Love Live! School Idol Festival is a Rhythm Game developed by KLab and published by Bushiroad for the Android and iOS platforms as part of the Love Live! multimedia franchise. It was released in Japan on April 16, 2013, and worldwide on May 11, 2014.
The game's core gameplay revolves around the player's team of 9 idols, each member of which is represented by a circular rhythm icon, with the 9 icons forming a downward half-circle. As notes spawn from the top of the screen towards the icons, the player must hit their corresponding icons when the notes overlap to score points. There are five note judgements: Perfect, Great, Good, Bad, and Miss, with anything below a Great breaking the player's combo and inflicting damage to the Life Meter. Occasionally, there are hold notes that must be held down and then released when the note ends, and double notes that must be hit at the same time, as well as star notes that deplete extra HP if they break the player's combo. The song is cleared when the player reaches the end with HP remaining, and failed if you run out.
Unlike most rhythm games, the player's score is not strictly dictated by note accuracy or combo. Each member has three different Attributes: Smile, Pure, and Cool, and each song is aligned with one of those three Attributes. The maximum value for hitting a note depends on the song's Attribute and how much value each member has in that attribute, so for example, the player should use a team with a high Smile stat for songs that have a Smile attribute.
The player can pick up new members through one of two basic methods: Regular Scouting, which uses up Friend Points from using other players' Leader characters and typically yields common members and rare members, and Honor Scouting, which guarantees a rare member but also offers a chance at "Super Rare","Special Super Rare" and "Ultra Rare" members and uses Loveca Stones (Love Gems in the English version), which can either be collected in-game in scarce quantities or purchased with real-world money. To level up members, the player can use Practice to have one member earn experience points with the help of other members, but those members leave the roster once used. A member can also be "idolized" through Special Practice with a copy of that member, or a number of seals corresponding its rarity, giving her a new outfit, level roof, score potential and allowing the player to build up Kizuna to unlock her side story.
Twice a month, there are special in-game events where players participate in activities such as score competitions to build up points to unlock SR (Super Rare) members.
An arcade spin-off known as Love Live! School idol festival ~after school ACTIVITY~ was released in 2016. SIF AC features the same core gameplay as the original game, but also introduces systematic and aesthetic expansions such as full 3D CGI performances to accompany gameplay and a physical card system in which the player can collect cards and use them with the game to alter gameplay and performances. It uses Taito's NESiCA cards and infrastructure to allow players to save their play data.
A successor, Love Live! School idol festival ALL STARS, was announced on September 21, 2017. It is set for release in 2019, incorporates RPG elements, and features μs and Aqours as well as the Perfect Dream Project's own group of nine members.
Examples specific to School Idol Festival:
- Anti Poop-Socking: Each song play uses up Live Points (LP), with the more difficult songs requiring more LP. LP can be recovered at a rate of 1 LP every 6 minutes, by getting enough XP for a Rank Up, which occasionally increases LP capacity, or by using a Loveca Stone to refill it instantly.
- Anti-Frustration Features: Every song in the story screen after the first requires you to be at or above a progressively higher level to unlock. As a result many of the series' biggest hits require a lengthy grind to even be able to play outside of Score Match and Medley events. In the Japanese version, an update was applied at the end of July 2014 that halved the EXP requirement for every level at 100 and below, making it easier to access more of the Story section of songs. This same update was applied in May 2016 to the English version, with retroactive experience points given to players who joined before the update. In addition to halving the EXP requirement, it also added a simple unlock chain to get major songs from the anime and movie ahead of the ranks they'd normally be unlocked at. As of today, the modifications to the EXP requirements are different, but the halved ones are gone.
- April Fools:
- On April 1st 2018, the game added cards for all of the younger versions of μs and Aqours. Notably, this includes a young Nico Yazawa, whose appearance as a child had never been shown previously in any official media.
- In 2019, cards of the younger versions of µ's and Aqours wearing animal costumes were added, along with three more of a young alpaca from Love Live! as well as Shiitake's two puppies and Anko the lost dog from Sunshine!!. A trailer was even made for the animal cards.
