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Project DIVA X marks Hatsune Miku‘s latest entry in the long running rhythm game series. After the impressive Project DIVA F 2nd and Project Mirai DX, it seemed fans of the series would be getting more rhythmic goodness with Project DIVA X. However, in an attempt to shake up the series, it seems like SEGA have done more harm than good.
For those that are new to the Vocaloid sensation, Hatsune Miku is the face of Crypton Future Media’s voice synthesizer software. Producers from around the world have created many songs using said program while creating an avid vocaloid fanbase along the way. The songs and characters that have been created allowed Miku and co. to become the stars they are today, which is likely why SEGA have tried to capitalise on this with a larger story focus in Project DIVA X.
The Project DIVA series isn’t known for having much story or character interaction outside of the main rhythm gameplay. Arguably it was never needed in the first place, with each song telling it’s own tale. But be that as it may, Project DIVA X brings its own twist on the various Vocaloids with the introduction of cloud requests. The world that Miku inhabits is split into 5 themed “clouds”, each with their own set of songs. Each cloud must be charged up with voltage by completing various songs, culminating in a medley track before you can move on to the next cloud (more on this later).
Along with this new cloud system, there are also cutscenes breaking up the rhythm gameplay, which attempt to give more personality to each of the world’s inhabitants. As mentioned earlier however, this feels completely unnecessary. All these cutscenes manage to accomplish is bore the player and slow down progress in unlocking more songs. It’s likely by the end that you wont even remember what transpired between loading up the game for the first time and seeing the credits roll.
Delving further into the new story mode, you start to see more problems with the changes that have been made. Voltage replaces your typical score counter in past games and it builds up as you play though each song. You can build voltage faster by equipping modules (costumes) and accessories that match the theme of the cloud you’re currently in. As another new feature to Project DIVA X, each module has its own special effect that can give you various advantages during gameplay. Some will help you increase the multiplier of voltage earned, while others increases the chance of new modules being acquired.
Speaking of modules, they are now unable to be bought from the ingame shop that usually features in each Project DIVA game. Instead, they’re earned randomly during each song if you perform well enough. Certain modules are locked to specific songs, but for the most part you’re going to see a lot of the same outfits between songs. New modules are not guaranteed most of the time no matter how perfect your gameplay is and sometimes it can feel like a chore to unlock some of the rarer modules.
This is as a good a time as ever to mention the actual rhythm gameplay, which has mostly been unchanged from Project Diva F 2nd. Each song still consists of hitting notes as they fly onto the screen, with some requiring you to hit both a face button and the corresponding direction on the d-pad. Star notes, which make use of the analogue sticks or touchpad/screen, are used more sparingly than in the Project Diva games. This is a welcome change, since some songs in the aforementioned games overused these notes making those parts far easier and in turn more boring.
While the gameplay will be familiar to returning player of the series, it also brings some continued problems that have been present in every instalment. The previously discussed cloud request mode requires you to play each song on easy or normal before you can progress to the harder difficulties. The main gripe I have with this is that for most songs in the tracklist, anything other than extreme will be far too easy for anyone even slightly into rhythm games. Project Diva has always had trouble providing a decent difficulty curve, and still being forced to play though the easier settings just drives home this fact.
Outside of cloud requests and free play mode, most content that is left can just be considered fluff and will likely not take up much of your time (unless you’re REALLY into collecting trophies). The Diva room feature makes it’s return, being the first thing you’ll see every time you load up a save file. Here you can give presents to each vocaloid, or redecorate the rooms they inhabit and… that’s about it. Like the rest of the game, it’s light on any sort of content or interesting features.
The last part worth mentioning is the event requests that you receive after building up each cloud. These require you to play though 3 songs of your choosing with certain theme requirements. All three songs take place on a stage of your choosing, thus requiring each song’s backing videos to be simpler than usual. Before X, each song usually had a story driven backing video that was interesting to watch outside of gameplay. Without those, each song loses a little charm and makes this entry feel like even more of a step back. It’s a shame, since the actual engine being used is great, with a smooth 60fps on PS4 and the nicest looking character models yet.
With a smaller tracklist and some misguided attempts to modify the typical Project Diva formula, Project Diva X only really appeals to diehard Hatsune Miku fans. For everyone else, Project Diva F and F 2nd are more worthwhile purchases.
Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA X
Genre: Rhythm game
Systems: PS4 (tested), PS Vita
Price: ca. 45 Euro (PSN)
This game was provided by the publisher for review purposes, check our review policy for details. The screenshots were taken by ourselves using the PS4 release.