Idol Hakkenden: How to Make Exactly Seven Friends and Influence People

[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.


Oh, this’ll be fun. I’m curious how it’ll go, and I’m especially wondering if we’ll be seeing some singing from people other than Erika…

I was already sold by how cute the art style is but then the “He closely resembles Dracula” appeared and I’m immediately in love with this game. You consistently play games that, as an aside, also really deserve to have an anime, what with this and UNiSON. Though speaking of…Eight Dog Samurais sounds like it should get an anime too, that’s a cool sounding story.

Gonna make a totally out there prediction: Hint Girl is going to be our surprise 8th member.


You mean Hoshimi? She’s already our partner! Make sure to update your count at home, to keep track of our lovely new friends/staff members.

And don’t worry, there’s plenty of singing to go around.

Ah, I didn’t know if she counted as part of our group or not. I was expecting some last second “oh no, we’ve found six people but we’re still missing one” moment, where Hoshimi suddenly realizes “…wait, I’m the last person you need!” and it’s dramatic and all the girls hug and go do a pop idol show.

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:siren: UPDATE TIME! :siren:

Today, it’s time to start looking for some vocal training! Erika learns of a legendary enka singer who’s living out their retirement in the country, someone who had the power of the Miracle Voice. With nothing better to do, she sets off to find this singer, but it’s never as easy as it sounds. She’ll have to face down biker gangs, ghosts, and even an extended interpretive dance sequence in order to get singing lessons!


It’s a minor thing, but I like the vocal tics everyone has in this.

I’ve always wanted to try wearing those stark triangle glasses but I can never find stuff like it, and honestly given how fucked up the feet on my glasses get, wearing triangles instead of circles sounds like a poor decision.

Oh man, nurikabe are the best. You’re just going down the road and then bam, run into a brick ass wall that has googly eyes. They’re great!

…wasn’t too into our hacker, given Misao’s accent (it’s just not something I care for that much) but her reaction to the ball song was fantastically sarcastic.

:siren: UPDATE TIME! :siren:

Today, let’s get things figured out for our debut! Now that Erika has acquired the Miracle Voice, it’s time to pick out a song for her first single. Yachiyo talks about a legendary pop song that’s been locked away by the fat cat execs in showbiz, so of course that means Erika has to have it! Time to break into some studios to find this song! However, it seems that a villain is finally making their move from the shadows, carefully watching Erika and her friends…


:siren: UPDATE TIME! :siren:

Today, things take a turn for the worse! While Erika prepares for her big debut, song and Miracle Voice in hand, it turns out Hoshimi has been kidnapped right from their base! And so it’s time for Erika to come face-to-face with the Kooky King, to negotiate the release of her friend, but things take a turn for the worse as she’s sent deep into the Kooky King’s lair. Will she be able to fight her way out against the King’s mightiest underlings, or will she go full kooky in this awful maze?


Finally getting caught up with this series, so a note about the first video: The Japanese word “高い” (takai) literally means both “tall” and “expensive”. It’s even the same kanji. So while they used a bit of wordplay in English, the Japanese is actually purposefully ambiguous that way.

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I’d always wondered what Tribute was for, guess we’ve finally found it.

I know given it’s an idol game this isn’t a big surprise, but the music in this game really rules.

:siren: FINAL UPDATE TIME! :siren:

Today, it’s time for the final confrontation! With the Kooky Kuartet bested, the only thing standing between Erika and Hoshimi is the King himself! However, some shocking revelations may shake Erika to the very core. Will Erika be able to stop the King, save her friend, and still be able to debut before time is up? Or will she fall to the King and go full kooky?

Thanks for watching, and I hope y’all enjoyed this look into an obscure game with an unlikely translation and a truly remarkable amount of charm! Now where’s the Idol Hakkenden modern revival, Natsume??
The next LP thread with the full crew will be going up later today, so stay tuned for that! Truly this is a happy Halloween.


Thanks for doing this lp. it was quiet nice to just watch something mostly light hearted.

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Jeez, and I thought my relatives where weird…

this game was such a trip. I loved it.

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