Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Hatsune Miku Project Diva X Review (PS4)

My first exposure to Hatsune Miku prior to playing Project Diva X was some random music video on YouTube with way too much of that autotune computer voice and it sounded like robots were vomiting in my ears. I wasn’t a fan. I really love rhythm games, though, so I thought I’d give Project Diva X a try anyway, and I’m glad I did. Thankfully, not all of Hatsune Miku and her vocaloid friends’ songs sound like robo diarrhea (in fact, none of the 30 songs in this game sound like that) and the rhythm gameplay is actually super great. The only real problem with Project Diva X is that Sega released Project Diva Future Tone just a few months later, which makes X pretty much obsolete. For all of the details check out our full Hatsune Miku Project Diva X PS4 review.

Game Details

  • Publisher: Sega
  • Developer: Crypton Future Media
  • ESRB Rating: “T” for Teen
  • Genre: Music / Rhythm
  • Pros: Great music; tons of unlockables; cute vocaloids; neat gameplay
  • Cons: Only 30 songs; Project Diva Future Tone exists
  • MSRP: $30-50

Project Diva X features Hatsune Miku and five of her vocaloid friends – Luka, Meiko, Rin, and two dudes no one gives a crap about. You can choose from any of the characters as your playable avatar during songs, but the vocal track doesn’t change based on who is singing, so it is kind of pointless aside from just having new eye candy to look at. And I have to admit; there is some great eye candy here. The vocaloids are really, really cute and the dance routines are surprisingly complex and fun to watch. There are a bazillion costumes for each character and unlocking as many as you can is a big motivational force for playing the game. You just can’t wait to see what cute / sexy new costume you’re going to unlock next.

It is good that the unlockable costumes and other customization options are such a great motivator because the story implemented here sucks. It is just some nonsense about charging crystals with positive vibes by singing songs, but it’s dumb. Between songs the vocaloids will chit chat and talk to you the player, too, but it is the most inane nonsense ever. You can also give gifts to the characters to increase your friendship level with them, but why the heck would you? Who cares? Shut up and just let me play.

The rhythm gameplay in Project Diva X is surprisingly fantastic and a bit more complicated than most other games in the genre. Instead of a consistent and easy to read note highway in the middle of the screen, the button prompts in Project Diva X just sort of fly in from the sides and can appear anywhere onscreen. Upcoming notes appear onscreen in black and white a second or two before you’re supposed to push the corresponding button, and then a colored in button command flies in and you’re supposed to push the button right when it lines up with the black and white icon onscreen. In addition to the face buttons the game will have you move the analog stick for some commands, press two buttons at once, and more. And, of course, as you increase the difficulty level the game throws more notes at you in more complicated patterns. It can be pretty overwhelming at first, but once you get the hang of it, it is really fun and totally unique.

The fact that the notes kind of fly in all over the screen does make the game slightly harder to play than if they appeared in a consistent place every time, but Project Diva X isn’t just about playing the music – It’s also about watching the vocaloids perform. By making your eyes search around the screen for the next note you can’t help but watch the dance moves going on in the background. In games like Guitar Hero or Rock Band they might as well not even bother with background animations because you’re too busy looking at the note highway, so this was a smart solution to give players the full vocaloid experience.

The presentation in Project Diva X is surprisingly great. The graphics are really clean and good looking and the vocaloids all look really good. The animation during their performances is fantastic and the unlockable outfits are awesome. Playing dress up with cute anime girls is always a good time. Some of the backgrounds are a little busy, though, which can make seeing upcoming notes flying in from offscreen a bit difficult, but most of the time it’s fine.

The sound is excellent and the songs are awesome. There are a decent variety of genres – though they all do have a distinct electronic sound – and some of the rock songs in the “Cool” category are legitimately great. There are only around 30 songs total, though, which is far less than previous games in the series offered. The songs are good, there just aren’t enough of them.

I really, really like Project Diva X, but the fact that Project Diva Future Tone exists really makes it hard to recommend. Future Tone is basically a DLC platform that currently has two $30 packages with 120 and 100 songs each. Why pay $30 for Project Diva X and get only 30 songs when you can download Future Tone and pay $30 for a DLC pack and get 120 songs? If I had known Future Tone existed first I honestly wouldn’t have bothered with PDX (but, hey, I’m new to this PS4 stuff). Hindsight is 20/20, though, and writing a review 7-months after a game came out lets you take advantage of it. Future Tone is digital only, and is heavily DLC focused, so perhaps Project Diva X is a better choice if you are uncomfortable downloading stuff. For everyone else, though, I’d suggest skipping Project Diva X and checking out Future Tone instead.