Edit: See correction below, original story follows:

Strangely, rhythm game pricing controversy isn't new to TouchArcade as many people were upset at the piecemeal way in which Square Enix brought Theatrhythm Final Fantasy [Free] to the App Store, but NamcoBandai may have just one-upped them with the US release of their hit Japanese rhythm game iDOLM@STER on iOS.

The gist of iDOLM@STER (yes, that's how they stylize it) centers around managing an up-and-coming pop star and taking them to the top of the charts, using your typical rhythm-based gameplay of tapping various combinations in time with the beat. The game has seen a few different releases on various consoles and handhelds since 2005, and as best as can be determined by some fans in our forums this iOS version is based off of the Sony PSP release from several years back. Also, the band management portion and arguably the one thing that sets this apart from being just another rhythm game doesn't appear to be in the iOS versions of the game.

The real kicker here is that iDOLM@STER has been split into three separate apps: iDOLM@STER Shiny Festa Rhythmic Record [$3.99], iDOLM@STER Shiny Festa Melodic Disc [$3.99], and iDOLM@STER Shiny Festa Harmonic Score [$3.99]. The difference between each seems to be the selection of idols and songs that you can play with, basically chopping the PSP game into three $55 chunks. Also, each app is roughly 2 GB to download and around 3 GB installed.

So this is a perplexing release on several levels. For one, I think there's definitely an audience who are stoked for an English version of iDOLM@STER, and if you're absolutely nuts for the series then maybe you're down to drop the $165 to get all three games on your iOS device. But I can't imagine there are a significant number of people who feel that way. If the goal is to broaden the audience for this niche genre, which has blown up in Japan and other markets but never really hit hard in the West, then this pricey and split-up iOS release is a tough barrier to entry for newbies. Finally, why the heck would they strip out the actual band management mechanics when that sounds like the most interesting part?

I guess we'll just keep our eye on iDOLM@STER and see how it shakes out, but if you are a huge fan who has been waiting for a native English version of the game and you have both the money and device space to spare, then feel free to check out the iDOLM@STER Shiny Festa games with the links below or hit up the forums for more impressions and discussion.

Correction: As pointed out by several readers, the original iDOLM@STER Shiny Festa was released on PSP late last year in Japan and was indeed 3 separate games, each featuring different pop idols and focusing exclusively on rhythm gameplay without any management. So the iOS versions are merely ports of those games, and not a split-up version of the 2008 PSP release as originally thought. We apologize for the error.

  • http://twitter.com/SquaredApe Robert Cummings

    Cool, lets encourage piracy with idiotic price points. Watch jailbreaking increase and small indies suffer while iAP grows as a result. Nice work guys.

    • Zeldaniac

      Jailbreaking /= piracy. However, I see your point.

    • http://twitter.com/MobotStudios James

      Valid point but you can't live in fear of piracy. Pirates are gonna pirate rather it's .99 or $500.

      I find it refreshing to see a company sticking to a premium price. I can't count how many times I have read people say "I would gladly pay a full premium price for the whole game"
      It's still $5 less than a new PS3 game.

      If Super Mario galaxy or Mario Kart showed up on the app store people would pay 49.99 all day long.

      While the pop star game isnt my thing, it's clearly a 59.99 console game to a lot of people.

      • http://twitter.com/HawkEyeTS Will Buckingham

        It's not a premium price point for a full game. It's an old PSP release split up into three pieces and when combined prices at something in the range of 200% the cost of the average Japanese PS3 import at launch (around $80). This is pricing exploitation of a niche franchise audience, pure and simple.

        Would I pay $50 for a full Mario Kart game on my iPad. Maybe. Definitely at $30. Would I pay $50 for 1/3 of the racers and tracks? Absolutely not, and it would greatly diminish my opinion of Nintendo on future purchases, as SquareEnix has already done with their DLC "game" nonsense lately.

        Edit: Someone below is saying there were 3 PSP games. I was not aware of that, but it's still very expensive for an old game, and the fact that the apps are all titled with the same pre-fix title doesn't help the confusion.

  • http://matt-curtis.me/ Matt Curtis

    That's 8 pizzas. Hmm, tough choice.

    • danny31004

      That's 15.5 pizza's from costco if you add in the tax!

