Idols Galore! (PC) review
"Kuro Miyabi stands at the top of his field. Place him in charge of any enterprise, no matter how anemic, and he'll turn a quick profit. Although he possesses a little skill, his success is not a result of any refined entrepreneurial acumen, but because he's willing to do whatever it takes. Blackmail and intimidation are his methods of choice, but really any scheme will do, the dirtier the better. Kuro is a goon, and damn proud of it. "
Kuro Miyabi stands at the top of his field. Place him in charge of any enterprise, no matter how anemic, and he'll turn a quick profit. Although he possesses a little skill, his success is not a result of any refined entrepreneurial acumen, but because he's willing to do whatever it takes. Blackmail and intimidation are his methods of choice, but really any scheme will do, the dirtier the better. Kuro is a goon, and damn proud of it.
About the only things that excite him more than thuggery are women. Yes, 'things' is an appropriate term, as Kuro approaches females and work in the exact same fashion. If he finds a target for his lust, he'll get her by any means necessary. Not that he lacks natural talent in this arena as well. In fact, he receives his newest assignment during post-coital pillow talk, and it's one that will allow him to mix business and pleasure. His task entails making sure two of the nation's top idols stick with their current talent agency, all the while refitting them with a more mature image. And so your test begins, as Idols Galore! asks you to assume Kuro's persona and navigate through the traps and trysts of showbiz.
This mission commences with refreshing promise. Like virtually all adult bishoujo games, IG! is a sort of visual novel that's outcome is determined by choices made throughout the adventure. Unlike most games of this ilk, though, the consequences of Kuro's actions are not immediately apparent. His decisions take a couple of forms. One is to choose the most successful, sexy gig for his two charges: innocent, pliant Megumi and her worldly, assertive friend Aya. The other is to drive the competition away, using any tactic to discredit them. Thing is, there's no inherent difference between snapping illicit photos of your stars in the dressing room or sending them up on stage in translucent costumes, no honor in attempting to embroil a rival company in a scandal over bankrupting them by stealing all their clients. Not knowing how events will unfold is the best part of the game; you actually have to observe what happens and pray for success. It's entirely possible that unfortunate choices will end your game before the juiciest parts occur! While the suspense isn't lethal, it will certainly fight to keep your interest.
That battle's a losing one, though, as IG! is reluctant to actually show much of anything. Yes, outrageous events do occur, thoroughly described by the narrative in the text box, but the game avoids any extra sensory input. Megumi or Aya may be singing onstage, yet we don't hear their dulcet tones. They may be dressed up in cat cosplay or spilling out of a skimpy swimsuit, but we receive nary a glimpse of these sexy costumes. Instead, if fortune smiles upon us, Kuro may chat with the girls' overprotective manager Yumiko, a former idol herself, while she espouses the necessity of maintaining her girls’ wholesome images. More frequently, the game offers a plain shot of an empty sound stage or dressing room as the words flow past. One particularly annoying episode lays out Kuro's seduction of a competitor's idol prospect, culminating in his announcement that he slept with her. But we never see this encounter; we never even see her face. Instead, IG! treats us to the stark facade of an ordinary office building. Excitement fades quickly when you're staring at nothing.
Kuro, for one, most definitely tired of this arrangement. After all, except for the single purported incident, he's been abstinent since the early stages of the game. Now, halfway through the story, it's time for him to seek out the pleasure side of this bargain. He first approaches his wannabe girlfriend Kyoka, who foolishly tries to keep her man in line through frequent physical abuse (to no avail). After a quickie with her, Kuro proceeds to transform himself from a harmless criminal into a full-blown villain. In a matter of minutes, he successively rapes Megumi, Aya, and even Yumiko for good measure.
It's love at first fuck.
Actually, Aya and Yumiko require more convincing, but after a couple more rounds with slight resistance, they too inexplicably fall for Kuro's, uh, charms. There's no stopping him either, as this point marks your shift from controller to mere spectator. IG! insults the player here, expecting him to enjoy its irresponsible take on such brutality. Not only are you forced to believe that these women suddenly can't get enough of their newfound hunk of burning love, but that they view him as a damned soul mate. Yumiko begins to honestly commiserate with him about how her boss views the idols as mere objects (Did she forget that Kuro raped her?). Megumi confesses how safe she feels in his presence (Did she forget that Kuro RAPED her?). Aya seeks his protection and comfort after some inappropriate touching by a photographer (DID SHE FORGET THAT KURO RAPED HER !?!). This overwhelmingly infuriating and irrational behavior makes all the characters undesirable.
Strangely, the only escape from this degradation comes when the women voluntarily shed their inhibitions. IG! includes Sekilala's customary harem route as a reward for mucking through all the traditional endings. This part features all-out gratuitous sex, involving ever-increasing numbers until everyone's jumped in the fray. These easily outshine the normal couplings, especially since both the forced and consensual scenes evoke parallel feelings of disgust. Besides that, these sessions seem short. A couple of pictures, a few frantic gasps, and it's over. It's a shame the voice talents didn't get to scream a little more; Aya's shrieks of spoiled anger are particularly entertaining. Also, parts of the girls anatomy seem slightly underexposed. The designers obviously intended to accentuate the girls' hefty chests; Megumi practically fondles herself the entire game. However, their breasts remain covered in about half the sex scenes, which focus instead on the more lascivious lower action.
After IG!'s degeneration into a monstrous slab of indifferent fornication, it's no surprise that the plot basically disintegrates and sputters to completely bland endings. These are but the culmination of Sekilala’s confused effort. No one can completely attach himself to the protagonist; he is, after all, a rapist, meaning not many can empathize with his attitude. Yet, even if that is your dark fantasy, the consequences of Kuro’s actions are so benign that the game is devoid of any malicious intent. In attempting to satisfy too many tastes, IG! accomplishes nothing at all.
Community review by woodhouse (January 25, 2005)
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