- Art Shift: The majority of Cards tend to attempt to stick as close to the artwork style used in official material as possible, with minor variations between artists. The SSR Cards based on the Normal rarity characters, however, are done completely in the artist's signature style instead of trying to emulate the official style.
- Ascended Meme: Nozomi's card for the "Bokutachi wa Hitotsu no Hikari" mini-set features the infamous "Nozospin" meme from the song "？←HEARTBEAT" in Love Live! The School Idol Movie.
- Bribing Your Way to Victory: Loveca Stones. You can either get them in-game through a number of means: daily login bonuses, meeting song goals such as a sufficiently high combo, score, or play count, maxing out a member's kizuna and then reading their Side Story, new player bonuses that reward 3 extra Lovecas, etc. Alternatively, you can simply purchase them with real-world cash. Loveca Stones can be used to refill Live Points instead of waiting for them to slowly recharge, continue a song after running out of HP, increasing the player's member capacity, and most importantly, using Honor Scouting to pick up Rare members as well as have a chance at SR and UR members. That said, the game is perfectly playable without spending a single dollar; paying for Lovecas simply accelerates game progress.
- Brutal Bonus Level: On February 2017 (and result of a poll, since January 2018) the Japanese server added beatmaps from the Arcade version of the game which are only available in Japan. These beatmaps included four beats at the same time, making it easy to fail if you play with your thumbs only. The rewards from completing these levels only give G currency though.
- Call a Hit Point a "Smeerp":
- Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: Both the songs and cards are color coded, Red for Smile, green for Pure and Blue for Cool.
- Copy Protection: The Android version will refuse to start if it detects that your device has root privileges. Fortunately, there are workarounds to trick the game into "thinking" your device is not rooted.
- Costume Porn: Part of the game's appeal is to see the cast in a variety of highly detailed outfits.
- Crossover: October 2018 brought a large-scale collaboration with the other big Love Live! mobile game, Puchiguru! Love Live!, which added Promo SRs based on the nesoberi plushies and the Puchiguru arrangements of "Bokura wa Ima no Nakade" and "HAPPY PARTY TRAIN" as special tracks.
- Cut-and-Paste Translation: The English version strips out a lot of Ship Tease between the exclusively-female cast. Additionally, many lines that imply that the player character is female were changed to treat the player as male instead. KLab issued an apology and changed in-game text via a patch on June 30, 2015 that removes these changes.
- Difficulty Spike: Nawatobi on Expert mode goes from "I can handle this" in the first part to "Oh, Crap! What the hell is this?" in the chorus.
- There are several difficulty spikes in this game: from standard songs to daily B-sides as a while, from Medium to Hard difficulty, from Hard to Expert, and finally from Expert to Master.
- Dolled-Up Installment:
- Early Game Hell: You will not get any S-grade ranks for a long while, deal with it. Because score is influenced by your members' Attributes, it is very, very common for a beginning player (especially one with prior Rhythm Game experience) to get all Perfects on a song, only to get a C anyway, but once you come back with higher-level, higher-rarity Idols, an S-grade can range anywhere from possible to absolutely trivial. Also, at lower Ranks, your lower LP capacity means you can't play as many songs before having to wait or spend a Loveca Stone on a refill, especially if you dive straight for the Hard and Expert songs: you start with only 25 max LP while Hard, Expert and Master songs consume 15 and 25 LP per play, respectively.
- Empty Levels: Sometimes going up in Rank will reward you neither with increased maximum LP or a new place in your Friend List. Most noticeable after Rank 300, when your maximum LP only increases every three Ranks.
- Experience Booster: One of the perks available during Medley Festival events.
- Featureless Protagonist: The player is brought into the story by being introduced as a student who helps out with μ's operations. The only thing made clear about the protagonist's features is their gender: female in the Japanese version, male in the international version.
- As of the June 30, 2015 patch, the protagonist has been given "they" pronouns in the international version and the implication that they're a girl is there. Either way, beyond the first few chapters of the story mode (introducing all the μ's girls), the existence of the player character is pretty much dropped completely aside from in Side Stories, which are all about the player going on dates with the girls.
