Have you always fantasised about becoming the manager of a successful Japanese girl band? Well, if that is the case, I first recommend you take a long hard look at yourself, and then afterwards, give Idol Manager a try.
Glitchpitch’s management simulation game, Idol Manager tasks the player to look after every aspect of their manufactured pop band’s career. From the hiring process, the scouting, the hiring of choreographers, rental of recording studios, picking the right tracks and lyrics, studying the trends of what is “in” and what is “out” and managing the temperaments and personal lives of your budding stars, the game is ridiculously in-depth. Sometimes overwhelmingly so.
If you have no experience with this type of game, it can be very daunting. There is a lot to look after and a lot to manage. Even for those who are well-versed in this genre, it still takes a bit of getting used to, but it does become quite immersive.
You won’t be (pop) idle!
As you would expect, when you begin your career, money is tight, and you will be restricted in terms of what you can afford. This means that you will not be able to hire the best producers or the best coaches. Some other aspects will be locked or unaffordable until your band starts to make a name for themselves. This means that you need to be ruthless when it comes to hiring and firing staff.
Picking the right band members is also vital for success. Each girl has a unique set of skills, abilities, and personality traits. During the audition process, you need to ensure you pick the girls who will be able to co-exist in the industry. This, however, is where the first of the game’s many red flags make an appearance. In this day and age, deciding to pick a girl based on their “Sexiness” rating is problematic at best. That issue is exponentially increased when the band member is as young as 14!
The problems do not end there. You can micromanage the girls’ personal lives to an uncomfortable degree. Your girls can get involved with married politicians or celebrities which will increase exposure (negatively or positively). Speaking of exposure, you can choose that your starlets wear shorts underneath their skimpy outfits to avoid wardrobe malfunctions. Worryingly, you can also choose that they do not. You can also choose how…” friendly” you become with your band members.
There are undeniably grim and unsettling storylines that it is possible to get embroiled in, and should you choose to, the game will get very seedy. But these are all down to the choices that you make. It is possible to make more wholesome choices and avoid all the questionable content.
The game looks ace! (Attorney)
The graphics are mostly just overlays of Japanese-style pictures and the dialogue is all done with text on the screen, with intermittent exclamations of joy or dissatisfaction. If you ever played an Ace Attorney game, you will know what I am talking about.
As a simulation game goes, it can be very addictive. There is a real weight behind the choices you make and the outcomes which result. It is possible to pump an ungodly number of hours into the game. If you want to be hands-on and focus on every single aspect of the band’s career, you will never be short of something to do.
Balancing the needs of the band members against the financial needs of the company can be challenging. Do you want to give the girls a break in the health spa, or do you need them to rehearse? Should you give an upset band member a day off and risk the others claiming favouritism? Do you want the girls to have a seductive dance routine to entice male fans or will that alienate the female fan base?
There is a handy tutorial available which will hold your hand for the first part of the game, getting you used to the mechanics. This is a godsend to the uninitiated. In short, this is a very capable and engaging simulation game. The subject matter and objectification of young women/girls will undoubtedly raise a few eyebrows, but if you make the right choices, you can avoid it
It is a solid if unusual, game which may be a little too intricate for inexperienced players. However, Idol Manager is perfect for fans of the genre.