Game Review – Uta no Prince-sama Shining Live

Uta no Prince-sama Shining Live

Uta noPrince-sama Shining Live
UtanoPrincesama Shining Live
うたのプリンスさまっ Shining Live
Rhythm/simulation
KLabGames / Broccoli
iOS /Android

Summary:

Help train and lead the members of STRISH and QUARTET NIGHT to stardom! Collect cards to raise their ability levels, match the music to the beat, and watch as the top idols of Shining Agency interact.

Review:

Hey, Broccoli, can you hire these guys to do the Dolce Vita game?

Note that while the game is found on the app stores as Utano Princesama, I’ll be using Uta no Prince-sama. Utano Princesama isn’t even strictly used; Hulu, for instance, uses Uta no Prince Sama.

Uta no Prince-sama: Shining Live is based on another game from KLabGames (Love Live! School idol festival), but the basic aspects can be found in most other rhythm games. Basically, select a song, hit the notes in time, earn points, unlock stuff. Even the original PSP Uta no Prince-sama had this. (Well, “stuff” only being your partner’s affection, but still.)

But the game isn’t just a port of the Music spin-off games. Instead of the notes appearing on sheet music, the rhythm game is played on a stage background. There is a row of circles (which look like Poké Balls), and when circles from the center star on the stage reach the targets, players must press in time. There are three types of notes: taps, holds, and drags. You can also have doubles or blends of these types. Good results add to your combo while each Bad or Miss resets it and takes away from your 100 Life Point. Lose all your LP, the song ends early. If you make it to the end of the song, points are tallied, rewards are given, and you are given a grade up to S. You can have the game auto-play songs for you after you have beaten it once, but your max score will be limited, and the rewards will be slightly less.

Uta no Prince-sama Shining Live Gameplay

Each song has four levels of difficulty, and you can adjust how fast the notes come. This is an awesome feature for all levels of players, allowing them to scale up or down the challenge. The beatmaps seem to be well-planned, as you can sometimes almost predict where the next note is coming from based on the song. I’ve only played the Utapri visual novels and have flashbacks to playing the songs there. I can’t imagine those Music gamers who have their muscle memory trained to the Pro levels. Overall, I think Shining Live is better simply because it isn’t a right hand killer; both hands are used regularly, and the game does give players enough time to jump from one note to the next even though it doesn’t seem like it when you’re panicking in the middle of a song.

But since this is a gacha game, of course there’s a gotcha: the player’s skill only plays part of the role in the score. In fact, you can hit every note perfectly and still not get an S.

Uta no Prince-sama Shining Live Results 1

Each time you play a song, you set up a unit of up to seven idols, setting one as the leader. But you don’t just pick some guys to just randomly feature in the center stage. Players must select from cards (photos) they’ve gathered, and these play a huge role in determining your score.

  • Rank. The rarer the card, the better stats and growth it has.
  • Level. More experience = higher stats.
  • Type. If a card is of the same type as the song, it adds a bonus.
  • Singer. Choosing someone who sings in the song adds a bonus.
  • Abilities. From adding points to protecting your combo, cards can provide a boost. The leader can also provide a boost to one of the three basic card stats.

Upon loading the game, you are given a set of 11 photos, one for each member of STRISH and QUARTET NIGHT, and one extra card of your choosing. Any additional photos are earned by spending money or collecting free prisms awarded from completing songs and reaching milestones. With your photos, you can set up units or have the game auto-create a setup, and the game provides a rough estimate of the team’s potential. The game will also provide a list of random other players (or people from your friends list) to be a guest in the group and add an extra bonus. Rather than just raw skill, it’s the ability to grind and fish for high-level cards that mean the difference between a D and an S.

Uta no Prince-sama Shining Live Unit

Completing a song earns items to level up your photos and/or prisms to buy new cards. The cards also gain EXP, and each member of the unit gains affection for the player and for each other. Leveling up affection of either type unlocks additional voice clips. The player also gains EXP depending on the song’s difficulty, and leveling up gives you main story passes to unlock scenes.

Yes, now we get to the part a lot of players are really interested in: the story. The story is divided into three parts: main, side, and event. Main stories, as you undoubtedly have gathered, are unlocked via Main Story Passes. It is divided into chapters, each chapter into character(s), and then into episodes. Completing all episodes for a character(s) will unlock a new song to be played. Side stories are unlocked as you spend prisms or special gems to upgrade each card, and event stories are limited-time features that require their own special points to be gathered.

