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Review

Review: Hatsune Miku – Project DIVA X

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Conclusion

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)
Deve­lo­per: SEGA
Publisher: SEGA

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.

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