I swear, when I started this series, I didn't like Vocaloid. In fact, I've never really been one to particularly enjoy music outside of video games. Get me in a room full of Nihon-Falcom game OSTs, and I'll be in heaven, but as for music elsewhere? It's 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 regard 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 than 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.
Hatsune Miku Project Diva F 2nd -
Project Diva (that's what I'm going to be calling the series from here on out) is actually rather simple - on its 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 D-pad) 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 D-pad 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.
Hatsune Miku Project Diva F 2nd - Aesthetic
There isn't much to say regarding the game's aesthetic, as most of it is found in music videos. A lot of it can seem a bit bland at times in order to keep up with the rest of the game's visuals - but there are a few stand-out videos that really bring the art style 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 system's 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 saved data from the first game on your system or even the saved data from the Japanese version of this release, you can transfer all of your costumes over. It's a great feature, and it highlights one of the best parts of the game's art style, with the extra emphasis being put on the various "modules" that can change your character's appearance.
Hatsune Miku Project Diva F 2nd - Other Modes
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 the 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 game's 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 system's 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, which you can eventually add the music back into 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.
TechRaptor reviewed Hatsune Miku Project Diva F 2nd on PS Vita with a copy bought by the reviewer. It is also available on PS3. This review was originally published on 11-28-2014. While care has been taken to update the piece to reflect our modern style guidelines, some of the information may be out of date. We've left pieces like this as they were to reflect the original authors' opinions, and for historical context.