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About the Story
Compete against other contestants to become star popstar idol!
103rd Place - 26th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2020)
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Number of Reviews: 6
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As others have pointed out, Popstar Idol Survival Game cuts off at the end of the first challenge, just a few minutes into gameplay. It’s a shame, because what’s there makes it seem like an extremely interesting and possibly hilarious RPG, held back only by an almost complete disregard for grammar.
But you can do what any would-be star popstar idol would do when faced with a seemingly impassable obstacle: cheat.
Since Popstar Idol is game-breakingly bugged in multiple places, there are multiple different fixes you'll need to make by hand in order to play the whole thing from start to finish. As an aside, it might be easier in Twinery, but I know nothing of Twine, so these notes will show you how to make quick-and-dirty fixes in Notepad++.
(Another aside, kudos to Mathbrush for developing the first part of the fix and posting it to the Intfiction forum, which is what inspired me to keep going and fix the remaining gamebreaking bugs.)
Step 1: Download the html file and open it in Notepad++ or a similar text editor.
Step 2: Delete all the text on line 198, where it says (display: "Untitled Passage 12"). Leave the line break on line 198 for ease of line-reference going forward.
Step 3: Navigate to line 1073. Near the end of that line, you'll see (if: $singinggoal is 300). Change just that part to (if: $singingprogress &g-t; 299). Then remove the hyphen between g and t, I just put it there as an admittedly inelegant solution to preventing this form from reading the html and messing everything up.
Step 4: Navigate to line 683. Change Failed to True Ending.
Step 5: when you play the game, be sure to pick Song A rather than Song B when first given the choice.
And that's it. Now, you may be asking, is it worth going through all that rigmarole just to be able to play a buggy game?
My answer is yes. Popstar Idol Survival Game, in its full glory, is a wild ride. The prose is full of errors, the pacing is odd, and the whole plot seems rushed-through without as much time to simmer as it deserves. But the ideas… the raw potential of the wild, zany, epic ideas that unfold in the latter parts of this story is astounding. I genuinely hope the author returns to this work and spends a whole lot more time refining it into the masterpiece it was meant to be.
Gave it 1 star in its current state, but if you apply these fixes, it's easily worth 2.
Edited 26 April 2022: the above instructions were for the version of the game downloadable from the IFComp 2020 site, which is no longer available. For the version that is now on IF Archive (and linked from this IFDB page as of this writing), the basic instructions are the same, but the line numbers have changed.
Step 2: now look on line 223.
Step 3: now look on line 1098.
Step 4: now look on line 708.
There’ve been a number of folks who’ve written reviews of PISG already, all of whom noted running into the same issue I did – after setting up the premise (win a 99-contestant singing-and-dancing reality show), introducing a small set of characters (the plucky sidekick, the arrogant rival, etc.), and giving a first introduction to the basic mechanics of the contest (via a series of choices during the prep and performance, leverage a set of four skills to determine how the player did, then give opportunities to improve relationships, sabotage others, and grind up skills in the downtime between challenges), the thing just ends, maybe ten minutes in.
This is well short of the advertised hour and a half playtime, so it’s unclear whether this is a bug, the wrong file was uploaded, an incomplete game was intentionally entered, or the whole thing is an exercise in Brechtian audience-expectation-undermining (the joke is that this is probably a single word in German) that puts For a Place by the Putrid Sea to Shame. None of those options present an easy jumping-off point for a review, sadly (well, except maybe the last one), so this will be a series of notes in place of what might turn into something robust if the game gets updated.
There are definitely a lot of typos and grammar errors, possibly the result of translation? Despite this, or maybe partially because of this, the game has a demented charm that arises from the confluence of the heightened artificiality of the game-show setup and a puppyishly overenthusiastic narrative voice. Like, after being introduced to the competition, we get this:
"You meet your new partner/roommate in a dance studio located inside the ships Tudor-style library. Your partner is Fuko Yamamoto, the daughter of a famous ventriloquist. She hopes to reinvigorate the idol community with the true spirit of enthusiasm and creativity."
I have no idea what to do with any of that, but it’s actually amazing.
It also has the coldest burn of any game so far. As the player character is saying goodbye to her family:
"Despite your dad being a 'boomer,' You love your dad dearly and are sad to leave him."
I’m a millenni-old, not a Boomer, but still: ice cold.
(I have been trying to make millenni-old a thing, by the by, to refer to folks born roughly between 1980 and 1984, who are technically millennials per the demographers but who didn’t have the same ab-ovo familiarity with computers and the internet as the rest of the generation, while still being too young to be invested in GenX touchstones like (shudder) Reality Bites or fully experience the impact of the end of the Cold War. Millenni-old – let’s all make it a thing!)
