Unless you are a big Idolmaster fan, which I am, most people probably have not heard about Gravure For You. This is a bonus mini game that comes bundled with the Blu-ray packs that allows you to take pictures of idols wearing different outfits with different poses. There are nine different volumes for the main series and Cinderella Girls. With that, I will share my overall thoughts on these mini games, mainly focusing more on the Cinderella Girls Gravure For You, which introduces more features.
The gameplay for these Gravure For You games are very simple. Each volumes feature a cover girl and a focus outfit. There is a small communication event you have with the featured idol before you take pictures of her. In addition, you can choose to take pictures of other girls (in the main, 13 idols and Cinderella Girls, 9 idols).
The gameplay is simple. You basically choose the poses/expression/eye direction, use the control sticks to move the camera and take pictures with the R1 button. In addition, you can change the zoom and in the later volumes, change the effects, photo sizes, show the grid, use motion controls to control the tilt, add a black frame to the photo and hide the menu in addition to picking more locations to take pictures (usually for the swimsuit outfit). In the last few games, you can even take pictures of the 876 idols, Ai, Eri and Ryou.
While the game is simple to get into, you do not have complete control of the poses. Still, I have to admit that the game is pretty fun. Sure, the replay value is pretty limited, but there are always amusing pictures you can take depending on the idol you pick. Not only that, you can hear different versions of songs from the Idolmaster series sung by the idol you choose for a photo-shoot. As always, the cover girl will have a special remix that you can hear during the photo session. In later volumes, you can customize the playlist of these songs.
As for the Cinderella Girls Gravure For You, it introduces new features, some of them that are really nice. These include playing music from playlists or albums stored on your Playstation 3 and the ability to take two idols at once. Compared with the main series, you can take photos of nine popular idols from the Cinderella Girls spinoff. This includes Rin, Uzuki, Mio, Anzu, Rika, Mika, Chieri, Ranko and Anastasia. However, there are now three outfits you can choose from opposed to two in the main series.
I have to admit that some of these features are very nice. Since the music included are basically background music opposed to different songs sung by each idol or remixes for the cover girl, I decided to copy some music from my music library to my Playstation 3. Of course, I created a playlist consisting of songs sung by Uesaka Sumire and Uchida Maaya (who are the voice actresses for Anastasia and Ranko respectively) to play during the photo-shoots.
As for the gameplay of Cinderella Girls Gravure For You, aside from being able to photo-shooting two idols at once, the gameplay is pretty much the same like the original. To me, it is more enjoyable to take photos of two idols at once since you can take really cute or funny pictures together with different poses and expressions.
Once you finished taking photos of your favorite idols, the pictures that you took automatically gets saved to your Playstation 3 hard drive. In other words, you can copy and use them anywhere. If you look at more information for any of these photos on the console, you can see the comments an idol made for it. While they are in Japanese, some of these comments are pretty amusing.
With that, would I recommend picking up these games? As for the main ones, you can buy them off the Japanese Playstation Network Store and play them through the IM@S Channel app. They are 1500 yen each except for the first volume (roughly $12), which makes it a cheap way to experience these games without breaking your wallet. You can play the first volume for free, but you can unlock the ability to save pictures and other features by buying it for 300 yen (or roughly $2.40).
As for the Cinderella Girls one, they only come in a pack. These packs come with a magazine for the cover girl and the featured outfit, some picture cards of scenes from the Anime and the limited edition copy of the Blu-ray discs. Unless you are a diehard fan of the series or you want to own a copy of the show on Blu-ray, you may as well wait since each pack costs 9980 yen each, or about $81 dollars, thus setting you back about $1000 to own the whole series on Blu-ray. This is not so surprising since Anime Blu-rays are expensive in Japan and are treated more like collector items. I am positive that Namco will release the digital versions eventually, so you may as wait a year or too.
As for me, since I bought one copy, I may was well collect them all (despite missing the first volume) since I kind of want to own the whole series on Blu-ray eventually now that I have some discretionary income to spend on it. Aside from that, I have uploaded some photos I took in the game to give everyone a general feel of the game.
The Bottom Line
Strengths: You can take pictures of your favorite idols in various outfits (depending on the volume). Cinderella Girls version introduces some nice features such as the ability to play your own music as background music and being able to take two idols at once.
Weaknesses: Limited replay value and the physical copies are expensive, unless you are planning to own the whole Idolmaster series on Blu-ray of course as it comes with nice bonuses. ¶