- Flawless Victory:
- Played straight with getting a Full Combo. A Full Combo results in an S-grade and unlocks all Combo-based rewards that have not been unlocked yet.
- Averted with getting all Perfects, which is not recorded by the game at all. The most you'll get is a Full Combo and discovering the highest possible score with your current team.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: The "Try Your Luck" Nozomi card and its accompanying side story reference gambling in Las Vegas. The legal age to gamble in U.S. casinos is 21. Nozomi is 17. Underage gambling, anyone? However, she does mention in the side story that she's not really in Las Vegas and that despite wishing she could go there, only grown-ups are allowed.
- Hard Mode Perks: You get higher rewards per unit of LP for completing higher-difficulty songs. To offset this, harder charts cost more LP.
- Harder Than Hard; Expert mode, only available on some songs (now it has been completed). On top of that, Expert charts used to only appear in the "B-Sides" folder, and therefore were available only on a time-limited basis or as part of School Idol Diary events. A new difficulty called Master, which is actually, and several times harder than Expert Mode, was added to the Japanese version of the game on July 5, 2016 and in the English version in .
- Kaizo Trap: A number of songs, such as "Bokura no Live Kimi to no Life" on Expert Mode, "Oh, Love & Peace!" on Expert Mode, and "Pure girls project" on Expert Mode, will throw an extra note or two at you after the song sounds like it ended. Woe to those who forget about this note when they think they have the FC... or worse, are close to failing.
- Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: Sena Kashiwazaki appears to be printed on a red bag◊ of one of the N cards.
- Level Up Fill Up: Increasing your Rank will refill your LP, and some Rank milestones will also raise your max LP before refilling you back to full.
- Money Multiplier: A possible random bonus during Medley Festival and Challenge Festival events.
- Mythology Gag:
- The Christmas 2017 collection has all of the Aqours members wearing wings on their backs in their idolized. Everyone has white wings... Except Riko, Mari, and Yoshiko, who have black wings. They're in Guilty Kiss, after all.
- The special "Koi ni Naritai AQUARIUM" SSR Cards that were released as part of an Izu-Mito Sea Paradise collaboration feature the Aqours girls holding a plush marine animal in their idolized, some of which are references.
- You is holding a plush of Uchicchi, whom she dresses as in the original music video and in the anime.
- Yoshiko holds a shark, which bears a resemblance to her shark sleeping bag from the anime.
- Ruby is holding a coelacanth, which references the April Fools' Day "live action" puppet show video.
- The ~after school ACTIVITY~ μs Activity Plus Assist Skill Cards are based on an episode of the anime where each of the nine members of μs try to mimic one another.
- Nintendo Hard: Most songs on Hard and especially Expert difficulties.
- No Bulk Discounts: Honor Scouting averts this; normally, it costs 5 Loveca Stones per round of Honor Scouting... or you can do eleven rounds at once for 50 Loveca Stones, i.e. a 9.09% discount. Even more averted with the Step-Up Scouting events, where each of three rounds of eleven idols costs 30, then 40 and finally 50 Love Gems/Loveca.
- Non-Indicative Name: The "Good" note judgement. It breaks your combo and, if it is a star note, decreases your Life Meter.
- Number of the Beast: A Full Combo on "Strawberry Trapper" on Master difficulty is 666 Combo.
- Off-Model: An increasingly common problem with certain SSR and UR cards is that there are glaring flaws with artwork production quality, which includes anything between minor to major anatomical issuesnote and lack of attention to details◊.
- Play Every Day: You get a bonus for your first login of the day. Said bonus can be coins, Friend Points, or Loveca Stones. You also get one free regular scout per day as well (two post-4.0 update; one for the µ's side and one for Aqours.)
- With the addition of Goals, "daily goals" can get you friend points, coins, or a Loveca every day. In the Japanese and English versions, they have since modified this so that you get all of that from just playing one live show.
