When we last saw a Hatsune Miku game in the states, the rumblings of Mikumania were simply just beginning. A live concert here, a Toyota commercial there, just little things to kind of test the waters in the west. Since then, though, the push for Miku to explode onto the scene has been going stronger than ever. Spots on Lady Gaga’s most recent tour, as well as a spot on The Late Show with David Letterman and an elaborate art exhibition in New York, has raised her profile, and now, Sega looks to take advantage of that and follow up last year’s stellar Project Diva F with Hatsune Miku: Project Diva F 2nd (PDF2).
Armed with some of Miku and Co.’s best songs and some big improvements to the formula, PDF2 is Sega’s best chance to get Project Diva‘s foot in the door in the west. And not only does Miku get her foot in, she kicks the damn thing down with all the style and flair you’d expect from the world’s most famous digital popstar.
On the surface, PDF2 is mostly the same game we know and love from last year. The Dark and Devious Pocky X jokingly described it as the “Madden of Cutesy Rhythm Games”, but that’s a fitting statement. Most fans aren’t buying this series expecting some huge gameplay overhaul each time. We’re mostly here for the “roster update”. And that update is one of the best in the series. A great mix of newcoming songs like “Kagerou Daze” and “This is the Happiness and Peace of Mind Committee” and old favorites like “Luka Luka★Night Fever” and “World Is Mine.” The videos for each song are more impressive than the ones in PDF1 as well, and the ones for the classic songs have absolutely never looked better. There are definitely some weaker tracks in the mix, as to be expected with such a huge lineup, but I’d call this one of the strongest lineups in series history, if not the absolute strongest.
But you might ask, “if all it is is new songs, why should I drop 50 bucks on it right now?”. The answer is simply, the little things. For starters, Sega clearly listened to fan and reviewer feedback from the first game. I remember wishing that songs had full English lyric translations in the first game instead of just being romanized, and, with the mysterious exception of one song, that’s in there. Several complained that Edit Mode was too much of a chore to use, so Sega included a simplified version alongside the original in PDF2.Some also complained that Diva Rooms, while a decent bonus, got old fast. That has been fixed as well, with new minigames (including the most frantic game of pattycake I have ever seen) and scenes added. Even the mostly useless Live Studio mode from the first game got a lot of love this time around, using actual motion data and audio from one of last year’s Miku concerts.
There were also some complaints of being able to just sorta sleepwalk through the first game on the normal and easy difficulties. That’s most DEFINITELY not an issue this time around. When I started the game, I figured I could go in on normal and just wreck each song pretty easily, as I did the first time around. My hubris was soon rewarded with failures left and right. Even easy mode is a challenge, seeming more like what normal was in the first game. Adding to the difficulty are the two new types of scratch notes, link scratches (similar to regular scratches, but more visually impressive) and double scratches (using both sticks to flick). All of this comes together to form potentially the most challenging game in the series, or at least the most challenging since Extend on the PSP.
However, while this is pretty great news for longtime fans wanting a good challenge, I can definitely see the difficulty being a barrier to newcomers, and even some vets of the series. Admittedly, while I’ve gotten an Excellent or Perfect on every song on easy so far, I still haven’t been able to manage to beat the very last song on normal, even while using helper items.
As for the differences between the PS3 version and the Vita version, there really are none aside from the obvious graphical reduction and touchscreen gimmicks on the Vita. This even extends to including the exact same options for screen lag adjustment. Why is this a big deal, you ask? Because it shows Sega prepared for the Playstation TV’s launch in advance. They even give the the choice to disable the touchscreen gimmicks, just in case you’re playing with a Dual Shock controller instead of the Vita itself. Again, it’s the little things that make this release so brilliant.
Another little thing is the cross-save feature, which saves both PS3 and Vita data at the same time, as well as the ability to transfer all your unlocked modules from PDF1, and import data from the Japanese version of the game, just in case you decided to import it early. This is a sort of fan loyalty I haven’t seen much of from anyone in the last few years, and it’s greatly appreciated.
All in all, this is the definitive Project Diva
experience. The game does a great job paying tribute to the series’ past, while at the same time building on that foundation in interesting new ways. My only real nitpicks would be the difficulty spikes, and honestly, the replay value. While I personally have no issue with this, and I can get hours of fun score attacking and trying new difficulty levels, it’s admittedly hard to see the casual buyer sticking around after beating all the songs once. One other tiny nitpick is, again, the lack of love for the other Vocaloids. Like we said last time
, we know Miku is the star and the reason we all got here, but it’d be nice to have more than two songs for someone like Meiko.
But that aside, I could not recommend this game more. Vocaloid nuts will absolutely adore the levels of fanservice and the improvements, and anyone looking for a challenging rhythm game after the deaths of Rock Band and Guitar Hero should definitely look into it as well.
- I can’t really think of any rhythm games this is worse than, but it’s a definite improvement over the first game.
- Another name for this game would be “Hatsune Miku Emasculates You In Ways You Never Thought Possible“
- If you get addicted to this game, go back and try the rest of the Project Diva games on the various Sony platforms.
- Buy, rent, or avoid? Definitely a solid buy.
- Project Diva F 2nd is one of the most solid rhythm games of all time, and definitely Miku’s best shot of becoming as major of a name in the gaming industry as she is in the music industry. The only thing holding it back from perfection is a gigantic difficulty spike that will potentially alienate casual fans.