Game Review - BanG Dream! Girls Band Party! on Mobile

Written by Yuniversal on August 22, 2018 @ 4:53 pm

BanG Dream is a rhythm game that brings essentially nothing new to the table, but instead focuses its efforts into streamlining all the features that you would normally find in a Japanese mobile rhythm game into the best that it can possibly produce, all while giving all the weebs out there their cravings for cute Japanese high school girls doing cute Japanese high school things on the side.

This review will go kinda in depth but not really.

Core Gameplay:
The core gameplay of BanG Dream, which is to say the rhythm game part, is essentially the same as every other rhythm game. There are lanes, and notes that go down each lane. You tap the notes to the beat of whatever song you are playing at that time, with the goal being tapping as many notes as you possibly can, and as accurately as you possibly can. Due to the similarity of all Japanese mobile rhythm games, comparisons between them are inevitable, so bear with them.

BanG Dream's format for their lives is pretty simple; a row of 7 columns, each with notes coming down to a button, which you have to press when the note hits it. The row is completely flat, which automatically gives a handicap to School Idol Festival players, as their buttons are in a semi circle instead. However, for people who haven't played any rhythm games, the formation is pretty easy to understand.

In terms of difficulty, BanG Dream is commonly considered to be on the difficult side. This shouldn't scare off new rhythm game players however, as like many other rhythm games, BanG Dream has 4 difficulty selections for each song, with the first two difficulties, Easy and Normal, being fairly manageable for newbie rhythm game players. One little flaw I find with the difficulty selections is that for many songs, the difficulty between each difficulty can feel like a much more massive jump than people would expect. In particular, the jump between Hard and Expert can feel like the difference between lets say, Hard and Master for School Idol Festival. However, unlike in School Idol Festival, two songs in the same difficulty can be massively different in actual difficulty. As a result, the best way to build up your rhythm game skills isn't to go up the difficulty ladder, but to play different songs of the same difficulty, as each songs have their own different tricky parts to practice. This can be said for other rhythm games as well, but I feel like it especially applies to BanG Dream.

What makes BanG Dream trickier than other rhythm games are the infamous flick notes. At first glance, flick notes seem pretty simple, you just need to flick the note! But in context, when you have a flurry of flick notes coming at you with a swipe note at the same time, you will come to fear the very concept of flick notes in no time. Of course, this is merely something I and many others believe in, perhaps flick notes are your forte.

BanG Dream has many quality of life applications that you could use to help make your experience easier. Like many rhythm games, you can adjust the speed of which the notes come down the lanes. BanG Dream offers many more different speeds compared to other rhythm games. Similarly, BanG Dream offers timing adjustments, which can help some players with older phones get around issues such as input lag. BanG Dream also offers further quality of life features such as changing the size of the note heads, or even displaying different colors for offbeat notes, which can help musicians such as myself who work best knowing when and where the offbeats are.

BanG Dream also has a seemingly complicated map formation with these things called "Area Items." While they seem very complicated and can scare away a lot of new players, they really aren't that bad. I won't go too in depth with these, as their are many guides online already, but one thing to keep in mind is that they are basically equip items from an RPG. If you think of them like that, you'll find out that they are pretty self explanatory. Also, you will find the chibi versions of all the characters conversing and doing their daily things around the map. You can listen in on these conversations to get a dose of moe and some experience towards leveling up your account and bands. They aren't necessary to do but are a good side thing to do when bored, and leveling up your bands unlocks stories for in game currency, as well as other awards.

The lives of BanG Dream are also clean and most importantly, satisfactory. Unlike in School Idol Festival, where pop ups are extremely distracting and have resulted in many people turning pop ups off completely, BanG Dream pop ups are extremely non intrusive, and you can still turn them off if you so choose. The lives also feel more fun to play due to the aesthetics; while some rhythm games only display the icons of the members of your party, or perhaps have a sort of CGI dance sequence in the background which in my opinion is very distracting, BanG Dream's live screen consists of a cheering crowd and a light filled stage with chibi versions of the girls in your team (or the main girls of the other players if you're playing multiplayer), who all bounce and dance adorably to the beat of the music. Not to mention, the chibis and lights change due to other aspects of the song; for example, the lights in the crowd change when a member skill is activated, which really makes you feel like you're in the live yourself. The chibis also change their expressions from time to time, and the game even acknowledges when the chorus of a song drops which adds this sense of epicness to it. Finishing a live also grants you some experience to your account, experience towards your bands depending on which girls you have in your team, as well as some other awards such as materials for upgrading or leveling up your members. I won't go in depth for this either as their are guides online, and are pretty self explanatory as well.

