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Ensemble Stars!

A quick explanation as to why I haven't been around here as often: internship took up a good amount of my time, and adding on to that I also managed to fall sick several times. (I'm still recovering!) I had been working on a fanfiction, but my laptop also went on a holiday (it was getting repaired) so practically everything else has been halted.

With the return of my laptop and me slowly trying to return to normal daily activities, I wish to talk about this mobile game I have been playing a little more seriously!

Below is what the initial wallpaper looked like which scared me at first because everyone seemed too cluttered together!
From The Ensemble Stars Wiki
Ensemble Stars just marked their 2nd year anniversary in May and to celebrate, players got a month's worth of login bonuses! Despite its popularity amongst many (female) anime fans worldwide, I didn't think there was much to game when I tried it out: it all felt like aimless tapping to get through Lessons and get Exp, which felt like a downgrade from playing Love Live where you see where the notes are coming from and you tap on them. (yes, Love Live was the only Japanese mobage I was playing...) Only just a little later on did I realise it is actually more than that!

Ensemble Stars is an idol card collecting/raising game, and unlike many idol games out there which are typically rhythm games, it is centred around interactions with the characters and finding more about them through stories. And that is where the problem also lies: if you are not able to read Japanese, you would end up like me, just tapping through Lessons and selecting random options that somehow gets you through the game. However, many non-Japanese fans are able to play with the help of guides and translations, which gives us almost the same experience!

To the fans, the appeal of the game is its stories, plots, types of characters that appear throughout, and also the high quality art found in the cards and various images (CGs) that may appear throughout the stories! This post will have many such examples of CGs scattered throughout, and I will show some of my favourite cards later on!

But what is it about the plot?

You start off as a transfer student in Yumenosaki Private Academy, a school where students are trained and raised to be idols. 3 members of the Trickstar unit greet you since they are in the same class as you are. It is then revealed you are to set on a new course in the school, which trains you to be a "Producer" to idols.



With a school completely dominated by boys (you would be the only girl there) - you set off to explore the school (and get some game tips) under the guidance of Subaru, Hokuto, and Makoto, and stumble upon some random happenings and as a result, more of the student body. One occurrence after another tells of the school's dismal state where the elites are always occupying the winning positions in the prestigious idol contests, while the ones that are seen to be more subpar are left to fight it out in the bottom categories, doomed not to be acknowledged by a larger audience.

To protest this from becoming the norm, Trickstar starts to get advice from the various senpais and friends they can rely on so that they can put up an outstanding performance against the elite idol groups and be the first group to win against them. You are about to witness a turn of events that may mark a significant point in history in Yumenosaki Private!

And the story continues! (I will confess even I haven't read all of it yet! It runs more than a hundred chapters actually :O) It can be found in the main story section (shown below) and they have been fully voiced, so you can grab some translations from the fan wiki and watch the story unfold - the characters do move and interact with each other during a story!


We will now talk a bit about the gameplay! It was quite complicated for me to grasp at first, but I eventually got it with the help of a few guides and various attempts to read the instructions.

Here's my main page.


AP is used for lessons. LP is used for DreamFes Lives or event Lives. Producer points are obtained through Lives, rewards and each time you clear a Lesson - they can be used to level up your cards or scout for more cards in the producer points-only box. And the in-game currency - diamonds or dia - they are used to scout for cards in the main/limited edition boxes, or refill your LP/AP bar.

Clearing lessons increase your exp points and give you more producer points as well.

Before each lesson, there are goals for the player, when accomplished, earns a diamond, and if you've cleared all 3 goals, you get an additional diamond.


There are typically 2 types of events in which if you successfully manage to land on all 3 of each during the lesson, you get 1 diamond each for completing them!


In the lesson:

1) - number of lessons left
2) - level of your luck
3) - the fever bar. filling up the fever bar enables you to earn more fragments when the fever bar is full!
4) - here's where you can check what kind of fragments/jewels you had obtained so far!

5) - select here to pause your lesson and return to the main menu, or terminate it
6) - the boxes shows various locations where you can find your characters at! Tap on the box for them to produce fragments and increase their trust level!

PS: if you tap on a location where there are no characters, you'd get a mini event featuring an angry middle-aged man Kunugi-sensei.