  • Wizard_Mike

    So this is essentially a revamped, years-old PSP game that's had a big chunk of its gameplay removed and has been split into three apps that, together, cost triple what the PSP game costed? Or am I reading this wrong?

    This doesn't seem to be the title that will help "legitimize" full/retail priced games on the store, if you ask me. $55 for a third of a game?

    • Reaper gI

      This was 3 full price PSP games to begin with. The article is just full of errors.

  • Cameron Fenton

    This has to be a mistake right? Like someone at NamBan accidentally hit two keys when trying to type $4.99.

  • crunc

    Surely this has to be a pricing error?

    • PureRumble

      Surely u have more to learn of human nature... :-/

    • http://twitter.com/trejkaz Trejkaz loves 初音ミク

      Yeah. The actual price on the JP store is 4800 yen.

  • PureRumble

    How was it one of the Joker's companions in the Dark Knight put it (just before getting shot)?

    "That's a lot of money"

  • dancj

    Aw, it's not available in the UK. Otherwise I totally would have forked out £100 and sacrificed 9gb of space for this!

  • DannyTheElite

    A third of this or battle academy with all campaigns? Tough choice 😉

  • HandyMarco2010

    I don't get how a $40 PSP game brand new = 3 $55 IOS games...Seriously what are those guys thinking?!. Yeah its optimized for IOS, Yeah it looks pretty cool, but $55 a piece is idiotic lol

  • PersonaSpace

    It's NOT based off the PSP games from a few years ago, but instead last years Shiny Festa games, which were exclusively rhythm games with no management.

  • poorwealthyman

    Feel 'free' to check out iDolm@ster....

    Since when has free been $50? Oh yeah, in 2010 with the rise of freemium!

  • uplaynation

    thats one hell of price tag right there $54.99 what a joke.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100005645940182 Facebook User

    The PSP game WAS divided into three 55 $ versions. So you're basically getting the same deal with iAP to come. I got one game. It's UNBELIEVABLY GOOD.

  • psk

    Wha? Huh? Er. You sure?

  • http://www.facebook.com/8thRann Rican Rann

    wow, I've always stood up for squares prices on the appstore (for the most part) but now I can say this is WAY TOO PRICEY for an iphone game. $30 is the max, but $54? And then that's times 3? Wow, this is new to me o__O;; the game's graphics look good tho 🙂

  • Reignmaker

    This wouldn't be on my list of things to download, even if it was free. So no worries.

  • Sithinious

    My first thought on seeing the price was "WTF?!? Are they on crack??". But that doesn't make for a very constructive forum comment. So let me just say that there's no way in a very hot place I'd ever consider paying anywhere near that amount for an iOS game. At least, not now. Maybe in the future when the games are holographic and brainwave controlled. I'd say $9.99 for an app is the absolute most I'd ever pay, and I'd have to know ahead of time that the game was extremely good.

  • adam13omb

    Sheesh and here I was thinking 59.99 was too much for a PC or console title. Hopefully sales for these three are abysmal. I'd hate to see other developers start thinking they can charge AAA price for a game you play with your fingers and finish in 45 minutes.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Paul-Hopper/1238691947 Paul Hopper

    I can fully respect the idea of full price models on our app store... but not for games that are 5+ year old ports heh.

  • reflipp

    Wow.. And i though dlc was a rip off..

  • Zeldaniac

    To quote someone from the forums:

    "$55 for a tambourine simulator?"

  • Jd99ca

    You guys are hilarious!!! Keep them coming hahaha awesome and yes 55$ price tag is a joke or late april fools joke from japan!!

  • tranceforma

    Suck on mah chocolate salted balllssss


  • Gamer_Kev

    I'll pass.

  • bigrand1

    What a joke!

  • rdw2552

    Honestly I think there a little crazy, be cuz that is
    $55 (that's allllllllllot!)

  • ratsinheat

    I purchased Melodic Disc and its well worth $55 for the quality of game it is. I have Shiny on PSP so I won't repurchase it. Ill wait and see if there is a sale on the last one in the next month or two. If not, ill probably buy it for iOS since I have it with me more than my PSP.

    Trust me guys, it seems steep but its worth it. I played it for 2 hours straight and my phone died! Lol. Ill probably take a sick day tomorrow to master it like I did Shiny a while back. You can master it in a day is you're good and have precious experience.

