Battle by Posing
In the past, media aimed toward girls had a bad reputation. Companies typically didn’t respect girls enough to give them good content and just relied on stereotypes. Of course, things improved after the success of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. Granted, the whole brony thing started as a 4chan joke, but the fandom eventually became sincere. Shining Nikki leans more into the stereotypes than properties like She-Ra do, but it’s not without merit. It can’t hurt to indulge in dressing up for an RPG adventure either.
Paper Games is a Chinese developer that specializes in games aimed at girls. Shining Nikki is part of the Nikki series that stars a pink-haired 19-year-old girl of the same name. Those expecting this to be related to Sega’s Shining series will just have to endure the disappointment. Of course, they don’t assume that all players of their games are girls. Shining Nikki also allows players to identify as male or even nonbinary. Of course, the choice only influences a few interactions with Nikki.
Fashionably Saving the World
The basic plot of Shining Nikki is pretty simple: save the world from destruction. How one accomplishes that is by creating and posing in outfits that fit specific criteria. Battling, for lack of a better term, is more of a rhythmic affair. This game is as much a rhythm game as it is a fashion RPG. The writing can go into Kingdom Hearts territory of pseudointellectual faffing, but that’s only for the main plot. The subplots can at least be fairly decent. Much of it is even voiced, although there’s a slight mismatch between the text and speech.
Paper Games brags about the quality of their character models on their website. In a way, they’re not exaggerating that much. While only Nikki has a 3-dimentional model, it’s actually pretty crisp for a mobile game. The only problems are the minor clipping issues and the fact that her model doesn’t quite match her portrait. Even the various (and often pretentiously named) clothing items look good. The overall art style is decent, yet very standard fare for a manga-styled game. At least the developers treat players to a fully-animated intro with pretty scenery.
Shining Nikki has what one typically expects from mobile games: a gacha system, crafting and stamina. Naturally, there’s also a VIP pass along with items that require paid currency to buy. Fortunately, the VIP pass isn’t all that necessary, as most of the content is accessible without paying. The sheer number of items and currencies is a bit daunting, but mostly manageable. Moreover, the game can be rather generous with its free content at times. One will be drowning in the gold and pink gems used to buy things in little time.
Shining Nikki features slight innovations that make the less-fun parts much more bearable. The sweep function speeds up grinding for crafting materials tremendously. One just needs the stamina. Furthermore, the game will tell players where to find said materials and point players to them. Stamina isn’t hard to acquire without paying, but it depletes quickly with heavy grinding. If nothing else, one can do a lot of things while the stamina regenerates. One can spend time in the dressing room where one has free reign to create outfits with collected pieces. There’s even an unlockable nail art feature.
Is It Hardcore?
Shining Nikki is a fashion RPG that’s also something of a rhythm game. It features a rather robust collection of clothing pieces to allow all sorts of potential outfits. The game still includes the typical mobile fixtures that can encourage heavy spending. However, the creative options make it somewhat enjoyable.