The wrong option decreases your luck. A correct option will lead to an increase in fever.

Lives will appear at the 11th and last round of lessons. Be sure you are able to clear them or you would fail the whole lesson!

Lessons raises your trust levels with the cards. A high enough trust level increases the card exp by a lot more at the end of the Lesson. High trust levels also increases the chance of triggering an event with that card!

Sometimes an event with the non-event cards are triggered, and selecting the correct option three times brings you to the intimacy event which increases your intimacy level with the character!



There are also other kinds of lessons:

Daily lessons: depending on the day, rate up for red/yellow/blue fragments and jewels are available in those lessons. Today the blue fragments is featured.

Special lessons: Today is Shino Hajime's birthday! Play his birthday lesson to give him presents and get diamonds when you complete the goals. On top of that, an event is ongoing right now; something I will go into detail later!



Cards:

The rarity of the cards varies from 1 star to 5 star. I hardly use 1 or 2 star cards after having played some events and having scouted in main boxes once or twice, where 3 star and above cards are only awarded.



The button near the Lv. allows you to increase the level of your card using producer points that you have.

Idol Road:

Present in each card. Use the required number of jewels to unlock idol nodes in order to access new stories, increase skills and stats, unlock uniforms, backgrounds and voices. Ultimately, the goal is to unlock "talent blooming" so that you can bloom your card! This increases the overall stats by a bit and changes how your card looks like.

You can toggle between the bloomed and unbloomed illustration as indicated.

DreamFes:

Compete with other players to get to the next League and get rewards when you rank up! The highest possible League is 20, however.


Event:

This is the major event in the game, it typically runs for 10 days and happens every 15 days. There will be event lessons where appearances of event Lives significantly increases and clearing them gets you event points. A high enough rank in the game gets you the rank bonuses. Through accumulating event points you can also get the point-based rewards! The goal here is to rank/get enough points as far as possible to get the cards you want!




*cards present in events will not be available for future scouting! You can have a second chance via revival events, where events can be replayed, but they generally cost more to get than the actual event itself.

For one to rank in an event, it requires quite of bit of effort since 4 and 5 star cards are the significant rewards here!

In addition, there are many ways you can customise your favourite idol/character after unlocking the various costumes/backgrounds/background music through event rewards or through idol roads. I quite like this part of the game due to such mix and match functions.

And of course, the more cards you collect, the more of them you can admire as well as put in your team! Here are some of my favourite cards:







My goal in the game now is to save up diamonds to scout for cards of my favourite characters. I have participated in events before and they have consumed quite a lot of my diamonds - because a stronger team takes less LP to clear a live to get event points and vice versa, and my team was quite underdeveloped at that point in time.

I have to take a step back and resist from playing any more events for the time being, as long as my top few favourite charactes aren't present! The current event may be featuring at least one of them, but they are only obtainable through rank rewards. I haven't tried ranking for ensemble stars events just yet, but if I had been struggling to get event point rewards before, ranking high in the event would be much more ruthless. :o

I have discovered many fun things about this game, but there are indeed some elements I do not like as much. Team-building, blooming cards and obtaining diamonds can actually be rather time-consuming. Idol nodes require jewels that are harder to obtain, so one may need to play quite a lot lessons to unlock the required nodes. And as much as I want my cards to reach their fullest potential as soon as possible, I still can't see myself playing for that long; but playing for events would be a different thing, though - there's a thrill to being able to accumulate event points to reach your goal and rank as high as you can.

All in all, I do find this game quite enjoyable, and with rival school characters being added as well, things are starting to get more exciting! The game can be made even more fun if one establishes a few favourite characters so you know when to scout/play seriously in an event, but as diamonds get harder to earn when you have cleared all lesson goals etc, if Happy Elements keep pushing out those shiny cards of your favourites you may have to search through what's left of your wallet... (also why many fangirls are in pain as of late - even I am tempted to break out of my f2p status :D)

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Do you play Ensemble Stars? Let me know what you think about it, as well as your best boys! Also, if you aren't yet playing but you are curious to give it a try, I have come across some links that may be helpful for you:

The Ensemble Stars Wiki
Enstars Subreddit

Written by ritsu

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