Developer: ground(ctrl)
Price: FREE
Version Reviewed: 1.5
App Reviewed on: iPad 2

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Playtime Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★½☆☆

Overall Rating: ★★☆☆☆

TourStar is a very rudimentary simulation of sorts, purporting to allow players to live the life of a fame-hungry, struggling musician on the road. While there may not be much to the actual game itself, the allure of playing to win real world prizes like concert tickets may be a big draw for some. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to imagine anyone sticking with TourStar long enough to actually come away from it with anything but frustration and maybe a small headache.

TourStarFrom humble beginnings at local house parties to sold-out arena shows, the core of TourStar is built around the player’s character increasing their fame and money by doing what it says on the tin: touring. But rather than just showing up at random places expecting to perform, a properly equipped megastar-to-be needs a few things. For instance, some recorded music to raise awareness and money, a band to actually back them up, and little pesky incidental things like a manager, crew, stage show, and the like. All of these elements get gradually unlocked as the player’s character goes up in level and gains more fans and fame. The free version caps out at level 5, which can be reached in just a couple of hours (if you’re lucky – more on that below), but it’s more than enough to see that unless one is really invested in trying to win free swag, there’s not a lot of compelling reason to keep playing.

For one thing, the core mechanic gets dull extremely quickly, as do the rather bland visuals. The game makes precious little attempt to have anything feel remotely believable. Not that I’m expecting a hard-drinking, drug-fueled simulation of musical debauchery, a la Guns N’ Roses circa 1987, but (due to the reuse of the same few venue models over and over) I’m supposed to buy that a big, label-sponsored, record release party, a high school prom, and someone’s bar mitzvah are all taking place at the same suburban house? Also, the game only sports a scant handful of character customization options, almost all of which look ridiculous (that slack-mouthed grin on the male figure stands out in particular) and give no real reason to change things up at all. And having the same two mini-game options before each show as a means of boosting your results grows tedious well before you even reach that level 5 cap.

TourStarThen there are the crashes. Oh, man. In the process of reviewing this game I had it crash on me probably around a dozen times. The problem with this (besides the obvious annoyance) comes from the fact that each crash wiped out roughly the last 5-10 minutes of my in-game progress. This was almost always after I had just recorded a new single/ep/album, leaving me to go through the process of picking out all of the parameters, only to have the game crash a couple of shows into my tour and wipe all of the work.

TourStar’s marketing may tempt those who love the idea of playing a game and winning stuff for doing so, but don’t be fooled. It’s a repetitive, shallow grind before you even decide if it’s worth paying to upgrade to the “full” game. And all that assumes you can even keep it running in the first place.

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