Thanks to SEGA for the review code
Title: Hatsune Miku: Project Diva X
System: Playstation Vita/TV
Release date: 08/30/2016
In this musical adventure, you take control of the famous Vocaloid Hatsune Miku as she and her vocaloid friends set out on a journey to restore energy to the musical clouds! It’s a pretty simple and generic story, but considering how this is a rhythm game, the fact that there’s a story at all is surprising.
Despite being the portable version, (With a Playstation 4 version also available) Project Diva X looks rather sharp for a Vita game, especially on the Playstation TV where the bright lights and character models look pretty good, with really no major differences in the visuals compared to the console counterpart. However the framerate is different, with the Vita version appearing to run at 30 frames per second compared to the smoother looking PS4 version, but in terms of graphical detail I still found the Vita version to look quite sharp on my PSTV.
Music and Sound
Since music is obviously the major focus of this game, the track selection is worth a mention. With 24 different songs to complete, (not counting the tutorial theme or the medleys which appear at the end of each cloud) Project Diva X does seem rather lacking compared to other rhythm games such as Theatrhythm Final Fantasy Curtain Call, which for a similar price is an unfortunate trait to notice. Thankfully, the tracks chosen for this game are well composed and sound great, being sung in Japanese for obvious reasons. (There are subtitles that you can switch between Romaji and normal english if you just want to know what the lyrics mean, although I recommend doing this in the free play watch mode so you don’t have to multitask.)
Despite none of my personal favorite J-Pop songs getting represented in the soundtrack, I still found new favorites during my playtime, Underhanded Rangers and Name of the Sin to name a few, and I found those songs to be more fun to replay compared to the others you have to clear in order to beat the story mode, and considering how each of the main worlds in the story mode showcase a variety of genres, it’s likely that everyone will find at least one song that they really enjoy.
Being a rhythm game, the main goal of each stage is to reach a certain “Voltage” which is also known as the score. Doing this requires precise button inputs and long combos, with a few odd inputs being requested from time to time, such as a “Rush” input that requires mashing the shape on screen for maximum points or arrow inputs that require you to hit both a D-Pad direction and a face button simultaneously. If you perform well during a song’s “Chance Time” you’ll unlock a new module for the vocaloids to wear, each providing a handy bonus effect along with adding to the voltage rate depending on how well you match them to a particular song.
Thankfully the game is rather precise with the inputs and controls well, while also allowing you to change the display lag if your current setup isn’t accurate. There’s quite a few modules to unlock, and the random aspect does give incentive to replay the levels to try and obtain newer ones, but that reminds me to bring up the biggest issue with Project Diva X, which is the Story Mode.
You see, the main objective of the game is to repair each of the musical clouds with the power of music, which is done by performing a wide variety of songs before taking on a medley to wrap things up. It’s a rinse and repeat formula that gets stale really, really quickly, and unlike Theatrhythm where I could do extra modes to get my mind off the main game, Project Diva X doesn’t really offer much outside of the story mode. You have a Free Play mode where you can play songs that you’ve already unlocked from the story mode, (although this time with the ability to customize more options like the stage and difficulty, allowing you to raise it to Hard or Extreme if you so please) the chance to do sub-requests from time to time, a pretty simple friendship mode where you give gifts to the vocalists to make them either happy/upset, and the option to decorate their rooms.
That’s pretty much it when it comes to variety, and while the different modules do offer the idea of replayability, (along with the extra difficulties in Free Play and the sub requests) I felt that after a good half hour or so I would get bored playing the game and take a break from it for a few hours before jumping right back in to clear some more story levels, rinse and repeat. It’s a shame, too since the quality of these songs are really nice and it’s incredibly satisfying to unlock a powerful module to help you out in the tougher stages, but with the lack of any bonus modes it just feels plain after a while, and I just can’t help but wonder if the game would have been more engaging if it included a bonus mode akin to the Puyo game from Project Mirai DX to shake things up a bit.
In conclusion, despite Project Diva X having an impressive presentation and engaging gameplay, I couldn’t help but feel it lacked the magic I enjoyed from other rhythm games, such as the aforementioned Theatrhythm. The small amount of songs combined with the repetitive story mode makes this offering tough to recommend over rhythm games with a larger tracklist, but considering how the genre of Japanese rhythm games rarely reaches the US shores to begin with, along with the quality of the gameplay itself, Project Diva X does manage to be a decent rhythm game despite the lack of songs. With modules and accessories to unlock, you will get some replay value out of this game if you can handle the repetitive story mode, and if you unlock a song that you happen to like, you can go crazy with it in the Free Play mode, too. I give Hatsune Miku: Project Diva X a 7 out of 10, and can really only recommend it to Miku fans who won’t mind the repetitive story mode or for those who can find it at a lower price.