She has toured with Lady Gaga and has appeared on Letterman – not bad for somebody who doesn’t exist. The CG, vocaloid superstar, Hatsune Miku, despite being a completely CG creation with a voice crafted via computer synthesis software has managed to become one of the world’s biggest pop stars…..she’s kind of like Skynet with a smile, I suppose. The majority in the west might remain largely clueless to her existance, but Hatsune has been big news in the east for quite some time and it appears that her popularity is only growing.
It might appear a relatively daft premise on paper, but Hatsune Miku sells out ‘live’ concerts on a regular basis and consistently delivers painfully infectious pop songs. If you have any doubts on the latter, just try, Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA F 2nd on PS3 or Vita. This Sega published sequel is bursting at the seams with incredibly catchy tunes that range from sugary sweet J-Pop to a collection of increasingly fast paced techo dance tracks (albeit, sugary sweet ones).
It hardly recreates or revolutionises the rhythm game genre and isn’t even that far removed from its relatively recent predecessor, but taken on its own merits, this is a robust and highly entertaining package made all the more enjoyable thanks to its array of toe-tapping tunes and its extremely likeable lead.
Of course, it goes without saying that Hatsune Miku’s unique brand of Japanese pop songery won’t be to everyone’s tastes, but the previously converted will undoubtedly fall in love while many of the undecided might well be swayed by the eclectic collection of tunes available and the unabashedly upbeat mood that it conveys.
With plenty of new and returning songs available, there is certainly plenty of content to get through, but be warned, despite the primary colour explosion and butter wouldn’t melt visuals, this game takes absolutely zero prisoners. I’ve played video games for over 20 years, so the thought of turning a game down to easy isn’t something I would usually consider, but honestly, until you get used to the commands and the unique structure, I would strongly advise starting at the bottom. Heck, even players with experience might struggle with normal mode at first. It doesn’t take too long to get used to, but that initial song on normal difficulty was painfully unforgiving. Difficult on normal and absolutely nails on anything higher, Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA F 2nd certainly delivers in the entertainment apartment but is unquestionably a real challenge for anyone looking for a real test of their gaming prowess.
The core experience is found within Rhythm Game mode which is home to a collection of 40 + songs from Hatsune and her vocaloid buddies, Rin Kagamine and Luka Megurine etc. It’s pretty standard fare in so much that you need to press specific buttons at the right time but throws a curve ball in the shape of combined button presses (initially trickier than it sounds) and the fact that icons appear from all angles with no tangible pattern to their appearance on screen. Again, it’s something that you’ll get used to, but unquestionably adds an extra layer of challenge to an already unforgiving game.
As you progress, you’ll unlock new songs and a host of new items for the singers and their apartments. Of course, you can buy a whole bunch more via the game’s extensive collection of DLC, but the game itself certainly doesn’t skimp on content. Alongside the surprisingly deep edit mode that allows you to create your own videos and tracks, interacting with the stars via the ‘Diva Room’ can also prove a highly addictive experience. Sure, it is a bit, well, Japanese, but dressing up your favourite character and kitting out their room can become an oddly compelling side game in itself and another reason to keep pushing on through both the songs and the difficulty settings.
It obviously won’t be for everyone, but fans should certainly be enamoured with Sega’s latest take on the Hatsune Miku phenomenon. Sure, it doesn’t make any huge changes to the formula, but this is as fully featured a rhythm game as you are likely to find. The songs are catchy, the gameplay challenging and the additional modes more addictive than they have any right to be. If you’re a fan of the world’s most popular fictional singer, then this is a no brainer, but even if you’re just looking for something a little different (or something genuinely challenging for that matter), then Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA F 2nd is well worth a look.
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