The 'Shroom:Issue 200/Love Live: Mario Wiki Project
Love Live! MarioWiki Project
Nico Nico Nii~
Her catchphrase has stuck with me ever since I was first charmed by her almost 10 years ago. It’s a phrase that means a lot to me now. Something that will stick with me forever. I didn’t know at the time what I got myself into back in August of 2014. This was just when I was just really getting into anime – I made a MyAnimeList and was exploring recommendations from my good friend Uniju. It was then that Crackin & I both went on an anime watching spree on IRC and participated in a lot of "forum theme fads" while trying to rope others into our shenanigans. We would take characters from popular anime at the time such as K-ON! and The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya and would then accompany the forum with memes, drawings, discussions, games, etc. until it was time to switch over to the new hot theme or join another fad which would usually be every couple of months. As I kept making over my forum profile for each new popular theme, there was a certain character that I fell in love with and obsessed over, even till this day.
What was it about her? What made me appreciate her so much that I now have my life surrounded by her? I guess I saw a piece of myself in her. Someone who tried their best, but didn’t always get expected results. A clumsy person who talked a lot of smack but still cared a lot about their friends. Someone who’s not afraid of expressing themselves no matter what others think. That's just the type of person Nico was. She has gotten me through a lot in life — times when I just wanted to keep to myself, times when I needed an energy boost, times when I was depressed, times when I was ... I could keep going on, but I always felt like I had someone with me on my journey in life as I tried to figure it out in my young adult years.
In present day, Nico is with me all the time – whether it’s giving a hug to one of the Nesoberis on my bed, a poster in my room, the keys to my house, the many, many figurines I have, the license plate of my car... Nico is just everywhere for me. It’s a crazy obsession for sure, but thanks to her here I am now – I accomplished a lot in life and I don’t think I would be here or the same person I am today without that drive. I know at the end of the day she is fictional, but she still holds a very special place in my heart and will continue to do so for the rest of my life. Thank you, Nico, for everything you’ve done for me. I hope to see your legacy carried on forever and look forward to more of you in the future 🤟.
As someone as infatuated with her as I am, naturally I wanted to consume every single piece of media she starred in. These included two gacha games, Love Live! School Idol Festival (I’ll refer to this as "SIF", which came out 2014 worldwide) and Love Live! School Idol Festival All Stars (usually referred to as "SIFAS" but for simplicity I’ll refer to this as "AS", which came out 2020 worldwide).
They sound the same right? You’re probably thinking it’s like a new rendition of Smash Bros. with more characters. And you are almost correct. The key difference was that there was a lot more to do in AS and it added sooo many things — 3D models, costumes, new unique stories, lots of songs, and overall better gameplay. It’s like going from Smash 64 and then the sequel was Ultimate.
Unfortunately, both games shut down this year! Can you believe it? What happened? How has #1 Idol Nico Yazawa not generated enough revenue?!? Well, nothing really happened but I guess sales were going down (mostly because of the company’s greed) and I think the developers wanted to focus on a new game called School Idol Festival 2 which is just the sequel to SIF but not as good as AS in my opinion (we’ll get more into that later). So, they shut down both to pile in all their resources to one game, which they were even more money-grubbing on and currently isn’t doing too well. They did it to themselves though, so can’t complain about that 🙃
When each game shut down, it was really a sad time. We were all on NEXandGBX’s Love Live! server on the night of shut down for both and discussed about it while doing last minute things (for reference, SIF shut down at the end of March 2023, while AS shut down end of June 2023, so basically at the end of those months we were just sitting there and watching our phones as the end was near). Nobody knew they were both shutting down until each of their service terminations were announced in January and April respectively, so it honestly was quite the shock for everyone.
In light of this, today I've put together this section with a few friends as well as myself detailing our journeys across these games as well as the anime itself to help you get an insight of what it was like being a Love Live! fan over the years with its many ups and downs. The series has brought many special memories to each one of us as time went on, and I hope you enjoy what the magic of Love Live! has given to our collaborators NEXandGBX, Power Flotzo, Snack, Superchao, Turboo, and myself 🙂.
