Hatsune Miku: Project Diva f 2nd Review

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Title: Hatsune Miku Project Diva f 2nd
Developer: Crypton Future Media, Sega
Game Type: PlayStation Vita
Download: 3.0 GB
NA Availability: 
Digital Download | Retail

EU Availability: Digital Download | Retail
PSTV Support: Yes

Have you ever heard of Hatsune Miku?  Odds are that you have, even if you don’t know the name by memory.  Miku started as a Japanese voice synthesizer/music PC software that quickly became immensely popular in Japan.  Over the years, people have messed with the software to make millions of songs that can be found all over the Web.  The popularity didn’t stop there, as Miku has become so popular, she’s had live virtual reality concerts around the world and has appeared on David Letterman.  From accessories to video games, Miku is getting to be everywhere.

As far as video games go, both Miku and the Vita in general don’t have that many video games out in the Music genre.  The Vita’s music genre in recent times has been the very first Hatsune Miku video game to be given a release in Europe and North America, Hatsune Miku: Project Diva f.  Being the fourth game in the Project Diva series, it brought Vocaloid charm to both the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita in style, as was said in our review of that game.

With the weeks going by now, it’s time that Miku made her return to the gaming world in the form of that game’s sequel.  Sporting more modules, more songs, and even a retail release on both PS3 and the PlayStation Vita, Miku is ready to test your skills even more than before.  On shelves today, here is our official review of Hatsune Miku: Project Diva f 2nd.

Story

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Like the previous title in the series, Project Diva f 2nd doesn’t really have a plot or story to it.  If you watch the CG intro to the game, you can see all of the Vocaloids from the last game (Miku, Luka, Meiko, Rin, Len, and Kaito) coming together to play music together and, really, that’s all that you’re going to get, as far as story goes.  Being a rhythm game, the game doesn’t really have a big plot or anything.

Outside of that, you could look towards the songs, themselves, for stories.  SEGA has done more work on the localization of this title, as the songs all have English subtitles for you to read.  So, if nothing else, you can enjoy the storylines and plots that each song weaves, and some of those songs do have very interesting stories within them.  There is no overall plot for the game, though.  It’s just meant for you to jump in and enjoy the music.

Gameplay

Like the previous game, Project Diva f 2nd is a rhythm and music game.  While there are a lot of different things you can do, the bulk of the game will be playing through songs by matching button inputs that appear on the screen and trying to get as high of a score as possible during each and every song you do play through.  At its heart, it is a music game, just as every other game in the series has been.

There are, however, several modes you can use in the game.  First of all, is the Import option.  Instead of creating a New Game, you can download a Cross-Save function if you played the Japanese version of the game.  Aside, the Game Modes include Play, Diva Room, Shop, Edit Mode, Network, Other/Settings, Records, and AR.  The only modes in here that don’t include interacting with the Vocaloids or playing music in some way is Other/Settings and Records.  These two modes allow you to change the settings as well as viewing your stats, play time, vocaloid usage, difficulty ranks, and more.

Play and Diva Room are the two you will probably use the most.  Play allows you to go through the Tutorial to learn how to play the game, play any of the game’s 40 songs (only a few of which are unlocked at the beginning of the game), or play custom songs you’ve downloaded from the PlayStation Network that other players have created and uploaded.  The Diva Room isn’t music-related, but more about decorating each Vocaloid’s room, giving them gifts to raise their affinity towards you, and see them interact with one another.

Edit Mode and Network are where you’re going to go to create your own videos and upload them to PSN for other players to enjoy.  The Edit Mode is robust, as it was before, showcasing all kinds of different ways to place note combinations, stages and environments, and different types of animations your vocaloids can go through.  Once you create a song in Edit Mode, you can go and upload it to the PSN Servers so either your friends or anyone can download it and play through it to their heart’s content.

The final mode is AR, which stands for Augmented Reality.  In this mode, you can take AR Cards (you can find these on the Web to either display on your phone or print out), and create situations where on the screen, your favorite Vocaloid is projected onto something in your own home.  These modes include Live Concert, Portrait, and Extra Marker.  Note that you don’t need the AR cards for any of the modes, but Extra Marker.  The Vocaloids will project in the first two modes fine without them.

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Actually playing through each song has changed a bit since the first game.  You’re still pressing the face buttons and D-pad buttons for on-screen inputs, but a few things have changed.  First of all, we should touch on the Star symbol.  In the first game, you had to swipe the touch screen to use these inputs (along with the inputs that required the buttons on the system).  In this game, there is a setting to change this to the Rear Touch Pad or the Analog Sticks.  The latter is what allows the game to be played on the Vita as well as the PlayStation TV.

