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Sunday, December 27, 2015

Im@s Corner: THE iDOLM@STER (Arcade)

Commonly known as the "Akemasu" (アケマス, blend of the words 'Arcade' and the series' name), this is the iDOLM@STER arcade title who launched the franchise of the same name, being officially released on July 26, 2005 under the Namco System 246 arcade board.

With the Japanese arcade gaming culture still running high and rampant, series designer Akihiko Ishihara (石原章弘) wanted to create a game who could take advantage of early 2000s' magnetic-stripe cards to save in-game progress and continue on a later date from where the game was stopped. Being a project aimed to a male demographic, Ishihara ultimately decided for this game to be an idol-raising simulator over the ideas of volleyball and professional wrestling, so that the players' bonds with their unit's in-game idol would make in turn the whole game addicting to return to. Despite the fears of many internal Namco members, THE iDOLM@STER proved to be a smash hit among players since its location tests' inception in 2002, where the arcade was simply known as the "Idol Game".

The arcade is entirely played on a touch screen, providing its players their own Producer Card for saving their progress and up to 50 custom Idol units per PC, whose data for each is stored in their own Idol Card. Once the producer has picked up its PC and the idols for his unit, a time limit in days is given to the player to raise the idols' stats and the unit's popularity (measured in Idol Rank) by performing in live, participating on specific lessons or interacting in-game to the player (with the limit of one of these actions per play). If the player manages to pass the deadlines with the unit, it won't retire (aka irreversible Game Over for that unit) and will be able to interact with the player even more in multiple ways, such as sending messages to said player's real life e-mail address (if provided) and printing photos of the idols' performances right on the Idol Card. Online unit performance comparisons with other producers was also supported by the game until September 1, 2010, coinciding with the development/marketing campaigns for THE iDOLM@STER 2.

The original arcade's songs have become a staple to the series so strong that these are featured in almost all the subsequent games of the series, with minor variations to the songs featured and the idol dances. On Taiko games, most of these have also been the very first tracks to appear, also warranting a temporary genre allocation to Namco Original, before the universal unification to the Game Music category.


-Im@s (Arcade) songs-

  • Positive!
  • Agent Yoru o Yuku
  • Mahou o Kakete!
  • Ohayou!! Asagohan


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