I have to admit that idol anime can be fun to watch. While it’s obvious that I like The Idolmaster a lot more, Love Live is enjoyable as well despite the music is not my cup of tea. When Dingo, who developed the Project Diva games on the PlayStation Portable, announced Love Live School Idol Paradise, it interests me. While it faced a few delays, does it live up to expectations? Maybe not and I will explain why you should probably skip this game and keep playing Love Live School Idol Festival instead.
The story takes place between the first season of the anime and the second. While Muse’s attempt to win Love Live failed, they managed to attract attention to perspective students. With that, the members in Muse wants to focus on idol activities to further attract more students. The player is able to pick different sub scenarios which gives conversations between the members depending what version you have.
When you start the game for the first time, the only mode you can play is story mode. By playing the story mode, you can unlock songs, stages and gimmicks. During story mode, you see the members of Muse talk to each other before a live performance. Depending on the stage, you may do more than one live performance.
Before each live, you have to plan your live performance. This means picking a song, outfit and the stage. You have to follow the requested amount of feature (star) and gimmick (heart) points. For free performances, the requested amount of feature and gimmick points do not matter. The song, outfit, gimmicks, and stage influences these values. If you follow the recommendations, you will get a bonus for feature or gimmick points. In addition, you can customize the stage to your liking as well. After you make your selections, you can now start the live performance.
During the live performance, you press the corresponding buttons on-screen. For the pink icon, you press the buttons on the right and for blue, the directional pad. Each time you make a successful press, it will fill either the gimmick or the feature meter. You can use the touch screen as well, but it’s not nearly as responsive.
Once there are enough points in the meter, you can perform a feature or a gimmick. A feature is done using the left control stick. After moving the left stick, the selected idol or unit will appear on stage when a feature starts. You use the touchpad from the starting point to the end. With each successful feature, it will raise the tension meter. As for the gimmick, it adds special effects on the stage, which increases the score.
While the rhythm aspect of the game is okay, the gimmick thing is simply a gimmick. Performing one requires you to take your fingers of the buttons, making it easy to mess up your combo. The same goes for performing a feature, but it’s worse. It breaks all immersion. Even after the feature is done, it takes a while for the icons to reappear. To me, this is bad game design. Even Love Live School Idol Festival, which is free to play doesn’t mess up the rhythm aspect this much.
Of course, the flaws don’t stop there. The game is fairly easy with only two difficulty modes, even with the hardest difficulty. Even if you do badly, you will still pass no matter what. Even some of the gold and silver trophies are ridiculously easy to get. All you need to do is receive an excellent rating on the easiest difficulty. With that in mind, it should be easy to earn all the trophies. Given how easy the game is compared to other games in the genre, it’s an insult to those who are fan of rhythm games.
To make matters worse, there are not that many songs. It’s surprising since other games like The Idolmaster Must Songs have 40 songs for each version (red and blue). Miracle Girls Festival have 24 different songs with full versions included. Lastly, Project Diva depending on the game can have 32 to 56 songs. Each version of Love Live School Idol Paradise is split up into three versions, each having only 10 different songs. This includes 6 shared songs and 4 exclusive songs to a unit. This excludes remixes and DLC songs. While they are full versions of the songs, Miracle Girls Festival also had full versions with more songs.
After you beat the story mode, mission mode will unlock. The gameplay is basically same as the free live mode. Once you reach the clear conditions, the live ends and you pass the mission. You will receive a reward depending on the mission. While some have special conditions, they are fairly easy to clear.
Lastly, there is the club room. This allows you to change the outfits, view their profile and play voice clips.
While the songs are alright although not my cup of tea, for 6480 yen for each version, it’s a rip-off. To me, whoever planned and developed this game didn’t put much effort in it. Knowing that there is plenty of space left unused on the Vita game card, they could have just release just one version with all of the songs. Of course, they want to release three different versions so they can milk the fans. They already know that Love Live is extremely popular and fans will buy it. Not to mention, the story overall is pretty short. The story mode can be finished in 2 to 6 hours depending the endings.
In short, Love Live School Idol Paradise as a whole is a pretty bad game in that the game is too easy with not that much content. Compared to other Vita games, the graphics just don’t look good. To me, it’s better to just skip this game and play a different rhythm game. To me, any other rhythm game, even Love Live School Idol Festival will be better than this game.
The Bottom Line
Strengths: The music and voice acting.
Weaknesses: Rhythm gameplay is a bit too easy. Performing a feature and gimmick breaks immersion during the rhythm gameplay. Poor graphics models and movements. Also, the music selection is very small for each version. Story is short that one can complete it in a few hours. The game can take a long time to load. ¶