Hatsune Miku: Project Diva F Review

Title: Hatsune Miku: Project Diva f
Developer: Sega
Game Type: PlayStation Vita
Download: 2.6 GB
NA Availability: 
Digital Download
EU Availability: Digital Download

Have you ever heard of Vocaloid?  You may have heard of it without even knowing that word.  How about Hatsune Miku?  If you’ve heard that name, you’ve heard of Vocaloid.  Back in 2004, there was a Japanese Voice Synthesizer PC software that debuted.  This allowed users to create their own songs, sung by a synthesized voice that had contributions from both PC software and Voice Actors.  This software became popular quickly and quickly advanced, bringing the synthesized voice into form with Virtual Diva’s known as Vocaloids.

Vocaloids were anime-like Divas, both Male and Female, whom could be created to dance and sing within the Vocaloid software, also leading into software like Miku Miku Dance, otherwise known as MMD.  Always Japanese in nature, this software spawned countless original songs and music videos, along with covers of other songs.  This became immensely popular in Japan and has become very popular here in the states as well, with Vocaloids of all varieties.  Thanks to SEGA, there have been console videogames made on it as well.

Hatsune Miku: Project Diva debuted back in 2009 on the PlayStation Portable, bringing the Vocaloid Hatsune Miku as well as the music video-style of the software into a rhythm game.  It spawned other games as well, on a variety of platforms, from iOS to PlayStation 3 to PlayStation Vita.  The first Project Diva game to come to the West is called Hatsune Miku: Project Diva F.  It released not too long ago for the PlayStation 3, and now it has arrived on the PlayStation Vita via the PlayStation Network.  Here is our official review of Hatsune Miku: Project Diva F.

Story

Is there really a story involved when you talk about rhythm games?  Actually, there is.  Project Diva F does have a simple story, though it is very much implied and, if you’re one to skip pre-Start Menu scenes, you’ll completely miss it.

The story of Project Diva simply has Miku going through everyday life with her pals, the other Vocaloids.  These specifically are Megurine Luka, Kaito, Meiko, Rin, and Len.  They are all going about their daily lives, helping their community and having fun when Miku brings them all together with the idea of having a large concert.  After getting them all together, they set out together into what is shown in the Main Game.

Is that a lot to go on?  No, it’s not.  It’s not meant to, either.  The world of Vocaloid is one of mystery that has rarely had anything given about it.  We know the Vocaloids sing and perform, but that’s about it.  So, the story is that they’ve come together to do a concert.  It’s as much of a story as you would need for a rhythm game like this.

Gameplay

Being a Rhythm game, Hatsune Miku: Project Diva F has you playing through songs as your performer is shown doing a Music Video to the song that you’re currently playing.  This is the main part of the game, so you will definitely need to get into and interested in this section of the game, as it is in any rhythm game.  There are also several difficulties to choose from.

As songs play out, symbols fly across the screen towards target points that are shown to you.  Your goal is to tap the correct button when the symbols get to their target locations.  The target locations are in sync with the song, though with the Vocals, rather than the beat.  The symbols are fairly simplistic.  You have X for the X Button, a Square for the Square Button, a Circle for the Circle Button, and a Triangle for the Triangle button.  That is pretty easy.  There is also a Star to symbolize that you need to swipe the touch screen.  There is a Tutorial in the game that explains this pretty well, as well as different types of notes, like ones that require you to hold the button in, or ones that require both the D-Pad and Face Buttons to be pressed.

As you play through each song, you will want to worry about your score through Combos and Chance Time.  Combos are basically chained by hitting notes correctly one after another and not messing up.  The higher combo chains you can make throughout the song, the better your score will be and the higher Grade you’ll get when the song finishes.  You want to get a high Grade to enable the rewards for completion to be higher for you.

Chance Time is also something to consider.  Each song has a section called Chance Time.  When this happens, you get a Star Bar on the bottom-right corner of the screen.  Your goal is to not miss a single note.  The more notes in this section you hit correctly, the more the Star Bar fills up.  When it fills up completely, you can swipe the screen at the last note of the section to get a boost to your score, as well as playing through the Bonus Section for that song.  This is a must if you want high scores and to be able to complete each song to the fullest (and for a few trophies).

When you complete a song, you will be Graded and when you get your Grade, you are awarded with Diva Points as well as having Costumes and Items unlocked.  This is the Currency you use in the game for various things.  You can buy costumes for each character to use when you replay songs, or buy Gifts for the performers, or Items to be used in each Performer’s room.

