MikuFan’s Review of Hatsune Miku: Project Diva X
SEGA’s next entry to the Project Diva series, Hatsune Miku: Project Diva X, will make its debut in North America and Europe next week, and it brings some of the biggest changes in the series we’ve seen to date. Do these changes hurt or enhance the experience? Here’s our review to help you find out!
This game is releasing on both the PlayStation Vita and PlayStation 4 platforms, and features a nearly identical set of gameplay features. DLC is also cross-compatible, and will be unlocked on both upon purchase! The PlayStation 4 version of course offers a higher resolution and smoother framerate, with an update for PlayStation VR features to be added in October. You can also import save-data from the Japanese version via Cross-save, but only from the same PlayStation Network account!
One of the first and biggest differences you’ll spot in this game compared to previous Project Diva titles is the addition of an actual gameplay story. You play the director/producer/friend that helps Hatsune Miku and her friends sing to bring the light back to their world. This means there will of course be a lot of character dialogue, and some can be quite useful at giving gameplay hints if you’re wondering what to do next. There will also be occasional Q&A prompts, but these seem unimportant to the actual game progression. Some can also make for a good laugh, which none of the previous Diva games were able to do. Some moments can also be unbearably cute.
Overall, the addition of a story seems to add unneeded fluff that can sometimes feel more like a distraction, and less like something enjoyable, but player opinions will vary.
The game’s world is divided into 5 areas called “clouds”, each with their own unique aura: Classic, Cool, Quirky, Elegant and Cute. Each of these areas has 5 songs that go along with this theme, as well as a medley that can be unlocked once the first 5 songs are completed. Once a cloud is selected, you must clear it before you’re allowed to progress to the next cloud. Completing each song and medley will also make them available in freeplay mode.
Playing through the songs will be virtually the same experience as previous Diva games, but there’s some noticeable changes. Gone is the simple performance gauge, replaced instead with a “Voltage” meter. Each song, challenge, event and level of difficulty will require amounts of voltage to clear each performance. The voltage percentage is also your score multiplier: Its base value is 100%, and can be boosted through modules, accessories, and progression through the song. The higher the percentage, the more points you get per note! There are also “Rate Up” or “Voltage” notes that have a white glow around them. Make sure to hit these for a small (but useful) boost in the voltage rate!
Once you reach the voltage goal, how well or how poor you perform almost doesn’t even matter, with the exception of unlocking additional accessory and gift items (more on items later). Technical zones have also lost much of their importance compared to previous games, and are only useful when you have a module (costume) equipped to give bonuses for clearing them. But if you’re familiar with the typical symbol, arrow and star note combos for gameplay, then you’ll feel right at home.
The “performance” of each song is basically now just that: A performance on a stage. Songs in previous games often used to act out or tell a story of some kind, and many of these could also be quite emotional. So the shift to stage-only performances seems like a step backwards compared to before, but the game is titled “Project Diva” after all. Stage performances seem to be more accurate to that core meaning.
This part of the game gets a special mention, only because of how important it has become to the actual gameplay. Previously, boosting a character’s affection towards you might have changed how they behaved towards you, but now it can actually help you progress through the game, too! This is because a higher affinity level will also make more Rate Up notes appear in gameplay, making obtaining voltage that much easier.
Boosting a character’s affinity is as simple as giving them a gift that they will like. You can choose from food, toys, musical, interior or cultural items as you unlock them. There will also be random gift events where the character will make a special request for an item with a specific theme. Pay close attention, as giving the correct gift will result in a massive affinity boost! The max affinity level for each character is 10.
While I think making character affinity more important to the gameplay was a great idea, it unfortunately comes with the sacrifice of removing all ability to interact with the characters outside of merely poking them. I wish we still had the ability to play games, or explore the characters in their rooms like before.
Modules & Accessories
Another massive change to the game is the complete removal of Diva Points and the shop for modules, accessory and gift items. Instead, these items are now obtained by completing cloud requests and event requests. The items you unlock while playing cloud requests will be completely randomized, while some event requests will allow you to unlock more specific bonuses (more on event requests later). Modules and accessories also have an aura, and can be used in combination to give you a voltage rate boost at the beginning of a song. You don’t have to match auras for bonuses, though! You can also mix-and-match accessories that go together to create unique bonuses. A maximum of 60% additional voltage rate can be obtained through modules and accessories.
Unlocking a module in Cloud Request mode requires you to complete the chance time event, and clear the required voltage. If you miss either of these, then you miss out! Accessories and gift items are also awarded based on the difficulty, and number of voltage gauges filled. Easy difficulty allows up to 2 gauges for 2 items, Normal allows up to 3, 4 for hard, and 5 for Extreme. So the better you play, the more items you can quickly earn!
