Miracle Girls Festival is a rhythm game from SEGA. It features music from Yuru Yuri; Nyaruko: Crawling with Love; Vividred Operation; Kin-iro Mosaic; Arpeggio of Blue Steel; Tesagure! Bukatsu-mono; Wake Up, Girls!; Go! Go! 575; No-Rin; Engaged to the Unidentified; and Is the Order a Rabbit?. SEGA’s rhythm games tend to be pretty high quality and the shows have some good songs as well, so this collaboration seemed pretty interesting to me. The game is only available in Japan, but since the Vita is region-free, I was able to import it with ease.
Nothing I read about Miracle Girls Festival prior to playing it mentioned anything about a story. However, this game does have one, even if it is a bit basic. Since my knowledge of the language is rather lacking, I can not give the writing a proper evaluation. From what I can tell, the player is the director in charge of a series of concerts and staff members discuss the success of the events every now and then. While they speak directly to the player, the player does not get any dialogue of their own.
While not exactly a side story, each girl has a special message for the player that may pop up during Tour Mode. These lines are in-character and usually express gratitude. The inclusion of these lines is hardly enough of a reason to get the game, but they add a little something that fans may appreciate. There is also a skip button for players who do not want to hear them.
Since this is a rhythm game, it is easy enough to play without understanding Japanese. The most important menus happen to be in English while the others are easy enough to figure out with trial and error.
While the characters in Miracle Girls Festival were orignially 2D, the game uses 3D models. Still, they perfectly resemble the source material. Since different artists worked on these franchises, the art style does differ from series to series. However, there is only ever one group visible at a time, so this never feels particularly jarring.
Aside from No-Rin’s Ringo who has three, each character gets two outfits, which is not much. There are quite a few characters which sort of makes up for this, but they can only appear in their own songs. Still, players can at least change the colour of the HUD for each song and even remove it entirely.
Unlike most traditional rhythm games, the button prompts in Miracle Girls Festival fly in from every direction. This adds a sort of chaotic element that makes the game much more dynamic. This system also allows the developers to get artistic with the paths and destination markers. While this goes on, the girls from the corresponding show dance in the background. This may be distracting, but the coreography never makes the symbols more difficult to see, so the challenge seems fair.
The standard prompts are the same colour and shape as the buttons on the Vita. When it is time to press two buttons at once, the shape changes into an arrow pointing in the direction of the buttons. These arrows also contain a “W” symbol, further differentiating them from the standard prompts. Since all of these symbols are rather distinct, it is easy to tell which buttons to press with just a glance, making it easier to focus on the music instead of the visuals.
Miracle Girls Festival uses two songs from each of its collaborative properties. Since many of these shows are upbeat comedies, they feature upbeat music. This means most of the tracks in the game fall into the pop and pop-rock genres. Not having a large array of genres represented may limit the game’s audience, but it also means fans of this style of music may enjoy it more than those that try to appeal to everyone.
Like SEGA’s other rhythm games, sounds play when the player hits a button during gameplay. There are a few effects available and players can turn them off if they want. However, there are no functions that allow players to set their preferences to every track at once. Each slot in a tour playlist has its own settings as well. This means that players will have to adjust their options every time they play a tour setlist, even if they set them for the song before.
Miracle Girls Festival also features a system in which the audience chants and sings along with the song. This can make the performances feel more like a concert and some of the singing complements the songs rather well. There are also times when hearing a bunch of men singing along sounds rather creepy. Unlike the sound effects, players can turn this off while in the middle of a song and not just in the menus between performances.
All of the songs appearing in the game feature vocals from the cast. Most of these actresses also recorded some lines for the game. The girls will engage in random chatter while players browse the menus and one random character will shout something before and after each song. Nearly every character reads their special message aloud as well. As with the messages, this is not significant enough to be worth purchasing the game just to hear the lines, but they do add to the overall experience in a way that fans may enjoy.
As one would expect from a rhythm game, Miracle Girls Festival requires players to hit buttons in time with music. While they do this, the game rates how close every input is to correct timing and gives points based on that performance. While the core concept is fairly simple, the game has a few modes with additional mechanics.
Tour Mode consists of a series of playlists, each consisting of two to three songs. Each set of songs comes with a point threshold that players must clear in order to move on. While there is no way to fail the songs, those who do not earn enough points over the course of the show will need to try again. Still, the necessary point values are relatively low, so this is a pretty easy task. If players do well enough, they get to play an encore for additional points. During normal play, the game uses the short versions of songs. Encores, on the other hand, use the full versions and change the difficulty to hard. Still, playing poorly will not result in a loss, so these are just bonus rounds. If the player wants, they can skip the encore.
The free play mode in Miracle Girls Festival has quite a few options. At first, players can only play the short versions of songs on easy, normal, and hard difficulties. However, completing certain challenges will unlock the full version as well as additional difficulties and modes. These challenges are the same for each song and progress made in Tour Mode applies toward completing them. For the most part, these are pretty simple, but one can be tough. Players will need to get through a song on normal difficulty without getting worse than a “SAFE” rating on any note. Still, those who want trophies only need to do this once. Furthermore, short songs give players fewer opportunities to mess up.
After clearing enough challenges, Ura Mode becomes available. This mode works a bit more like standard rhythm games as it does have fail conditions. Normally the “voltage” gauge at the bottom determines whether or not fever bonuses will appear toward the end of the song. However, Ura Mode turns this into a life meter. It starts out full but depletes whenever the player fails to hit the right buttons at the right time. If the gauge runs out, the game ends. Clearing challenges also unlocks Expand Mode. While playing this mode, the button prompts start out very tiny and grow as they approach their destination markers. It is impossible to fail Expand Mode, but it still feels like the most difficult setting in the game.
At the end of every song, players receive a number of coins based on their performance. These coins are used to purchase the alternate outfits and the second song for each series. There is also a random figure drawing that uses coins and tickets. Through the drawing, players get random character figurines, including duplicates. This system gives the currency some additional purpose after everything else is gone and also provides a lot of content for those who enjoy collecting stuff in games. There is also a system for displaying figures, but each one only has a single pose which limits the amount of fun to be had with it.
On easy difficulty, the game follows a basic rhythm and only uses circle and the right arrow. Higher difficulties use every button and the hardest assigns prompts to very many notes. The game manages to pose a challenge for those that want it, but it is also easy enough for those that do not. On any setting, the path one’s thumbs must follow to keep up with the rhythm tends to provide a rather pleasant kinesthetic experience, which makes for a rather fun game overall.
I enjoyed my time with Miracle Girls Festival. It has some very catchy songs and the gameplay is really fun. As the game includes both short and full versions of every song, it should appeal to those looking for something quick and easy to play as well as those seeking a more involved experience. The tracklist is a bit shorter than similar titles on the Vita and there are a few minor annoyances here and there, so the game would not be my first pick when recommending games in the genre. However, it is still worth checking out if you are looking to add another rhythm game to your library.