Something big is happening. Something absolutely huge. It’s looking like a game series that people never thought would leave Japan might actually escape. Namco Bandai registered some trademarks on November 28, 2012 that are guaranteed to get importers hopes up. Right now, in Europe, Namco Bandai has dibs on both The Idolmaster and Shiny Festa. Those happen to be two parts of the titles of three PSP games, The Idolmaster Shiny Festa: Funky Note, The Idolmaster Shiny Festa: Groovy Tune and The Idolmaster Shiny Festa: Honey Sound.
Seeing three games like that is probably confusing. Let’s simplify things. There are 13 idols in The Idolmaster, though for the sake of this game the Futami twins Ami and Mami are counted as one idol. Each of these three games has four idols in it and 14 Idolmaster songs. That’s two solo songs for each idol and six group songs. The version you buy determines which idols and songs you get. Funky Note has Yayoi, the aforementioned Futami twins, Iori and Hibiki. We’ll nickname that the high-energy, squeaky voiced Visual group. You know, because in the original Idolmaster games the each idol is usually strongest in one category – visual, voice or dance. Groovy Tune has Miki, Takane, Makoto and Yukiho. Since that’s a group balanced in voice and dance, we’ll call it the Project Fairy group since Miki and Takane were part of Project Fairy in the PSP games The Idolmaster SP. Finally, Honey Sound has Haruka, Azusa, Chihaya and Ritsuko. Since the first three are often referred to as some of the best singers in the game, this is the voice group.
The Idolmaster Shiny Festa games are spin-offs of the main Idolmaster franchise. While those games are simulations with mini-games that help the player train an idol or group of idols in the hopes of making them the most popular in Japan within a year, The Idolmaster Shiny Festa is a basic music game. Indicators appear on screen, players tap the right icons at the right times and you earn popularity points. If you earn enough popularity points during the performances, you get a good ending.
The Idolmaster Shiny Festa may not be The Idolmaster games really wanted localized, but that doesn’t matter. If Namco Bandai is willing to take a chance on a spin-off, and then sees that spin-off perform well, perhaps we could see The Idolmaster 2 or maybe the next main Idolmaster game released outside Japan.