Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA F manages to channel the arcade spirit not often seen in gaming today. Easy to learn, hard to master, it is one game that hooks you with both its gameplay and its melodies. Hatsune Miku has easily found her groove in the states -- let’s just hope she comes back for an encore.
Western music games like Rock Band and Guitar Hero may have gone the way of the keyboard accordion, but this rhythm-based genre is still alive and well in Japan. SEGA and Crypton’s Hatsune Miku series of games has been keeping the beat for years, and this green-haired idol is set to make her debut in the states with Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA F. Can this “VOCALOID” sing her way into gamers’ hearts?
Rhythm fans unfamiliar with Hatsune Miku will have no trouble jumping in to Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA F. The game might not require any plastic instruments, but keeping the beat is still key. Pressing the buttons and analog sticks to the rhythm might not seem incredibly deep, but nothing could be farther from the truth.
Much like its Western kin, the gameplay of Project DIVA F is almost entirely skill-based. The difficulty scale ranging from Beginner to Extreme is purely relative, as even “Normal” songs demand nothing short of perfection. It’s not just pressing the right buttons; there are also tandem presses, note holds, Scenario Zones that have no margin of error, and Chance Zones that can even change the ending of the song. Not only is there a steep learning curve, mastery is required to unlock the entire song list. However, charting your progress and persevering to the end is far more rewarding than any achievement or Trophy.
But what about the music? Utilizing Yamaha’s VOCALOID software, each of the 38 different songs uses one of six different voice synthesizers to make sweet, sweet J-Pop and J-Rock melodies. Titles like “Cat Food” and “Time Machine” might not be as recognizable as “Wonderwall” or “Freebird,” but all but the most jaded rhythm fan will appreciate how catchy each song is — even if they are all in Japanese. It’s just a shame the tracklist isn’t bigger, but every song does have its own music video and VOCALOID dancer. The Edit Mode is a nice touch too, allowing users to share their custom charts online.
Also included in Project DIVA F is the DIVA Room. Serving as a standalone mode, one can use the DIVA Points and unlockables from the main mode to interact with Hatsune Miku and deck out her pad. It essentially amounts to a bare-bones Animal Crossing, one that serves as more of a novelty than anything else. Some people might enjoy giving Hatsune Miku a cooking timer or watching her sleep, but the whole experience feels superfluous…and a little creepy.
Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA F manages to channel the arcade spirit not often seen in gaming today. Easy to learn, hard to master, it is one game that hooks you with both its gameplay and its melodies. Hatsune Miku has easily found her groove in the states — let’s just hope she comes back for an encore.
Hatsune Miku’s US debut is fine one that rhythm fans will absolutely devour.