Hatsune Miku: Project Diva X Review (PS4)
Developers: SEGA/Crypton Future Media- Publisher: SEGA
Consoles: PlayStation 4, PS Vita
Release Date: August 30th
*Disclaimer* Reviewer was granted a free code from SEGA’s PR
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While the Hatsune franchise might not sound familiar to the casual and North American gamers, this rhythm based franchise has been around since the days of Sony’s PSP in 2009. The series has been available on PSP, Nintendo’s 3DS, PS3, PS Vita, mobile devices and Sega Nu (Sega’s arcade board). Now with Hatsune Miku Project DIVA X, the long running franchise makes its debut on Sony’s latest home console the PS4.
The story taking place within Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA X is actually quite simple. Miku and her fellow digital friends must fill five jewels with musical energy. Each gem feature tracks from five different “genre”: Classic, Cute, Cool, Elegant, or Quirky. While having a story is always a nice touch, it’s not the main attraction of this rhythm-based game.
The game is divided into five Clouds defined by the aforementioned “genres”. Each Cloud contains a set number of tracks that needs to be cleared in order to progress to the next one. Once players have successfully cleared the default Cloud tracks, a new boss track dubbed “Main Event” unlocks. Once all tracks have been cleared, players can choose the next genre Cloud to unlock and keep the story moving forward.
And how do you clear track you ask? It’s quite simple: hit the button prompt that appears on screen. Reaching and exceeding the track’s high score will ensure players move on to the next. Each note can result either a bad, safe, good and cool. As long as they hit notes properly by getting a Good and Cool, players will keep their combo alive. Get a Bad or Safe, and the combo needs to be restarted.
There’s a trick though. Unlike other games in the same genre, such as Harmonix’s Amplitude revival or Atlus’ Persona 4 Dancing All Night, where notes stay fixed and players know exactly where to hit, Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA X’s notes will appear in a certain order all across the screen. Annoyingly enough, notes can pop up in quick succession and intertwine with each other, sometimes causing confusion as to which note/button to hit.
In order to mix the gameplay up a bit, along with standard face button shapes, stars will also appear at times. In order to successfully clear those special notes, players must flick either joystick or swipe on the DS4’s touchpad. Across certain notes will appear the word “Rush” requiring players to press the required button as fast as possible to get bonus points.
Each of the game’s tracks can be played, at first, either on Easy or Normal. While the former only makes use of only a few face buttons, it can still prove challenging. And when playing on Normal, the game will make use of all of the controller’s buttons. The tracks’ BPM (beats per minute) really gives an idea of the song’s difficulty. The higher the BPM, the quicker the notes will spawn and the faster players must be.
As players go through each track, they’ll come across Technical Zones. Think of it as Rock Band’s solos. Technical Zones have a set number of notes to hit in order to be successful. Miss one single note and the bonus is lost.
In order to bring some strategy in this otherwise simplistic rhythm based game, players will unlock accessories that can be equipped for each song. The accessories bring more than a simple superficial element to the characters. They’ll provide Voltage rate bonus throughout the next track, ensuring a better chance to reach the song’s target high score. The game also encourages players to mix and match in order to obtain the higher bonus possible.
And in order to keep their fellow singers happy, players can gift items to other digital singers. Be warned as each of the Hatsune’s friends have specific taste, so to reap the reward of your friendships, make sure to give them what they want. Giving gifts to digital friends rewards players with a Voltage boost.
The game looks just good for a PS4 game. It’s as if the game was initially developed for the Vita only or the PS3. Character models look fine without much detail in them. Surprisingly, this game doesn’t even feature voice overs. In between tracks, there are a few dialog sequences between Hatsune and her fellow singers and beside some basic one-liners to start off a conversation, exchanges are voiceless. Of course, in a rhythm based game, the soundtrack is the main focus. This game features a handful of enjoyable and fun J-pop tracks, some of which will remain stuck in your head for days. While not all tracks will please everyone, the gameplay will make players persevere and move onto the next track to discover what awaits them next.
Those who are fans of the Hatsune franchise can also pick up a Vita version and make good use of the Cross-save functionality between both versions.
The main issue I have with this game is that there’s so much stuff going on in the background that it can prove tricky to spot the next button prompt to hit. It also proved a catastrophic failure during a Remote Play playtest with the Vita mostly due to the portable console’s smaller screen. Players really need to focus on the upcoming notes and pretty much forget the background.
+ Great Soundtracks
+ Addictive gameplay
+ Equipping accessories brings a bit of strategy to a simplistic gameplay mechanic
– Might not appeal to everyone
– Kind of on the short side
Ultimately, enjoyment of this game comes down to a gamer’s appreciation of the J-pop genre. Personally, I’m a huge music lover, listening to every genre possible. So being able to discover new J-pop musical goodness along with solid and challenging gameplay made me a fan of the Hatsune series. While it can prove challenging and frustrating at times, successfully clearing tracks and unlocking new content will make you say “Oh just one more track…”. Hatsune Miku: Project Diva X definitely carries style over large amounts of content.
A must play for rhythm fans
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