Uta no Prince-sama Shining Live Story

Most stories, the stories feature the idols doing different industry events. (Haruka, for what it’s worth, appears to be MIA along with the teachers and Tomochika.) Each episode can be on the short side considering it takes quite a while to unlock. Since you cannot spend money on main story passes, you must play (or auto-play) songs again and again. And again. And again and again. And while you have some flexibility in which order you can unlock groups of songs, if you were like me and were hoping to quickly jump into songs like “Dekiai Temptation” or “Still Still Still”, prepare to be disappointed. Right now, the second solo songs for each artist are being added, so later singles like “Cosmic Runner” and “Double Face” are a ways off still. It’s good to look forward to new songs, but I wish I could freely and easily choose which songs I want to play or unlock. I’m finding I’m reaching a plateau where it’s time-consuming to unlock new songs. Event rewards are even worse to unlock, and I imagine some sort of mining is necessary for the top prizes.

Also, events operate on Japan time, so, for example, the Valentine’s Day event ended at 10 AM Eastern on February 14th. So plan accordingly.

Uta no Prince-sama Shining Live Song List

The game puts some limits on how much you can play. Each song you play costs LP, separate from the LP in the mini-game. It starts off with a max LP of 50, and leveling up increases this max. Each song costs LP based on its difficulty, and you gain LP by completing goals (missions) in the game, leveling up, or logging in. Fortunately, you can overflow LP. So even if you currently have 50 out of 60 LP and you are awarded 30 LP, you now have 80/60. So unless you just have your phone/tablet playing songs 24/7, you generally shouldn’t constantly find yourself in a forced time-out. There might be a cap, but I’ve gotten as much as about 700/60 LP. Strangely enough, it is more efficient (LP to EXP-wise) to farm on the Easy difficulty than on Pro. That seems rather silly. While you can technically earn Passes faster, it also means you are using your LP in a less-than-optimal way.

I imagine KLabGames games is trying to keep players hooked as long as possible, but it does seem strange to not have Passes being available for purchase. It can be quite agonizing to still have to play through another 15, 20+ rounds of the same songs in order to finally get a five minute (if that) scene. Sure, you can have the game play itself, but you still need to tell it to start the song again, and there is no way to fast-track the song. The game does have a special rotation of songs that can be played in addition to what you’ve unlocked to help give bonus items and to provide a way to play songs that otherwise may take months to play. Some are available for weeks at a time, others only a day. The day songs have a limit, so you want to make sure you are sending your best units to rack up the score in those three plays.

What I found very surprising is that its not the main stories that are voiced; it’s the extras. The men in the main story only speak in short phrases (“Ren.”, “Okay!”) or sounds (sighs, giggles). Other parts are fully voiced, so I guess the developers figured players would rather have the guys talk directly to them instead of each other. It just seems counter-intuitive that the section labeled as main feels secondary.

So, obviously, players are enticed to spend prisms to earn random photos. There are different packs based on game events, and you can spend money to guarantee a really rare card. If you buy prisms, you can use those toward a discounted pull. Early on, you will want to spend your prisms immediately to try to get a few more SR/UR cards. But if you want to use real money, packs can range from $.99 to $79.99! And, again, all that gives you is the chance to get cards good enough to coast through a song. This does not speed up the time to play each song (or even the ability to play every song), and unless you get perfect draws, you will not get every card in order to unlock every side stories. Shining Live can definitely be expensive, and even if it costs you more than a traditional game, you still may not be able to get everything the game has to offer. Compare this with something like the Hatsune Miku Project DIVA series where you have quite a list available to unlock and items available to help you if you are having trouble for a set price.

The graphics are based on the anime. (This may seem obvious, but there are some differences between the games and the anime.) Instead of 2D sprites, the guys are presented in more like a 2.5D style. They mostly face straight ahead, but there is a level of 3D realism with breathing and other animations. It’s a bit like the PS3 version of Hakuoki. KLabGames did a very good job of bringing everyone to life, as the whole game is full of the gorgeous colors and fluid movements. I don’t like how fast the guys switch positions. Usually immediately after they finish their line, they go back to their default pose. So while Camus could be praising desserts, instead of keeping that smile on his face, he then goes back to his usual sullen (or humble, depending on what he’s doing) expression. I wish the game held whatever the last pose was for longer or even until the next line. Auto-play minimizes this, but still, if you need to reread the line (or just read slowly), it would make more sense to still see their exaggerated expressions instead of their normal selves. But KLabGames does a wonderful job of capturing each idol’s personality, lifting poses directly from the games and/or anime. Camus in particular is pretty fun, as you never know if you’re getting the humble Butler Camus or haughty Count Camus when he speaks.

