If you asked me “Who is Hatsune Miku?” or “What is a Vocaloid?” prior to me playing Project Diva, I couldn’t answer you. I’m a hardcore rock/grunge/metal fan, ignorant to the world of pop music and most anime outside of Ghost in the Shell, Death Note and a few others. That being said, I’m not against trying new things and Project Diva was definitely a breath of fresh air in that case.
So lets answer those first questions before we start the review. First of which being who is Hatsune Miku? Well, she is a 3D character created by Crypton Future Media to support their Vocaloid program, a voice synthesizer that allows musicians to have the character sing their lyrics with their music. The character is such a huge hit that Crypton has credited over 100,000 unique songs to her. Most recently, “Last night, Good night” by Livetune featuring Hatsune Miku was remixed with Pharrell Williams, and she appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman singing an English version of “Sharing the World” in a live performance (which featured her as a digital projection) where he stated “It’s like being on Willie Nelson’s bus.”
Hatsune Miku’s Project Diva F 2nd is the second PS3/PSVita game to feature the digital diva and her friends/fellow Vocaloids, and features 40 songs from their careers, each with their own music videos.
Like all the good Rhythm games, gameplay for Project Diva in its basic state is simple, buttons will appear on screen and you will have to hit them in time to get the best score. Now there are different style of presses to follow, the single button input which allows you to use the face or directional buttons activate, the double buttons presses for those bigger notes, long notes forces you to keep the button pressed until the note is over, and Star notes which are triggered by the analog sticks. What buttons appear during the song is based on difficulty, easy will feature a single button, medium 2, and so on. These notes appear randomly on the screen with while the button can appear from any direction.
On top of these, there are a couple of different events that will help you raise your score and clear the song. The first of which is the Technical Zones, which gives you a string of notes that you’ll have to hit with a good or better rating, while the notes are difficult, if your able to hit these you will get a massive bonus to your score. The second is the Chance Zone, which will give you a string of notes (usually followed by a rainbow line) that will increase your star meter, if the star meter is filled before the end of phase, a rainbow coloured star will appear causing a change in the music video, this can open up new notes or just cause a really cool effect in some videos depending on the song.
Beating a song does several things, first of which it unlocks a new costume for the singing vocaloid, as well as customization items. These items can be purchased via points earned from the songs, allowing you to wear the costumes and re-create the music videos, there are a ton of items to unlock with different requirements to do so. This is great for replay value if you’re a completionist.
Even if you’re not a J-Pop fan there is a lot to love in the music itself as it feels like there is a lot of variety. Several songs feel more rock oriented, others obviously J-Pop, and in some cases even some Opera styling.
One of the big features in this game is the Edit Mode, which sadly I didn’t spend too much time in because I’m not really creative, however in this mode you would be able to create your own Hatsune Miku music video using your own MP3, allowing you to change the scenery, characters singing and even the button inputs.
As someone who is not a huge fan of J-Pop and didn’t know who Hatsune Miku was outside of seeing friends collect figurines and seeing the preformance on The Late Show, I really enjoyed my time with Project Diva F 2nd, it’s a challenging Rhythm game with catchy tunes and a large amount of customization that is able to keep you playing well after you finished the game’s 40 song set list.