[Thanks to my good friend keroberrycola for the banner image!]
Idol Hakkenden is an adventure game developed by Natsume and released exclusively for the Famicom in 1989. The game takes a number of cues from the innovative and similarly Japanese-only Portopia Serial Murder Case, including its open world-style design and command menu interface, providing an experience that is at once simple but open to a lot of clever puzzle solving. The game takes place over five acts, telling the story of Erika, the youngest granddaughter of a business tycoon, Tomiko. Tomiko is dying, and decides that she will give her inheritance to whoever is the most successful of her grandchildren. While her two sisters are business-savvy, Erika only has her singing voice to fall back on. And so, it’s up to the player to guide Erika into becoming a popular idol, and navigating the troublesome world of showbiz. But she won’t be able to do it alone! Along the way she’ll need to make seven different friends, each with their own skills that can help make Erika an overnight sensation!
Unlike Portopia, Idol Hakkenden is a fairly linear game that requires a lot more trial-and-error than deductive reason to solve its puzzles. However, it has greater ambitions elsewhere. The game has a good sense of humor, with clever writing and even good comedic timing scripted into its dialogue. But more than that, Idol Hakkenden has a heavy emphasis on music, given its idol angle. There are multiple insert songs throughout the game’s story, with included karaoke lyrics to help you follow along with the chiptune melodies. It’s cool to see such an early video game put this extra effort into its aesthetic presentation, especially since this was years before the idol craze would start back up in Japan, and eventually come to the West.
I’m the idol aficionado ChorpSaway and I really like this game! After the release of the translation patch last month, I was instantly charmed by Idol Hakkenden’s writing and presentation, and thought it was something that deserved more attention. And so that I’m not just laughing at jokes I already know, I’ve decided to bring along my friend TheJayOfSpade to cheer Erika along as she becomes a worldwide sensation.
Yes, I will be presenting this in video format, since the way the music and story integrate is important enough to see that I don’t think another form of presentation would do it justice.