Idol Death Game TV ~DREAM★SONGS~


Review by · June 29, 2018

Never in my life have I dug so deep into a game I will likely never play. I suppose a localization could still take place, but given the span of time, I doubt it. Plus, this game is so thoroughly Japanese, it’d be a hard sell.

The game in question, of course, is “Idol Death Game TV.” Even as you read it and look at the album’s cover art, ideas about what this game is and how it works are probably forming in your mind. And your mind is probably right. Take the “televised-event-where-people-die” genre (Battle Royale, Hunger Games, Danganronpa) and apply it to popular talent shows like “American Idol” or “The Voice,” and that’s basically the premise. Become a pop idol or die trying.

Throw in character attribute growth for success in different aspects of the game, free-form adventure for investigation, minigames for song and dance, and typical visual novel-esque routing, and that makes up 95% of how this game actually plays. It’s a weird Sim/VN/Action RPG hybrid, to be sure. It’s almost like they out-Danganronpa’d Danganronpa.

But what of the music? If there’s one thing I tend to recall about Danganronpa, it is the wildly diverse musical score from veteran composer Masafumi Takada. Can BGM composer Nobuko Miyauchi and a cavalcade of musicians for the eight in-game vocal tracks make a similar impression?

The short answer: sadly, no.

As a collector, I am always thankful when an OST is complete. Thus, if vocal tracks appear in the game, I do not want to purchase a separate vocal album. To that end, I am pleased to find that this OST combines the vocal tracks (disc 1) with the BGM (discs 2 and 3). The first disc even offers up karaoke versions so you too can sing your way to stardom/survival!

Unfortunately, the vocals are a mixed bag. Character vocal themes are hard to make consistently good; even the best of the best struggled on this end (e.g. Sakura Wars). The opening “Positive☆Absolute Value” is peppy and upbeat, especially since all seven vocalists are on board. If you want to hear each vocalist singing this same song individually, you’ll find them as bonus tracks at the tail end of the third disc.

The seven character themes, then, fall into three categories: genuinely worthwhile, completely forgettable, and ear-bleed irritating. There’s only one song in the bunch that I believe everyone can agree fits the “ear-bleed” category, and that is track 4, “Ring Ring HAPPY.” There’s nothing happy about the pseudo-loli using more giggles and screams than actual singing to present the world’s most vapid lyrics to the listener. Other tracks, including “Rainbow-Colored Date” and “Merry Go Round,” are passable, but boring. The songs that, I suspect, will be held up as paragons among the bunch are “Gleam Wing” and “Snow Lily.” Both are based in a minor key, and both maintain a fast tempo with interesting electronic percussive sounds carrying the music along, giving the vocalists something interesting with which to work.

I should add, before I continue, that I’ve definitely listened to 50 “character vocal” albums from Japan in my time, possibly as many as 100. This disc wasn’t great, but it is not the worst music either. It simply does not meet the high quality standard that I wanted it to, especially given the game’s strange, dark premise.

Now, how about this Nobuko Miyauchi composer? I dug up all the information I could, and I found precious little. Her discography on vgmdb offers up two full OSTs: this, and a Sega Saturn game from decades past called “Himitsu Sentai Metamor V.” I suspect she has done far more work … either under a pseudonym not yet connected to her or on games and other media that did not have soundtracks published. I say this because her skill as a composer is too refined to be that of a novice. And, absolutely, there are some fine atmospheric jams on this soundtrack. The problem is that they are few and far between. The exploration music, for the “Floor” themes, are sublime. However, “Bakuroyale” and the “Judging” tracks on disc two do not pass muster. Sometimes they’re too rote, too formulaic. Other times, they’re so zany that they’re hard to follow.

On the third disc, however, there is more to love. The “D.o.D Edit” tracks for the Floor themes are fantastic. “Kokoroyale” is far more enjoyable than “Bakuroyale.” And the event themes on disc 3 are darker than those on disc 2, which should be expected. As the player digs into the seedy underbelly of the nefarious forces behind this talent-based death game, there may be times you want to give up: “I Don’t Want to Know Anymore.” There may be times that a happy moment is polluted by something terrifying: “With a Touch of Horror.” This kind of work is where Miyauchi shines most. Nonetheless, my mind cannot help but continue the comparison to Danganronpa, or even the Zero Escape trilogy. Those soundtracks had similar styles of music at the same level of quality, but at an increased quantity.

All in all … as you may have felt in your gut when you saw a game about “Idols,” the built-to-sell pop stars of Japan, the game and its soundtrack do not leave a lasting impression. Yes, there are some great moments. But there is also a lot of filler — too much noise. Nonetheless, I’d love to hear more work from Nobuko Miyauchi in the future, especially if she does music for a game with more potential than Idol Death Game TV.

This review is based on a free digital review copy provided to RPGFan by the publisher. This relationship in no way influenced the reviewer’s opinion of the album.

This article is based on a free copy of a game/album provided to RPGFan by the publisher or PR firm. This relationship in no way influenced the author's opinion or score (if applicable). Learn more on our ethics & policies page. For information on our scoring systems, see our scoring systems overview.
Patrick Gann

Patrick Gann

Therapist by day and gamer by night, Patrick has been offering semi-coherent ramblings about game music to RPGFan since its beginnings. From symphonic arrangements to rock bands to old-school synth OSTs, Patrick keeps the VGM pumping in his home, to the amusement and/or annoyance of his large family of humans and guinea pigs.