While it’s easy to focus on the style, there do appear to be some systems undergirding the thing, with stats tracked for your singing, your dancing, your “visuals”, and pretty much everything else (like, you have a fourth stat called “variety” that reflects miscellaneous talents, personality, sense of humor…), as well as numerical values for your relationships with other contestants. It’s easy to see how this would support the game-y side of proceedings, as you customize a character who’ll romp through some challenges while struggling with others, and figure out how best to engage in social maneuvering to come out on top.
None of this is in the game at least as far as I can access it, but the bones are there. Hopefully we’ll see a mid-comp update/fix, or at least PISG Phase Two in next year’s Comp – Long Xiaofan, I’m coming for you!
The content warning for this game indicates "blood and murder" and to my knowledge this only refers to the final score this game will be given during the IFComp due to it being virtually unplayable.
I totally dig the concept as you play a young woman trying to break through as a pop star. You are given base stats in several different skills of a pop star which you can manipulate based on the choices you make. As the game progresses you must improve your ranking by impressing the judges, and presumably, murdering or avoid being murdered. Unfortunately, shortly after the first competition a passage becomes unpassable.
I may come back to this game if it's fixed. What is playable so far is bubble-gum fun and I'm intrigued by the horrors that await.
This is a KPop simulation game. You have several stats (such as physical appearance, singing ability, dancing) and different challenges you can meet with your stats.
The game is pretty rough, and needs a lot more testing. The overall storyline seems interesting (reality show + mystery subplot). But this is a good reminder that authors should run through their games right before submitting to check if its completable!
-Polish: Too buggy, several typos
+Descriptiveness: The author has interesting descriptions
-Interactivity: Too many options are 'Do the right thing' vs 'Do the wrong thing'.
-Emotional impact: The choppy writing style and bugs made it hard to enjoy.
-Would I play again? Not until it gets some bug fixes.
If you're interested in seeing more of it, you can get past the first place the game becomes impassable by opening the file in Twinery and going to the passage Song A and deleting the first time it says to display untitled passage 12.
The premise is a spunky one. Enter a tv competition show for popstar contestants (99 total). It follows a familiar reality tv pattern. Everyone is presented with a challenge and is ranked by their performance. At the end of the season the top 5 ranking individuals win. Unfortunately, this game never makes it past challenge 1.
You are Kim Nayoung. Your mother was a famous performer named Anna Nayoung and it is implied that she died. Being the daughter of icon adds some flair to the contest, but we never have a chance to learn more about the protagonist or the circumstances behind Anna’s death. As Kim you eagerly apply to be a show participant and are accepted. You pack your bag and are transported to a world of competitiveness, glamour, and talent. Players choose which abilities to specialize in, such as singing or dancing, and your actions are largely based on stat management. The player must also manage the fine line between working with others to advance through teamwork and weathering the other contestants by only focusing on yourself. Your personal skills and relationship with others impact your performance and rank.
The gameplay has flaws. Some of it is formatting. If you choose to help Fuko with dancing the game says, "Fuko's Affection +10, Fuko's rank improves by 10, You should have already reached the Dancinggoal for this challenge but if you haven't Dancingprogress increases by 10 for helping out Fuko. Lucky you!" This was awkwardly worded and reduced the polish. Another problem with the gameplay is the flakiness of some of the stats. It seems like they always match with the player’s choices. For the first challenge the (Spoiler - click to show) judges gave me an F, but then the next day when everyone meets in the pyramid room for the overall results I am announced as the challenge 1 teamwork winner (and if you try all the "bad" options with Fuko, such as shoving her on stage, you still win). And yet, they rank me in the 80s (it varies, which means at least the stats can be functional), which is confusing. The best I have been able to place is 84th. Even so, I was still looking forward to more gameplay.
What frustrates me is that the game is clearly broken. It just stops. After the first challenge (Spoiler - click to show) you get these tokens that you can use to buy things that upgrade your relationship with other characters or improves your stats. Unfortunately, the game breaks afterwards. There are simply no links on the screen for the player to click on. The only thing you can do is quit. If the author intended for it to end there they could have said, "that's all folks," but instead the player is trying to see if perhaps they clicked on a wonky link and wonder if they should retrace their steps to try a different route to bypass it. Regardless of which path I took I could not make any more progress.
Visually, it does fairly well. It uses a basic back screen and white text that is neatly spaced on the screen. On the left side of the screen is a list of stats for your abilities and rapport with other characters. When I first played the game, I thought it was going to be a jackpot for players who like stat-based Twine games, but sadly it becomes unplayable early on.
It was a promising start but a letdown as an entry to IFCOMP. Based on the detail I have seen so far if this were a completed game it would have had an immensely improved reception. I encourage the author to finish the game because a lot more people would be interested in tuning in.