After Nogizaka46's rhythm game Nogifes, comes the release of Keyakizaka46 and Hinatazaka46 joint rhythm game, named UNI'S ON AIR. The game is released late September 2019, and I played the game a few days after release.
I tried Nogifes before, and to be honest, it is not enjoyable. The gimmicks require too much memorizing, and the rhythm feeling is reduced. I went to review UNI'S ON AIR on the expectation that it will be more enjoyable than Nogifes.
Opening the game, I'm already greeted with a title screen that feels well designed, with a background video of performances. I even paused for a bit here, just watching the mesmerizing title screen.
The tutorial is guided by two characters, which explain the various basic gameplay.
The gacha part is preceded by a member selection screen. This screen is for selecting which member do you want to get first, practically the "choose your favorite member" screen.
I know Keyakizaka46 and Hinatazaka46 a bit, but as my original oshimen, Nagahama Neru, has graduated at the time of release, it's time for a new search! A mentally exhausting search, for that matter. I settled on Kamimura Hinano, the lone 3nd generation of Hinatazaka (time for more Hinatazaka, I guess)
After the member selection screen, is the gacha system, which in this game, is called a photoshoot.
After the early part of tutorial is finished, you will be introduced to the home screen. The tutorial doesn't stop here, and will walk you toward the basics of the game. I will not cover those steps as I will be covering them later normally.
The home screen is a bit like the other games of the same genre. It allows you to experience features the game offers.
In this game, there is a grade calculation that takes account all members you have, so leveling every member you have is beneficial.
Level Lesson has a nice cute screen, and leveling up a member uses points that looks like a drop (?). These points are obtained from plays and missions.
The "talent blooming" feature allows you to increase a member stats separately. It look similar to a skill tree, and the member also walks while unlocking stats in the skill tree.
Songs in the game are divided to sections, some according to the live concert they're in.
Playing songs costs Stamina depending on the selected difficulty, like other rhythm games with this model.
The rhythm game interface contains 5 lanes of notes, each having the image of all cards in the unit. There are 3 types of notes: tap notes, flick notes, and slide notes. Those notes are a staple in rhythm games, but it is proven and tested. My major turn-off for Nogifes is that it adds types of notes that are straight up Interface Screw, such as notes that only appear near the line, or notes that are delayed going down. This makes the chart hard to read and forces the player to memorize the chart to play.
Admittedly, the charts themselves has a lot of flick notes, and I missed a lot in early plays. However, I slowly improved on those flick notes.
As typical of idol rhythm games, this game has an office section, where you can arrange furnitures and see your idols just walking around. You can serve the idols food and beverage too, and gift them.
An interesting feature of the game is the drama section. Those are basically mini visual-novels that has a specific theme. I didn't dig deeper because my Japanese is not yet at a comfortable level, but it is interesting.
There is one more locked feature that I remember of, and that is ON AIR, because it requires level 20. It can be covered later.
The greater experience
The game has one of the more clean interfaces, and with the general scheme being green and blue, it feels very calming. The addition of skill trees of the members allows additional expansion of stats, which is very useful.
The gameplay is common to idol rhythm games. however it doesn't screw up the game interface. The drama section is also a nice novelty, and most likely a good source of in-game entertainment too.
Suffice to say, I enjoy this game more than Nogizaka46's rhythm game, which requires memorization of songs a bit too much.
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