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3/01/2012

REVIEW: Hatsune Miku. Project DIVA 2nd (PSP)



Project DIVA 2nd is one of those very rare games that never make it out to our continent but somehow become extremely famous. This is the title that houses the otaku goddess Hatsune Miku, a very pretty anime girl who sings and dances in a J-Pop band called Vocaloid along other not-so-famous characters. Project DIVA 2nd is a rhythm game like Guitar Hero or Rock Band where the players need to press the four face buttons on the PSP with a set timing for each of the dozens of catchy songs in the game.

This is a very simple game, with no deep gameplay mechanics, no plot or narrative and no multiplayer modes to enjoy online but it manages to do what it wants almost to perfection. The objective of the game is simply to unlock the songs, play them in harder difficulties and earn money to dress up the characters or buy pretty items for the DIVA room.

Starting with the graphics, they’re very pretty and colorful. Each of the songs features either Miku or another girl dancing and singing the song in a very flashy and beautiful fashion, usually with great and smooth animations. There is a little lack of antialiasing in some parts of the bodies but it’s nothing really bad. The game looks great but not as good as Resistance Retribution or any of the Square-Enix most famous titles in the portable console.

But in the visuals, there’s a little “mistake”, if it can be called that. The buttons that need to be pressed are all over the screen, and when playing in the harder difficulties, they come and go so fast that it’s almost impossible for the person playing the game to actually look at the video where the girl is dancing and singing. Now this is completely understandable since there’s no logical way to make the player look at the pretty things in the screen and know which buttons to press at the same time, but the issue is there. Fortunately, there’s a way to watch the video of the songs without actually playing, this is a relief for anyone wanting to look at the video, memorize the songs or simply listen to them.

Another minor issue that everyone out there needs to know is that because this game is not officially released outside Japan, it will be in Japanese, there is one pirated versions with a fan translation, but if anyone decides to import it from the far-east land, they must know that the game will not be in English. So, everything from the menu texts, tutorials, shops and of course, the lyrics of the songs will be in Japanese. If fortunate enough to understand a little Hiragana and Katakana, there won’t be any problems to move around the menus but forget to understand anything Miku says unless fluent in the language.

The gameplay is simple, but extremely fun. “Free play” mode allows choosing a song and difficulty and just go directly to it. When in the songs themselves, the four face buttons (square, triangle, circle and X) will be seen flying around the screen to reach a small shadow of themselves, at that exact moment, the button needs to be pressed. Each song has different levels of speed and difficulty so a song in “hard” can be more difficult to finish than another slower song in “extreme”.

Depending on which moment the buttons are pressed, the game will give a quick ranking that can be “worst” when failed, “sad”, “safe” “fine” and “cool”. The last two can be combed together which results in great score multipliers for the final results. And getting too many “worst” will make the players fail the song.

Besides the songs themselves, it is possible to visit the girls in their rooms, which can be decorated in “DIVA room”. It is also possible to buy different pretty outfits for them to wear in the videos in “Character models” and even use “Edit mode” to change several aspects of the songs themselves.

There’s also a small AdHoc function in the game to share the songs made in “Edit mode” with another player nearby with another PSP and game. But sadly, there’s no actual multiplayer so the only chance to actually compete with someone else is to play the same songs and compare the scores and things like that. It’s really unfortunate because the game feels like it has a lot of potential for multiplayer play.

Sound-wise, the game is incredible. Being a rhythm game, it is completely understandable but the developers managed to get everything right. The vast majority of the songs are very beautiful and catchy, even for people who don’t know or like the J-Pop genre. This is definitely the best aspect of the game, and when mixed with the pretty visuals, the results are awesome. Since it’s a PSP game, it can be enjoyed for a few minutes, in a car or train ride or a waiting room or things like that or just play it for a good two hours at home.

It’s very sad and unfortunate that with the fame Hatsune Miku and the other girls have over here; her game hasn’t been released overseas. It’s pretty sure that it would see thousands and thousands of sales if published but sadly, the only way to enjoy it legally in our continent is to import it from any shopping website like Amazon, eBay or Play-Asia. It’s expensive, but depending on the tastes in gaming and music, the price can be worth it.

Project DIVA 2nd is a very beautiful game, recommended to anyone out there with a PSP; it’s the perfect game to carry around for almost any situation. It can be hard to finish the songs in the higher difficulties but with practice, pretty much anyone can learn them and emerge victorious. The game looks and plays very nice and the songs are awesome. So if the money is available to import it, Project DIVA 2nd will be a great game to purchase.

Pros:

-          Great presentation and visuals.
-          Excellent soundtrack with dozens of catchy J-Pop songs.
-          Lots of extra items to buy and difficulties to try out.
-          Edit Mode is very fun by itself.

Cons:

-          It’s hard to find stuff if not able to understand Japanese.
-          The game is very expensive due to its Japan-only release.
-          Many of the best songs are very hard in “Extreme”.
-          DIVA room is kind of pointless.


-          Graphics and Visuals………...8
-          Music and Sound Effects….....10
-          Gameplay……………………8
-          Replay Value………………..10

-          Overall Score……………….. 9 / 10

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