- A little side note — if there are any game terms or things that might be unfamiliar to the reader without prior knowledge of Love Live!, look out for that will hopefully elaborate a bit more on the subject in question as I'd like everyone to be on a level playing field so they can all enjoy this section.
I found the series here back in 2014, back when it was in line for the “monthly fads” we did with our forum profiles. I went with Honoka, who seemed the most interesting at the time and has remained my favorite even all these years later. I ended up watching it that December, notably the first time in memory that I went out of my way to watch an anime, and overall thought it was pretty good. That’s all it would be for a while, but it really grew on me upon rewatching the series the following year. This was both to show it to some friends and to gear up for the movie, which we were watching at the end of the year as our MarioWiki Movie Night. Despite only a 1-year gap, I felt like I understood the series so much better the second time around, and the movie was the juicy cherry on top.
It’s at this point when my story drastically converges from the pack. Starting in January, I hopped into the Love Live! community in Discord. It was a quaint little place, back when it was still more common to use Skype over it (though I personally used IRC more). It was an interesting time to join; the series was at an intersection where the original series was on its last crescendo, but we also had a fresh generation on the way in a few months. As a fun fact, each character had their own channel in the server back then. Most of them were fairly inactive so they eventually got phased out, but from their ashes rose the character-focused servers. I would eventually dig my way into subsections like those as my new home, as the main server was becoming a bit too large for me.
February marked another big milestone, as it’s when I started playing the mobile game, SIF, with some assistance from other MarioWiki LL fans over Skype. "Mobile" wasn’t exactly the way to describe it for me though; my phone back then was much too simple to run a game like that, so I instead emulated it on my laptop. For the record, playing with a mouse was godawful and basically locked me into Easy difficulty exclusively, but it’s a very unique and memorable experience that I cherish nonetheless (though I would get a better phone in May). Even through SIF alone, I have loads of memories to share. How I got my first UR ( cards in SIF & AS are distinguished by rarities, ranging from Rare, Super Rare, Super Super Rare (SIF only), and Ultra Rare ) on accident while trying to get an R, my first experience playing an event, my growing pains getting used to higher difficulty songs, playing Score Match ( an event game mode competing with four other players to get the most points in a song ) with a Twitch streamer I watched, the late nights I poured out in the SIF Discord server thinking about card rotations and theorizing when characters would get their next cards, hitting literal one-in-a-million odds by pulling Persona Honoka on the first card of the limited box three times in a row, and of course the absurd amount of failed scouting ( rolling for a character ) attempts. I could write a whole essay just on the LL games alone if I wanted to, but I need to limit myself somewhere.
July is the first time we got a new generation of the series in the form of Sunshine. If you ask most others in the MarioWiki LL circle, odds are they didn’t bother because it didn’t look appealing compared to the original. However, I was already deep into the LL rabbit hole at this point, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I watched it - and have kept up with every LL anime since. I think LL is a series that’s very consistent in its quality. By my own scale they tend to rate in the 8.5-7.5 range, all solid but nothing mind-blowing. If there any problem I have with it as a whole, it’s that the franchise is too oversaturated nowadays. It’s been a most annual series since the beginning, but when we’re getting two or more in the span of a year I think it’s starting to get ridiculous. Still, I do respect LL as a series a lot. That said, SIP > Nijigasaki > Sunshine > Superstar. Square up, nerds.
The above sections cover my experience for a few years well enough, but eventually more LL games also began to release. Puchiguru Love Live! was a fun, albeit short-lived, tap-tap game where I also had some fun interacting with its community by getting some super cheesy luck. While not a LL game, Bandori was frequently compared to SIF and I got into it after trying it out, planting my feet into another series. However, 2019 is when the big one came in with the release of AS. Most would describe it as confusing and pointless, but as someone who stumbled around at launch alongside everyone else, it really clicked for me. I normally find mobile RPGs way too much to wrap my head around, but with AS I had a ton of fun optimizing my teams to clear the latest song release and waiting for what new cards would release (and lamenting the fact that Honoka cards almost never got good kits). It wasn’t even just my teams I built; I’d also help out others with their teams, like the other members of the MarioWiki LL circle ( :nicosmugzoom: ). It’s a real shame that both it and SIF went kaput recently; SIF2 is too much of a dumpster fire for me to take seriously (even if it is slowly making improvements), and while Link Like Love Live! looks interesting, it’s also probably never getting an English release so it has a wide entry barrier.
