Hatsune Miku: Project Diva just arrived in the mail and has taken up semi-permanent residence in my PSP. While it’s still too early for me to hail it as the second coming of PSP rhythm games (I’ve only logged about two hours playing), it has been long enough for me to decide it is definitely one of 2009’s best PSP games.
So, the first thing that greets you when you log into the game is a menu giving the option to start a new game, load a saved game file or enter ad-hoc mode to share songs and such. Well, technically the very first thing that greets you is Miku singing the Sega jingle. Then the opening menu with options to get started.
I recommend choosing none of those options. Instead, let the opening movie/PV of “The Secret Garden” run. It’s gorgeous, and you can see a brief glimpse of it in the beginning of this trailer.
I was mainly familiar with Hatsune Miku thanks to the YouTube videos with songs and such. Thankfully, many of those famous songs are included in the game! Including “Ievan Polkka.” If you want the Luka Megurine look, you have to clear that song with a Standard or higher on the Normal difficulty setting and get a combo of over 100 on it. Surprisingly, all the songs are incredibly addicting and cover a wide range of genres.
Initially, I had a bit of trouble chaining together combos. Particularly on the first song I played, “World is Mine.” Halfway through my second playthrough of that song, I realized why my combo counter wasn’t getting above 9. Turns out only cool or fine hits continue combos. Safe, worst and sad are all combo breakers. So while it’s pretty easy to play so far, if you want to master the game and unlock everything, you have to develop perfect timing and memorize the songs.
I’d also like to blame my initial atrocious scores on the first three songs I played on the PVs playing in the background. The way the game is set up, with the buttons you need to hit appearing all around the stage, seem to encourage you to watch the video that’s playing in the background. Some of these PVs are absolutely adorable, or feature pretty cool dance numbers, making it quite distracting. At the same time, it’s totally obvious and apparent that all the dance moves used motion capture to appear more realistic. None of it’s choppy – everything is smooth and fluid.
There are 32 costumes to unlock – you start with Miku’s standard attire. What’s nice is, after you’ve unlocked a song, it seems like the game will let you know what goal you need to achieve to unlock the others. There are also 39 songs included in the game. Not that many are immediately available though. A lot of unlocking’s required. Thankfully, you don’t need perfect scores to unlock – clearing the Easy or Normal difficulty level of a song should do it. Getting the Hard difficulty level for songs is often more difficult than unlocking more songs, or even some items, as you need a Great or better score on the Normal difficulty to unlock it. Sometimes unlocking things is as simple as playing and clearing the song 5 times.
Here’s what I’ve noticed you can unlock:
- Costumes for Miku, including the ability to appear as the other Vocaloids (except Kamui Gakupo) or fan Vocaloids Neru Akita and Haku Yowane.
- Furniture for Miku’s room
- Character art/fan art that will appear as loading screens or can be saved as wallpapers.
Now I’ve pretty much gotten to be a master Project Diva player. At least, I’d like to think so. I managed perfect scores on both the Rin and Len versions of “Kouyato Morito Mahou no Uta” at the very least. (Only got a Great on the Miku version.) Except on OSTER project songs. I LOVE the OSTER project songs, but seem to have the most trouble perfecting them. (Something to do with the pacing and wide range of styles.) Still working on unlocking costumes and other Vocaloids – though I did manage to gain access to Haku Yowane, Rin and Len Kagamine and Luka Megurine.
Be sure to check back soon for an extended playtest, brief overview and look at creating songs in the editor and more Hatsune Miku: Project Diva coverage!