Did I say Multiplayer? BanG Dream has fairly decent multiplayer functions. It's fairly simple, but it works and it can actually pretty fun and adds to the experience of the game. Instead of using your entire team, in multiplayer mode, 5 players come together and the girls who show up on stage are the center girls of each player's team. As a result, this is the only way you can get 5 Rimis with choco coronets on stage in the same live (I'll be going over that in depth later.) The multiplayer match making is decided into separate rooms, depending on your team strength. As a result, you will usually be playing with people who's teams are around the same strength as yours, but people with stronger teams can still go to the weaker rooms so that won't always be the case when you start out. Either way, there is no ranking system in multiplayer, so it's not like getting last place in a live will actually hurt you or anything. You can also create rooms and invite people on your friends list as well, meaning you can get all your weeb friends and play together as long as you want.

That's right, as long as you want. BanG Dream does have a stamina system, but unlike other rhythm games, you can still play as many songs as you like when you have 0 stamina. You will simply just not receive as many rewards for doing so. This means that you can practice a song as many times as you want! This is the ultimate reason as to why BanG Dream is one of the higher end Japanese mobile rhythm games, you aren't forced to spend your hard earned in game currency to simply play a song. This also means that the harder learning curve of BanG Dream is easy to overcome, as you have the ability to practice as much as you want. However, that doesn't mean that the BanG Dream stamina system is perfect. The only way to refill stamina is to level up or use items/in game currency, and you still need stamina to progress effectively in events, and unlike in other rhythm games, leveling up your account does NOT increase your stamina cap, meaning that all leveling does is make it harder for you to level in the future, causing stamina refills to be less often. This is one of the few cases where leveling your account is actually a detriment, and I really wish BanG Dream would award you for playing often. Speaking of events though...

Events:
BanG Dream events last around a week each, with only a day of downtime between them. This means that if you want to tier for every event, you will need to be playing this game A LOT. Unlike in SIF, where the downtime between events is around a week or so, events in BanG Dream come and go in the blink of an eye. This also means that you will be constantly upgrading every single area item and grinding lives for materials to do so. As a result, BanG Dream can be considered a bit more hardcore rhythm game. However, I must stress this; you can still play casually and do well in events! The main rewards that people aim for in events are unlocking all of the event stories, unlocking the limited time sticker that is unique to each event, and unlocking the event cards. You can get all of these by just emptying your stamina whenever you can at a fairly casual pace. You don't need to sit down and grind for hours. BanG Dream events are very f2p friendly and you only need to pay in events if you want to get the highest tier possible, which in my opinion isn't really worth it.

The way events work are also pretty straightforward. Every event has an attribute and 5 highlighted members. Your goal is to make a team full of members with as many of the matching attribute and highlighted members, which in return will net you more event points when you finish a live. Then, you just play songs. The fun in events mainly just comes from the fact that for the most part, you will be doing multiplayer lives as they are more efficient, as well as reading the event stories, which are actually pretty darn good reads. But for the most part, you will just be playing normally. There is another event type as well, but that doesn't really change much other than adding a reward for how high of a score you reach on a specific song.

Story and Characters:
BanG Dream has quite a few stories to read. The ones that you shouldn't take too seriously are the main stories, member stories, and the conversations that you listen to on the map. The main story really isn't anything special, the conversations are usually just amusing or adorable interactions between the characters, and the member stories are just stories you get whenever you get a new card from scouting and you just want to get the free stars. The stories you really should be looking out for are the band stories and event stories. The band stories give an in depth story on how each of the 5 bands are formed, and they are usually much more serious and have heaps of character development. Similarly, the event stories range from extremely entertaining to having the same serious and developmental vibe as the band stories. Due to how their are events constantly coming out and the band stories are planned to be expanded soon, the characters of BanG Dream have an added layer of depth to them, making them feel more realistic compared to other rhythm game characters. Of course, this is all relative; the girls are far from realistic.

However, that doesn't make the cast anymore lovable. BanG Dream is diversity done right; the 5 bands are very different from each other in terms of music, aesthetic, personality, and goals. As a result, the BanG Dream fan base has a large variety when it comes to finding a favorite character. Of course, some characters will inevitably be more popular than others, but I personally feel like BanG Dream gives each character an equal chance to shine. There are also a lot of very complex relationships between some of the characters that hit very close to real life relationships, such as the relationships between the members of Afterglow, the Hikawa twins, and many more. This added layer of depth behind the characters makes forging an emotional attachment to each of them fairly easy, and you will be worshiping and saving your ass off for a best girl in no time flat. Speaking of saving...

