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By Thomas Froehlicher 10th May 2021 | 2,123 views
Japanese publishers love long game titles and Square Enix certainly gave its best when naming this adaptation of the famous Love Live! anime. But behind the peculiar name, Love Live! School Idol Festival - After School Activity Wai Wai Home Meeting!! is actually a fairly orthodox rhythm game in which you play as the various idols from the series.
The first thing I like about After School Activity Wai Wai Home Meeting!! is its elegant presentation. You can choose your favorite singer from the main menu, where she performs charming commentary depending on the categories you select. The menu is nicely colored and clear, making it both practical and pleasant to browse through. The big surprise though is that Square Enix has included both groups belonging to the Love Live! licence, with the L2 button allowing you to change between members of the μ's and the Aqours. That means you almost get two games in one, and no less than 20 characters.
Love Live! School Idol Festival - After School Activity Wai Wai Home Meeting!! therefore has a great deal of content, but it comes at a price. Square Enix opted for a free-to-play model for the game, meaning that you can grab it from the PlayStation Store free of charge, but in order to complete it you'll need to purchase DLC. A wide range of music tracks is essential to enjoying any rhythm game, but the base offer here only features seven. There are more than 100 tracks available via the PlayStation Store, with each pack of three or five songs costing between $10 and $20. Purchasing everything would therefore cost a real fortune - $300 just for the songs, and as much again for the costumes. However, it's great that you can listen to samples and then buy only the ones you like the most.
Fans of rhythm games will be more at ease with other aspects of Square Enix's creation. The gameplay of the Live Show mode (the rhythm game aspect) is very intuitive - you simply press L1, R1, Circle, and the X buttons as the notes corresponding to those controls come down the screen and split to the left or right. Naturally, they fall down the screen in rhythm with the chosen track. After School Activity Wai Wai Home Meeting!! is tough with neophytes - while easy mode is accessible to all, the difficulty jumps considerably in normal mode. Here there are many more notes and they appear much faster. And if that's not challenge enough for you then there are also hard and ultra-hard difficulties above that. This latest Love Live! game can therefore be very challenging, but also truly enjoyable for veterans of the genre, while still being accessible to fans of the Love Live! anime who just want to give it a shot.
Much like Hatsune Miku Project Diva, After School Activity Wai Wai Home Meeting!! boasts great music videos. The choreography is detailed and diverse, the camera work is sophisticated, and the idols are very expressive. There's real visual pleasure to be found in playing and rewatching the music tracks, and it's a clear cut above the average for the genre. If you want to fully appreciate the visual aspect then you can do so in photo mode, which allows you to take clear pictures from various camera angles. You can also use the pictures you've taken to create a sort of virtual business card, which you can then share with other players.
Costume-making is the most disappointing aspect of Square Enix's newest Love Live! game. You can unlock new sets of outfits for either of the two groups by spending materials earned in the game, but it takes ages to build up the funds. Success in Live Show mode always gives precious few materials, so it can take a good dozen hours to get enough for any of the outfits, let alone the exact one you might want... could this be an underhand way of forcing players to purchase the costumes separately? Even if it's not, the system as it is feels frustrating and limiting.
As a rhythm game, Love Live! School Idol Festival - After School Activity Wai Wai Home Meeting!! clearly does a good job - it's pretty, perfectly animated, and challenging in terms of gameplay. It's just a shame that Square Enix opted for such a harsh free-to-play model and an annoyingly stingy costume system, both of which make the final bill hefty. Still, After School Activity Wai Wai Home Meeting!! is tremendously enjoyable, and fans of both rhythm games and Love Live! should certainly give it a try.
After graduating from a French business school, Thomas felt an irresistible force drawing him to study Japanese, which eventually led him to Japanese Profeciency Test level 1 in 2012. During the day, Thomas is a normal account manager. But at night he becomes Ryuzaki57, an extreme otaku gamer hungry for Japanese games (preferably with pretty girls in the main role). His knowledge now allows him to import games at Japanese release for unthinkable prices, and then tell everyone about them. You may also find him on French video games media. Feel free to contact on twitter at @Ryuz4ki57