2020 was the start of a sort of migration for me. The communities I would interact with stayed basically the same between 2016 and 2019, but I expanded my bubble into other parts of the LL community I hadn’t interacted with yet. Throughout all that time, I’d only really gained a few more interests outside of LL, but having more people to talk to gave me a much wider degree of experience. Suddenly, I wasn’t just an LL guy, but broadening my tastes and evolving (or maybe devolving, depending on how you look at it) into a certified "weeb". I’ve even talked on some other non-LL communities now, though I really don’t fit into them as much as I do the places I would call home, like MarioWiki and LL community servers.
This whole essay was more of a general sweep than a dive into any aspect in particular, but with how broad my experience is I think it’s warranted. For profile themes being a monthly occurrence, it really is interesting how Love Live! in particular stuck not just for me, but for many of the people involved. I can’t imagine what my life would look like right now had I simply not been interested; I guess I’d have drawn inspiration from some other aspect of the MarioWiki community over the years instead, but I couldn’t tell you what exactly. I may be the definition of a hermit in real life, but I’m glad I could find some identity over the internet through Love Live!. I’ve got no idea how to write a proper conclusion, so here’s some assorted images.
So, I've been meaning to write a 'Shroom article related to these games for some time now, seeing as I played them both (SIF starting around October 2019, AS since near its worldwide release date), but once I saw them announce their end of service mere months apart, it gave me the impetus I needed to pour my thoughts onto this page.
I downloaded SIF around late September—early October, mostly because I saw other people on the forums were playing it. Another factor was me getting back into SiIvaGunner, but that’s another story for another time. I chose Nozomi as my starter card, though over time, my feelings began to shift more towards Kotori. When AS was released worldwide ( AS came out in Japan in September 2019, while the global version released in February 2020 ), I chose her as my initial SR card. In fact, my most vivid memory of Kotori was when I saved up for her Pioneering a New World card on global, and I bought a few stars ( in-game currency to scout for your favorite character ) from the in-game store in preparation. I spent 10 stars on a single pull, and it looked like it would be a normal pull for me...until it flipped and it turned out to be the Kotori UR card I wanted! Another notable moment for me was the birthday boxes I did in SIF back in 2020. I did one for Mari in which I received her birthday card after 93 pulls. Kotori’s box was the opposite: After one 11-pull, she arrived, without me needing to burn through my entire stash! Finally, I do remember always wanting one of the Fes UR cards ( short for Festival, these cards were limited time only and only came back once in a blue moon, so if you didn't get them when they were there for the week you missed out! Numbers next to "Fes" denotes the first, second, etc. festival card of that character ). When I received Fes1 Kasumin around the 1st anniversary banner, I screamed, and even more when I received Fes2 Ruby. A full list of the Fes cards I obtained is provided below.
AS was also my gateway to Bandori/Project Sekai/tiering. Some of the notable events I tiered ( in SIF and AS events, tiering refers to getting a certain place such as 1st or even placing in a bracket of 500-1000. Higher tiers mean better and more unique rewards. Usually this term is used when you want to rank high in an event with your favorite characters so you can show your love for them or just flex your resources ), in were Summer, Sea, Training! and Happiness Snow Time, even if it was the relatively low Top 10,000. My first time seriously tiering was during the former event in July 2022, where I attempted to obtain a silver title. I played on and off between work shifts over the course of a week, burning both the Skip Tickets and watermelons ( Skip Tickets let you "skip" playing a song and instantly obtain rewards, while watermelons in this context was an event item that basically gave bonus points. There would always be a random item in each event that would do that ).
