Publication date of the original Japanese article: 2021-07-27 19:14 (JST)
Translated by. Ari Clark
On July 27, Idol Manager was released by PLAYISM, the indie game publishing brand of Active Gaming Media (which also owns AUTOMATON). The game is available for PC (via Steam), and retails for $19.99.
Idol Manager is an idol-promotion/business simulation game developed by Russian indie game studio Glitch Pitch. The setting of the game is a small, recently-launched idol agency in Japan. The player takes the role of a producer/manager at this agency. At the point where the game begins, the agency obviously doesn’t have any affiliated idols, but even including the staff, it’s effectively empty. From there, you start out by holding auditions and recruiting rookie idol candidates.
The idols each have their own set of stats and skills. There are eight different stats, with numeric values for both the image-focused stats, Cute, Cool, Sexy, and Pretty, and the performance-focused stats, Dance, Vocal, Funny, and Smart. The skills include things that can affect the girl’s idol career, such as Amorous, which makes a girl extra-susceptible to falling in love, Arrogant, which can make a girl less likeable after centering a single, and Hypochondriac, which doubles the rate at which she loses stamina while shaking hands at meet-and-greets.
At auditions, players must consider each of the assembled candidates’ stats and skills, as well as their ages, when choosing which ones to debut as idols. At the same time, they must also hire staff members such as managers, and start up their business operations as an idol agency.
As the idols you recruit grow their fanbases and funding through their business activities, they must also be provided with training. Their training is handled by the music, dance, and costume staff you employ. You can also produce original songs and release singles. When producing a song, the quality of that song is affected by the abilities of your staff, including the producer who writes the lyrics, and the music and dance staff who handle the tune and choreography. Another gameplay mechanic is incorporated that shifts fan demographics according to the lyrics and melodies you’ve chosen.
Since the abilities of your staff have an effect on both training and single production, as a producer, you’ll want to hire staff who are as talented as possible. When hiring staff, candidates are divided into three ranked levels from rookie to professional to expert. However, high-ranked staff also require high wages. As producer, you have to gradually grow your business operations while keeping an eye on the agency’s cash flow, with the ultimate goal of conquering the entertainment world.
The career of an idol is dogged by all sorts of unexpected incidents. From staged events going wrong on television, to scandalous photos showing up in magazines, to fights with other idols at the agency, to abusive comments showing up on livestreams, to becoming the target of an online mob due to a minor incident blowing up on social media, the pitfalls are too many to count.
As producers, players must also respond to these kinds of problems. For example, if photos are uploaded to a social network that show one of your idols holding hands with a man, you can choose to react by ignoring the incident, making an official statement on the facts of the matter, or forcing the idol to publicly apologize. Depending on which option you choose, the outcome of the event will vary. Each of these various events contributes to paint a picture of the darker aspects of the idol industry.
You can make all sorts of other choices that affect the course of your business operations as an idol agency, from approving or disapproving of personal relationships, to managing your social media and video livestreams, to setting the length of the girls’ skirts. As an idol-raising/business simulation, the game incorporates all sorts of clever little details, such as being able to use the internet to broadcast programming about your idols’ favorite games, hobbies, and music, just like a real modern idol.
The game also has three levels of difficulty, from Relaxed, where you can’t get a Game Over, to Normal, which takes some effort, to Unfair, where even more hurdles await you. There are two different game modes, Story Mode and Free Play. The game is also compatible with Steam Workshop mods, so you can feature characters from other games and works of fiction as idols in your game.
Idol Manager is now available on Steam.