The Idle Master

Can I go on a blogging hiatus and go play some iM@S 2 for the PS3?

Meanwhile you can nag this guy about just what is so special about iM@S. I was this close to picking up a copy of Dearly Stars over the weekend. It was in my grasp (as in, the copy of the game was in my hand). Maybe I should have. Maybe I should not have. Maybe I should not have started playing the game a week ago. But it’s too late now. (Maybe I should hold out for a copy of iM@S SP Perfect Sun…).

There is a strange “one more turn”-itis going on with iM@S2, similar to what I experience in those 4X games. I’ve already mastered the rock-paper-scissors thing. I can, I guess, read lips. Telling seiyuu apart is harder than it sounds but it is something I’ve had some training for years, to say the least. Even when it is just by voice. (The concerts are something else, I assure you.) I still can’t read Japanese, which is what really counts in the end. Not knowing Japanese, or not knowing anything else for that matter, doesn’t present itself as enough of a stopping block, when you have websites like this. Truly we live in the information age.

[I guess Steve Jobs’s contribution to import gaming was enable that Sakura Taisen experience that I had many years ago, when going through the game on the PC (actually it was my Dreamcast hooked up to a TV card) on one side of the screen and the translation on the other, but using a tablet or smartphone instead.]

Fundamentally, the game is the core user experience. The anime is mostly fluff, although you can enjoy fluff by itself. It’s akin to pouring whipped creme in to your pie hole directly. The anime does serve better as icing on the PS/Xbox/DS cake, so much so that I want to go back and re-watch it. This is notably different than most galge adaptations. I mean I can go and play Kanon or even Fate Stay Night and get most of it from the corresponding anime (at least the adopted arc), and vice versa. I might even want to revisit the anime after I am done (although it didn’t happen for either of them). But iM@S, given its arcade lineage, has so much “game” to it that it elevates the experience beyond just a flat read of the stereotypical visual novel presentation.

[Tho I wonder if there was the “Nayuki Minase” equivalent in iM@S anime–someone who gets the short end of the stick. I guess that is what fans debate after all. And speaking of which, I even want to go re-read what 2DT shipped. Knowing the characters better, would it make more or less sense in terms of his pairing?]

The mistake I made was trying to “get it out of my system” by playing it as much as possible. Ha, never again. The light at the end of the tunnel, however, is that like all the 4X games I have encountered, the novelty eventually wear thin given the repetitiveness of it all. No amount of pretty girls dancing (prettily) will reduce the fact that I’m just hitting the highest-general-appeal-scoring-button, infinite times, every time, all the time. Okay, occasionally it’s about timing your memory appeals, but once you figure it out, you just do the same thing every time. So the question is no longer “if” I could get out of the hole Yukiho dug for me, but how deep she has dug it.


10 responses to “The Idle Master

  • DiGiKerot

    You know, I’ve had a copy of Dearly Stars since it’s release, and I’ve still not got around to playing it. Part of this is that it’s one of those annoying DSi-enhanced games that are region-locked (therefore, won’t play on my larger-screened EU DSes). The other part is that I gather it’s much more of a straight ADV-type game than the time-management crack that I tend to turn to iM@S for. The Perfect Sun translation is pretty OK from what I played of it, though SP is never been my favourite version of the main game, and it’s pretty hard to go back to iM@S1 variants after iM@S2.

    The telling the idols apart thing is, in terms of difficulty, hugely dependant on which idols you have in your unit. Generally, I don’t think it’s actually that tricky, but some idols do an unfairly good impression of some of the others. I was running a Miki/Hibiki/Mami unit at one point, and that was a bit of a nightmare in that regard.

  • omo

    The team composition has a large impact to the game in general, I agree. For example I would not have known I have problems telling Chihaya and Takane apart until I had to try it more than just a couple times.

  • TheBigN

    I have a copy of Dearly Stars as well, and I don’t even have a DS. Soooooo…

    I’m slowly watching the anime myself, and I think that’s a good way to dip my toes into the phenomenon.

  • Pete Zaitcev

    My Dearly Stars works just fine on U.S. DS and IIRC it predates DSi by a year or two. However, playing it is an enormous pain in the butt because the manager manages by sending e-mails, which are FULL OF KANJI.

  • DiGiKerot

    Dearly Stars works fine on a regular DS, regardless of region. The problem is that, when Nintendo introduced the DSI (and the XL), they created something of a double standard – most DS games are region free, but any which use any of the additional functionality of the DSi will only work on consoles of the same region.

    Dearly Stars as some additional functionality which can utilise the cameras on the DSi – something to do with scanning QR codes, as I recall – and as a result, non-Japanese DSi/DSiXL consoles refuse to so much as acknowledge that there’s anything in the cartridge socket. I mean, it’s not like I’ve not got a regular DS (both Lite and Phat), but the screens are a good degree smaller than on a DSi or even a 3DS. It’s kind of hard to go back at this point.

  • omo

    I’m getting a JP 3DS for New Love Plus, so that should solve this issue.

  • omo

    I was going to write about Cage of Zeus and use that pic, but decided not to.

  • DiGiKerot

    Ah, I had been wondering about that myself.

    Is there actually that much to say about Cage of Zeus, though? I kind of felt it was a bit too heavy to be fun, but too light to be particularly interesting. My overwhelming feeling upon finishing it was that I didn’t have any overwhelming feelings towards it…

  • omo

    Is there? I guess there is. I mean I could.

    But I think I would rather go play another hour of iM@S.

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