Reviewed For: Nintendo Switch
Also Available On: PC, PlayStation
Idol Manager is our second management simulator video gamer review within a week, and that isn’t too surprising. The genre is all over the Switch, which might be the most appropriate console for it outside of PC and mobile. Even if this is a crowded genre, new entries are always welcome when thought and care are put into them. Idol Manager absolutely falls short in a few areas, but does just enough to stand out, making it worth diving into for fans of management games (Or idol groups).
There is no shortage of negative press in the idol industry. Whether it is K-Pop or J-Pop, there are tons of stories out there about exploitation and the dark side of fandom. Idol Manager leans in on the shadier side of the industry, allowing for players to take charge of their own Idol group in a dark comedy.
For a management simulator, Idol Manager is pretty heavy on the narrative. Players inherit an idol agency and will take a small group of nobodies in an attempt to become the top dog in the country. A benefactor gives the player a loan, and players will take that loan and hire staff, train them, and try to avoid going into debt in the process.
And boy, players will go into quite a bit of debt.
Idol Manager is surprisingly brutal. The bright colors and pretty idols are absolutely misleading. Players should expect to fail a few times as they learn the best way to manage their group. Investing in just the right idols, facilities, and promotional materials is a fine tightrope. This game is hard.
Fortunately, once players find a groove, the game eases up quite a bit. In fact, once players are able to clear their debts and make it to the midgame, the rest of the journey is easy financially. From there, the only real challenge is keeping the idols happy and of course, finding stardom. Managing just these two is a lot simpler, though the game isn’t any less enjoyable for it.
Throughout the story mode players will encounter quite a few events that affect their business as well as the personal lives of their idols. Some are lighthearted while others can be worrisome. This industry isn’t pretty and neither is the game. Still, most of the random scenarios are fun and breathe life into Idol Manager. This is a game full of love and care, and GlithPitch does a solid job at getting players attached to their groups.
Unsurprisingly, there is a lot to manage in this game. Players will have control over just about every decision they can think of. Financials, who their idols are (Via auditions), their looks, and even the music they put out. Players will need to keep up with trends in order to stay relevant and put out music that the public actually loves. Players can manage how much they pay their idols, which affects their happiness and of course, the bottom line.
Still, Idol Manager falls short in quite a few ways, resulting in a frustrating experience that just barely misses out on being truly great. The first fault is the lack of memorable tracks. It’s a game about music idols, yet the actual music that players hear isn’t anything to write home about. It’s the same few tracks over and over again that don’t become grating, but still overstay their welcome. Some of the game’s mechanics, like pay and the idols’ mental health, don’t feel as impactful as they do. They work, but some decisions should carry more weight than they actually do. In some cases, it’s actually easy to cheese Idol Manager if players understand how to exploit the system.
In addition to the story mode, there is also a free mode that lets players manage their group without the shackles of a real narrative. This mode is solid and still provides random events, but the story is worth checking out first. It’s actually an entertaining tale that feels oddly personal since players will spend so much time with their idol group.
It’s far from perfect, but Idol Manager is a fun little simulation game that clearly loves what inspired it. Fans of the genre or idols will want to check this one out, just don’t expect a perfect experience.
- Tons of depth
- A simulation game with personality
- Music isn't engaging
- Systems can be exploited