Keep in mind drops are random, and you may even get repeats of modules or accessories you already got before. This is particularly frustrating with modules. Thankfully there are special modules with attributes to help unlock new or rare modules that you haven’t found yet. Rare modules can often only be unlocked from specific songs, so there will be a lot of repeat playing to get them all. There’s over 300 modules in total to unlock!
All modules have unique attributes that will help you complete a song in some way, with some being better than others for certain situations. For example, a module that gives a voltage rate bonus for completing a technical zone might not help you much if a technical zone is at the end of a song. Or you can also choose a module that makes chance time button presses less strict, making unlocking that rare module a little easier. Experiment to see what will work best!
The aura of modules also affects the behavior of each character, often in interesting and humorous ways. Try playing or communicating with them in the different auras to see how they react!
Aside from the game’s main mode of Cloud Requests, there are also Event Requests. These are special tasks that ask to complete specific challenges, often for a special reward. Some events can be as simple as choosing a favorite song to clear, or arranging a full 3-song festival! Some items and modules can only be obtained in this mode, so keep an eye for when new event requests become available!
First, let’s mention the elephant in the room… In terms of standalone songs, this game does have fewer available songs than previous Project Diva entries. But it works to remedy this by adding something not seen in previous games: Medleys! Each cloud has a special medley arrangement that mixes several songs into one, and these medleys are the “Final Act” of the cloud before progressing to the next area. Some of these medleys are truly great, but I also wish some of the songs (like Nebula by Tripshots) were their own standalone song.
That being said, for what it does offer, the game has a pretty solid soundtrack that’s addictive and enjoyable, and certainly makes it a worthy entry in the Project Diva series. There’s some classics sprinkled in there, along with modern hits that will appeal to both new and seasoned Vocaloid fans.
There will also be some players sad to see the full Live Edit mode features from the previous games removed, but the reason for this is obvious: Sony doesn’t allow the importing of media directly to the PlayStation 4. So to create a unified gameplay experience across both platforms, SEGA removed the option from the Vita version of the game as well. You can still create edits of the in-game content, however.
Like the other Project Diva games, this one also has extra content that can be added through purchases from the PlayStation Store. Some of these are free, like the Snow Miku pack featuring the outfits of Snow miku from 2010~2015 (free for the first month of release). The extra character pack featuring 12 outfits for Akita Neru, Yowane Haku, Kasane Teto and Sakine Meiko will be available for $2.99. There’s also two new songs for $2.99 each: Hand in Hand by kz(livetune), and Sharing the World by BIGHEAD.
There’s more DLC beyond that, with more due to be added later, so we recommend checking the full list of available DLC from the official site: http://miku.sega.com/divax/dlc.html
Please note that some of the DLC cannot be accessed until you’ve progressed to a certain point in the game, and some others are only accessible in free play mode. DLC is also cross-buy compatible, so you only need to purchase it once for it to be available on both the PS4 and PS Vita.
Is Hatsune Miku: Project Diva X an enjoyable game? Of course it is! It has a fantastic soundtrack, the module drop system adds a touch of suspense and excitement, and the story gives you a sense of purpose and role. You will find yourself spending about as much time unlocking everything in the game as you did on previous Project Diva titles, despite the removal of the shop. But if you don’t want to wait, there’s always module and accessory keys as DLC.
The removal of a full edit mode (blame the PS4), diva points and shop, addition of a story (this can count as a negative, too), and the new voltage system (clearing songs is far less challenging now) are all negatives, but not deal breakers. In the end, you wont spend any more or less time on the game getting all the items, and the classic gameplay is still available in the “Free Play” mode if you want to challenge yourself or play competitively.
Veteran Diva players might not be happy with some of the changes, but I say give it a shot. If you had fun with any of the previous games, then you’ll have fun with this one, too! The game was also made in a way to where it can appeal to newer players as well, with its more mobile RPG-ish style of gameplay. There’s also the planned October update for the PS4 version to add PlayStation VR support, which adds extra value if you planned to own it.
Give the game’s free demo a try to see what you think of the gameplay for yourself, or go ahead and dive in! Preorders are open now, and the game is scheduled to release in North America and Europe on August 30th for the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita (digital-only in Europe).
Check the official game site or your local game retailer for availability, and preorder before the 30th to receive a free Project Diva X themed pouch! http://miku.sega.com/divax/purchase.html