Friday, September 2, 2016
Hatsune Miku: Project Diva X (PS4) Review
Hatsune Miku, the vocaloid sensation is now available on the Playstation 4. This marks the first time the game has been 1080p and 60fps, and also the first Hatsune Miku game I have reviewed.
Project Diva X is a rhythm action game, meaning you must press the correct buttons at the correct time in the song. Most of the requisite notes types are present: pressing the button, holding the button, and mashing the button. Before you play the game, I strongly suggest you do the tutorial and set the input lag in the options. It was recommended in the PR email, and is good advice. It really helped me out, too. It took me a few minutes to get the input lag just right, but it was time well spent.
At the start of the game, you are charged with completing songs to fill up a song crystal to re-energize it. Once the first one is done, you can choose another to do. There are five categories of songs (classic, cute, cool, elegant and quirky), and you have to eventually go through each crystal, unlocking songs and filling them up one by one. At the end of each one, there is a medley song (which I jokingly referred to as "boss songs"), which is snippets of several songs played together. Once that is complete, you have finished off the crystal and can move on to the next.
When they are all filled, you do a special event festival to celebrate. Then, you can replay songs and fill the crystals again a few more times to unlock more event requests. This time, the amount filled is based off "voltage", which is basically your score for a song. This is blatantly just making you play the songs again and again, but you can increase the difficulty for more voltage. There are also special ways to play songs, like having the notes disappear, or moving twice as fast. Plus, you will probably be playing the songs multiple times to unlock items, so it isn't as bad as it would initially appear.
During the songs, there are two special areas to be aware of. First is the Technical Zone, which tasks you with hitting every note at a set point in the song. "Cool" and "Good" will count, but "Safe" does not. If you hit them all, you get bonus voltage points. Miss one, and you get nothing. Sad to say, I rarely hit them all. The other special part of the song is the "Chance Zone", which gives you a chance to get a new module (basically costumes). During these parts, every note you hit fills a star that gives a module change (mid song transformation!) if you fill it completely and then hit the star note at the end (the notes where you flick the stick or the touch pad). Make sure to hit it or you get nothing! The costumes are per character, but you aren't guaranteed to get a new one, only a chance at a new one. Sadly, I got the same one three times in a row, even though I already had it.
The game isn't overly hard, but I'm still not very good at it. After playing a few songs, I got into the groove, so to speak, and started doing much better. Still, I don't think I have ever perfected a song. Sometimes the song is just harder for me, and sometimes it's the star notes. They sometimes have problems registering when I flick the stick, but I don't think it's a controller issue. Notes are also at various places on the screen, not in one set location, like other rhythm action games that I have played. Sometimes notes come from the near side of the screen, making you have to react a lot faster. That's pretty mean. With all the dancing action and effects taking place on the stage, plus the fancy camera cuts, it can be pretty easy to not be able to see the notes, and thus miss a note. Combining all of that, it is easy to see why I haven't hit every note in a song.
The modules and accessories you unlock aren't just for show. Each one matches one of the types of songs. Equipping them will boost the starting voltage rate for a song, making it easier to gain the required score to complete the stage. Some combination of accessories give a further bonus if they are themed in some way, for example equipping several animal pieces. Modules also have different abilities, with the most useful (to me) being the ones that give you a better chance at a new or rare module.
The other items you gain at the end of a song are gifts, which you can give to the various characters to raise their affection. Sometimes after a song, they will ask for a certain type of item. Items that raise the character's affection are different per character, which you should expect in any game where you give characters stuff. I don't know these characters, so I don't know what they would prefer. A few times I've had them ask for something, such as when I had Luka tell me her throat was dry, and she acted like I was a weirdo for giving her juice. Yeah, I'm the strange one here...
The first part of the story mode, unlocking each crystal and playing all the songs, takes about 4-5 hours. Past that, you are looking at many hours to fill up the crystals over and over again, plus unlocking all the modules and accessories for the characters. I played through the first time on easy, and later on normal. I actually completed a song on hard, but normal is pretty much my limit. I'm not that great at the game. Besides making the songs harder, higher difficulties will let you get more items at the end of a song, and higher voltages also mean less replaying to fill the crystals.
Besides the story mode, there are other things to do. There is a robust photo mode that lets you dress and pose two characters and take a picture of them. Concert mode will let you set up songs, pick the performers, and even change camera angles to make your own music videos. Both of these modes, while extras, are really involved and are great things to include in the game. Besides unlocking all the stuff, these give the game even more replay value.
Overall, it was fun to play my first Hatsune Miku game, Project Diva X. The songs are catchy, the game is really pretty, and there is a lot to unlock. There is a fair amount of grinding if you want to see all the content, and the notes can be hard to make out over all the background action. Other than that, the game is fun and worth playing for fans of rhythm action games. I don't think it would be the best one for people's first foray into the genre, though.
There are a lot of unlockables, giving you a lot of reasons to replay the songs.
Notes are all over the screen and can be really hard to see with everything going on.
I'm too busy watching the notes to be able to read the lyrics. I have no idea what any of them are.
(Review code for Hatsune Miku: Project Diva X was provided by the publisher)