GACHA TIME:
The gacha of BanG Dream is a bit of a hit or miss. There are plenty of very good things about it though. For example, the rates in BanG Dream are fairly good, the chance of getting the highest rarity is 3%, which is much better than the two most popular gacha games; Fate/Grand Order and School Idol Festival, who's percentages still rest at that ungodly 1%. Second of all, the 2nd highest rarity is still something that is worth getting, as not only do the card arts look as good as the highest rarity, but they aren't too far behind when it comes to stats. This makes making a good team, considering how one of the event cards you get is of the 2nd highest rarity, fairly easy. However...

BanG Dream's gacha is the ultimate example of diminishing returns. As the pool of members is still limited in the WW version, getting duplicates of cards is fairly common if you scout a lot, and unlike in School Idol Festival where getting duplicate cards is still pretty useful, getting duplicates in BanG Dream is the worst thing you can possibly imagine. In SIF, you can use your duplicates to level up the skills of your existing cards, or increase their slots, or use them as stickers to idolize another card, making dupes very useful. In BanG Dream, you can also uses duplicates to also level up skills, but it's generally not worth doing so compared to Love Live, where leveling up a skill makes a big difference. You can also trade in duplicates for Michelle stickers, which you can trade in for materials (which you can just grind on your own) or a special 3* gacha ticket, which is just a worse version of the blue tickets in SIF. So long story short, while it is easier to get the cards you want in BanG Dream, you will also hit a point where your scouts will literally give you absolutely nothing.

Team Building:
You may be wondering; If I get a duplicate 4* of a girl that I have already, can't I just use that same copy in my team? Unfortunately, you cannot. Your BanG Dream squad of 5 girls cannot include cards of the same character. It doesn't matter of you have two different Kasumi cards of differing rarity and attribute, you can only have ONE Kasumi card on your team. While this does limit team building a fair amount, having 25 girls in the franchise means that you will still have plenty of choices to choose from. This limit in team building is also mainly due to the limited card pool in WW at the moment.

Also keep in mind that by themselves, the attributes and actual characters of your team don't affect the score of any song you play. The songs of the game don't have attributes, and only having members of the same attribute or the same band won't give you a bonus to your score. Again, this is by themselves. What having teams of the same attribute and band do is make boosting your team with area items easier, as those usually give boosts based on band or attribute.

Purchases:
DO NOT SPEND MONEY ON STARS. However, there is an exception. While I don't condone spending money on gacha games, if you really do want to spend money on this game, please spend it on the monthly box. For 10 dollars, this box gives you 1000 instant stars and 2000 more stars over the course of 25 days. That's 3000 stars, which is worth around roughly 28 dollars, for 10 FREAKIN BUCKS. If that's not a good deal, then I don't know what is. There are also times where they give big discounts on gems, which if you really want to, you can spend on those discounts. Also, don't do the weird shady free star deals. Just be safe with your personal info please.

Overall:
BanG Dream is definitely my favorite rhythm game. Whenever I felt like I was burned out from the game, BanG Dream goes up to me and is like "Yo, we just added the cover for only my railgun, better play that a billion times!" And I'm like, "Yes master." The event stories also keep me coming back for more, and of course my battle to finally get a Hina 4* keeps me on my toes at all times. However, it is far from perfect as even though it strove to streamline as many rhythm game features it possibly could, there are still features which could be improved upon such as the leveling and duplicate cards. Also, keep in mind that when you are playing Bandori, you are also playing Bugdori. This card as enough bugs to make Misty from Pokemon poop in her pants. Either way, BanG Dream is a very fun rhythm game that has the potential to be even better.

Gameplay Rating: 9
Story Rating: 8
Graphics & Visuals Rating: 8
Sound Rating: 8
Overall Rating: 8

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Game Information

Alternative Titles
バンドリ! ガールズバンドパーティ!
Platform
Mobile
Developer(s)
Bushiroad International
Publisher(s)
Bushimo
Genre(s)
Adventure, Music/Rhythm
NA Release Date
April 4, 2018
JP Release Date
March 16, 2017
EUR Release Date
April 4, 2018
AUS Release Date
April 4, 2018
MVGL User Score
7.7
Official Website
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