Features

My Star

Burn out or fade away

My Star
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| My Star

Any perusal of Saturday night television will provide enough evidence of how attractive the lure of a potential music career is.

Every year, The X Factor permits hundreds of people to impress and amuse millions of viewers in the hope of securing that lucrative record deal.

For most of us, our musical career rarely develops beyond playing the triangle at school, but social game My Star borrows elements from The Sims, Farmville and even Game Dev Story in an attempt to give players a little taste of what living the dream would actually feel like.

Getting started

To live the dream, you need money and to get you started with your fledgling career, bonuses in the form of money and fame are awarded for completing a number of objectives. Fame is used to level up, while money can be spent on purchasing items for your apartment and instruments.

The in-game currency takes two forms, Star Coins and Star Cash. Both can be bought via in-app purchases but while Star Coins are easily earned by performing tasks such as playing instruments and recording songs, Star Cash is very rarely awarded and usually only given for completing certain objectives or by levelling up.

Tools of the trade

The main method of earning Star Coins is by performing tasks with your instruments such as tuning them or by playing sheet music. The time it takes to complete such actions generally ranges from 5 minutes to 24 hours, while some take even longer.

New instruments become available as your level increases and can be bought using Star Coins.

There is a time limit by which you must collect your rewards, so it is important to check your game regularly to ensure that they don't expire. With this in mind, it is surprising that committing three hours to a task yields the same result as simply performing a one hour task on three separate occasions, meaning that no extra incentive is given for taking a risk.

Room with a view

If superficiality takes precedence over productivity, money can also be used to buy new fixtures and fittings for your rockstar pad.

You begin with a humble 6 x 6 abode, but as fame and fortune increase, so does the ability to increase the flat by either using Star Cash or (significantly more) Star Coins.

Sofas, televisions and pool tables can be bought alongside decorative items such as wallpaper and flooring. Star Cash can be used to buy more exciting features such as hot tubs and thrones, should those prove to be essential to your new lifestyle.

Entourage

Making music would be a difficult exercise without a band and players can invite friends from their Facebook and Game Center accounts to join them in their quest for fame.

Should you be unable to find anyone to join you in your musical odyssey, the good news is that every player has a default friend in the form of the socially promiscuous Keith who, rather usefully, is already level 20. In addition, My Star uses the iPhone's GPS capabilities so that you can leave posters in real life locations to alert others of your presence.

Once you have befriended a fellow musician you can visit their apartments to jam with them whilst simultaneously spying to see how plush or squalid their set up is.

This isn’t Abbey Road

Although such social interaction is limited, making friends is fundamentally important to the game as the greater number of band members means that a greater number of instruments can be used and is likely to result in a better tune.

The concept is remarkably similar to Game Dev Story as it involves finding the perfect combination of genre and theme while the quality and success of the song is influenced by the levels of your character, your band members and instruments.

The aim of recording a song in the studio is to create a platinum selling record and achieve the coveted number 1 spot in the charts.

This is undoubtedly the most interesting aspect of My Star but is let down by the fact that only one free song can be made every 24 hours. To be able to produce any more songs within that period requires the player to part with 1 piece of Star Cash and even if you pay for the privilege, the free song counter is reset to 24 hours.

The mode itself lacks depth as there are fewer variables to play with than in Game Dev Story and it doesn't take Simon Cowell to work out that Pop and Love or Dance and Party are good combinations for a hit record.

Five minutes of fame

As recording in the studio is one of the few activities you can do in My Star, it's disappointing.

The initial objectives keep you busy, but they are little more than a glorified tutorial and eventually dry up as you progress. This leaves a core game that consists of almost solely practising instruments, putting up posters and recording one song per day while the limited selection of items means that it is unlikely to be that attractive a proposition to those who wish to improve their apartment

This reduces the game to a choice between purchasing extra Star Cash to record new songs or by grinding in order to earn money and level up. The former removes any genuine challenge while the latter is likely to be a slog.

My Star is an interesting concept but the game is far too reliant on in-app purchases while there are too few activities for it to retain any lasting appeal.