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6/18/2013

REVIEW: Hatsune Miku: Project Diva f (Vita)


Hatsune Miku and her Vocaloids are back for another Project Diva rhythm game on the PS Vita. Ever since I played a demo of one of the PSP titles back when I created my Japanese PSN account, I’ve been a fan of Miku and her charming style and really cool songs. So I personally found Project Diva f an excellent game for the portable console and a more-than-welcome addition to its catalog of games.

Project Diva f is a very simple rhythm game that focuses entirely on pressing set button combinations at the right time to follow some adorable and very cool J-pop and J-rock songs performed by Hatsune Miku and the rest of the Vocaloid band, which is made entirely of voices created by synthesizer software. The game is surprisingly fun, charming and really easy to get into, though to be honest, the higher difficulties are much tougher than in the PSP ones.

It has very good graphics with tons of excellent animations and an extremely charming and adorable anime art style. Visually, the game is very colorful and it’s very fun to just look at it. It doesn’t exploit the entire capabilities of the console but the graphics are very good. One very important thing to mention is that this game is only available in Japanese since it’s actually not localized outside that country. This means you have to import it from the internet to get your hands on it. Still, the menus are very easy to handle and even without any basic Japanese knowledge, you’ll be able to find what you want easily.

There are dozens of different songs in the game and the vast majority of them are truly excellent. They’re some of the most famous Vocaloid songs in Japan that include fan-favorites like Weekender Girl or Time Machine. I personally found Project Diva 2nd soundtrack slightly better because I really love songs like Innocence, but the Vita game has a truly fantastic and varied playlist.

In gameplay, the songs usually feature either Hatsune Miku or other Vocaloid members like Luka or Rin singing and dancing to a very pretty song. The objective is to try and press the correct button combinations at the right time to gain points, combo as many notes as you can and break high scores. There are four difficulties available that feel very different from the Project Diva games that were available on the PSP. Hard and Extreme now feel much harder than before and they’ll truly test how fast you can press buttons with the set timing.

In the beginning, only the Easy and Normal difficulties will be available. These feel very easy and sometimes a bit boring but as you finish them, you’ll start unlocking the harder versions and that is the point where the game will truly shine. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself playing the hardest version of a song you like because you want to break your own record (or someone else’s) or try a perfect combo chain. Project Diva f makes a great addition to the notes, now a touch-screen swipe note will appear on-screen among the face buttons ones so you’ll have to pay attention to not only press the buttons but change to the touch-screen while following the rhythm.

Fortunately, the game is not only playing the songs by themselves. By finishing them, you’ll earn money that can be spent on dozens of different costumes for Miku and the other Vocaloid members. These can be equipped for any song and add a lot of variety. One of the new things in the Vita games are accessories; you can add things like glasses, cat ears, bags and other cool things to the characters and they’ll wear them while they sing and dance in Free Play mode.

Diva room also makes a return. In this mode you’ll be able to decorate the room of your favorite Vocaloid member with tons of items and listen to the songs without playing the rhythm, which can be very nice. You have to spend money on the Diva Room items so expect to find yourself playing a lot to earn the required money. Another cool thing is Edit Mode where you’ll be able to edit the notes and their on-screen location in Free Play so you can play your own version of the rhythm game. This is particularly nice and though it seems hard to understand (especially since it’s in Japanese), it’s actually easy to get into it. There also a nice AR mode that uses a nice card included in the physical version of the game. You can take pictures of Miku with anything while she dances.

In short, Hatsune Miku: Project Diva f is a very cool and fun game that the majority of the Vita public in the West will probably never hear about. It’s surprising how difficult it is for Sega to localize it taking into consideration the huge fame Miku and the Vocaloids have gotten in the west, especially among the otaku public. Still, I have to say that the target audiences for this game are either otakus or simply people that like anime-style games like me. But if you have the opportunity to import it, don’t think twice about it. It’s a fantastic game and definitely one of the best in the Vita right now.


Pros:

-         Beautiful and colorful art style.
-         Excellent soundtrack is catchy and varied.
-         Challenging but very nice difficulty.
-         Lots of songs to play.
-         Edit mode is very good.
-         Tons of costumes available to buy.

Cons:

-         Diva Room feels a little pointless.
-         Menus are only in Japanese.


-         Graphics and Visuals…….…..8
-         Music and Sound Effects….....10
-         Gameplay……………………8
-         Replay Value………………...9


-         Overall Score……………….. 8.8 / 10

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