When I was in Japan, way back in 2010 for that year’s Tokyo Game Show, I decided to stroll off through Akihabara (Tokyo’s electronics district) in a search for some discontinued Revoltech figurines. As I strolled down the bustling street I spotted a real life anime character. There was a girl, about 6’2 wearing long black stockings, a small turquoise miniskirt, with green hair in pigtails that went down past her knees. She intrigued me. Later, I was in an electronics store (Sofmap) and saw the same girl once again. This time she was on a cardboard cut out and looked decidedly more… digital.
This was how I came to know of Hatsune Miku, Japan’s digital pop star. Hatsune Miku was originally created as the physical representation of some pretty interesting vocaloid software. Since her creation, the icon has become a sensation – not just in Japan but also internationally. The same holographic equipment that allows the Gorillaz to play live, has been utilised so that Hatsune Miku can play sold out concerts not only in her homeland of Nippon, but also China, Korea and even as far away as Los Angeles.
Two years ago SEGA brought the popular series of (at-that-time) Japan only Hatsune Miku rhythm games to the Playstation Vita. Western fans of the virtual diva lost all hope for a European release; especially when considering the localisation status of earlier Project Diva titles. Luckily, SEGA have indeed brought the game to European (and Australian) shores and things seem to be going well. The company has already announced that Project Diva sequel, “F 2nD” will be coming our way next.
Project Diva F on Vita is a dastardly hard rhythm game, which sees you tapping buttons in time to the beat of various Hatsune Miku tunes. There is also a new scratch function which utilises the front and rear touchpads of the Vita system. The problem is that the music videos backing the songs can distract from the frantic nature of the rhythm game itself. On top of the button icons and distracting videos, the song lyrics also dance across the screen. Unfortunately, the lyrics did not get the localisation treatment this time around and only appear in Romaji, meaning you will have to know Japanese if you want to know what the songstress is singing about.
If you ever played Elite Beat Agents on DS, there’s every chance that you’ll enjoy what Project Diva has to offer. There are a whole load of songs, across a variety of genres. The music is primarily J-Pop, but there is more than one idol in the game, meaning there was room for SEGA to include some interesting alternatives. One thing I loved was the inclusion of internet hit, the Nyan Cat song. There are a bunch of characters to play as in Project Diva F, as well as a huge amount of unlockable content. These include costumes, items for your room and much more. With so much content available, fans of this genre will have plenty of rewards for their skill.
Visually the game might seem a bit dated, as the localisation process has taken around 2 years to bring the game to our shores. Audio is crisp and clear and will appeal to J-Pop fans. The game is obviously best played with headphones, but the Vita’s speakers do a serviceable job of outputting the games high fidelity soundtrack.
TL:DR (Too Long, Didn’t Read)
Hatsune Miku Project Diva F is definitely aimed at a subset of Vita owners. Fans of rhythm games… or fans of Japanese culture. Both will find something to enjoy in Project Diva F. If Elite Beat Agents or Guitar Hero put you off then there is nothing in Project Diva to change your thoughts on the Rhythm game genre. Still, Hatsune Miku is a Japanese icon and it’s great to see her games finally coming to western shores. With the announcement that the Project Diva F sequel is on its way west, it looks like the virtual diva is here to stay.