Saturday, September 15, 2012

[Review] Hatsune Miku Project Diva f

The newest game from Japan's popular virtual idol has arrived at last bringing a whole new set of songs and features to the series on the PS Vita.  There's a good lot of content in the game this time around so lets get moving through the review.

The game has a great selection of popular Vocaloid songs, a total of 32 in this game.  Gameplay basically involves you pressing the corresponding face button as a icon flies across the screen to a target. Hitting notes at the right time will raise your "song energy" or health but missing them or hitting them with bad timing will deplete it as shown at the bottom left of the game screen.  At the bottom is a progress meter than shows your Completion.  A song is considered complete if you score a ranking of Standard or higher.  Higher ranks are earned through hitting more notes perfectly.

There are several new features added to the game with this latest version as well, such as scratch targets where you swipe your finger on the touchscreen as the note hits the target, and a "Technical Zone" where you need to hit all the targets to earn a large amount of bonus points and progress towards clearing the song.  Missing any notes during this will fail the Technical Zone and you will lose the bonus.

Each song also has another bonus section called a Chance Time where all notes will fill a special star meter that takes the place of the health gauge temporarily.  When it is filled and you near the end of Chance Time a large star target will appear and if you hit it while the star gauge is filled you earn a handful of bonus points and completion progress as well as an alternate song ending.  As you complete a song you earn diva points which is the game's currency used to unlock new costumes and items.

Outside of the main rhythm game mode, there is a shop where you can buy many costumes and accessories, or modules as the game calls them, room items and decorations for the Diva Rooms, and presents to give to your virtual idols.  The Diva Room is a mode where you can interact with Miku or any of the other Vocaloids, and also acts as a menu for a bunch of bonus features such as the gallery for all the art seen during the load screens and a playlist with all the songs.  It also includes an alarm clock and kitchen timer feature.  Giving presents to a Vocaloid and using the Touch Communication feature will increase their friendship with the player and as it raised it unlocks new items in the store.

There is also an edit mode where you can add music from your Vita's playlist to create your own songs to play.  Lastly there's an Augmented Reality mode where you can display a "life-size" Miku or any other Vocaloid in the real world and take pictures with them.  You can also enable a AR-live concert where they will perform a song and dance while in AR mode.  If only the Vita's built-in camera quality was better, this would make for really fun pictures.

As you select a song, you are given some options before starting play.  One of the options is with each song, you can select which modules you want to use.  Each song will usually default with the original Hatsune Miku, save for songs that are sung by other Vocaloids such as Megurine Luka in which case it uses their default module. Once you select or change the appearance for that song's character, it will be saved for the next time you play that song.  If you select another song, it will have a different set up so each one has a independent module.  You can also save and load modules you create so you can easily load up a unique appearance you made for one song to use in any other one.

Another option you are given is to view the current song as a PV or a music video without the in-game display. 
And lastly, before you begin a playing a song, you can choose to buy a help item to assist you with clearing a difficult song, or purchasing a challenge item which makes it a little bit more difficult but with more benefits in the end.  Clearing a song with a help item will usually award you the lowest rank upon clearing, but it helps you not fail it.  Challenge items include having the targets appear much later to the point where you almost miss them, to having only half your health and you must clear the song before it depletes.  By clearing with a challenge item, you can earn 2x to 4x the amount of diva points.

Overall I'm really enjoying this game compared to previous entries in the Project Diva series.  The graphics are just so sharp, bright, and detailed; and the costumes are all just wonderful.  Menu navigation as a whole has improved in my opinion, as you can select a different module for each song independently of each other.  I also really like the songs they put in the game.  Some of my favorites include Himitsu Keisatsu (Secret Police), World's End Dancehall, and Black Rock Shooter, which finally makes its Project Diva debut.

So if you're a big Vocaloid fan, this game is a must have.

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