By Steve Baltimore / May 16th, 2013
|Title: Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA 2nd
Developer: Sega, Crypton Future Media
Release: July 29th, 2010
Rating: CERO: B
Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA is a popular series of rhythm games that feature Vocaloids; a singing voice synthesizer. All of the game’s songs are created using these Vocaloids with the most popular being Hatsune Miku, who has risen up to be Japan’s most popular virtual idol. I think at this point, though, she is pretty well known in other parts of the world as well. Sega recently put up a Facebook post asking people to share a picture if they wanted to see Project DIVA F localized for the west, which already has a lot of shares and can always use more! I really hope this happens. I have imported and played all three of the titles that were released on the PSP. The other games in the series play very similarly, so I chose the second game for this review because I like the music tracks better in this one.
I was pretty impressed by the overall look of this one, as for a PSP title it looks great. There is a music video for each of the songs presented in the game. You can pick whichever diva and module (costume) you would like for the song, and the video will play in the background. The character models and animations are done well. The Divas move smoothly as they dance around, and each video has a unique style and flair to it, making each song different and fun. I caught myself staring at the divas dancing about, and watching what was going on in the videos more than once. While the game itself has no storyline, some of the videos will tell the story of what the individual song is about. It’s like watching a music video on MTV.
The gameplay on this title is very simple to learn, yet very difficult to master. Symbols that are outlines of the face buttons will appear on the screen and there will be symbols floating towards them, similar to Dance Dance Revolution. All you have to do is push the proper face button when the symbols are lined up. There is also a small arrow in each symbol; when it is pointing straight up, it indicates the perfect time for the button press and you will be given a score of “Cool”. If you are slightly off you will be scored a “Fine” and if you barely make it, a “Safe”. The more Cool and Fine you get the better, as this will build a combo and run up your end score for the song. If you are trying to score a perfect rank, you cannot have even one “Safe”; it will only count Fine or better. If you miss too many, a meter on the bottom left of the screen will decrease, and you will eventually fail the song and have to try it again.
You are given a rank at the end of each song according to the number of notes you hit that were either Fine or Cool. There are three different ranks you can achieve: Great, Excellent, or Perfect. However, if you do not hit enough notes to achieve a Great rank you will be given a Cheap rank and will have to play the song again in order to pass. The better the rank, the more Diva points you earn to spend at the shop; more on that later on.
Project DIVA 2nd does add a couple of new challenges to the mix by adding a variety of symbols. Symbols with trails on them require you to press and hold down the button till the end of the trail. You will want to release it just like when you pressed it, with the arrow at the very top of the symbol. There are also colored arrows that will be facing one of the four directions of the D-pad. When you see these you need to press the D-pad in that direction while hitting the corresponding face button at the same time. For example, if there is an up arrow, you press up on the D-pad and hit triangle at the same time, and if there is a down arrow, you press down on the D-pad and hit X at the same time. This may seem a bit complicated, but it’s really not, and you will have it down in just a few minutes.
There are four different difficulties to choose from when you play each song. Easy has you use only the X button and down on the D-pad ,while normal takes it up to two buttons and two directions on the D-pad, and hard and extreme challenges you to use all four of the face buttons and all four directions on the D-pad. As you complete songs on the various difficulties, you unlock more songs, modules for your divas, and items you can purchase for your divas in the Diva shop. You can complete the songs on any difficulty to unlock the next song on the list, but you’ll have to complete the songs on higher difficulties to unlock some of the shop items and modules.
Playing on higher difficulties will net you more Diva shop points. You can spend these points to unlock various items and costumes found in the game. You can also purchase help items from the shop if you are having trouble completing a song. These have varying effects to help you get past a difficult song, such as giving five free missed notes or making all Safe notes Fine. If you have a completed save file from the first game, many of the modules will be imported over to this game so you will not have to purchase those a second time.
There is a variety of music styles found within the 46 songs in the game. They include J-pop, rock, and a few others. Some of my favorites included Kokoro, Promise, and Meltdown. You will wanna play each song again and again just to hear the great music and to see if you can complete them on a higher difficulty or get a better score. Even though I couldn’t understand all of the words, the music itself seemed to speak to me. You can find all of the song lyrics at the Project Diva Wikispace.
The other items in the shop are for the Diva rooms, such as room layouts and items for the rooms. Yep, you guessed it, each of the divas have their very own room. All of the rooms are locked at the start of the game, except for Miku’s. Other rooms have to be purchased from the shop. These rooms give you access to various features such as a wake-up timer, a playlist feature to listen to any of the tracks you have unlocked, and a PV gallery which allows you to watch any of the music videos without having to play the rhythm game. You can also change the room layout or give the Diva a gift for their room from the room items you have purchased. If they like the item you give to them, they will place it in their room and this will also improve their mood, although, I haven’t noticed this having any effect on the gameplay.
This games does feature an edit mode for the music videos where you can make your own. However, this mode is pretty complicated and has a fair amount of Japanese text. There is a guide to that mode here for those who want to give it a shot.
I have had a blast with every title in this series. You can purchase this game off amazon for around $40 to $50 including shipping. I feel it is well worth the price. Your PSP is region free, so it will work on any model without any modding. It’s a shame that these games have not made the trip across the pond as of yet. Hopefully that will change soon enough, and more people will get to experience the great gameplay and just overall fun these titles have to offer. This one is pretty easy to figure out how to play, even with the language barrier, save for the edit mode I mentioned above. You can check the site mentioned above for a full translation of the menus and items. I encourage everyone with a PSP who loves a good rhythm game to import this one; you won’t be disappointed.
Review copy was purchased by reviewer.
Hatsune MikuProject Diva 2ndSega