In the Year of Our Lord 2018, anime and social games together like cheese and crackers. If creators don’t produce an anime and game side by side, you’ll still likely see a new app bringing up the rear at some point. One of the titles to launch in multiple media was BanG Dream!, about a group of girl bands looking to hit the big time. And now, we have the show’s rhythm social game at our fingertips in the West!
We gave it a test drive to see how it stacks up. Will we keep playing? Here’s the scoop:
The Good: Versatile and Innovative
BanG Dream! Girls Band Party! is a music rhythm game by Bushiroad, so you’d likely expect it to be pretty well in line with Love Live! School Idol Festival. And it definitely does bear a few similarities: there’s a gacha format that includes different outfits and special moves for each performer, there are main and side stories to explore, and tons of songs to unlock.
Where BanG Dream! excels is in its changes to this format. Gamers can play songs from the franchise as performed by their respective bands, of course. But there’s also a long list of anison covers, which is added to regularly. Right at the start you can play “Sorairo Days” and “Sugar Song and Bitter Step,” with more unlocked as you gain levels.
The game also includes different areas to explore and short conversations to eavesdrop on. Those, plus the main and side stories, appear in the form of Live2D animation rather than light novels style images. And if you want to save space on your phone (for all those other social games), you’re in luck. Each scene gives you the option of downloading with or without voices.
The Less Good: Beautiful But Unintuitive
An embarrassment of riches does come at a price, though. The interface is extremely busy and, while likely navigable after some practice, can be a bit overwhelming to a new or casual player.
Making progress in itself is also a very “busy” endeavor. Not only are there individual girls (and versions thereof) to level, there are also the bands themselves to level. So unless you intend to be a fairly hardcore player, you may have to kill some darlings and either stick with one band or just make a custom team of five bassists like I did.
As for the actual rhythm portion, it’s… not bad. But depending on your device, it can be clumsy. The interface is much more straightforward Guitar Hero, with five potential targets across and a few variants (holds, slides, and forward flicks). While it’s learnable, it’s a setup that can easily become frustrating based solely on the size of your screen.
All that said, BanG Dream! is fun and pretty, and builds on rhythm gacha games in an intriguing way.
Just be ready to devote a fair bit of time to it!