Translation:

I have been pleasantly surprised that this isn’t just some bad machine translation. It really feels like they put a lot of effort into bringing this over. Of course, it’s possible that later in the game or as it goes on the quality will drop, but I was expecting much worse.

No honorifics are used, and Western name order is used. Nicknames are kept, but of course, honorifics are dropped. So Reiji’s Ran-chan, for instance, is just Ran, Natsuki just calls Syo “Syo”, etc. Speaking of Natsuki, his family name is romanized as “Shinomiya”, which is interesting since there seems to be more merchandise coming out with his name as “Sinomiya”. Other notes:

Ren’s “Ochibi-chan”: Shorty
King game: dare game
Kotobuki Bento remains the same
Karaage: fried chicken
Ikebana: kept as “ikebana” and defined

Other English rules or styles are adhered to (“Winter Blossom” instead of “WinterBlossom”, “Bright Road” instead of  “BRIGHT ROAD”.) I believe I’ve also seen STARISH instead of STRISH

The translation team also did a pretty good job of capturing everyone’s speech habits. Butler Camus speaks humbly and formally for instance. There were a couple of times I raised my eyebrow, but, unfortunately, I just can’t switch my language to Japanese to confirm. Like Natsuki wonders who the “poor sap” is who has to carry him. Natsuki is kind of a fun-loving ditz. It just seems to me more in-character for him to be excited about a piggyback ride and just wonder in general who carries him. Reiji also comments on Camus’ penchant for sweets. The English translation has him saying Camus is “notorious for his sweet tooth”. But the way Reiji throws his hands up in the air and the original line in Japanese is more like Camus loves sweets a little too much, as in you can’t separate Camus from desserts. It’s more of a sigh in Japanese while the English version has it more like a fact. But a lot of this is personal preference, and it’s hard to reflect all the idiosyncrasies of a language in a new one.

I noticed a couple of typos (“sooth” for “soothe” for instance), but nothing major. There’s one line from Ren that seems awkward (“Much love!”), but I’m going to guess he originally said in Japanese “te amo mucho” — Spanish for “I love you very much” and a line from his Debut song “Dear…Burning My Lady!” He probably says it in the games somewhere, but I don’t remember.

All songs are romanized with no English translations. Accent marks are used in Ren’s first game character song (Honō). Note that the sound effects aren’t translated but are probably phrases anime fans have picked up over the years (そうだわ。Sou da wa. = That’s right./You’re right./Certainly, etc.) If you are not on the main menu, then you will not see the translation of your favorite idol’s comments. Their song results comments are also untranslated. Ideally, I wish there was some way to add a dialogue box so that foreign fans could fully understand what they’re saying.

Final Comments:

Uta no Prince-sama: Shining Live is fun and well-done, but it requires a huge investment in time, and its paid aspects are expensive and doesn’t really lead to faster game completion. I love the graphics and atmosphere, but I’m already losing interest in actually playing it.

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5 Comments

  1. dreager1

    I think that’s the trouble with a lot of mobile style games. They’re a blast at first, but it’s easy to just lose the enthusiasm once the pay to win aspects come in or even due to sheer repetition. I definitely don’t like the concept of hitting all the right notes and still not getting the S rank. If you play a level perfectly then you should be able to get the highest rank, at least that’s how I see it.

    Reply
    1. Krystallina (Post author)

      I got quite a few apps on my iPad that I’ve just lost interest in. We’re in the era of freemium and microtransactions, but I wish more would just charge a flat one-time fee and be done.

      Reply
      1. dreager1

        Hopefully Nintendo will do more of that at some point. I know Super Mario Run had a one time only purchase although I’m not sure how well it did.

        Reply
  2. The Otaku Judge

    Sounds like the Love Live mobile game I played many moons ago. Fun at first, but I lost interest quite quickly.

    Reply
    1. Krystallina (Post author)

      Never played Love Live, but most people seem to say UtaPri is the same system but even better. No matter which game, though, yup, losing interest is a big problem.

      Reply

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