Some Personal Musings: Love Live! School Idol Festival Postmortem - Service Shuts Down After Nearly 10 Years

Some Personal Musings: Love Live! School Idol Festival Postmortem - Service Shuts Down After Nearly 10 Years

March 31, 2023 marked the final day of the original Love Live! School Idol Festival mobile game after a nine-year run. It’s been a part of my life for nearly a decade, so I thought I’d reflect on my time with it. Naturally, my experiences don’t reflect everyone’s, but I hope we can all share in the good times.

Discovering the Game

I first learned of School Idol Festival thanks to the Love Live! anime and being an unabashed Hanayo supporter. As if fate had conspired to draw me in further, I was fortunate enough to pull an Ultra Rare Hanayo early on that kept me playing that was my first mobile game.

I was relatively unfamiliar with the whole digital gacha experience. In fact, I didn’t even own a smartphone, instead playing on an iPad. In those early days, I learned some important lessons—like how I’d pay in aching fingers the next few days if I got a bit too enthusiastic slamming them down. It was satisfying to improve at the game, and although I found out from friends that School Idol Festival was basically baby mode for hardcore rhythm game enthusiasts, that worked out because I have a terrible sense of rhythm.

Playing My Way

 I was never a whale by any stretch of the imagination. While I occasionally obtained iTunes gift cards so I could purchase gems for scouting, I made a decision early on that I would vie for relatively sure bets rather than entrust my future (and wallet) to lady luck by vying for Hanayo cards in special events. Because events rewarded the grind more than sheer skill, I eventually transferred over to a smartphone so that I could use my commutes more effectively.

 The drawback was that the tiny phone screen was nowhere near as precise, and so my days of getting perfect combos dissipated. Ironically, I think this was the beginning of the end for me. I had made the switch to play more, but wound up playing less. And as I became tired of the grind, the introduction of things like daily quests did not win me over. It helped me to realize that I actually kind of loathe dailies, and there’s no escaping them these days in mobile games.

The Need for a Sequel

 School Idol Festival received multiple updates, both to include newer generations of Love Live! characters and to keep up with trends and developments in mobile games. However, the game still ended up feeling a bit dated, which is why I think they’re making a sequel in the form of School Idol Festival 2. It looks to be a direct successor to the original, with nearly identical gameplay, and I think that’s because despite any flaws, it was ultimately a decently fun rhythm game that tested your skills well. There was another attempt at converting Love Live! to a mobile game in the form of School Idol Festival! All Stars, but its more obtuse approach was not as satisfying. 

A Final Anecdote

There’s one thing I’ll always remember when it comes to Love Live! School Idol Festival. I was sitting down for food one time, and I overheard two women talking about Love Live! I had mostly associated the fandom with relatively older people, but these ladies were a fair bit younger than myself. I asked them how they got into the franchise, and they said it was thanks to the mobile game. As someone who started with the anime, seeing the opposite pipeline intrigued me, and it opened my eyes to the power School Idol Festival had to attract potential fans and keep them interested. Now I’m curious to see if the new game will do the same.

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