Game Review: Hatsune Miku – Project Diva X (PS Vita)
13/09/2016 Leave a comment
Hatsune Miku and the Project Diva franchise returns in a brand out digital outing for the PS Vita, and PS4, but will this latest instalment, known as Hatsune Miku: Project Diva X, be a one-hit-wonder that will soon be forgotten? or is it something that we will enjoy for a long period of time? Well let’s find out in our review!
The ever-popular-Japanese vocaloid Hatsune Miku returns in another European outing and while we do not have the privilege of receiving a physical release, sadly that’s left to the American market, we are still graced by her presence on the PS Vita (and PS4) in digital forms. For those unaware It’s called Hatsune Miku: Project Diva X, a sequel of sorts to the previously released PS Vita (and PS3) Games Hatsune Miku: Project Diva F and Hatsune Miku: Project Diva F 2nd; whereby we see the lovable Hatsune Miku and her friends Rin Kagamine, Len Kagamine, Luka Megurine, Kaito and Meiko once again partake in more rhythm based madness; except this time there is a story to go along with it.
Previous instalments into the Hatsune Miku franchise would usually see players pick a song from the menu and then play it without any particular reason or purpose (other than for enjoyment); however with Hatsune Miku: Project Diva X the gameplay has shifted slightly to offer a more compelling reason to continue playing. The idea is that the vocaloid’s are losing their ability to sing and as the player it is now your job to help them get back on their feet. How exactly is this achieved you might be wondering? By helping them perform songs and earning points that are used to charge up the Star Crystals for that particular location.
In total five star crystals exist, each of which are linked to a Cloud and refer to a different type of mood. In this case we have Classic, Cute, Cool, Elegant and Quirky clouds each offering a different style (mood) of song and each holding their own crystal that needs recharging. At first only the Classic cloud is available for selection, of which five songs will be present, but as you complete the songs and fill up its crystal you will soon be allowed to warp to other Clouds in order to repeat the process with each cloud offering five selectable songs and a final performance comprised of multiple-songs for its finale.
It’s a very simplistic storyline and yet it has meaning and serves its purpose well. For instance as you continually build up each clouds star crystal you will be entered into dialogue elements with the vocaloid’s; some of which will be pointless banter that will help you understand a character better but in other instances you might be tasked with giving that character advice or even a gift. It’s here where Project Diva X offers a whole new level of interaction and it’s one that actually makes you feel like part of the group.
This new interaction is brought one step further with the introduction of the friendship system; a system that allows rewards earned during gameplay to be given to the vocaloids and if it is a gift that that particular vocaloid desires then your friendship level will increase. It’s quite an interesting system; but unfortunately it can be difficult to grasp as either the demand of the vocaloid will not make sense or that the item they are demanding you don’t actually own. Yes it is flawed, and sometimes frustrating, but it is a nice little gesture of making the player more engaged with the characters on screen.
Interestingly enough however the game doesn’t end when all five crystals have been restored; as upon doing so will tease the possibility of a final ‘unlockable’ song. How exactly can this be achieved? By going through each of the five clouds again and recharging their crystal by performing songs. What’s interesting however is that unlike the first playthrough, which required you to play each song once, you can choose which song and which difficulty to play it on; thus offering more flexibility to the player and by this time the insane speeds of Hard Difficulty will seem easily approachable.
In terms of gameplay then Hatsune Miku: Project Diva X remains consistent with previous releases of the series. For instance before starting a song players will be allowed to choose their preferred vocaloid and customise her (or him) to the players desires. Furthermore depending on the song played bonuses can be achieved by using accessories or costumes (otherwise known as Modules) that are aimed at that particular environment. For example the accessories and costumes with the ‘Cool’ cloud icon will award more points during a Cool song than a costume or accessory from the Quirky cloud.
Unlike past games these costumes are called modules and do more than just give bonus points as some modules (or costumes if you prefer) will produce effects that can make the game more rewarding during a song; such as bonus points for note combos or for making the first 30-seconds of the song easier to play. Of course if you are not interested in customising your playstyle to earn more points then you can simply play the song with default options intact.
