There’s no shortage of music apps in the App Store—everything from rhythm-based games to trivia games to a turn-based RPG powered by your iTunes collection. As far as I know, though, TourStar is the first centered around the business of touring, and perhaps also the first to provide the ability to use your in-game success for the real world chance to meet Nick Carter or Avril Lavigne (don’t worry, mom and dad, that’s not an in-app purchase).
What is it?
TourStar is a tour business sim. You start out as a guy (or girl) will little more than a run-down apartment and stars in your eyes.
But you also have one guitar, that feels good in your hands, and you immediately set out to conquer the music world by performing live and hopefully making good business decisions along the way. (Judging by the success of Guns and Roses, Justin Bieber and Robin Thicke, we’ll have to assume this app is not true-to-life.)
How does it work?
The first thing you’ll do is create your character, selecting from the typical caricatures. Customize your hair, outfits, etc., and choose your name.
You’re then off to your first show: a house party, Bar Mitzvah, open mic night…that kind of thing. This game is all about building your reputation, after all, so you have to smart small.
Of course, it doesn’t stay that way for long. After some success (with help from your tour manager mother), you’ll be pulling in enough cash to improve your show. Hire more musicians, get better equipment, record albums, fire your mom…the usual life of an up-and-coming artist.
Along the way, you’ll play some mini-games to help boost your performance. I think in the real world mini-games are called cocaine, but I was never in a band successful enough to find out for sure.
All of this happens across 40 levels that provide a surprising amount of depth to the decisions you have to make. However, it also requires a lot of in-app purchases if you’re not careful. The free download only gets you to level five. After that, you have to pay $0.99 for the full game. That’s certainly fair, but there are still in-app purchases to make beyond that. Performing requires energy, and if you run out you either have to wait to get more or you have to buy it if you want to keep playing.
Also, touring requires money, so unless you want to waste away performing at the Caf Del Sur in Mansfield, Ohio, for a couple hundred a night, you’ll need to spend real money on the in-app currency to advance more quickly.
Is it contagious?
TourStar is an interesting little game with a sharp sense of humor about it. I’d have an easier time recommending it if the developers had gone with either energy or money IAPs—not both. I’m not the type to keep tossing money at a game after the initial purchase or download—even if it does increase my chances to win a meet and greet with Toto—so that meant TourStar would often lock me out, providing me with numerous chances to forget about it.
Looks like I’ll never be making enough in-game cash to redeem for those real life meet-and-greets, tour tickets and such. Rosanna will be so sad.