Idol Game (lost prototype of THE iDOLM@STER; 2002)
On July 26th, 2005, Namco released an arcade game called THE iDOLM@STER. It is a raising sim/rhythm game where the player assumes the role of a producer assigned to train potential pop idols. It became very popular, spawning sequels, spin-offs, anime and manga.
In the prototype, the player would be able to interact with the game's heroine, Haruka (voiced by Eriko Nakamura), through the touch screen. Haruka was the only character to have a completed model and an assigned voice actress at this time. No songs had been recorded yet. The game's development was thought to be 2% complete as of this prototype.
The cabinet for the game was the same as another Namco arcade game, Dragon Chronicle.
The prototype was a basic showcase of the communication gameplay that would be in the final game. However, there are some differences between the prototype and final version, such as:
- Two extra idols were advertised: Takane and Hibiki. These characters were not present in the final version due to hardware limitations, but were later revived for the game subseries THE iDOLM@STER SP as Takane Shijou and Hibiki Ganaha.
- The outfit Haruka wears is unique to the prototype and is not seen in the final release.
- The interface was much simpler in the prototype and the text box used a pink and white color scheme rather than the dark blue used in the final version.
Once the event concluded, it was presumably withdrawn after Namco received results and decided to go forward with the project. It has not been publicly playable since then.
At the 41st Amusement Machine Show in 2003, the game was present again, now under the final name of THE iDOLM@STER, but instead of a playable game, a promotional video was shown. At this time, every included idol was modeled, assigned a voice actress, and music had been recorded. Takane and Hibiki had likely been scrapped at this point as they appeared nowhere in the video.
The game shown in the promotional video is much closer to the final game, but there are some differences. In the video, the text boxes were pure white and captions during live performances had a dark background for readability. The logo had not yet been finalized either.
Screenshot of the touch event in the prototype.
Accompanying display. Chihaya's and Ritsuko's names are swapped, likely as a mistake.
- Early Idolmaster History Information. Retrieved 7 May '21
- (ARCHIVED) 40th Amusement Machine Show information. Retrieved 24 Sept '15.
- Game Watch report of 40th Amusement Machine Show. Retrieved 7 May '21
- Gekkan Arcadia's editor-in-chief talks about early Idolmaster. Retrieved 9 May '21