I swear when I started this series that I didn’t like Vocaloid. In fact; I’ve never really been one to particularly enjoy music outside of videogames. Get me in a room full of Nihon-Falcom game OST’s and I’ll be in heaven; but as for music elsewhere? Its never really resonated with me. Of course – I do have some bands that I’ll occasionally listen to – but as far as being a “fan” goes, I have some trouble trying to define that in regards to music. Last year’s Hatsune Miku: Project Diva F changed that, to an extent. When I played the Vita version of the title (Project Diva with an f, instead of the uppercase consonant) I ended up getting a lot more out of the experience then I had planned! I had heard good things about the series in the past; but a cursory glance gave me the impression that the series wouldn’t be any sort of thing that I would find entertaining. When I finally got around to it, however, it seemed that most of my expectations were unfounded… for as much as the series is about promoting Miku and her music, it seems that extra care has been put into making the game series one of the best rhythm games that I have ever played.
Project Diva (that’s what I’m going to be calling the series from here on out) is actually rather simple – on it’s surface, symbols matching the various Playstation buttons drift towards their slot somewhere on the screen, in time to the music video playing in the background. You try to press the corresponding button (or section of the dpad) at the right time in order to get points and continue your combo. On its own this definitely isn’t very difficult – though as the game progresses, things start to become more of a challenge before becoming outright insane. Usually these symbols’ black slots will spawn into existence in a constantly changing but organic direction; meaning that not only does your focus have to be on your ears as you play, but your sight as well. Furthermore, as the series has evolved – this concept has been refined to include using arrows to signify notes that must be played using both the dpad and a button at the same time; and most recently star notes that must be cleared using either a swipe of the touchscreen (if playing on vita) or a flick of an analog stick.
This time around the changes brought to the table include two new variants to the star notes, as well as a massive jump up in difficulty compared to the last release. The game also comes with 40 songs to play with – a step up from the last games’ roster. Regarding the difficulty – I managed to clear every song on their Extreme Difficulty last game, but I’ve found myself met with some difficulty attempting to manage the same feat with these songs. Considering that this was the hardest that Extreme Difficulty got to in the original F, it’s definitely going to take you a while to beat songs such as The Intense Voice of Hatsune Miku or 2D Dream Fever – assuming that you can muster up both the courage and/or skills to be able to attempt them in the first place. The songs are catchy as always; though it might be best to try out the demo of the first game, in order to see whether or not the types of songs at play here are really your cup of tea.
There isn’t much to say regarding the games aesthetic; as most of it is found within the music videos. A lot of it can seem a bit bland at times, in order to keep up with the rest of the games visuals – but there are a few stand out videos that really bring the artstyle a step up. The Vita version in particular sees an upgrade in the actual visuals department this time around, as the game runs at the systems native resolution, instead of the blurred mess that contributed to a myriad of noticeable graphical disappointments in the last game. Along with all of the new costumes and other customization options added to this release; If you have any save data from the from the first game on your system, or even the save data from the Japanese version of this release, you can transfer all of your costume unlocks over. It’s a great feature, and it highlights one of the best parts of the games’ artstyle, with the extra emphasis being put on the various “modules” that can change your characters appearance.
Separated from the main rhythm game exists three other distinct modes of play; you’ve got the diva room, which returns with only a few slight tweaks from last game – as well as an updated and upgraded edit mode and a studio mode. The diva room is, for all intents and purposes, a simplified version of The Sims, and the studio mode is paramount to the Miku x Dominoes ad campaign from a few years back; but the latter mode is much more substantial, and really acts as the avenue for most of the games content moving forward. Edit Mode gives you most of the tools that were used to make the music videos from the main game, and allows you to create videos for any of the songs on your systems hard-drive/memory card. In fact; the game even supports the ability for you to upload your creations for others to use, and allows you to download the silent videos that others have uploaded, that you can eventually add the music back in to if you can procure an mp3 of it. This feature is fantastic; and the types of creations that the community for the first game came up with were staggering! Alongside the DLC that SEGA has announced for the upcoming months, this means that there will always be new tracks for you to play – and more content for you to explore. I put 50 hours into the last title, and I can definitely see myself doing that again.
If you’re interested in picking it up; the game is currently available for both PS3 and Vita – and both come with physical manuals.
This game was purchased by the reviewer, and the platform the review was conducted on was a Vita.
Project Diva F 2nd takes everything great about the first game, and builds upon it - if you're a fan of rhythm games, it's more than worth your time to give Miku a shot.