesims.com/store/… The reason I so highly recommend this is because it adds new items and features such as arcade machines, night clubs, and as the name suggests, it allows for your sims to get together for a fun night “out on the town” which will add new interactions, skills, and discussion topics for your sims.
There’s premium content you can purchase called “Vintage Glamor” which might also be useful in creating a casino in Sims 4. https://www.thesims.com/news/sims-4-vintage-glamour-release – As a side note, this pack also includes a buttler which your sims can hire so they can get more done each day, which makes it a very useful stuff pack to purchase, even if not using it to create a casino in the game. 🙂
Sadly, at time of this post, there are no mods or custom content that allow your sims to actually play the casino games. The best way for your sims to gamble is to go back and play Sims 3 and purchase the add-on module which includes the Lucky Simolean casino. https://simsvip.com/2012/06/09/sims-3-store-the-lucky-simoleon-set-info-screens/ You can also find a ton of customizeable items and skins with a Casino or Vegas theme.
Here are some videos of said casino in Sims 3 – Lets hope something like this comes soon to the Sims 4!
Have you ever wanted to be a mob boss and run your own casino? Maybe you want to hire hitmen to chase after people who don’t pay their debts when they bet on sports such as tennis betting. Or maybe you want to be well known for having the absolutely best entertainment and nightlife attractions such as Elvis impersonators, dancers, magicians, or succulent food and drink. Or maybe you just want to drain wallets dry at your slot machines and blackjack tables. Casino Inc lets you be the mob boss and call the shots in your very own casino.
Casino Inc is 50% off right now on Steam, making it just $3.59. Please note that this game is extremely old, the source code has been lost, and the company claims they cannot fix known issues such as crashing in Windows 10. With that out of the way; however, Casino Inc remains one of the only “Casino Simulation” games on the market, and for that reason alone, it’s worth checking out, especially if you love “sim city style” game play. I bet if you have ever played other “Tycoon” style games such as “Theme Hospital” or “Rollercoaster Tycoon” then you’ll also love Casino Inc. If you happen to fall under one of the people who can’t get this game to work for them, then I would recommend also checking out Casino RPG which requires no download or plugin and works right in your browser.
Betting is only one of many activities that are available for your casino visitors to engage in. And you’ll need to do much more than simply lay out some game machines and wait for visitors to come by. You can hire all sorts of personnel to staff your casino such as security guards, hitmen, bartenders, hosts, and dealers. You can upgrade your facilities including adding rooms to your hotel to host more visitors, or upgrading the food and drinks by adding new bars, etc. Your hitmen can be sent to rival gangs and rival casinos to sabotage the competition. All in a day’s work for a casino mob boss. All of this will dramatically impact the profits and expenses of your casinos so you will need to adjust the bet and wager limits of each machine or gaming table or increase prices at your hotels or bars.
The game not only allows you to manage a casino, but to take control of an entire city, a city which thrives on tourism. There are many different types of visitors that your city will attracts from professional gamblers who are high rollers at your card tables, to young teens who like flashy arcade style games. You design the entire floor plan of your casinos, allocating space as you see fit, but you must try to balance the needs and wants of all the various different visitors by offering something for everyone who stops by. You also can help literally “drive” business to your casino by adding limos and shuttle services.
The user interface is very helpful in allowing you to see exactly which of your attractions are most popular and you can set minimum and maximum bet limits on your games and determine the jackpot and payout frequencies. High rollers will make larger bets, while vacationers and teens will prefer to bet smaller amounts on different types of games. Learning what each of your visitors prefers is the key to running a successful casino city.
The game also now includes the expansion pack, Casino Inc Management, which includes additional new casinos, cities, attractions, and employees to add to your city. With so many unique features and the ability to fine tune each of your attractions, the Casino Inc and Casino Inc Management games are still the best available casino simulation games on the market today.
Nintendo Miitomo Mobile Game Just Got a Huge Update That Lets You Send DMs, Decorate Your Room, and Use Multiple Miis. You can now add wallpaper and flooring to your room on Miitomo.
There’s also a new feature called Sidekick Miis which lets you use other Miis you have created – and decorate their rooms as well.
You can add “Posters” to your room – and possibly furnishings too (haven’t finished exploring everything yet myself). The Posters can be miifotos, or any photo saved to your mobile device. I chose one of my cats to use as my poster.
There’s a new Miitomo drop stage that changes every day with new wallpaper and flooring items to be won. I love my new pink rug that I won lastnight lol. I also won white panel walls today but didn’t like how they looked with the “medium” size poster – That’s another thing you can choose medium, small, or large when designing posters and choose different “spots” to place them in your rooms. They give you 1 poster spot free but additional ones have to be purchased.
If you are wanting to decorate lots of Sidekick Mii rooms, you will need multiple poster spots and decor items. If one is in use by one Mii, it cannot be used by another of your Miis. So I recommend always choosing the wallpaper or floor if you land on a multiple item in the gacha game – instead of taking the candy – because you never know when you might want to make another sidekick and need items for their room as well.
You can also now send Direct Messages privately to your friends. The interface has a slightly new look too which will show you almost like a twitter feed of your friends’ latest answers to Miitomo questions. Both of these new tweaks will make Miitomo more of a social network and allow you to connect deeper with your friends, or make new ones.
These are all exciting updates and a step in the right direction, breathing life back into a somewhat already tired mobile game app.
PS: You should log in each day for awhile right now because they’re having huge login bonuses to celebrate the massive update.
Humble Bundle just kicked off their annual birthday celebration which will run for the next 11 days featuring hundreds of discounted digital PC games from both AAA studios and indie developers. Some of the savings are up to 75 or even 90% off. In fact, they’re even giving you a free game just for visiting the website and registering or logging into your account.
I’m most excited to see new starter pokemon (Cyndaquil, Chikorita, etc), new legendary pokemon (Luiga, Ho-Oh, Raikou) , new Evee evolutions, and new kawaii cute pokemon such as Pichu, Marill/Azumarill, Mareep, Igglybuff, Togepi, and, Teddiursa, just to name a few!)
Here’s what you can expect to see in the new version: