Love Live! School Idol Festival is a free rhythm game for iOS and Android. For those who don’t know, Love Live has taken over Japan with two anime series, loads of CDs, manga, novels, a movie due out next year and now, School Idol Festival. Really, it’s everywhere. The anime begins with Honoka, Umi and Kotori, deciding to start a school idol group in order to save their school, which risks shutting down due to lack of popularity. It’s a really nice, simple series, with some catchy songs and loveable characters.
Let’s get this out of the way first, the game is Free 2 Play and does have micro-transactions, hearing this may put people off, however, rest assured there is very little that can’t be achieved by playing for free. The game’s main currency comes in the form of Love Gems, which will allow you to grab some Super Rare and Ultra Rare cards, however thanks to daily login bonuses, character birthdays, rewards for completing songs, leveling and bonding with characters, you’ll be getting quite a lot of them for free.
School Idol Festival begins after Honoka has created a nine member idol group called μ’s (pronounced ‘muse’), your role is to help them become bigger, better and more popular than ever. You start the game by choosing one of the nine idols and then gather new members, who appear as cards to join your group. Additional members can be recruited by completing songs or using the free daily scouting option. Cards are separated into three groups, Smile (red), Cool (blue) and Pure (green), with each type being stronger for certain songs. To play, you use Live Points, once you run out, you’ll need to wait for them to replenish or use a Love Gem. Leveling up also restores your Live Points and increases them too, meaning as you level, you’ll be able to play for longer.
The rhythm aspect of the game sees your chosen 9 members on the screen, with rings coming from the center toward one of them, hit or hold the notes at the right time and build up a combo to clear the song, miss notes and a chunk of your HP will be taken away, if you miss too many, you’ll fail. It’s ridiculously simple, but it works so well and it has to be said, becomes an incredibly addicting experience. When you first start the game, even if you get a full combo, don’t expect to get anything above a C Rank. This is because your idols aren’t leveled, that’s where the fun and joy of collecting, leveling and fusing cards comes in.
When you have two of the same cards, you can fuse them, in what the game calls “Special Practice”, meaning they become idolized, giving you the ability to bond with them and see their side-story. If you have more than two of the same member, or one you’ve already leveled and bonded with, then you can use them to level up the other cards. It’s a very easy and enjoyable mechanic and a lot of fun can be had building your perfect group.
The story is told in a visual novel style, which is fully-voiced. By clearing songs and reaching goals, new stories will unlock. For a free game, it gives you a great deal of content. The creators have spent a lot of time designing loads of new characters and outfits. The story uses the official character designs and has the original voice cast of the anime, meaning the game not only looks great, but it also sounds incredible. There are so many songs, including the anime’s opening and ending themes, insert songs and stuff from their albums. Every month there are two events, each dedicated to a particular member of μ’s, gain a certain amount of points or rank well on the leader boards and you’ll get an awesome Super Rare card of that character. It keeps an already huge and fun game, even more interesting.
The initial start up can be quite frustrating, with lots of information shoved in your face constantly. However, when you get past your first few tracks and have found the right way to build your teams, you'll discover that School Idol Festival is an addicting, rewarding and overall fantastic mobile rhythm game. What are you waiting for? Go and download it, it's free!