The biggest changes are the difficulty and the button inputs, which go hand-in-hand.  First of all is that the first game had a good amount of difficulty to it, but it didn’t use the inputs often that required multiple buttons to be pressed at the same time, outside of the harder difficulties.  While some songs are exceptions to this, the majority of the music in this game have started to require a lot more of those combination inputs as well as a lot more of the Star inputs, making thinking through the game a fair amount tougher.  Also to balance it out is the timing.  The game’s been updated to require more precise button-pressing, which makes it a lot harder to get used to.

There are also two new types of inputs, in the form of the Star input function.  There is now a note that will keep playing through several inputs.  It’s sort of like holding a button through a long notation, but with the Star instead of the face buttons and with several button presses before it stops.  The other is a Gold-filled Star input which requires you to have two fingers on the touch screen, or move both Analog Sticks at the same time.  It’s nothing incredibly technical, but it’s something to keep you on your toes.

As far as content goes, this is a lot more of the same that we saw in the first game.  The control and Star changes aside, we are looking at most of the same functions as in the last game, but with more content thrown into the mix.  The base game, not counting the DLC that is coming out to purchase, has 40 songs to play in Play Mode, which is 8 more songs than in the first game.  Almost all of the songs are completely different than in the first game as well, so it won’t be like playing through the same content all over again.  There are also a lot more modules and skins to unlock to customize each re-play of a song that you may want to do.

One notable addition, though, is “Rainbow” songs.  When you do particularly well on a song in Hard Mode, you will unlock a Rainbow Mode for another song in the game.  This will enable you to earn more Diva Points (used for purchasing content in the shop) when you play through this song again, other than using bought enhancement items from the shop each time you replay something.  Note that these only unlock in Hard Mode and beyond.  You cannot unlock them in Normal Mode.

All in all, this isn’t a terribly long game.  If you’re not a huge Vocaloid fan who wants to unlock everything, you can probably clear all of the songs in Normal Mode in about 5-6 hours, taking away a couple of those if you’re a veteran of the series and can adjust quickly.  It’s definitely not a long game, which is the case with all rhythm games.  But it’s long enough for you to know there’s more content than the original and to keep Vocaloid fans pleased with more content coming into the games.

Controls

Controlling Project Diva f 2nd isn’t going to be that much different than the original.  However, we did note above that the touch screen features in gameplay are now optional.  You can go to the settings and change this to the Analog Sticks, which I found to be very convenient.  This allows your finger not to be protruding the screen, as well as making the game playable on the PlayStation TV.

Apart from that, the controls are the same.  In each song, you will be using the D-Pad and Face Buttons to do button inputs, be it a single face button or D-Pad button or two together.  Everything is explained well in the tutorial, with more controls and buttons being used the higher the difficulty you choose.

The biggest concern is playing it on both the Vita and the PSTV.  As you may guess, the Vita’s buttons press down and move a lot faster than the buttons on a PS3 or PS4 controller.  As such, getting a feel for playing the game will be completely different between the Vita and the PSTV.  This is especially apparent in the Analog Sticks for the Star inputs.  I found myself struggling on the PSTV after a long play session on the Vita.  Just be warned that it will take some getting used to with switching between the two.

Presentation

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This is one of the biggest pats on the back the developers deserve for the game.  If you recall, the first Project Diva f game had a marvelous presentation.  All of the visuals looked very well-done, though there were some jagged edges here and there in some of the animation.  In this game, the same could be said.  The visual presentation has gone even higher than before.  There are still jagged edges on a couple of the character models, but they are near-impossible to make out as you play through the game.

The Load Times, however, are still present from the previous game.  Loading a song will still take you about 6-8 seconds, which is faster than before, but still noticeable when going through menus only takes 2-3 seconds.  Nothing to complain about, as it is better than the first game, but something you may notice when do a Menu Load time and immediately go to the longer Song Load Times.  Otherwise, the game plays very well.  Everything runs smooth and fluid, and there is no lag or slowdown to be found anywhere, unless the rhythm intentionally slows down near the end of a song.

Summary

Hatsune Miku: Project Diva f 2nd takes every element from the original and either keeps or improves upon it.  From the English subtitles and compatibility with the PlayStation TV to the higher song count and improved difficulty, it’s everything a Vocaloid fan needs.  While the music, itself, is still very niche as J-Pop, and there are still some load times to consider, this is a purchase no Vocaloid fan would regret. 

9/10

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