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Game Review: K-On After School Live HD Remaster (PS3)

Ah my love of the Rhythm Action genre knows no bounds. K-On is a relatively popular anime which follows a group of school girls and their band, singing catchy songs and enjoying school life. Just perfect for a Simon-says button mash-up!

Classed as a PSP Remaster, K-On fits in a strange place on the spectrum of platform defining. It saves into the PSP Mini saves and crucially does not have trophies. Yet its just as polished as some of the HD remakes that have been done with PS2 titles. This decision is quite baffling. I’ve no idea why it doesn’t have trophies but its the biggest omission from the game as a whole.

The game itself follows a mini scene that’s fully voice acted in Japanese with the girls involved as they explain the games mechanics. Musically notes appear of a constantly re scrolling musical staff. Moving from left to right, a clef crosses over the notes and you press the right buttons at the right time. K-On’s selling point is that you can effectively choose each of the girls whom play an instrument each and they all have their own little nuances. The bass player uses the direction buttons, the keyboard player likes to play with the symbols while the guitars like to combine the two. Each song has two layouts per song with a normal and hard mode and there’s about 20 songs in all. The songs themselves are very catchy and cross mostly J-PopRock genres with a token ballad or jazzier number. A few are real stand outs but few are as catchy as say Project Diva.

The timing here in this game is brutal. It’s difficult sometimes to know exactly when getting a “perfect” is going to be right and this is because instead of wanting you to hit the notes bang on the centre, it appears to reward a perfect rating when your moving clef first touches a note. This initially is extremely off-putting and it takes a while to get used to it and when you then play other rhythm games and return, you have to really make sure you go back to the K-On style. It’s this that ramps up the games difficulty because aside from that there’s not too many absolutely maddening button layouts. It’s a great intro to the genre and while the later songs do leave you needing a lot of practice goes to get an S Rank, its always a pleasure to return back to.

I’ve not been able to test the up to 5 player multiplayer aspect but the fact you can do that is superb.

Positives

~Great to harness each instrument and work with them. Your instrument is played louder than the rest and it makes you feel like you have 5 versions of the same song

~Cute aesthetics

~Interesting musical representation of the gameplay mechanics

~5 player multiplayer!

Negatives

~Sometimes it feels like you have to tap the button ahead of the note to get it to hit perfectly

~No trophy support

Conclusion

Some strange choices make K-On After School Live not the easiest game to initially warm to. Take your time though and learn its tricky traits and you’ll be rewarded with a fine game that is as cute and silly as it is addicting and enjoyable.

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