The game pushed me to learn Japanese, since many of the characters’ lines were in that language. In September of last year, when I heard my college was offering a Japanese course, I snapped it up, and when the teacher asked why we signed up for the class on our first day, I replied that I wanted to understand what the characters in the game were saying.
Despite this, I will admit I started losing interest in both games after some time, to the point where I would just log in and do nothing else, well before I received both notices for the end of service. I deleted SIF around 2022 to make space for photos and more AS updates. In a way, I was having my own mid-life crisis, like SIF is going through right now.
But most importantly, this game gave me a sense of self-worth — more than I could ever hope to write in a single article. SIF2 looks to be somewhat disappointing (and a much larger file size) from what I can tell, so I likely won’t download it. Regardless, AS remains on my iPad, as a memory I shall forever treasure.
To close off my words, here is a gallery of images from my time playing both games.
It was hard at first for me to think of what to say about Love Live!. Besides briefly this spring for the School Idol Festival shutdown it had been so long since I'd spent much time thinking about the series, and I have a bad tendency of falling out of interests after which it's very hard for me to return to them, unless somehow that spark reoccurs on its own. As the deadline for this project approached with nothing put down on the page, I started wondering as happens to me as well if I was just trying to motivate myself to write out of some feeling of obligation to be involved and whether I really had anything genuine to say. But in the end, I realized I had some core of something I thought I wanted to say, and whether I think about it often now or not, Love Live! was something genuinely important to me for some time, so even as late as it is as I write this and as unpolished as it might be, I wanted to write down what I could.
I was admittedly late to the party in the first place too. I passed up the chance to groupwatch the movie when offered it, partly for having not seen the TV anime and partly out of a tiny, petty argument with Turb that doesn't really bear mentioning. I don't think I was particularly interested in it at all then.
A few months later winter had come and gone, and on a March morning I was attending Anime Boston, where one of many showings of series new and old was Love Live!. I only had time for three episodes, but the culmination of the arc of those first three episodes is a scene that whenever I rewatch it reminds me of why I loved the series. Honoka, Kotori, and Umi step out on stage for the first performance of their nascent idol group, only to face an empty theater and wonder if they should go on. But they do, the only audience for their performance of START:DASH!! besides the three girls who volunteered to do the audio engineering the six other future members of μ's.
I wish I could remember better what my reaction was at the time, but I can judge from what came after. Love Live! was, more than anything, what I talked about from the convention when I got home and logged on to IRC for the evening – Toadbert joked my Twitter account had been hacked because it was all I'd been talking about. I still have the Umi figure I bought that day, though she's still somewhere packed up in a box currently. I had immediately related to Umi in particular – in many ways, she embodied the same qualities as the sensible and level-headed voice of reason to Honoka's exuberance that I identified with an idealized view of myself. Those qualities are an image I don't quite live up to, but it's inherent to both fiction and idols to idealize reality, isn't it?
It did take me a while to finally return to the series and finish it, but eventually I did, and afterwards was inspired to try School Idol Festival as well. Out of all the media in the franchise, SIF was where my interest peaked. Playing a few songs became my go-to activity to pass spare time while I was out, and it introduced me to Aqours and to its own cast of quirky characters original to the game.
Joining the game in 2018, I experienced as only my second ever event the infamous Doing Your Best is Wonderful ( this event was notable as it took less resources to amass points, so it turned into a bloodbath for getting the highest points (tiering) since it was so easy to climb. This post delves a bit further into it, as well as Turb's section below ), and I still remember playing it along with the other SIF players in the community, the horrors of CheerDay CheerGirl!, and how Turb gave me the tip that Mijuku DREAMER was one of the easiest songs on expert to farm tokens. I'd played it well over a hundred times in just a few days by the time the event was over, and if I'd had a bit more time I would have made it one of the songs I played one more time before the shutdown for that reason.
By the end of that year I had already begun drifting away from the game, somewhat. I reached my first tier one finish in my personally long-awaited In Each Other's Eyes event that September, one of my more notable gaming achievements, and while I still logged in and played from time to time in the years after, it was less and less frequent, and Love Live! eventually faded from being one of my main interests.
