MStar Online Review: a rhythm game drenched in K-Pop
Xairylle | On October 11, 2013 at 10:27 pm
Love it or hate it, K-Pop is a popular music genre that isn’t going anywhere any time soon. K-Pop is has become undeniably popular not only in Asia, but also in other parts of the world. In fact, there is even a reality show in search of the next K-Pop star. But for those who’d like to experience just a bit of what it’s like to be a K-Pop star without having to audition for contests or perform in front of a live audience, now there’s also a game. Emerging from closed beta and recently entering open beta, MStar Online is a K-Pop themed rhythm game playable via the Garena client, and if you want to be a K-pop star, it’s definitely a game to try.
Gameplay: Your regular rhythm game. Oh, and K-Pop. Lots of it.
MStar Online is launched from the Garena Plus Messenger. Once you download and install the game, it will proceed to install the Garena Plus Messenger if you don’t already have it. When I first tried installing the game, MStar Online wasn’t available and I had to switch my Garena Plus Messenger location setting to Singapore before I could play.
If you’ve played rhythm games like Audition or Project DIVA before then apart from learning the controls, you basically have most of what you need to play MStar Online. The idea is to press a series of keys in time according to the rhythm of a certain song to make your character dance accordingly, much like in Project DIVA. The player may be asked to press a single key or a combination of keys per instance. Being able to hit the keys in time continuously earns you points; you gain no points when you miss notes. Each player dances on stage along with other players. You may compete in singles or in couples. At the end of every song, the scores are tallied and compared. The one with the highest score wins that round and gets the most rewards. On that front, MStar is a lot like other rhythm games, which I believe is okay.
So what makes MStar Online different? Well, as I said earlier, it’s K-Pop. Lots of it. All songs in the game are popular song titles by famous K-Pop stars or groups including Super Junior, Girls Generation, and Shinee. It also allows players to vote for the player with the best outfit during each performance (aside from themselves).
And speaking of outfits, I’m a sucker for character customization so I will admit I enjoyed that part. MStar Online allows customization for a lot of character details including the shape of the nose, the prominence of the cheekbones, the distance between the eyes, the location of the eyebrows, and even the color of the fingernails. I also enjoyed lurking around the shop and trying out different cosmetics. The outfits in the shop are themed in a variety of K-Pop styles perfect for every Korean pop music fan.
Visuals and Audio: So much color and more K-Pop
Since K-Pop is all about exploding colors, glamorous lights, funky dance steps, and Korean fashion, MStar Online gives you just that. The first thing I noticed was the crisp graphics and the really vibrant colors. If you’re not used to these kinds of games, I recommend that you look away from the monitor from time-to-time. An MStar Online loading screen even advises its players to give their eyes a break. The flashy colors can become an eyesore especially coupled with moving neon objects. And since the game requires hand-eye coordination, it will require you to focus and stare at bright moving game elements for prolonged periods of time. It can get tiring.
As a rhythm game, MStar Online is expected to have impressive audio, and it delivers. And since it’s a K-Pop game, of course it has K-Pop songs. So many, in fact, that the whole game’s audio is made up of the song list the characters dance to. Whether you are in the lobby, in the shop, or checking out profiles, you still hear K-Pop songs in the background. It felt kind of tiring for my ears since all I heard was voices singing the same songs over and over; I felt like there should have been some sort of balance. I’m not sure how K-Pop fans will feel about it, but it was very, very tiring for my ears. I think the game could have played instrumental songs to create a different atmosphere outside of the rhythm game sections. The game’s overall ambience is dulled because it’s exactly the same music all over the game.
If you are a K-Pop fan, this game is definitely for you, especially if you’ve got a knack for rhythm games. It’s also another way to enjoy the Korean pop music aside from just listening to it or watching music videos. If you’re a fan of the rhythm genre, you might want to try this out, too, granted that you’re okay with being surrounded by everything K-Pop. It’s actually pretty easy to play unless you are in a hurry to get your fingers tested with the high-speed beats.