We are in an era where multiple idol music games have been localized. It is an amazing and unexpected thing! But the newest one attempts to do things a little differently. While most of the recently released games, like Love Live! School Idol Festival and Utano Princesama: Shining Live, attempt to help people connect with the characters singing the songs they play through in the rhythm segments, BanG Dream! Girls Band Party! tries to go a little bit further to increase the immersion.
BanG Dream! Girls Band Party! is unusual in that we are not following one specific group of singers. Rather, we are following multiple groups of high school girls and their bands. Festivals and events are going on, during which all perform and compete. This gives the game an excuse to feature young women with very different looks and personalities to appeal to as many people as possible, with a plausible reason for them all being there in one place. They are attending the same schools, frequenting the same stores and all interacting one another.
One of the first ways BanG Dream! Girls Band Party pulls people in is with Band Stories. By having five of the 25 characters available from five different groups in your personal band when you play songs and talking to them when they appear in locations on the map, you increase experience levels with each group. Leveling up unlocks storylines where you see what brought these bands together and how they formed. Getting to work to unlock these origin stories and see these girls’ journeys to success is quite a motivating factor. Not to mention, investing materials in cards unlocks chances to talk one-on-one with the girl in question to learn more about her. There may also be a sense of loyalty that comes from rooting for certain groups. Poppin’ Party is a standard sort of rock group, Afterglow can have a harder sound, Pastel Palettes is more poppy, Roselia can be dramatic and Hello, Happy World! tends to be very bright. By having these different styles, players may feel like they have a particular group to root for.
These storylines are in addition to the other visual novel segments that look at multiple groups all at once. BanG Dream! Girls Band Party has extra tales to follow. The main story looks at Circle as it plans an event and gets bands to join the lineup and perform. It lets us see as characters from different groups interact with one another. And when special events come up, we unlock special tales that focus on specific characters in unexpected personal and professional situations. Again, the game is really working to ensure everyone gets time in the spotlight and interacts with one another. We see people constantly play off of one another.
There is also an abundance of flavor text in BanG Dream! Girls Band Party!. Whenever you open the app, characters will be in different locations of the map talking to each other in pairs or ready to offer commentary when standing alone. When a loading screen comes up, we see a one panel manga offering a look at the young women’s daily lives. After playing through songs, members will briefly talk amongst themselves about the performance. Then, when you head back to the map, everyone will be in new locations engaging in new conversations. There are all these opportunities for people to chat with one another, revealing more about themselves. All this talking can help make them feel more real and allow us to connect with them.
BanG Dream! Girls Band Party! feels like it wants players to make a connection. It wants them to not only be there for the songs, but also to interact with its 25 characters and find favorites. There are all these opportunities to get invested via the main storyline, background stories, personal stories and idle chit chat. The visual novel segments keep appearing in an effort to connect, which might help people get more involved with the game as a whole.
BanG Dream! Girls Band Party! is available for Android and Apple iOS devices.