It's hard to say my life has changed dramatically in concrete ways this past year – my day-to-day routine is much the same as always – but it has changed. Over the summer I moved out of the house I'd lived in for twenty-three years, and while I've adjusted somewhat, it's also hard to say it feels like home. A few months before that on March 31st, School Idol Festival shut down. It had been years since I'd last played it, but since this was my last chance to obtain a code to transfer data to School Idol Festival 2, whenever it's available in a worldwide release, with TFP's help (logging into my account to spend my leftover Love Gems (( also known as Loveca, in-game currency to "roll" for your favorite character )) so I could install the game on Android), I logged in one last time. While I was there, there were still a few minutes before the servers shut off, after I'd gotten my transfer code, so I spent the time playing a few songs. MOMENT RING, Aishiteru Banzai!, and, finally, START:DASH!!.
Even if we might not actively think about them from day to day, things that were important parts of our lives don't really just go away from us. What they meant to us and how they moved us are feelings that are left behind in who we are today, like layers of sediment in stone – Love Live! influenced the story that lead to my getting in to writing stories here again and the creativity in this community and the chance to share my own is doubtlessly part of why I have stayed, and I can still feel chills when I watch the START:DASH!! scene again and have it take me back. While there are exceptions, live service games are painfully ephemeral, and though the same spark might not quite be there again, fiction and stories are unique. Unlike other experiences, they're usually still there for us, ready for when we're ready to revisit them.
"School Idol Festival". Love Live!. It's in a funny place for me. I actually missed the original airing of the anime – I associate it mostly with a period of about a year, right after I got a full blown smartphone for the first time in 2019 because I was behind the curve on purpose. Thought, hey, what's a little gacha between friends, and got right into it! I'd always been vaguely aware of Love Live! before that, thanks to the Boards of course – memories of the long-ago first Love Live! name change fad putting it on my radar, the Aqours fad as well making me aware of it again. It's really all the timing of the boards that even gave me an interest in those parts of Love Live! and not the rest, after all.
Frankly, Love Live! is super associated with the boards for me, and SIF is part of that. I don't think I would have ever downloaded the gacha game either and focused on best girl Honoka (and other best girl Yohane) if not for the boards, even if I was interested in Love Live! some other times. I only really spent a couple years into it, but I honestly do have some solid memories of it. Stuff like keeping up with my songs while walking out and about thanks to having time to kill and LP ( LP stands for "Live Points", the in-game energy resource required to play the game which depleted as you played more and filled up over real time ) to burn – seeing that full LP was a curse! A curse I swear! – or trying to roll Honokas and getting her new UR from the 1% chance with my last LP. A lot of these memories are, ironically, pre-pandemic, because SIF was something to do on the go for me! Something to do when I didn't have much else going on I could access, y'know? The pandemic kind of slowed down my energy, but it kept up during 2020... and then in 2021 I just kind of fizzled out, in part due to losing some of the Marioboards connections that kept it going.
It's funny – I've never actually watched the whole Love Live! series – just season 1 of the original and some clips from Aqours. Because of that, Love Live! is one of those series that's most tied to the Marioboards for me. Even if I don't really keep up with SIF anymore, it was a shame to see it go along with all those memories, and a reminder of how tough it can be to get attached to live service games. Though the game itself was only part of my life for a short time, I don't regret playing it at all – it was a great bonding time and I have some strong memories to last. And really, isn't that all you can ask for, in the end?
What can you say about SIF? It was SIF.
SIF is a game that... well, it was my first gacha, which likely means it did more harm than good to me. I think it was 2017 when I downloaded it? That's when my earliest screenshots are dated, anyway. I was bored and wanted stuff to do on my phone and thought a rhythm game would be cool, plus I already knew the characters from people here talking about them. I actually did have fun with it! Master difficulty was...pretty fast for me and everything, but overall I had a good time. I don't have much to say on that front.
