When you finally take the plunge and get a Japanese 3DS, you find yourself with a lot of decisions to make. After all, you suddenly get access to a lot of games you could never play before, but the process of getting said games is costly and sometimes time consuming. If you’re going to be ordering online, you often find that the cheapest methods can also take the longest. Which is why, after I grabbed my imported Mint x White 3DS XL, I decided to get AKB48+Me.
I wasn’t really sure why I did it. I suspect a big part was due to it being $11 from Play-Asia at the time. You can’t argue with such a ridiculously cheap price, lower than even most domestic 3DS games. But the fact that AKB48+Me was both a life sim and music game didn’t hurt. Plus, I like a few of their songs. What could it hurt?
In case you’re hoping this is a hilarious article about how AKB48+Me is abysmal and I’m here to recount the torture of playing, I’m sorry to disappoint. It was actually a lot of fun. Incredibly simplistic, yes, but entertaining.
Basically, you import your Mii and begin the process of becoming a member of AKB48. You don’t have to go through any hoops, really. You’re pretty much accepted as the game begins. The real challenge is getting your stats up (vocal, dancing, expression) so you can become the group’s breakout star and be part of the A group.
Getting there isn’t a lavish affair. You basically plot out your Mii’s schedule a week at a time, scheduling in work for the three areas, as well as group work with two fellow AKB48 members and time off to take off stress. Occasionally, random promotional events, practices for shows, and advancement concerts are tossed in, to add a little variety.
It’s nothing terribly exciting, but it’s satisfying and compelling in a rudimentary sort of way. It kept me playing, after all, until I became a success. But it was never challenging and after playing once, I doubt I’d ever play again.
I think part of it is because the music game elements aren’t exactly thrilling either. I suppose I could say they’re competent? I enjoyed them, to be sure, because the AKB48 songs were good. But they aren’t particularly amazing, like the rhythm elements of Hatsune Miku: Project Mirai or Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy. I think I would have enjoyed them more had the indicators for button presses been clearer. Some seemed a bit too opaque and it was quite easy to miss one.
That said, I think part of the distraction also came from my trying to find my Mii in AKB48+Me. If your stats are high enough and you’re keeping good time, you’ll appear as the point character for the show. So I’d be constantly looking to see if I was in the top spot.
I have to admit that the extra mini-games were nice, though. Sometimes, my Mii would go on a reality show to call attention to the group and myself. Which led to mini-games where I’d aid fans, play cards against another AKB48 member, and so on. They were pleasant diversions from the constant scheduling screen.
I do wish there were more customization elements though in the main Life Me mode. It feels like there could have been more potential. The chance to help pick which of the 12 songs would be used would have been nice. Even better, to choose my Mii’s outfit. As is, I pretty much felt like I couldn’t fail. There is an extra “Live” section where you can put together a custom concert your Mii and any of the AKB48 members you choose. You pick the song, singers, outfit, and stage, then get to play through the song. Or, if you don’t feel like tapping and swiping through, you can watch a performance, deciding which camera angles and visual effects to use.
I wouldn’t say AKB48+Me is bad. It’s just a simple timesink and, as we all know, these can be surprisingly fun on occasion. Especially when they’re priced right. And, for under $15, probably even cheaper if you’re actually in Japan, it’s a good way to kill a few afternoons. I ended up becoming the best singer ever over the span of three days, when I was sick in bed and didn’t feel like doing much else, and had more fun than I probably should have while I did.