By Jenni . August 18, 2009 . 1:45pm
Sega faced a challenge when the company decided to make a Hatsune Miku game. They had to transform an Internet phenomenon into a video game sensation that would appeal to Vocaloid fans and the general PSP gamer. They succeeded with Hatsune Miku: Project Diva. It is the kind of game that I think will achieve the same status among importers as the DJ Max series.
The star of Hatsune Miku: Project Diva is Crypton’s Vocaloid character Hatsune Miku. She’s an imaginary figure that’s used as the mascot for her vocaloid program who’s become an iconic figure in Japan and on the Internet. While she’s had cameos in games before, like 13-sai no Hello Work DS, she’s never starred in a game before. Sega set out to change all that and, it is my belief that Hatsune Miku: Project Diva is as phenomenal as it is due to the fact that Sega was the company handling everything.
Hatsune Miku: Project Diva is a rhythm game like DJ Max, Guitar Hero or Rock Band. The twist is that there isn’t a set grid on the game screen to watch. Instead, the indicators for the X, square, O and triangle buttons can appear anywhere on the screen in time with the music, and the trails indicating when to press glide across the screen. The goal is to try and get a perfect score on the song by maintaining a combo with only cool and fine hits. If you get a safe, sad or worst hit, you break the combo and lower your score. If you accidentally press the wrong button, though in perfect time with the melody, you won’t receive a safe, sad or worst rating on that hit, but you will break the combo. An indicator in the bottom left corner shows your status, and the lyrics appear on the bottom of the screen.
There’s also a chance mode that takes place in each song. During this point you can’t see your score, your status indicator or whether the notes you hit are cool/fine/safe/sad/worst. This is your chance to score loads of points. As your combo grows during this portion, so do the points you earn for each perfectly timed hit. You start out earning 100 points, but if you manage to get 34 hits in a row, you can get 3400 points for the 34th Chance mode hit.
It’s a game that can be challenging, especially if you play the songs with a difficulty level of four stars or higher. But overall, it’s a rhythm game based on enjoyment and fun, not unspeakable difficulty levels. The easy modes of most songs are downright leisurely, making it the perfect rhythm game for those new to the genre or frustrated by more difficult titles. Since gorgeous videos play in the background of almost every song, this allows you to pay more attention to them.
I’ve found it’s a wonderful game to leave in your PSP and play at any time. There are 39 initial songs included in the game, 32 are official Hatsune Miku songs from people like Ryo, OSTER project and Octomania, and 7 are entirely new songs created for the collection. There are over 100 images to unlock, over 30 costumes (including skins of the Vocaloids Meiko, Kaito, Rin, Len and Luka) and all kinds of furniture for Miku’s home. Usually, you unlock new stuff by reaching certain milestones in songs. Getting “Great” or a “Perfect” rank, maintaining a combo of over 100, playing a song 5 times — things like that. Something I found incredibly handy was the information displayed in the costume section. The game will actually tell you what you need to do to unlock certain costumes.
Most of the songs also have to be unlocked, though it’s fairly easy. You typically only have to clear available songs on easy to unlock additional ones. The only exceptions are the Len and Rin versions of songs. In order to unlock those, you have to get perfect scores on the Miku version of said songs.
I want to pause at this point and say everything in Hatsune Miku: Project Diva is perfectly executed. I’ve noticed no lag, even when there are tons of icons on screen. The PVs look gorgeous, like real music videos, and are a joy to watch. Motion capture was used for all the dance moves, so everything looks realistic, and the character models are absolutely wonderful. There’s a striking amount of detail, and you can tell Sega made the game with the Vocaloid fans in mind. There’s also a bit of humor, as Hachune Miku shows up, Miku often wields leeks and fun songs like Ievan Polkka.
Where the game truly shines though, is in the edit mode. You can import practically any MP3 into your game and make it into a playable song in the game. You design every aspect of the video playing in the background, using the various models, backgrounds, costumes and dance moves seen throughout the PVs in the game. You can even modify Miku’s face to make it appear as if she’s singing the song. Then you decide what the pattern should be like and how difficult the song should be. There’s even an in-game metronome to help you figure out the correct BPM for the song you’re using. Best of all, it’s fairly user friendly. Time consuming, true. But still, it is very easy to use.
You can then trade your custom songs with friends over Ad-Hoc wireless. Or, you can upload your saved custom song to the Internet to share with others. The custom songs are saved separately from your save data, so it’s easy to connect your PSP to your computer, zip up the file and share it with people around the world.
Sega has hit a home run with Hatsune Miku: Project Diva. It’s a fantastic rhythm game that I feel even outshines the DJ Max games, due to the ability to create custom tracks. It looks beautiful, has a track list of incredibly addicting songs, has tons of extras and is a great game for people of any skill level. It’s also incredibly import friendly, despite the fact that there isn’t too much English in it.
Food for Thought: