For a while now, idols have become popular in Japan. While I enjoy Idolmaster 2 and One for All on the Playstation 3, Bandai Namco decides to make the jump to the Playstation 4. They announced The Idolmaster Platinum Stars on the franchise’s 10th anniversary live concert and released in July of 2016. It improves on the graphics drastically while introducing new gameplay. The question is, does it live up to the hype.
The main goal is similar to previous games. You go to the training camp as the producer to produce any of the 13 idols from the fictional 765 Productions. Every week, you choose what activity to do for each week. You can have them perform lives, do promotional events for money or fans, or lessons to raise stats. With each activity, it will raise the heart meter, thus the amount of memory appeals.
First off, let’s focus on the lives. Instead of auditions, lives and festivals, idols can only perform on stage for lives. Also, idols have different stats opposed to the traditional vocal, dance and visual stats. These stats are now appeal, omoide (memory) and bust. The appeal stats depend on the level of the idol while the other two stats depend on how many times they perform on stage. You can raise these stats through lessons or performing at lives.
Compared to Idolmaster 2 and One for All, Platinum Stars performances play like any rhythm game such as Project Diva. While the idols perform, you press the corresponding button on the screen to appeal. There are touchpad gestures you need to do along with pressing down the pad to burst. When the burst is successful, each appeal will add more to the score. After the burst is done, the effects will continue until the end of the song or you have a bad or normal appeal. To pass a performance, you need to make it pass the clear line. Filling the bar completely will give you an extreme clear. This will grant you additional bonuses like money or drops.
While there are only live performances in Platimum Stars, All Star Lives makes a reappearance. It’s the same like One for All where you pick three songs and perform them in one go. However, there is a new All Star Live performances where idols perform medley instead of three separate songs. They are three songs smashed together into one big song. In addition, a rank up live allows an idol to raise their rank after receiving enough fans. Like the All-Star Live, you perform three songs, but with the same unit instead.
After each performance, you might receive some drops, which consists of outfits, accessories, tickets, items or fan letter. Also, the idols who participated in an activity will gain fans and experience.
As for the outfits and accessories, they affect only the appeal stats. However, depending on what skill an outfit have, they can also increase memory appeals and affect the bust appeal. Compared to previous games, outfits and accessories have a ranking, and skills. For outfits, they also have a theme, which you need to match for a given live performance.
Unlike previous games where you can use the most powerful outfits to gain an advantage, you can’t in Platinum Stars. Each outfit and accessory now have a ranking. This is the idol ranking the leader idol needs to be at to use the outfit or accessory at full strength. If not, there is an appeal down penalty that reduces the appeal power. Once the leader reaches the rank, the penalty goes away.
Also at the tailor shop, you can combine duplicate outfits and accessories to power them up. You can redeem tickets to retrieve outfits and buy items for live performances that will help out with the appeals.
Compared to previous games, you cannot buy outfits and accessories outfit. No, Bandai Namco decides to be greedy and live up to the Scamco name. There is no way to buy outfits and accessories anymore. With each performance, there is a chance that you will receive outfits and accessories from a seamstress or from fans. Of course, these drops are rare and it can take a lot of grinding to get all the outfits and accessories.
To solve this issue, Bandai Namco took a page out of the scummy free to play playbook. This is something I really hate about mobile games and it’s now in games you paid 8200 yen for. They came up with an item called P-drops. These are items that you obtain using actual money to increase the drop rate. At one time, they provided free P-drops each month, but they stopped that since January of this year. If you don’t pay up, crappy drops for you with a long grind. To me, this is the major flaw in this game. Thankfully, P-drops are not a thing with the upcoming sequel, Stella Stage.
Besides the live performances, there are the promotions and lessons. There are two types, one that earns money and other that you pay for to gains fans for an idol. The roll of a dice determines if a promotion is successful or not. The number of dices depends on how many memories appeals your leader idol have. By using the motion controls on the DualShock 4 controller, you can reroll the dice if the first roll is bad. Still, it’s kind of sad that there is not much communication with the idol outside ranking up.
As for the lessons, there are three mini games. For experience, it’s a makeup matching game where you have to flip the correct panels. As for omoide, expression training is similar to the ones in previous games. You select the same color moving panels that is specified on the bottom the of screen. Lastly, there is the burst training, which you move your control stick to a button icon and press it. To me, the lessons are nothing too special.
Overall, The Idolmaster Platinum Stars is a mediocre game that doesn’t quite live up to the previous games. Sure, the gameplay and the graphics is polished with the idols looking cuter than ever. Sadly, I felt that the game is unfinished. The micro transactions with the P-drops make everything worse since it’s Bandai Namco’s attempt to get more money out of the fans. Because of this, the game received less DLC compared to previous games, which have a year worth of it. Still, microtransaction in $60-80 dollar games just screams greed. To me, the P-drops thing shows the worst part of video games today.
With that, this makes me wonder if they had to push this game out, even if it’s unfinshed since it’s in development for too long. It shows with the girls wearing the same clothing and the season not changing so much appearance-wise. As they say, graphics isn’t everything. If the gameplay sucks, you are simply putting lipstick on a pig.
Either way, should you get Platinum Stars even for a diehard Idolmaster fan? I say that unless you really want to play the game and can find it for cheap, it’s best to skip it. To me, it contains the worst aspects of gaming today. It seems that Bandai Namco gotten a bit greedy! Sure, DLC has always been expensive for previous games, but at least they are optional, but nice to have. When you consider that the Cinderella Girls Starlight Stage and Million Live Theater Days mobile games having more content then Platinum Stars and it’s free, it makes you wonder.
In the end, I think Bandai Namco realized their mistakes after reading outcry from fans. With that, Stella Stage that is coming out this December and it looks more complete than Platinum Stars. Not to mention, there will be no P-drops in that game and all the DLC (music, outfits and accessories) from Platinum Stars will carry over. Even for a diehard Idolmaster fan like me, it’s probably best to skip this game despite the nicer graphics. I suggest waiting for Stella Stage or play the previous games (Idolmaster 2 or One for All) instead. Still, despite all the flaws, I am still going to keep playing because why not?
Despite the negative aspects, Platinum Stars is still better than the Love Live School idol paradise, which have bad graphics and hardly any content. I will review Love Live School idol paradise in the future.
The Bottom Line
Strengths: Enjoyable rhythm gameplay, great sounding new songs and beautiful graphics.
Weaknesses: Gameplay a bit too much of a grind. P-drops are needed get better equipment immediately. Not as many DLC content compared to previous games. Game overall feels incomplete with lack of idol interactions, costumes variety, new songs (only 5, including DLC), etc. for an 8200-yen game.
As always, this copy is bought with my money and the publisher have no influence on my opinions. You can help support video game reviews like these by donating.