My most notable anecdote is that I was around for what was probably, let's say, the most famous bloodbath of an event ( Doing Your Best is Wonderful as mentioned in Snack's piece ) the game had, at least on the EN server. Early 2018's Kotori + Maki token event that overlapped with a campaign that made LP costs comically low, like literally 5x less than usual, and an event song that sounds like this. People would tap their screens for literally hours as their LP bars continually refilled from level-ups – you'd get a 4x EXP bonus for spending 20 LP per Expert play, after all. Plus the card for tiering, the one where you had to actively keep playing to score above thousands of other people also listening to this song for hours on end, was Maki, who was (and still is) ridiculously popular. There's a HobbyDrama writeup on it which is better at discussing the intricacies than I am, if you're interested ( I left this in because I thought it was great how multiple people referenced this event, so it gives an insight to how significant it was ) – I don't remember if I'd gotten any copies of Maki in this event, but I did at least play enough to get my Kotoris, I guess. Beyond that, I just don't really have much to talk about regarding SIF other than that I logged back in before EOS this year to save my cards (Smile-attribute Christmas Eli my beloved) for SIF2 and am, as of this writing, still waiting for the global release of it. Thanks Bushiroad!
AS, on the other hand, is something where I have a good amount of things to say – namely how angry I am that it was mismanaged to death by seemingly literally everyone involved in its production. The Worldwide version dropped in February 2020, and while I didn't pick it up until sometime in September judging by screenshot dates, I honestly enjoyed it more than SIF once I'd gotten into the groove for it. It was a much more slow-paced game focused on team building and strategy than it was actually hitting the notes in time, and I personally think that alienated a lot of SIF players. My thumbs (I could NOT get used to tapping with all 10 fingers) were happy not having to tap at lightspeed anymore, so that was what mattered to me.
The real problem with AS, IMO, is that it felt like a game that didn't have a completely clear identity and KLab didn't really want to innovate on it. There were only four event types until EOS — to my understanding, SBL (SIFAS Big Live Show. Don't ask me where the other S went.) and DLP (Dream Live Parade) were added later – and all of them fell victim to either being excessively repetitive or a venue for other players to show off the new powercreep cards they got. I've heard bad things about how KLab handled the story in season 2 with Lanzhu as well, which seems to have turned off a lot of fans and kinda seems like the point where AS was really considered a lost cause. KLab sold the game to Mynet in... 2022? I think? And here we are now with the game having EOS'd in 2023, not even making it a full four years (the Japanese version came out in Fall 2019).
I'd actually quit AS earlier after rolling Fes2 Eli, because I was tired of the grind. This was around back when they announced the first Party cards, which were another limited card type where a lot of them were ridiculous without having to rank them up like Fes cards. I quietly followed along after that and would sometimes log in for free pulls or something, but I (and probably most other people) was not expecting the EOS announcement to hit, especially not so soon after SIF died. I came back not long after that was announced and had a goal to get all the Eli cards, which I unfortunately did not meet because every single other card was in the pool fighting for dominance; the limited µ's-only banners were neat, at least, as I got some Honks, Nicos, and Umis. I also got Fes3 Eli, but...I really wanted Party Eli. I guess that's what I get for trashing Party cards earlier. At the end of the day, it was just sad to see the game go and be essentially replaced by SIF2, which seems to be...struggling to improve, for lack of better phrasing.
Like, I get it. AS was gacha and profit-motivated – why put effort into a good product when a bad one makes money, yadda yadda. But at the end of the day, it is demoralizing to know that a series containing a lot of characters that people love with all their hearts is treated like gutter trash by the parent company. I'm also not exactly enamored with how Bushiroad thinks the answer is to just keep creating more and more characters, and this is mainly because µ's is always left out of non-gacha content — I appreciate A Song for You! You? You!! and everything but MAN. Aqours is really out here getting a whole set of spinoff games and solo albums still and shit. No hate to them, but I wish it was more apparent why µ's just gets sidelined - if it's part of the actresses having other things to do or not wanting to be looped into another big contract, that's completely valid, of course, but it just looks like neglect on the surface. Oh well, this is a tangent I could go on about for hours... I'm probably just not built to stare at idol and get excited for next idol.
