Just mix it up a little
Regular podcast listeners know that I am extremely passionate about Hatsune Miku, possibly more passionate than John is about his two-dimensional significant others. Naturally, when I heard that Sega would be localizing the latest entries in their Project Diva series for English-speaking consumers, I was positively ecstatic. More ecstatic than when John heard Danganronpa was being localized.
The Project Diva f series is a popular series of arcade, handheld, and home console games based around songs created using the Vocaloid software. For those that do not know, Vocaloid software is a text to speech program where the user can create and customize vocals for their own music. Each unique voice has a character associated with it, with Hatsune Miku being the most widely recognizable Vocaloid of the bunch. The Project Diva games are rhythm games based on songs created by fans of the software.
The gameplay of the rhythm sections is relatively easy to understand. Different symbols appear on the screen and the player must press the corresponding button on the console in time with the music. The more accurate the button press is to the beat of the music, the more points are awarded. Each song also has special bonus point opportunities in the form of “Technical Zones” and “Chance Time.” Technical Zones are segments of gameplay where you must maintain an unbroken combo of a specified number of notes. Chance Time is slightly more lenient, and only requires that you earn a certain number of points in order to receive the bonus.
One unique aspect of Project Diva f is the “scratch” input, where the player must swipe their finger across the touch-screen as if they were scratching a record. The front screen and the rear touchpad on the vita can both be used for this feature, with options to disable either touchpad or enable them both at the same time. I found the scratch input to be slightly unreliable, and would have preferred an option similar to the PS3 version of the game, where the player flicks one of the analog sticks to perform a scratch. Players that prefer the physical feedback of a tangible button input over touch-screen inputs might have some trouble with the scratch mechanic, at least at first. It is a minor issue that is entirely up to personal taste, but it is worth mentioning.
When a player successfully completes a song, they are awarded with DP, or “Diva Points” (It’s much more fun to pretend that they’re Drebin Points from MGS4, though.). Higher scores means more Diva Points are awarded, naturally. The Diva points can be spent in the Diva Room, which is, for lack of a better term, a waifu simulator.
In the Diva Room, the player can spend wholesome quality bedroom time with their favorite performer. The player can buy and re-arrange the furniture, buy gadgets and toys for the performer to play with, buy alternate costumes and accessories, and play with the performer in a mini-game not too unlike Pokemon X and Y’s Pokemon-amie feature. You can pat the performer’s head to raise his or her affection level, and sometimes they’ll play a simple rock-paper-scissors type game with you. It’s all very silly, but admittedly there is something kind of charming and relaxing about it. No lewd activities can take place in the bedroom, and shame on you for even thinking of that.
My absolute favorite part of the Diva Room, however, are the unlockable utilities. These include but are not limited to an kitchen timer and an alarm clock. The alarm clock functions like any normal alarm clock, where it puts the PS Vita system in to a hibernation mode and sets off an alarm at the set time. When the alarm goes off, Miku wakes up and sleepily wishes you a good morning. That’s right, ladies and gentlemen. You can now officially set your time and live your life by Miku. What a time to be alive.
You can also create, share, and download your own custom songs, augmented reality concerts and videos. Sadly, because Project Diva f is a digital-only release, you have to print off your own AR card, so I cannot speak to their quality. From what I can tell, it works about as well as to be expected. You place down the card and it’ll look like Miku is dancing on your desk, or you can have her pose in your room and pretend to be sleeping in your bed. If you have a friend to get in on the action, you could even take pictures with Miku. You hear that? That sweet, melodic voice whispering sweet nothings in your ear? That’s the sound of the future, and it’s happening right now.
All in all, Project Diva f is a solid rhythm game with some fun collectible elements to provide incentive to keep playing and to beat previous high scores. Fans of Vocaloid will be perfectly happy with the game, and if you’re in to J-Pop or just have an open mind and don’t find the animes to be unsavory, I recommend giving it a shot.
Fans of the Persona series looking forward to Dancing All Night may also want to check out Project Diva f, since Dancing All Night will feature identical gameplay to the Project Diva series. There is a free demo available on the PS3 that should give you a good idea of what the gameplay is like. The Vita and PS3 versions have an identical core, but the PS3 version is missing the AR functionality. If you are a fan of rhythm games, a fan of Hatsune Miku, or if you’re just looking for a cute and silly time waster, I would highly recommend Project Diva f.