    • cuw

      I can think of so many games from Namco that sold port amazingly well to ios and deserve a very premium pricetag if they are ports and just have optimized controls and graphics. There are so many games that I want to see but won't get to unless they make it to iOS because I am not buying a portable gaming system ever again, my iPhone fills that role now.

      Also the iPhone and other portable systems are showing they have the processing power of about the Xbox 360 and ps3 according to some benchmarks on so let's get some ports of some quality games on these phones and not bitch about the prices.

      The world ends with you is a great example of a game far better than almost every ios game and it deserved the "high" pricetag it was priced at. These games being true ports of psp games, very likely with improved graphics and improved controls, should cost the same as they do on that system because otherwise it eats their own sales.

      While this game is not remotely my cup of tea it is still an incredibly popular AAA series that sells millions in Japan, so either iOS users need to decide if they want to pay full price for real games or very little for very little gameplay(final fantasy the brave and the bold). I would gladly take direct psp ports with control modifications or ps3 ports or 360 or even PC and pay a high amount for a console quality experience, something that even the best indie games are barely getting close to in all aspects simultaneously.

  • http://twitter.com/trejkaz Trejkaz loves 初音ミク

    Might want to fix the title of the article.

  • console

    Many Japanese titles are sold for a high price in the AppStore. FF series comes to mind, or the bullet-hell genre.

    They simply ignore the "0.89 market" and charge the same prices in all platforms. Could be they cannot afford to cut sales on other platforms.

    The problem is that all other handheld platforms allow you to re-sell your game or buy it 2nd hand. IMO you cannot charge full prize for DRMed digital downloads, unless the market will gladly pay for it (PC/Steam and AAA titles comes to mind)

  • Booch138

    $10 says Square is just going to start releasing games for $60 on the App Store now. Thanks Bandai. You f*cking a**holes HAHAHAAH.

  • Webarger

    Hmm shitty Price for an iOS game

    • cuw

      Why? It is the same price as the psp one and the same game as the psp one. It's not like they are gouging anyone with IAP or an EA style "port" where it's just a franchise name on some shell of the real game.

      What makes an iOS game deserve to be cheaper than the same game on a different platform?

      IMO I want the best games they can get this hardware to run and if it means $50 games then I will buy 2-3 a year assuming they are real 10+hr games.

  • the fish

    I'm gettin all three...said no one ever XD

  • nodnol2008

    This is not a "Sony PSP release from several years back", the PSP version was released 2012-10-25 in Japan. They splitted it up to 3 versions on PSP as well.
    It's just a NBGI game, just a over priced game for those "I'll buy whatever you have" FANS (even for the console release).This is not a "premium price full game" at all.
    Besides, PSP version could share savedata and have a exclusive DLC "The world is all one", better button control.

    It's not a "how much a iOS game should be" problem, it's NBGI's problem, remember Ridge Racer on PS Vita?

    If Japanese developers want to destory themselves, don't stop them, just don't buy, have fun and watch.

  • http://www.facebook.com/paj.saraf Paj Saraf

    I suspect they feel that they are not going to sell much to North American audience regardless of price point. This title seems to be priced for Japan where the demand is very high and people are likly to spend top dollar.
    either it will work or we will see a price drop over the next few weeks.

  • imdakine1

    First I thought they miss priced it at so unsaved it until the price dropped to consider a purchase. Second since the game file(s) are so large I can see splitting it into multiple downloadable parts as a user wants to use different bands. But one price for all three makes the most sense especially if all three were included in the PSP version or any other version. Definitely charging the same price for three parts that were all included in one price for PSP or any other version is a BAD idea and not cool.

  • Artemisth

    The PSP game was also in 3 parts. Basically, it's a little bit like pokemon. You get red, blue and green. The three are the exact same game, with some differences. In the case of Idolm@ster, it is the Idols that you manage and also the songs that are different. That's it. So the PSP version didn't get split into three different part, it was always like that.

  • iOSPeace

    Can someone tell me why the hell these stupid JPN music games are so freaking expensive? Like I don't get it. Why price so much, I mean like doesn't Apple have a limit on how much something can be?

  • Space Chief

    And Namco is pulling it on March 15. $55 x3 with a middle finger to their customers.