- There are also special login bonuses: "Celebrating x-million players!" (worldwide or in Japan), "Celebrating [this-or-that] anime release/concert!", etc. These can give you additional Lovecas, scouting tickets, or promotional (also called promo) URs.
- Promotional Powerless Piece of Garbage: Zigzagged with promotional SRs and URs. On the one hand, their stats and center skills are much weaker than those of regular SRs and URs, and the illustration can sometimes be rather wonky or unsettling. On the other hand, because they share center skills with Rs, it's easy to level those skills up with any R that matches the skill (as opposed to SRs and URs, which have uniquely named skills and thus require an exact copy of the card to level those up), and they come pre-idolized, making farming kizuna with the card and getting that free Loveca a breeze.
- Put on a Bus: Your player avatar simply disappears in later chapters of the main story. Averted with the Side Stories, which have the featured idol on a date with the player.
- Scunthorpe Problem: While the game is somewhat loose in terms of profanity filtering, using a word like "green" to name your profile or team is banned because in the word is "gree", the name of an actual Japanese company.
- After an update to the English server, far more words became censored without any extra finesse added to the way the censor finds words. Because of this, all kinds of words from 'greetings' to 'butterfly' to 'should' to 'glasses' and, inexplicably, 'Honoka' were banned.note They also banned the word 'gay', which is confusing given the outrage players had over the game's censorship of lines that implied lesbianism. This was later undone, and now you can see usernames like these all over the place.
- Score Multiplier: You start getting this after scoring 50x combo and the bonus becomes bigger as the combo gets higher. Also one of the perks/random bonus during Medley Festival and Challenge Festival events.
- Self-Imposed Challenge: There are videos of skilled players playing one-handed, and even a video of someone playing one of the expert non-story songs with sausages instead of their fingers at all.
- She's a Man in Japan: The player character of all characters is this. In the Japanese version, characters treat you as if you're female—Otonokizaka High School is an all-girls' school after all. However, the initial release of the international version stripped out many references to the player's gender and in a few cases, the characters seemed to imply that they're talking to a male instead. This caused a lot of backlash and was corrected in the June 30, 2015 update, with KLab issuing a public apology to fans.
- Ship Tease: The Side Stories practically ooze with this at the seams between the player avatar and the featured idol.
- Shout-Out: One of the early Normal rarity cards features Fumie Nishimura holding a manga in her unidolized, which features a very crudely-drawn picture of Joseph Joestar from Battle Tendency on the cover.
- Shown Their Work: One of the Aquors stories has Kanan take the girls scuba diving. Every potential hazard she names is something real scuba divers constantly have to watch out for.
- Situational Sword: This Riko Promo UR. Its skill is a Score Boost that only triggers if a Chika and You card in the same team trigger. By itself, the card does nothing. However, if you stack your team with multiple Chika and You cards, the card will proc for every Chika and You that pops its skill. There's a reason why it's considered one of the best Score Boosts in the game.
- Some Dexterity Required: The limited time ~after school ACTIVITY~ CHALLENGE maps in the Japanese version of the mobile game. Many of the beatmaps are specifically tuned to make use of two hands, not two thumbs. This can make it physically impossible to attempt these charts on smaller devices.
- Stock "Yuck!": One of the messages that can be said by Honoka on the menu screen is "Th-This is just between us... but I don't like bell peppers..."
- Stop Poking Me!: On some menu pages, a portrait of your main team's lead member appears, along with a quip from them (usually talking about themselves or their fellow members or referring to the current page). If you touch the portrait, their dialogue will change to a number of things, ranging from the innocent (such as asking if you need help) to this trope, calling you a pervert, to the flirty (for example, Nozomi threatens to touch you back).
Hanayo: Uu, please don't poke me...
- Played straight by Hanayo...
- Temporary Online Content: Some special UR cards are only obtainable by logging in five days within a certain time period, after that they become unavailable, not showing up even in the Sticker Shop.
- Theme Twin Naming: The Konoe sisters, Haruka and Kanata; their names together mean "faraway."