Anyway, I don't really have any conclusion other than some photos I'd taken of both SIF and AS. I tried sorting through them and it's mostly just Eli. #sif2sucks but, despite all the negativity, I really do love Eli Ayase. Please listen to her solos and look at her AS Party card, it's very pretty. Thank you.
For me, I had a simple goal: I wanted every single Nico cosmetic ever! So when I got into the Love Live! anime I downloaded the game shortly after but honestly it was really boring. Rhythm games aren’t really my thing – I just wanted to look at Nico and read her stories and pull her cards. But to do that I needed to play songs in the game, so I really tried my best but fell off it after a little while. Sorry Nico, your game was too stale for me 😥
I picked the game back up around 2016, because now μ's (Nico’s idol group with her friends) were reaching their final stages and Nico’s anime story was wrapped up with the second season and movie. A majority of her solo songs were out, and the team behind the franchise was starting to focus on a new generation of idols (called Sunshine, with their new group called Aqours). So, I kept playing every day until a certain point. It was again boring but the rewards were great — you gain in-game currency to get (if you were lucky enough which I wasn’t most of the time) a Nico JPG (yes, a picture) where there was a story associated with her after leveling up her card in full voiced dialogue. Or you would spend money when you lose because gacha games are terrible (I did this and I regret it a little now, but was worth it for Nico content!).
There were hundreds of Nico cards and stories and I wanted them all, so you would play a few songs, try your luck at pulling those cards, read her story, and then repeat the process over again. There were events littered here and there as well and some of them you could play with friends. It was mostly a solo game, but Nico would talk to you every day and that alone was enough for me to keep going through it. Other than that, there wasn’t much going on, it was fun to see a new story every now and then that wasn’t ever present in the anime or any other form of media and see Nico in her many cute costumes.
But then came AS, and oh boy that was a game changer.
I guess it was around 2020 I stopped since the newer game was out, which I played every single day until service termination except for 4 days (that’s like 3 years non-stop – yep I was dedicated 🤟). But what was it about the new game that was so much better?
The game was much, much easier to deal with and had so many new additions, both fun and quality of life. It was marketed as an "RPG" which I guess it sort of was — you could train your favorite idol and increase their stats on a skill tree. And 3D models! Finally, 2020 and we got to see 3D Nico for the first time. The artwork was gorgeous and the systems were really good. I would launch the game and be greeted by Nico every time, it really felt like she was my partner as I played through the game as she would have quips about playing the daily song or wanting to go training or participate in the event that was happening. Some of those things were also in SIF, but it felt different seeing an actual 3D Nico saying these things and her sassy attitude accompanied with it.
The major haul was the gameplay, which was actual...really fun. You could use Skip Tickets if you didn’t want to sit through and play a song and finish your daily missions and close the game, or you could form a team and organized and prepare them to challenge songs that didn’t require too much rhythm but rather strategies such as tanking damage in a song or accumulating enough points through their special power. Both of these things were affected by which cards you used: Some cards were tankier and had higher HP so they would be built for reducing damage while others were very fragile but had lots of ways to generate your special meter for a boost in score to clear a goal in the song. I think having stuff like this rather than mindlessly tapping buttons until the end of the song is a much more interesting system and I would work towards trying to 100% new songs that would come out solely with Nico (which ended up being tough but worth).
Years passed until now, and finally, they announced termination for SIF. Was quite the sad moment. Now nobody knew that AS was also going to be dying until after March when SIF would be gone, so I picked that game back up again to do my last bit of grinding before bidding farewell forever. They had a lot of free pulls and currency that they would give willy-nilly so it was a little fun just pressing the pull button constantly to see what new cards you’d get.
Then came the end of March where as I mentioned previously a bunch of us were sitting on Discord watching as the clock ticked as doomsday approached. We tried to play a group song thing but it didn’t end up working out. Regardless, I had obtained everything I wanted — I reached level 252 (the Nico number for people who don’t know), I maximized every single Nico card I owned to be the best she could be, and I recorded a bunch of stories and videos on my phone as there would be no way to get it later (I guess other people have done this too on sites like YouTube but it’s nice to have a personal copy). So I felt pretty OK with the game going away forever at this point.
