GamingAugust 4, 2017

Sam’s Celebrity Game Reviews – Nicki Minaj: The Empire


Next up in Sam’s Celebrity Game Reviews is Nicki Minaj: The Empire, in which you play a character who becomes fast friends with Nicki Minaj and ends up performing as her opening act.


The unmistakable un-dulcet tones of Nicki Minaj greeted me and the rest of The Spinoff offices when I started the app up. And make no mistake, Nicki Minaj speaks in caps lock.

She welcomed me, and only me – after I hurriedly putting on my headphones – to play her game, which she describes as an experience where you can build your own rap career, chat to other players of the game and even make your own custom raps. This high-definition, surprisingly genuine and passionate video of Nicki Minaj then segues into the kind of 2D graphics that you expect from a glorified choose your own adventure mobile game.

The least flattering angle of Nicki Minaj.

Reader, I was excited to make my own custom raps in the absolute non-privacy of a work environment.

The plot and premise of the game is similar to that of Path to Fame, the Demi Lovato game previously reviewed in this seriesYou play a wannabe rap star (I decided to play as Macklemore, because he is a rapper who I have heard of) who meets Nicki Minaj completely by chance. Minaj then graciously decides to help you along in your career. You have to buy clothes to keep stylish, play little mini-games (which are less mini-games and more pushing things on the screen to win rap battles) and photoshoots (which in this universe are things you need to win). At some point you also need to spend real life money in order to progress and I guess be as big a rap star as Nicki Minaj.

The two beautiful places where this game parts from Path to Fame, other than being fronted by a popstar with a more recognizable personality and brand than Demi Lovato (which is not nice, but is very true!), is that you can write your own rap songs and you can, for some reason, buy fake furniture for your fake apartment. This triggered a Sims-like obsession in me that made me wonder what my life would’ve been like had I not forbidden myself from playing that synthetic-cannabis-in-video-game form, and I quickly exited out of that part of the game.

Which brings me to making your own rap songs. Now, I only made one of these because we all die eventually and I don’t want to have to explain to whatever is waiting for me in the afterlife, whether it is the pearly gates or an eternal screaming darkness, why I spent any amount of my life making rap songs in a fake video game.

First they let you pick a topic to rap about, from the only six topics there possibly can be to rap about:

The only things you can rap about.

And then they let you pick random words to slot into pre-determined lyrics. And thus I created what was sure to be my rap masterpiece:

This is the actual first draft of Thrift Store.

The game said it was amazing. It was a hit. I had written what was sure to be the next ‘No Diggity’, or to be more current, ‘XO TOUR LIF3’. The game loved me. Nicki Minaj loved me. I was finally somebody to be proud of…

… and then the game threw a roadblock in me. For some reason this game makes you spend ‘energy’ to do things like win rap battles and join Nicki Minaj onstage. You get a finite amount of energy every three hours, which I presume keeps you coming back to the game over and over, so you will eventually get addicted or at least get attached to it and therefore keep playing it.

I ran out of energy. I wanted to keep playing, but to keep playing I either had to wait some time or spend money to get more energy. Why should I have to pay money to play a game? Don’t they know it’s 2017?

And then I realised Nicki Minaj was no better than Demi Lovato. I mean she’s much better, and will stand the test of time, but when it comes to celebrity branded games, she is no better.

I closed the game in disgust, and a little bit thankfully because I love Nicki Minaj enough that I would have absolutely kept playing and I’m an adult who shouldn’t be spending his time playing celebrity mobile games.

‘Same Love’ hitmaker Macklemore as rendered by me.

Amount of game played: About an hour and a half, before the game started to throw roadblocks at me. I’m not going to wait to play your mobile game, Nicki Minaj.

Amount of [insert name of celebrity here] in [insert name of celebrity game]: A lot! The plot revolves around your character meeting Nicki Minaj at a street rap battle, which… okay sure whatever Nicki Minaj: The Empire, I guess you know Nicki Minaj better than I do. She then helps you out a lot and is more of a relevant character to the plot than your character’s best friend. So, a whole lot. She (or a convincing Nicki Minaj impersonate) also voices her character, the only voiced character in the game.

There’s also a lot of backing tracks in the game, similar to Demi Lovato: Path to Fame, so your enjoyment of this game might depend on your tolerance for hear tinny Nicki Minaj backing tracks, and mine is quite high. (Roman’s Revenge moreso than say, Pound the Alarm.)

Also, the version of Nicki Minaj in this game looks nothing like Nicki Minaj.

Nicki Minaj does not look like this, in any world.

Amount of $$$ spent on microtransactions: Zero dollars because I’ve played four mobile games and I refuse to spend any more human dollars on these things. In saying that, the game does put a few roadblocks in your way that sneakily ask for you to pay to progress the game, paying for arbitrary things like ‘crowns’ or ‘fans’ or literally and unsubtly exchanging real dollars for game dollars.

I love you Nicki Minaj, but I’d rather spend my hard-earned money on some tossed-off verses on singles than on progressing in your fairly well-made mobile game.

Amount of shameless promo: I feel like Nicki Minaj is shameless promo in human form, but there is surprisingly little of this. After all, if you’re playing a Nicki Minaj mobile game, you are unlikely to  need to be sold on the Nicki Minaj product. You’re already in too deep.

Should you play this?: Like with most mobile games, my answer is ‘No, probably not?’. If I was the type to play mobile games on the bus or other kinds of public transport, then I would say yes. The enforced breaks bug a binge gamer like me, and there’s a genuine lack of interest I have in this kind of game that indicates I should stop spending my time.

In saying that…

Next in this celebrity-branded series: Shady Wars, which features Eminem or, as he is often called, Skinny Shady.

This post, like all our gaming content, comes to your peepers only with the support of Bigpipe Broadband.

Mad Chapman, Editor
Aotearoa continues to adapt to a new reality and The Spinoff is right there, sorting fact from fiction to bring you the latest updates and biggest stories. Help us continue this coverage, and so much more, by supporting The Spinoff Members.Madeleine Chapman, EditorJoin Members

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