iDOLM@STER Newsy News

Posted by DiGiKerot in Gaming, idolmaster at November 2, 2013 on 5:19 pm

Depending on where you reside in the world, the iDOLM@STER Secret Event happened earlier today (or yesterday), and the Bandai Channel re-stream of it wrapped up about half an hour before I started typing this. This isn’t to say that I actually watched it myself – I fear that messing around with proxy and VPN settings feels like one of those slippery slopes, starting with just wanting to watch one or two idol concerts, and climaxing ultimately with getting intensely frustrated with Kantai Collection registration lotteries. I’ve too much consuming my time already without having to worry about another bunch of time sinks.

I digress, however – what even I saw out of the event were the new PVs for both the iM@S Movie and the new game, One for All. Post event chatter has been somewhat dominated by the movie trailer, rather than that of the game. It’s perhaps not too astonishing, given that’s where the real bombshell was dropped – the movie is going to feature a number of characters from Million Live.

Million Live, for the unaware, is the second of the two big iDOLM@STER social games, this one being ran through Gree. It differentiates itself somewhat from the earlier Cinderella Girls game in it’s slightly more restrained approach to character, and the somewhat tighter grip on this that Bamco seems to seek to maintain.

As for why it’s important, well, there’s a certain sensation of having the characters forced upon us – not that anime production isn’t mostly a glorified marketing tool most of the time anyway, but there’s something about this that, as someone who tries their best to ignore the periphery iM@S properties, that rubs slightly the wrong way. More than that, though, there’s a certain building sense of animosity from Cinderella Girls fans feeling that their favoured property is being facing an orchestrated assault against it’s popularity in favour of something which isn’t quite so heavily built upon fanon, particularly given how the Million Live characters have struggled to attain the same kind of ubiquitous saturation that their Cinderella Girls cousins did with considerably less of a concerted push.

This isn’t to say that I particularly have that much of a problem with the characters cameos in the movie – honestly, even though the characters are increasingly being used in places that 867Pro or CG characters would in the past, the fact that the ML character designs came out of the A-1 Pictures folks who are making the movie likely has as much to do with their inclusion as deliberate marketing does – but it is likely a clear indication of the direction the franchise is going to start taking in the future. As much as they can flaunt their extremely loose canon, there’s only so many times they can hit the narrative reset button, and they’re running out of game-worthy stories they can tell with the characters they have without excessively reiterating what has gone before. They are going to have to grow or even replace the core cast eventually.

This probably explains a whole lot about the way that One for All looks to be set-up. For all that you could have three character units in the previous games, and all the talk of iM@S 2 being about UNITY MIND, the games narratives were very much forced into narrow single-character storylines, not even overlapping with your other unit members in any fashion that felt significant. This was likely a lot of the consideration behind pulling characters out into Ryuuguu Komachi, throwing them into a separate pot, allowing them to be used to bounce of certain other characters. The more you constrain character selection, the easier it gets to force interaction between cast members.

Although the real revelation from todays events is that we still don’t actually know that much about how One for All is going to be structured. We know from magazine articles and the PV that it looks like they’re trying to evoke a similar feeling to the TV show, with all the idols hanging out and being grouped up for jobs as appropriate. It gives them a narrative space to play in that they’ve not previously been able to in the games, allowing room to keep these characters engaging beyond the singing and dancing.

Although I’m going to call BS on that opening 765Pro office shot – that’s either something they’ve thrown together just for the trailer to show intended mood, or else it’s going to appear in the game in FMV form. If we get real-time cutscenes looking like that in the game, I’ll be very surprised.

I mean, the thing to bear in mind here is that they’re making a PS3 only game here – the disk space considerations of making a DVD-only, 360 game are somewhat removed when you have a BD worth of storage space to play with, and it’d allow them to pre-bake sequences where costumes aren’t going to vary, and the Shiny projects have given them a lot of practice at that. It’s also a PS3 game in the sense that they’ve already announced their intention to also make an iM@S game for PS4, which brings into question how much of a stop-gap title One for All is going to be. I rather wonder how much of it is going to be a production game in the sense that we’ve seen previously, and how much of it is going to end up being a much more strictly narrow, more narrative focused title. The moment you throw out all those possible character combinations, the more concentrated the focus has to become simply for it to remain a plausible production. iM@S3 is coming eventually, so how much are they holding back for that one?

But, hey, we’ll see. I’m pretty sure I’ll end up buying it twice anyway – I want the physical version for the collection, but I’ve been spoiled by how quiet the PS3 is when running games of HDD. That, and grabbing a digital copy will mean I get the thing significantly earlier…

Leave a Comment