Last year, I got alerted about the existence of a game that based its premise on voice actors, CUE!. That time, I wrote a post reviewing the game. In fact, it was my first post about game reviews in this blog. Now, it's been one year since the game was released, and I think the first anniversary of this game is a good time to look back, see what's changed since the first release of the game,update new information about the game here, and hope for what the future holds.
The home screen itself has changed quite a bit, with the recording button becoming the "work" button, since another mode using RP was added. A new management button was added in the first anniversary update of the game, version 2.0.0.
The lesson screen has been slightly redesigned to put a new progress bar for the completion percentage, and the rewards are now tucked away inside a button. You can also switch between the recording menu and the lesson menu with a new button on the bottom left, above the series list.
For the lessons, you can now repeat until all your LP is exhausted, or you can repeat until the completion percentage reaches 100%.
One of the earlier updates of CUE! added a 3x speed, so your lessons can go faster. When the super special training status is triggered, the count of turns in the status is now displayed.
One of the largest convenience features added in the middle of the game's lifetime is the ability to do the lessons in the background, using the Omakase Lesson Mode. This way, you can free up time for other tasks you want to do on your phone! This can be a lifesaver for people who have less time to monitor the lessons themselves, and frees up the phone for other important tasks. I started doing dailies of numerous games lately, so this means that I can do the CUE! daily missions in record time, and it's the reason why I was able to stick to this game for so long.
A new mode that consumes RP is Compe. This is basically a simple ranking event, when your work score is ranked across many players in different tiers, akin to Fes in Idolmaster Shiny Colors. Doing Compe is the same as doing the usual Recording, however you can only use your own character cards (no guests).
Another flow change in the game is you are no longer require to select the guest first, as you are now directly brought to the unit formation screen where you can do other things first before setting a guest.
There is now an option to do boosts, so you can run one recording as it were five, and it will still be counted as five. This is another timesaver that I was using to finish CUE! dailies in record time.
The recording gameplay interface got redesigned extensively in the middle of the game's first year, to give a better animation of the recording session, which means that you no longer see a spreadsheet calculation on screen.
The layout of the recording results also got redesigned, showing the breakdown of each cards' contribution to the score, along with the subcasts, thus moving out the information to the forefront.
The cast screen is also redesigned, with the removal of several buttons to interfaces that can be accessed from other menus, such as lesson and work unit formation. There is now a ranking on the same screen, showing the highest statistics of your casts.
Some menus don't change much, but there's an interesting thing to note, which that there's a new type of card added in the first anniversary update, which can only be used as subcasts in the Work mode.
The heroine room is renamed Management, and the levels of the characters are shown now, along with a tab on the left side, for navigating between units. No more scrolling between screens when finding the character you want.
One of the largest updates in the game is the addition of an entirely new game mode, which can be accessed from the Management screen. I'll discuss this new mode in a separate section, because the mode is quite involved.
A playable new mode
The first anniversary update of CUE! introduces a new mode called Audition. This new mode is accesible from the Management screen. At the time of writing this mode is only available to the main character, Haruna Mutsuishi, however other characters will be added in the future.
For the audition, you can only choose the cards of the character you're doing an audition with, so for now, you can only use Haruna cards.
In the new audition mode, you will manage the schedule of your voice actor for 28 days, leading to the audition for a role. This aspect makes me remember a bit of the produce mode of Idolmaster Shiny Colors. This is in part because of the similar schedule-based gameplay, the fact that the auditions are held at the end of week 2 and week 4 (TFD comes to mind), and the existence of multiple-choice commus.
Every day in the schedule, you will meet your seiyuu first, and communicate a bit.
After your initial morning with the seiyuu, you will be presented with the scheduling screen. Here, you will choose the activities that the seiyuu will undertake during the day. There are numerous types of activities that will increase various stats of your seiyuu, and a chance to get a secret menu that will significantly increase your stress level but reward you with abilities.
The seiyuu has four stats that can be improved. Those are singing, script-reading, dancing, and talk. From those four stats, two will be marked with different indicators. One is the Point mark, which is the stat that the seiyuu is great in, and focusing on those will improve your score. The other one is the Lacking mark, which is the stat that the seiyuu is not that great in, and has lower contribution to your score.
There are a few things you must pay attention to while scheduling the activities. First is the pie bar that is around your character. The left bar correspond to your seiyuu's stress level, while the right bar corresponds to the effort level. Attention especially to the stress level is required because higher stress level means you are more likely to flunk the audition. All kinds of activities except meetings will raise your stress level. Scheduling meetings will reduce the stress level, akin to rest periods on Shiny Colors.
After the activities are done, there's a chance that you will be able to interact with other characters. Those interactions will lower your stress levels and unlock abilities.
One of the interesting points is that there's a multiple-selection scenario, just like what I'm familiar with in Shiny Colors. There's no Secret Notebook anywhere in this game though, and I can't read Japanese, so I'm random-picking the selection. Fortunately, I cannot be punished for choosing the wrong choice, because there's no Normal Communication in this game. It's more like the produce events of Shiny Colors, where the choice only affects the stats.
In the bottom left of the screen, there's a smartphone icon that you can tap to bring up a smartphone interface. This smartphone's wallpaper is of course set to the seiyuu you're managing right now, so in this case it will be Haruna.
This smartphone has three menus, the first one being the calendar, where you can see where in the audition schedule you're in. This is where I figured out the length of the audition mode, which is 27 days approximately.
The second menu is where you can see the abilities you gathered so far. It's nice to keep track of things once in a while.
The final menu is the Cueitter, which is a cute fictionalization of Twitter, where you can see what the characters tweet. Those are interesting, and sometimes cute.
When the day of the audition comes, it's pretty much just a cutscene. You don't have to fight judges like you do on Shiny Colors, you just see the character you're managing do her best.
After the audition, you will be notified of your success or failure. My first attempt of audition went smoothly, as well as the final attempt of audition in the run. I carried over how I played Shiny Colors to this audition mode, so everything was surprisingly intuitive, and not much struggling was seen.
After the run is done, you will see the clear rank of your run, along with the stats you acheieved and the levels of your card abilities.
Adding value to the offer
The addition of the third audition mode adds a kind of real gameplay to CUE!, because previously the game is all about team-building. You do lessons to gather materials, you level up your cards, you go to work with recordings and compe, you deal with the occasional event, and that's it. There's actually a period where I didn't play the game for some time, since I have more important things to do with my phone. The addition of the convenience features such as lessons in the background and the work boosts is why I become active in playing the game again. CUE! no longer feels like a chore, and it feels more managable this way.
A month before the first anniversary, I got myself to read some translated scenarios of the game, especially concerning things related to Miharu. Getting to learn the characters' personality through the story is one of those enlightening moments, and one that made me wish I can understand Japanese. It's the thing that deepens the attachment with a series for me, like what I feel with Shiny Colors right now (although Yuika got a bit too relatable). This kind of atttachment made me wish that CUE! can continue to exist, and may AiRBLUE prosper.
Overall, since the game was released, CUE! has improved a lot, with some areas receiving a welcome UX improvement, convenience features that make CUE!'s idle aspect not feel like wasting time, and an entirely new mode for those who want something that feels more like actual gameplay. Here's to hoping that CUE! will continue to improve and move forward.
For those who haven't played CUE! yet, there's no better time than now! It's one of the games that will take just a little bit of your time. It also requires no significant time investments for those who doesn't play to rank in events or Compe, so adding CUE! to your daily tasks list doesn't hurt. As with my first review, I recommend to try it out, you will appreciate it.