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In last week's review of D4DJ First Mix I mentioned that the franchise actually still planned an accompanying game. This week on Thursday, May 27th that has actually happened — Bushiroad released their D4DJ-themed rhythm game called D4DJ Grouvy Mix. Needless to say that my curiosity got the better of me, and I've downloaded the iPad version of the game right on Thursday. Since then, I've played it every day, but not excessively so. So, please take into account that what you'll read here are rather spontaneous impressions based on four days worth of experiences.
Now, Bushiroad is famous for Love Live idol festival, their rhythm game based on the Love Live episodes, as well as their BanG Dream game. Thus, I expected D4DJ Groovy Mix to be roughly similar. And, well, it is, but maybe less so than I had expected.
To start out with what is similar — you build up units based on cards you've won in other rounds. You then strengthen these units by playing live concerts either alone or in multiplayer events. If you successfully complete those rounds, individual members and units as a whole grow in strength and you as the player yourself can rank up (at the time of writing I managed to level up to rank 3 without spending a single penny :smiley:).
To win you have to select your difficulty between easy and expert and then tap on the controls as they come flying along. You collect points for each hit and lose energy (“charge”) for each one you miss. Much like for Love Live there are different types of controls that necessitate their own type of actions; their difficulty increases depending on you level (I've tried this out so far on easy, normal and hard). With each win you have the chance to get new player cards and other goodies.
Contrary to Love Live idol festival you start out with a ready-made Happy Around unit and already have five more pre-defined units for the other popular bands of the D4DJ universe — Photon Maiden, Merm4id, Peaky P-key etc. Based on the player cards you get you're free to modify these units and to define new ones (my first own one goes by the name of 7up — guess why). Much like with other rhythm games you can then slowly grow the prowess of also of these units. You can also redesign the stages much to your own taste by selecting lighting, colour schemes and other elements of decoration, though as far as I can see this does not influence the game play itself.
Much like Love Live the performances are interrupted by stories featuring all or some of the key characters. At the very beginning you meet Happy Around in their favourite hang-out, the Vinyl Café, that also plays an important role in the anime. And like in the anime this bar has a small clubroom that features as the stage for the band's first concerts. At the same time game designers also use the bar's staff to explain the challenges of DJing to Rinko and her friends and through them to the player, thereby creating an animated tutorial to the game itself that kicks back in once there are new features coming up.
All of this said, how do I like this new rhythm game? As you'd expect from Bushiroad, it is professionally done. It is also clearly designed to be a money trap with more flashy elements vying for your attention and money. As a matter of principle I don't spend money for these types of in-app sales, so if anything I find it rather annoying. And while I think I'll finish the first week just to get more of an impression, I rather doubt that this game will become a staple for me.
To get a second point of view I also asked our youngest, 10-year-old daughter to have a go — her feedback was much the same as mine. If and when we want to play a rhythm game, I guess D4DJ won't replace LL for us.
One more week of D4DJ largely confirms this impression - if you're really into rhythm games, this is probably something for you. However, even that category there are offerings I'd personally prefer.
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