The Diva Rooms are another feature of the game, along with other Game Modes.  The Diva Room puts you in a room with your Vocaloid and allows you to interact with them.  You can decorate their room with items you’ve bought in the game’s shop, or you can give them gifts and play through a Rock Paper Scissors minigame with them to increase their Affinity or affection towards you, which makes them more cheerful towards you and unlocks more items to be used.

Another Mode to be used is called AR Mode, which is Augmented Reality Mode.  The original version of this game came with Augmented Reality Cards that you could use to use the Vita’s Camera and project Hatsune Miku onto pretty much anything you set the cards on.  You want to see her dancing on top of your Car?  Put the card on your Car and start using this feature.  It’s a very unique feature.  Since the North America and Europe edition of this game is digital-only, you will need to go online to print out the cards.

There are two other major parts of the game.  Edit Mode and Network Mode.  Edit Mode is a complex editor, not that much unlike the Vocaloid PC Software.  This allows you to use any song in the game as well as any MP3 music file on your PlayStation Vita to create your own Music Video.  You can use any Character/Costume, and you are given several environments, actions, and more, so you can make some very impressive-looking music videos.  The editor is pretty extensive and I will admit that some of it is way over my head.  It’s a pretty impressive feature they’ve included in the game.

Along with this is Network Mode.  This mode allows you to access the online server.  On this server, you can upload any Edited Song you’ve made and publish it to the Public.  You can also download any song that’s been made and uploaded by other users.  Think of it as a more simplistic version of the way LittleBigPlanet handles User-Created Levels.

All in all, there is a lot to do in this game.  There are 32 songs to unlock and play, not counting the Tutorial or AR songs.  There is also Downloadable Content (DLC) on the PlayStation Store for this game.  It’s the same content that’s available for the PS3 version of the game, from songs to extra costumes and characters.  Time-wise, it will take you roughly 6 hours to finish each song on one difficulty, along with a little bit of time to explore the other features of the game.  If you’re looking for more than just rushing through each song and calling it quits, though, I would expect the game to last at least 12-20 hours, from the DLC, Edit Mode, AR, Difficulties, Shop, and more.

Controls

The controls for this game are pretty easy to get a handle on, as you won’t be using every button available to you to play through this game.  You will, however, have to use the touchscreen.  The Swipe gesture for the Star symbol can only be moved between the touchscreen or the Rear Touch Panel.  It cannot be put on any of the physical buttons.  It definitely takes some getting used to, but it works.

Navigating Menus is mostly done with the D-Pad.  Making a selection is done with the X Button, and going back is done with the Circle Button.  You can also navigate most menus with the touchscreen by tapping on the selection you want to make and swiping to scroll through lists of options and songs.

Aside from the Star Symbol Touchscreen control, the control scheme is very easy to become accustomed to.  Many things will just come to you naturally as you play through the game.  It would be nice to move that touch control to a button, but that’s just how it is.

Presentation

The visual presentation of this game is very good.  As you see the vibrant colors and emotions across each performer’s face and body as they go through each song, the graphics stay smooth and clear.  If you were to take a screenshot, the models hardly have any jagged edges or blemishes.  The developers took their time to make this game look like a visual treat on the Vita’s screen.

The actual music is a bit of a hit-and-miss with people, though.  This is definitely a kind of music that not anyone can get into.  The synthesized parts of the voices sound much more real than they did back in 2004, but they do still have that tone to it, and that really is a big trademark of Vocaloid music.  If you’re already a fan of Vocaloid music, then you’ll have no issue being impressed with the variety of the music.  If you’re not, though, you may want to listen to it beforehand (or download the available Demo of the game).

As far as the game plays, everything is looking good.  Although you’d be looking at 5-10 seconds load times, depending on what features of the game you’re loading, you won’t be waiting that long when you want to play the next song on your playlist or just for watching a Music Video without playing.

Overall

Hatsune Miku: Project Diva F dances its way onto the PlayStation Vita with vibrant colors and a large cast of performers.  With 32 songs and several extensive Game Modes to take part in, there is a lot to do and collect, along with the DLC that’s available.  However, as it always has been, Vocaloid Music is a niche genre.  If you’ve never heard the music before, you need to before considering this purchase.  If you’re already a fan, you’re in for a real treat.

The PlayStation Vita Review Network Rates Hatsune Miku: Project Diva F a 9/10 

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