I have a long, storied history with the Love Live! franchise, and it all started with School Idol Festival- a mobile rhythm game crossed with a visual novel chronicling the exploits of idol group Mu’s, and later, Aqours. The progression from one group to the next (and then third group Nijigasaki) is messy and involves a lot of discussion not really within the scope of this blog; it’s sufficient to know that All Stars takes place in an alternate canon where all three groups are active concurrently and interact with each other.
For the record- I absolutely adore Mu’s. All nine of those girls are incredibly special to me. I ran a moderately successful Ask Blog featuring them (something I’m strongly considering returning to now SIFAS exists). When it was announced they were getting back together for SIFAS, I wept. So, for that reason, you can readily expect my opinion of the game to be heavily biased- I’m not going to even attempt to be neutral on this one, even less so than I usually do.
SIFAS was designed to exist alongside SIF, rather than replacing or sequelising it, so the gameplay is a lot different. The rhythm-game segment is significantly toned down in favour of an almost management sim-esque core gameplay. In SIF, whether you raised your team or not, you could still complete Expert-level songs if you were good enough at rhythm games to compensate. In SIFAS, the actual strength of your team is far more important, failing out of songs they aren’t strong enough to handle regardless of your ability to tap circles at the correct time.
Still in place, and for my money still the best part of the game, is the visual novel aspect. Progression through the songs unlocks story chapters, and increasing your bond with a particular character unlocks a short (and usually very cute) conversation with her. The story itself is moderately low-stakes, as it always has been, but Love Live shines brightest in its character interactions. For the first time, the three groups are interacting with each other, having previously been restricted only to fellow group members. I haven’t reached any of these cross-group story chapters yet, but I’m excited to see what happens when similar personalities collide. Is the world ready for a Nozomi/Mari collaboration? I think not.
Fin or Bin:
Also included if you have a fairly powerful phone is the ability to watch virtual concerts, complete with dance routines. That’s pretty neat, but my phone is barely powerful enough to even run the menus (I literally get slowdown and frameskip on the loading screens. It’s bad.) But much like SIF, it’s a perfect little ‘I have five minutes to kill before my next appointment’ type of game, and the allure of more Mu’s content is impossible to resist. I’m not Finished with SIFAS yet.