With a few tweaks, the smash-hit Pokémon mobile game could be the perfect framework for idol-rearing franchises.
The amazing success of Pokémon GO belies the extremely simple concept at its core. By stocking the game with a huge population of creatures that players have to find, but linking their whereabouts to real-world locations, in one fell swoop Pokémon GO combines compulsive collecting and social sharing, two of the biggest drivers of video game fandom in the modern era.
Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the creatures players are looking for are pretty adorable. But Japanese Twitter user @yakkun99 thinks the same gameplay structure could be applied for something some people like looking for even more than adorable Pocket Monsters: cute girls to recruit as idol singers.
ヤスイリオスケ (@yakkun99) July 16, 2016
“I want them to make The IdolMaster GO…don’t you?” tweeted @yakkun99, along with a simple mockup of how he imagines the Pokémon GO model could be applied to Bandai Namco’s The Idolmaster idol singer video game franchise.
@yakkun99 sees the Pokémon trainer of Pokémon GO being replaced by a producer. Instead of Pikachu and Squirtle, players can spot Rin Shibuya and other Idolmaster characters on the map. Once they get close enough, the player can offer his business card (with two hands, showing proper Japanese business etiquette) and try to convince the girl to sign with his talent agency.
The idea isn’t quite as crazy as it might initially seem. This style of recruitment, called “scouting” in Japan, is actually a rather common, albeit low-percentage, way of looking for new faces for the entertainment industry. Pokémon and The Idolmaster are both part of the “rearing” genre of video games, in which the player collects/recruits and then trains something/someone, and Bandai Namco has collaborated with the Pokémon brand before, when it developed the Pokkén Tournament fighting game, with its roster of brawling Pocket Monsters.
At this stage, The IdolMaster GO is still nothing more than wishful thinking by @yakkun99. The runaway popularity of Pokémon GO means that we’re on the verge of seeing a flood of similar-playing games, though, so if and when an idol-rearing derivative does become a reality, hopefully the developers will remember that Pikachu can dance, too, and at least give the Pokémon mascot a cameo as a backup dancer.
Casey won’t show up in the map of any of your mobile games, but you can find him on Twitter.