Love Live: School Idol Festival is a free rhythm game for mobile devices based on the Love Live anime franchise. The English version of the game was released on May 11, 2014, and the game has been gaining popularity ever since. I just recently began playing the game and have to say that I am enjoying it far more than I had originally anticipated.
Love Live plays generically within the mobile rhythm genre; all that the player has to do while in a song is tap circles once they’re on top of the icons. Doing so with proper timing earns points that then go toward the overall score on the song. Outside of songs, the player is able to use in-game money earned from the songs to improve their “club members” for better scores on future songs.
Although the concept is relatively simple, players use some strategy in picking which club members to place into teams. Additionally, beside each song is one of three icons designating it as either a “smile,” “pure,” or “cool” song. Club members have all of these traits, although each has a prime trait into which most of her points go. In forming teams, players want to take into account the highest traits of each member and place accordingly. The Love Live! developers were kind enough to have an auto-formation option in the team section so that the members with the highest stats in each given section will be formed for that team. Of course, players have the option of forming the teams themselves.
Part of what makes the game so fun is the fact that the songs are really catchy! My friend and I have found ourselves humming the songs to ourselves after playing a few rounds. There are some songs which the game refers to as “hits” that stay in the player’s song library indefinitely after unlocking them in the story mode. There are also some songs called “B Lists” that are available for a limited time, although the developers have all of the songs on some sort of rotation. There are songs that are available for playing for a few days, and some are only available for 24 hours.
In the previous paragraph, I mentioned a story mode. The game has two different types of play – the fun rhythm game and a story mode that is more like a visual novel. The story only offers backstory that can unlock new songs to play. There are also side stories, which are unlocked by having achieved a maximum bond with idolized club members. Bonds are increased through playing songs. Once a club member has a max bond, the player can switch them out of their team formation in order to grow a bond with a different character or simply keep them and increase their other stats through practice.
Given that the game is based off of an anime series, all of the graphics include the characters from the Love Live anime. Each has different outfits and abilities, with several variations for each main character, and there honestly is a good deal of joy in unboxing a new character. I’ve had friends gather around while I unbox new characters and comment on their outfits and silly expressions, prompting me to unbox more members until I run out of the points needed to get them.
Now, here’s what I fancy about the game: although the gameplay is standard to the rhythm game industry, it is still really entertaining. I remember having a massive amount of rhythm games on my old iPhone a few years ago, and this game is reminding me of why I liked those games so much. I find a lot of enjoyment in seeing a noticeable improvement in my gameplay after playing through the songs on various difficulties. When I began a few weeks ago, I only stuck to the easiest setting. Now I’m far more inclined to play all of the songs on the normal difficulty, and, occasionally, the harder settings.
Another feature that I’ve had a good deal of fun with are the score matches. The gameplay in the matches is the same as in the standard game, but the matches pit players against each other and rank players based on event points earned in the rounds. Personally, I like having some competition in more casual games like this. I recall that a popular game from a number of years ago – Tap Tap Revenge – had a co-op mode where one player would have control over one side of the phone and the other would control the opposite. At the end of those songs, the game would compare the two scores. With Love Live’s score matches, I’m reminded of the fun I used to have with TTR.
Memories of old games don’t account for the success of Love Live, but it helps a little with my case. However, if I disregard feelings I have for older games of the genre, I still am greatly entertained by what Love Live has to offer.
On a separate note, due to the immense success of the English release of Love Live in North America, there is an upcoming score event in Boston, Massachusetts! The event will be held from March 25 to March 27 at the Anime Boston convention in the Hynes Convention Center. The event will be held offline on provided devices with set teams on said devices. Entries for the event have now closed, but if anyone is in the area and wants to watch or swing by, the developers will be offering limited edition goodies!