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Game Info:

Shining Song Starnova: Idol Empire
Developed by: Love In Space
Published by: Sekai Project
Release date: February 20, 2020
Available on: Windows
Genre: Simulation
Number of Players: Single-player
ESRB Rating: Not rated
Price: $14.99

Thank you Sekai Project for sending us this game to review!

In 2018 we reviewed the visual novel Shining Song Starnova and it didn’t score very well morally due to its strong language and sexual content. Shining Song Starnova: Idol Empire is more of an office simulator where you still play as the producer tasked with turning a ragtag group of girls into pop idols. The same characters reprise their roles from the previous game and there’s a DLC add-on that allows you to hire additional girls into your production company.

Your job as the producer is to help the idols gain popularity and become the superstars they are destined to become. In the beginning, odd jobs such as handing out flyers and promoting fad diets/cigarettes/alcohol are necessary to pay the bills. Each of the idols has preferred jobs and some don’t want to do menial tasks while others don’t mind posing in lingerie or doing soft porn. Many of the jobs have stat requirements such as looks and people skills. If you sent a girl to do a job and she doesn’t have the proper skill set or enough health points, she’ll fail it and earn some infamy instead of popularity. The good news is that they’ll still get paid. However, if an idol’s infamy goes above their fame, angry fans will surround the office and cause a “fan-quake” that will destroy equipment and furniture.

Highlights:

Strong Points: Funny characters and dialogue; gameplay is fun
Weak Points: Clunky interface; live performances are annoying when you have popular songs
Moral Warnings: Strong language including the F-bomb, blaspheming; many of the jobs are sexual in nature (lingerie shoots, swimsuit music videos, soft porn DVDs); alcohol and tobacco promotion and use; references to the undead and demon possession; one of the idols whips out a knife and chases the others if she gets too stressed

In order to get your business going your first order of business is to build the producer’s office with his desk and two sofas to talk business. Once that’s setup job offers will start trickling in. You should then consider building a break room with a couple of sofas for the girls to recharge their health. Dance and vocal studios are essential for raising their dancing and vocal stats. If you setup a counselor's office you can increase the girls’ people skills.

As the girls get more popular, stalkers and paparazzi will start causing trouble. You’ll need to research advanced office departments like a legal team to handle defamation suits (for several thousand KN apiece) and security guards to apprehend stalkers. A marketing team is nice to have around to generate constant income by selling t-shirts and buttons. In order to turn a profit on merchandise you have to have some hit songs released.

A recording studio with an adjacent audio booth next door is required to record music. The quality of the song is determined by how good of a producer you hire and how appealing the promotional video is. The better grade the song, the more expensive it will be to produce. Once you get some hit songs, you can attempt to book a live performance. In order to do so you’ll have to reserve it and sell enough tickets before the show begins. If you fail to sell enough tickets, the security deposit is gone. Be sure to save early and often! Thankfully, the game does autosave on a regular basis as a last resort.

The live performances are unique and get quite challenging as the songs the girls perform get more popular. The girls on stage will sing until they get knocked down or their health depletes. The idols will automatically shoot out bubbles to stop the incoming “noise” from the audience. If the girls get hit they’ll topple over. As the producer, you can stop waves manually at the cost of replacing stage equipment. A research lab can provide you with health restoration items and fireworks that can increase audience hype and destroy all of the on-screen noise.

Shining Song Starnova: Idol Empire
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 76%
Gameplay: 16/20
Graphics: 7/10
Sound: 8/10
Stability: 5/5
Controls/Interface: 2/5

Morality Score - 48%
Violence: 7.5/10
Language: 0/10
Sexual Content:3.5/10
Occult/Supernatural:5/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical: 8/10

Keeping the idols popular, safe, and happy are your top priorities. As long as they are not overworked and are happy with their wages, they should be compliant. You’ll have to check their wages every five minutes and adjust them accordingly for the best results. All of the girls strive to be the center idol and each offers different benefits while they are the leader. One of the idols comes from a wealthy family and her ability to bring in daily revenue helps out quite a bit as you’re starting out with little income.

If an idol is not happy about her job, you’ll get yelled at. The language in this game is quite strong and drops the f-bomb along with some blaspheming. There are some tabloid covers that show revealing outfits and “upskirt” shots. Though there are sexual references, this game is much tamer compared to the visual novel it’s based on. It’s still not a game for kids though. Along with promoting alcohol and tobacco products, one of your idols resorts to using them if she gets stressed. Later in the story mode, a shrine maiden joins the group to help exorcise a lost spirit who is tormenting your group.

The voice acting and art are good, but the user interface is rather bad. Many of the menus don’t have a way of exiting them without opening up another one and closing out of it to close them all. If a menu overlaps another, you may be activating options on the one below instead of the active window. The characters have a chibi art style when you're managing them, but their original visual novel avatars are used as well.

Despite some rough edges, I found Shining Song Starnova: Idol Empire fun to play. Along with the story mode, there are free play and challenge modes to enjoy. There are forty Steam achievement and some trading cards if you’re into collecting them. If you enjoyed the (very mature) visual novel and like simulation games, Shining Song Starnova: Idol Empire is worth looking into.

About the Author

Cheryl Gress

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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