Upon starting a song players will have to use the Command buttons (which consist of X, Circle, Triangle and Square) alongside the D-Pad buttons and Analog stick. For those new to Hatsune Miku a tutorial is available (and it appears shortly after the main menu), but you simply press the corresponding button with the button shown on screen at the correct time; if done correctly the note will ‘chime’ and the song will continue. Depending on the difficulty will result on the amount of buttons being shown at once but as standard the difficulty is set to Normal; which is actually a reasonable difficulty setting – even for beginners. The harder the difficulty mode the more buttons will appear and as with any rhythm game failng to keep up will result in the song being failed. To aid players in passing a song technical zones and module events during songs will appear and by preforming a full combo during these segments not only can bonus points be awarded but new modules (which consist of costumes) can be unlocked.
Majority of your time will be spent within Cloud Request, which is basically the heart of the game with its unlockable songs, accessories and costumes; however if you wish to create a playlist of songs then this can be done within the Event Request part of the game. Just like with Cloud Request players will be able to choose a character and customise it but unlike Cloud Request players can choose a number of songs to play back-to-back. As part of the ‘campaign’ you will occasionally come to this part of the game; but from my perspective the bulk of Hatsune Miku: Project Diva X is found within the Cloud requests as it is here where you will spend most of your time replaying songs in order to refill the crystals. Those wishing to simply play songs in their natural presentation can do so via the Free Play menu; but personally I found this to be a pointless inclusion when it offers the same content found within Cloud Request.
Of course Hatsune Miku: Project Diva X isn’t just about performing songs; as within the game is the ability to create your own concerts via the concert editor. This feature comes as standard within the PS4 version however for the PS Vita version it has to be downloaded separately (at no extra cost) from the Playstation Network Store. As a digital download it is a bizarre choice, as the game is 2.5GB and the largest Vita game is 4GB, so I can only assume it is a size-issue relating to the American physical release and instead of changing it for the EU release (by bunlding it into a single download package) they left it as is. It’s disappointing; but I guess it can’t be helped. In any event this particular feature allows fans to create their own performance and then play them as well.
Personally I struggled to get to grips with this mode, as it does require a fair bit of effort to pull off anything worthwhile; but it is an interesting addition to have as it allows the player to create their own experiences. The whole concept of this mode is to allow players to choose the lighting, camera angles, stages and characters to their desires; and for that I applaud SEGA/Crypton Future Media for including it. It’s not something I would ever expect to see included; but when half of Hatsune Miku’s appearl is performing then it is easy to see why it has been included.
Preformance editing isn’t the only ‘fun feature’ bundled in with Hatsune Miku: Project Diva X as also included is the portrait mode; a mode which allows players to use the built-in PS Vita camera to take pictures of their favourite vocaloids. It’s a simplistic feature and potentially adds no real merit to the game; but it’s a fun little gimmick whereby you can choose your vocaloid, customise their appearance and then pose them how you see fit with a background of your choice. This feature is also present in the PS4 version but requires a PS Camera in order to do so. Alternatively if you do not wish to use the PS Vita camera, which is used to create a background your vocaloids, you can use a number of preset backgrounds; each giving off a unique vibe to your photograph.
Hatsune Miku: Project Diva X is an interesting spin on a popular franchise; it brings a wide-variety of music with full customisability for the costumes, accessories and (where possible) the stage to make you in charge of how you play. The addition of a storyline, albeit a simplistic one, is also a nice touch as it gives an incentive for newcomers to keep playing; for example I usually play rhythm games in quick bursts but with Project Diva X I ended up doing it in big chunks to see what happened next. The only downside to Hatsune Miku: Project Diva X is its rather limited number of songs, as only thirty or so are included, with only a handful ever really standing out furthermore the clunky interface of the menu – which is seperated into two different sections of playstyles – and multiple screens before reaching actual gameplay is questionable if not forgivable.
Overall Hatsune Miku: Project Diva X is a fun-loving enjoyable game that can be loved by all; and while the game may look difficult it is actually incredibly easy to enjoy. Furthermore with cross-save functionality players can start on the go with the PS Vita version and then resume at home on the PS4 version; but whichever version you decide plenty of hours absorbed in music is guaranteed although I do prefer this PS Vita version myself.
Hatsune Miku: Project Diva X is now available for the PS Vita and PS4 within the UK and Europe as a Digital Download from the Playstation Network Store.