There was a time when developers would cringe at the idea of releasing an Idol Simulautor in the West. While quite popular in Japan, this genre has never really caught on with gamers worldwide. But due to the popularity of shows such as American Idol and X Factor, NIS America decided to release Producing Perfection stateside, and the end result is quite surprising.
While reviewing Producing Perfection, I realized that its user-friendly menu system(s) and tongue-in-cheek gameplay instantly made me a fan of the genre. It’s rather satisfying to train your idol to dance and sing, and then see it all come together during a successful concert. But there is more to Producing Perfection than just training – as the producer, you have been summoned from a different dimension by the CPUs of Gamindustri to help them retrieve their lost shares from MOB48 (an actual poke at AKB48, a real idol group). You are given one hundred and eighty days to achieve this goal in Producer Mode.
The gameplay consists of training your CPU of choice – Neptune, Noire, Blant or Vert – how to dance and sing through various training exercises. These exercises, along with multiple functions, can be chosen from five categories – Work, Lesson, Relax, Move and Concert. The Work category allows the player to increase their idol’s fan base by producing an ad campaign, hosting an event, creating publicity or recording an album of their latest song(s). Your idol’s popularity will increase as their fan base grows.
The Lesson category is used to train your CPU, as it contains functions for vocal training, dancing, study and rehearsal, among others. As you train your idol in these various categories, their stats in each respective category will increase. Proper training in these areas will result in a successful concert. For example: selecting the ‘Study’ option teaches your idol to focus, while the rehearsal option helps to iron out any performance issues that could occur during an actual concert.
Since being an idol can be stressful, there are times when your CPU will need to relax. The game uses a ‘Stress’ meter to keep track of your idol’s stress. Training and everyday activities can increase this meter, leading to poor performance on stage. The Relax category allows the player to ‘refresh’ their idol by giving them a day off, sending them on vacation, or trying to romance them through a special day off together, to mention just a few. It’s worth mentioning that it is possible to create a love interest with your idol, but it’s quite difficult and very time consuming.
The ‘Move’ option allows the player to relocate their operation to a different nation in Gamindustri. When this is done, you can gain new fans in a different region and also befriend other CPUs to eventually form an ‘idol’ group. You are not required to have an idol group, but building one can help increase your fan base and also recover the CPU’s lost shares faster.
Once you have spent a certain number of days training your idol, the option to have a ‘Concert’ will become available. This is the bread and butter of Producing Perfection’s gameplay due to all the customizable options available to the player. Every concert begins with a ‘Live Setup’ where you must select the stage type, the special effects to dazzle fans (which are controlled by the player) and the song your idol will sing. As your idol evolves and rises in popularity , new stages and songs will unlock. Your first concert is limited to three stages, three special stage effects and one song, but again — this is done to introduce you to the concert mechanics.
After finishing with the Live Setup, you are sent to the ‘Positioning’ screen to place your idol on stage. This function is more effective when you are working with an idol group (you can place the singers just about anywhere on stage), but it’s not nearly as important when dealing with a single idol. Since outfits, hair color and trinkets unlock during the course of the game, you can press the Triangle button to access the ‘Custom Change’ menu. From this menu, you can change your idol’s dress, hair color and add different kinds of odd-looking trinkets to excite the crowd. This process also applies to your idol’s HDD form, which is a more erotic version of its original self. When an HDD form is active, it’s usually dressed to kill with a tight, leather body suit and large, bouncy cleavage that is partly (or mostly) exposed. The crowd usually erupts into a frenzy when your idol’s HDD form emerges.
During a concert, you can control the Stage Effects that were chosen from the ‘Live Setup’ by pressing Triangle, Square and X respectively, but not necessarily in this given order. To generate excitement in the crowd, you must time the Stage Effects accordingly. Opening the concert with the spotlight effect, and then transitioning to sparkling stars, usually does the trick. As your idol dances and sings, you can use the left and right analog sticks to rotate the camera and zoom in on the stage. When the timing is right, you can pinch your fingers together on the PSVita’s rear touchpad to initiate your idol’s HDD form.
A successful concert depends on the amount of excitement your idol can generate. A meter is displayed in the lower right-hand corner of the screen to keep track of the crowd’s reaction. While it’s relatively easy to excite the crowd with Stage Effects, you must maintain their enthusiasm until the end of the song. And when the concert ends, your idol is graded on her overall performance, followed by an industry ranking the next day. The results can easily cause unneeded stress on your idol (especially if the ranking is poor), or it can boost confidence (or Guts as it’s called) if a song has risen in rank.
In between the layers of training, promoting, and having concerts, is a lighthearted story that evolves throughout the course of each day. Conversations involve decisions that can affect your idol’s mood; they can also make friends out of rivals and change the course of the game. But most importantly, you can replay the game more than once with a different CPU and experience something new. The concert mechanics remain the same, but the conversations and scenarios change.
When you have completed the main game, you can play Unlimited Concert for a more unique experience. From the Live Setup menu, you can choose to have a single, duet or even a trio of CPUs sing on stage. Among the options is a feature to choose the lead singer for a duet or trio stage appearance. The available songs and Stage Effects are based on what the player has already unlocked during Producer Mode. Essentially, the storyline is removed from this mode and there is more freedom to experiment.
Hyperdimension Neptuna: Producing Perfection may be nothing more than just another ‘Idol game’ in Japan, but it’s actually quite good for being the first of its kind here in the States. With geekdom aside, it should be stressed that anyone looking for a simple, but fun game, will not be disappointed by Producing Perfection and its collection of likeable characters; it’s pure entertainment from start to finish.
Platform: PSVita (Also Available on PSN)
Developer: Idea Factory
Publisher: NIS America
ESRB: T (Teen)
|Gorgeous colors, smooth animation, and plenty of, uh - 'eye candy.'|
|Incredibly catchy J-Pop song tracks.|
|Simple, fun and addictive.|
|Don't let the subject matter fool you - this game is a lot of fun (regardless of your gender).|