Totally Unnamed Gaming Column - Don't worship false Idol(master)s

by Mutsuki,

If you read previous editions of this column, you may have an idea of what The [email protected] is by now or have researched it on the internet... Be honest, all those cute-looking girls tempted you, right?

PSP: THE [email protected] SP (Namco Bandai Games)

Probable Rating M (Adult Themes)
Release Date 19/02/2009
# of Players 1 or 2-3 (Online, Ad-Hoc)
Availability Import: Common
Language Japanese
Fluency/Literacy Level Advanced: Hiragana/Katakana/Kanji
Special Notes Downloadable content available on PSN
Available in 3 Versions: Perfect Sun, Missing Moon and Wandering Star
Music from Missing Moon featured in Eminence Orchestra's A Night In Fantasia 2009

Released on 19th February 2009, it was the first [email protected] game to be produced on a portable gaming system. The [email protected] SP is released in 3 different versions; Perfect Sun, Missing Moon and Wandering Star. Each version has its own selection of girls, different storylines to choose from, and different rivals to compete against.

The basic premise of SP is that you are a producer from 765 Productions and you have to choose a girl of whom you'll be managing and guiding them. This is done through taking lessons and promoting their image as an idol along with scoring a spot at auditions that will help further increase their popularity. Ultimately, your goal is to turn the girl of your choice into the best idol ever, while progressing through their stories as they rise up to stardom.

The lessons involve mini-games with various versions of memorising button combinations and correctly mixing and matching lyrics of a song. While most can be easily figured out within the first few tries, the lyric mini-game can become difficult because you need to read Japanese.

There's the promotion scenes as well, where at certain points you will be given two or three choices to reply, or sometimes a touchscreen-like section shows up for you to interact with the character for various effects.

Depending on your replies, you gain different amounts of memories which become important for auditions and can also affect the girl's mood and their general performance. For those who don't speak or read a single word of Japanese, the best you can do is randomly choose your reply and hope for the best - or you can strive for perfection through trial and error by reloading the save files if the selection you chose didn't get the effect you wanted.

It's not a Trap!

When you reach the auditioning portion of the game, you also get to pick the song for your idol to sing.

You are able to choose from a variety of different songs but you are limited to changing songs 5 times throughout your idol's career.

During the audition, the objective for your idols is to convince the judges that she is the best candidate for the upcoming performance. This is determined through a mini-game where you press one of three buttons linked to your idol's attributes in order to appeal to the judges amidst the three sections of the song, where you are allowed to appeal during the course of the performance.

Each appeal earns you points, appealing at the right time can increase the amount of points given to you and at the end of each section you are given a certain amount of stars depending on how well you performed compared to the other competitors.

From Shampoo model to Idol in one year!

Memories you collected throughout the game can be used in auditions to further increase your appeal points if you do it right. Finally, the winner is decided by whoever accumulated the most stars at the end therefore making it in the qualifying conditions – you may just need to be one of the ranked competitors, or you may have to be the best at the audition.

Confused? Don't worry, you're not alone. It took me quite some time to figure it out too and the in-game tutorial doesn't help with specifics.

The auditioning system in The [email protected] SP can be very complex, like how appealing too much to an attribute can make the judges lose interest in you and even walk out on you thus losing any chance to earn points or stars from that particular judge. Memories can also backfire on you mainly because when you use a memory, you go into this roulette-like screen where you can end up with a bad memory and lose a fair amount of points. Come to think of it, some aspects of it are similar to what a real audition is actually like.

Triple your pleasure, Triple your fun.

At the end of each week in the game, you get an evaluation of how many fans your idol has gathered and her Idol Rank will either rise or fall depending on how she performs at auditions. Also, certain decisions you make during the game can affect your Producer Rank as well your idol's attributes.

You also receive text messages on your in-game mobile phone on a regular basis reminding you of specific events that you can be involved with to further improve your idol in, which you can sign up for by simply replying. Be careful though, if you decide to do any of them and you miss out on showing up for those events, it will cause a huge drop in your idol's attributes and your Producer Rank.

The game sets you with a one year time limit to turn your girl into the best idol as possible and the ending can change depending how popular your idol is, which is determined by her Idol Rank by the end of the year.

I'm training an Idol, HUGE SUCCESS.

As if the time limit isn't enough, remember how I mentioned that you have rivals in this game? Well, the rival idols comes from 961 Productions and they'll be showing up quite frequently and trying to upstage you during the auditions and you have to work extra hard in training your idol to take them head on!

Of course, as you progress with the game, you can obtain new costumes and accessories and are able to outfit them on your idol in order to give her an edge in auditions as certain costumes and accessories increases certain attributes…or you can just make your idol look pretty, cute, sexy or just plain weird, take your pick!

Whenever you want to take a break from producing your idol, there is a multiplayer mode where you basically play the audition portion either by yourself to practice for the real thing in Produce Mode (SP's name for their story mode) or against your friends to see who has the better idol.

Just like every [email protected] game, there is a lot of downloadable content that you can access from the online Playstation Store. These range from new and or alternate costumes, accessories, songs, and even new wallpapers for your in-game mobile phone.

The only major drawback besides of having to pay for the downloadable content is that to even be able to access the downloadable content for SP, you required to have either a Japanese or Asian Playstation Network account, and some way to credit it.

Featuring 10 hit songs about looking out of windows!

As this is a Japanese title, your best shot in getting this game is through importing, since most major online stores will stock the three games. You could although, ask your specialist import store to order it in. Interesting note is that if you buy the Asia version, it comes with an English foldout that should provide you with enough help to get you started.

The [email protected] SP is still an enjoyable game once you have figured out how to get pass some of the more frustrating parts I mentioned beforehand. The premise of creating the ultimate idol and watch her rise to fame does seem simple and not as original but it still is a fun and enjoyable ride to go on.

And unlike the newer Dearly Stars, if you don't like the idea of having a crossdressing guy as part of the team, don't worry; it's an all girls outing. If you're curious, the three [email protected] SP games are the prequel to Dearly Stars.

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