Review by OshareKeiji
"For hardcore Japanese otakus only..."
Lucky*Star: Net Idol Meister is an obvious parody of the popular simulation game Idolmaster, but with a few quirky twists in the tradition of the Lucky Star series. The player is put in the shoes of a freelance talent manager from Akihabara hired by by the anime goods company Animate to seek out a girl that is to be the next big name in otaku multimedia culture.
While the promotional videos seem to advertise that you can pick and choose among the Lucky Star cast to train to become an idol, the truth is that you'll start and be stuck with ONLY Konata Izumi early in the game. It is only after you have skyrocketed her to total stardom in Akihabara, Ikebukuro and the Internet that you can start with another girl. When you have built a large talent pool, you can continue to promote them individually or as a group. Some places require the in-game currency (known as Animate Points or AP) to access, and the same units are used to purchase Items (music tracks, costumes, CG etc.) from the Animate building in Akihabara and the Gashapon Machine at the snack shop in Saitama.
Aside from time, your biggest enemy is your in-game character's stress level (named Synchro Ratio in the tradition of Evangelion). Every day you play the mini-games to train your budding idol's talent, your Synchro builds up. When it reaches critical mass, you'll lose it and the game will be over. But if you manage to complete a mini-game where you release your talent into the streets in an obstacle course to escape the rabid fans, then you can continue where you left off. The only way to get the manager's Synchro to drop is by having your idol pass major auditions in the Saitama branch of the Animate building (which are riddled with mixed quizzes and tough competition) and make Promotional Videos in the park (which cannot be done until you purchase books at the Akihabara branch of Animate).
The minigames are very fun (especially the dance training game where you copy Minoru Shiraishi's "kung fu" moves), but some of them are not particularly friendly to casual gamers. The reflex games require a hair short of hardcore gaming nerves ranging from action to rhythm games, and even if you have a decent working knowledge of Japanese, the quiz games require you to be comfortably familiar of everything from Lucky Star factoids, Hardcore Otaku Culture (new and old anime trivia, plus the ability to distinguish between Tsundere and non-Tsundere statements and characters), and Kanji transliterations/netspeak mods.
What's really irritating is the lack of a working quicksave and soft reset function. There are random factors that affect your talent's statistics at the start of each day, which can be either beneficial or detrimental. The only time you can save is at the end of the day, and if you goof up, force a game over and return to the title screen, you'll have to start retraining your talent from scratch. The only way to keep your data is to quit the game, reboot then reload.
Overall, it was a good idea, but there are too many things hindering Lucky*Star: Net Idol Meister for it to be completely enjoyable for everyone. Personally speaking, I would have preferred a PSP release of Lucky*Star: Ryouou Gakuen Otousai instead, despite the fact that there are numerous dating sims around for the platform.
If you're a seasoned Japanese otaku (like me) or a dedicated denizen of 2ch, you'll have a total blast with this game. Fans who don't fall on either category should quit while they're ahead.
Reviewer's Score: 5/10 | Originally Posted: 01/04/10
Game Release: Lucky * Star: Net Idol Meister (JP, 12/23/09)
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