The Luck of the Underachiever

No need to feel down; none of this matters!

Gaming year 2018 continues under fair winds as the eternity topic of this blog, The Idolm@ster: Platinum Stars, is now thoroughly done! Against ridiculously small odds, one random gold present was finally kind enough to contain the very last costume I was still missing. About two seconds later, the game disc left the console for never to return. Although I had already considered the game beaten after raising all idols to S rank, I now have its elusive platinum trophy as well. This utterly insane challenge ended up taking over 303 hours. While such a number would make the game easily the longest I have ever played, the truth isn’t quite so straightforward.

Somewhere around 200 hours, I realized that the game doesn’t actually care about its player at all. For each live, the amount and content of eventual gifts has been drawn even before the first note, so it makes no difference whether the song is played at all. As pathetic as that is, it turned out to be a blessing of sorts. Mindless repetition was no longer an issue as it was possible to just mute the TV, start the live, and go do something else entirely. Granted, it was still necessary to skip all post-live cutscenes and start a new round every few minutes but that was thankfully all the attention the game required. Ironically enough, this kind of non-playing is even a little faster way to make progress as it does away with cutscenes related to successful performances.

All the goodwill I might have had for this otherwise really quite proficient rhythm game during its first 20-30 hours went down the drain as months went by. In the end, Project iM@S and Bandai Namco only succeeded to display incredible nihilism by imagining that a game that is noticeably light in content would somehow feel more full-bodied by pitting the player against a sadistic random number generator for hundreds of hours. The game doesn’t have even a trifle of respect for its players’ time, and it would be even more ruthless towards their wallets, should anyone be foolish enough to drop hundreds of euros for additional overpriced songs, costumes, and potentially grind-lessening gifts. It’s almost insulting how little the company thinks of its customers but I suppose even a grossly cynical approach like this is somehow worth it to them.

For those willing to treat Platinum Stars as nothing more than a simple little snack for an evening or two, it’s not half bad. For completionists, however, the journey is mind-numbingly long, boring, and unrewarding. Just last December, Bandai Namco released The Idolm@ster: Stella Stage, which looks pretty much the same for its rhythm part, at least. Still, if its career mode has been ruined in a similar fashion, it’s one to pass. I’ll be damned to go through this kind of madness ever again.