The Idolmaster Cinderella Girls: Starlight Stage is a spin-off of The Idolmaster Cinderella Girls, a free-to-play mobile simulation game launched in 2011.
Another title developed by Cygames, co-developed with Bandai Namco, Starlight Stage is the oldest game on our list, launching on iOS and Android in September 2015.
The game is part of the wider Idolmaster franchise that focuses on the career of producers who manage Japanese pop idols. The franchise began as an arcade game but has since released over 20 games and an anime series.
In Starlight Stage, players take the role of a producer at the fictional 346 Production talent studio, coaching girls to be Japanese pop idol stars. Unlike its predecessor which focused on the management aspect only, Starlight Stage incorporates rhythm game play allowing users to perform songs with their idols.
There are around 190 idols available in Starlight Stage, which each fall into one of three categories: cute, cool, and passion. Idols also have variants, separated by a rarity category, and are represented in-game as collectable cards.
Each idol has four stats that the player is tasked with developing to achieve greater scores by sending the idols to lessons. Vocal, dance and visual stats contribute to the character’s appeal value, whereas life represents their health.
Additionally, Idols can be sent to work (are we not paying them to be idols?) to gain experience, money, fans, and other rewards.
The game’s rhythm game portion is known as "Live mode", where players must assemble a group of five idols with one main idol for the group.
During Live mode, rhythm icons scroll from the top of the screen to the bottom towards one of five lanes that players must tap, hold, or flick in a direction. Players can select one of four difficultly levels to perform that drastically increase in difficulty. Certain songs include an additional fifth difficulty, Master+.
Players can also create their own customisable office space which is frequently visited by the idols. In their office, players can chat with the idols or listen to songs featured in the game, and also visit other players’ offices.
Despite its age, Starlight Stage has maintained a consistent presence in Japan. According to Sensor Tower, Starlight Stage generated the eighth-highest consumer spending between January 2016 and September 2020 and was the only rhythm game featured in the list.