This will be the general review of the game Bang Dream! Girls Band Party! (Yes, the exclamation marks are part of the title; it’s all very exciting, after all). I’m going to be doing a summary of the different bands in separate posts, because I think that’s worthwhile. But this is the sort of thing where I tell you stuff, so you can see if you want to try it out.
First thing you should know, this is a rhythm game. If that turns you off, don’t even bother. In terms of gameplay, it’s essentially the same as Guitar Hero or Rock Band, just with a touch screen: notes fall from the top of the screen, and when they hit the target area, you touch them. Or hold, or slide, whatever. You get a score for each note, depending on your difficulty and accuracy, and your combo count. You also have a life meter, which depletes if you mess up. For the most part, points doesn’t matter a whole lot.
I wonder if the obvious similarities to Guitar Hero aren’t deliberate. Because, unlike a lot of mobile rhythm games, the music is mostly rock music. There are some different genres represented, depending on the band – I’ll get into that more when I talk about each band later. The different tracks are all free – you start with a large supply, and augment these through events, completing the stories, or using in-game currency. You don’t have to have the song yourself to play them in multiplayer, just to choose them yourself. In multiplayer each player chooses whatever they want, and then it’s decided randomly.
The second thing to know, is that this is a gacha game. The gacha consists of the various characters, each having several variants. I said above that the score mostly doesn’t matter. It doesn’t, except in multiplayer events. Score is dependent on the stats of your band. And of course, higher-rarity units have better stats. While there are in-game items that boost stats, boosts are naturally higher when the stats are higher to begin with. Also, different units have different abilities that are activated at certain times in a song (indicated by a yellow note), and higher-rarity units tend to have better abilities. But, most importantly to most players, each new unit comes with two mini stories, and often a new costume for the song background. The game is pretty generous with gacha currency, so one could easily save a bunch (especially when you’re new) and roll quite a bit. I personally got about 140 rolls in the first 2.5 months of playing – and I’m not good.
As a big part of the draw to the gacha is the appeal of the characters, it’s important to make them appealing. All events and story things are fully-voiced, at least for the main characters. (There are a few characters besides them that are also voiced, but most npc’s aren’t – this isn’t really a problem, since they aren’t a big part of the story, typically.) All of the character portraits are also animated using Live2D, which works really well for the most part. The voice acting is high-quality, and brings a lot of life and emotion to the characters – which is important, because the stories themselves are generally pretty simple.
Technically, I think this is a pretty demanding game. I have a top-tier Chromebook (at least for last year), and there is stuttering and desynching. However, I always have a large amount of Chrome tabs in the background, which probably doesn’t help things. My tablet, which is also pretty good, has no trouble with those sorts of issues. I think it’s probably more designed to play on phones, though – all the good video of people playing are doing it on phones, and it’s certainly easier to hit all the notes with one hand that way. A garbage phone like mine isn’t going to cut it, for sure, but I’m not sure how good your phone will need to be to play this well.
There are several servers to choose from, though you’ll almost certainly want to stay in your region: Japan, Korea, China (HK), Taiwan, and Worldwide. Your region determines the language of the game, and probably also ping, servers, etc. Thus, I figure anyone reading this will probably want to play on the World server, because that’s the English version. Japan was the original version, and it’s exactly one year ahead of the World version, in terms of events, songs, and gacha. I think the other servers are ahead of the World version, if you can do those languages, and care about that. (I don’t know about the Korean version, but the Taiwan version looks to be only five months behind Japan). The English translation sticks pretty close to the Japanese original, but some of the translation choices are odd, considering that. But it’s not nearly as bad as many other games I play, so I can deal with it.
All that being said, what’s most important: Is this game fun? I have to say it is. I quite like the story and characters, and the gameplay is fun as well. I also quite like most of the music, which is good considering that’s part of the gameplay. (I even bought the Rosellia album that came out a few weeks ago.) I don’t regret the little money I’ve put into it, for sure. I do play it quite a lot, and have improved a ton since I started. However, this game is very skill-based, and you need good reaction times and hand-eye coordination, areas in which I am quite lacking. Hard difficulty is actually hard, which is a little embarrassing to admit when I see most other players in my stats range doing Master no problem. But regardless, I do really like this game, which is why I’m going to be talking about it a lot more in the near future.