And then we just sat there and watched as the clock ticked to midnight and we couldn’t get in the game anymore.
It was the end of an era, a game which I previously said was so boring and hated playing I actually started to miss a little bit. I would never be able to launch it again and the only thing to do was to delete it and let it rest in peace. It was a very somber time, bittersweet if you will. A sense of relief I don’t need to login everyday anymore, but also saddening I won’t get to see Nico in one of her games ever again. SIF was something that changed the world of idols and gachas as it was groundbreaking for its time. It was unfortunate to see it go, but I did all I wanted and felt at peace with it as I was enjoying AS at the same time.
Until the end of April.
I open my AS game and see an announcement — AS is also closing at the end of June. Noooooooo! Why were they doing this?! I understood SIF as SIF2 came out and they wanted to support that more, but there was really no reason to shut down AS. As I’ve said before a lot of it was probably due to staleness and greed from the company so their revenue wasn’t as profitable to maintain a game for a declining clientele.
And then déjà vu hits on June 30th — we sit there on Discord watching the seconds pass by until midnight when the game explodes and is never to be seen again. AS hit me much harder than SIF because I genuinely enjoyed opening the game and being greeted by Nico and playing for about 5-10 min and closing the game. It wasn’t challenging, it was a breath of fresh air from a busy day, and it was just a calm little session where it didn’t really matter what I did.
But poof – it was all gone 12:01 AM.
The world at that moment had lost every important Love Live! game due to mismanagement from the company and they didn’t really care anymore and wanted to focus on a newer game in the series that focuses on their many new generations of idols that aren’t Nico (so basically, I sleep). SIF2 was around the corner in Japan and is currently out there, but as of today there is still no concrete date on the release date for everyone else in the world.
With that said, here we are in the present: Nico is no longer available on mobile devices anymore for the time being. It feels like I lost a part of myself because it was a nice break from reality to see her and interact with her in a silly little gacha game that didn’t take itself too seriously. It’s a sad time for older Love Live! fans because the content the company is putting out is literally everything but Nico’s group so the only thing that keeps her legacy going at the moment are the many people who draw fanart of her on sites like Pixiv or Twitter or do things like AI covers for songs which is a new trend at the moment. Which is still nice to see – someone who was introduced so long ago still holds a special place in many people’s hearts and people love to draw her in cute outfits and such or have her sing popular Japanese songs with her elegant voice (and deadly accurate too) so I still consume Nico content on occasion but it’s not the same as official content or playing one of her games. Not the greatest situation for a Nico superfan like me, but not the worst either.
What does the future hold? Yes SIF2 is around the corner, but I don’t have my hopes up as I’ve heard many bad things, such as really bad gameplay and atrocious pull rates/currency system for getting your favorite cards. Basically, it’s even more BS than the previous ones and while being a free to play game they incentivize you to spend lots of money for basically half of a peanut (yea, not even peanuts) so its leaning towards a pass for me even though it has my favorite character of all time in it. I’ll probably still get it and play here and there, but nowhere near the level of the previous two games.
My last new Nico card on SIF, and a great one. It represents her graduating and moving on, so it was a nice symbol for the game’s close
My final team of Nicos. It really was full power but unfortunately I couldn’t reach 25252 Show Power
The aftermath. Basically felt like this
I tiered 1st place in the last ever Nico event. Was quite the grind but so worth in the end for her 🎀
My premium pass membership card. This was the final upgrade that was released on global for subscribing for 2 years so that was a lil milestone
Love Live! has certainly become a staple in some of our lives and has shaped some of us into who we are today. The series continues to grow in popularity with old and new fans and I don't see it going away anytime soon, so whether you're a long-time fan or someone who has no idea about the series hopefully this was an interesting read in learning about a bit of Love Live! history here at MarioWiki as well as my unhealthy Nico lifestyle. I’d also like to thank the collaborators in this article for sharing their thoughts as well and dedicating their time to writing up their thoughts and feelings about the games and franchise. I didn’t intend for this article to be this big, so if you’ve made it here then thank you for reading all the way through! 🤟