Hatsune Miku: Project Diva X Review

By Shawn Collier on August 30, 2016

Ever since SEGA took a gamble on the original Hatsune Miku: Project Diva f release in the west, the Project Diva series has had a cult following and has spanned both Sony and Nintendo platforms alike. While some won't find the J-pop and J-rock musical selections appealing and won't get why people are flicking their light sticks at the digital diva's concerts, the series has been growing as each new title has been released outside Japan. So with the west's latest localized entry, Hatsune Miku: Project Diva X, how does it stack up now that it's not only on the Vita but also on the technically-improved PS4?

If you've played a rhythm game before, you'll have a good idea of how Project Diva X plays --- especially if you've played a prior Project Diva game before as it's very similar. Buttons and directional input markers quickly scroll on-screen, requiring the player to press them in time, occasionally requiring a combination of both to be inputted on the more difficult sections.

The speed of these inputs is timed alongside the difficulty you've selected, along with the number of inputs that show up on the screen and the amount of buttons you need to remember to use. For instance, easy mode only needs you to use one button at a time but normal mode adds a secondary button to the mix.

New to Project Diva X is a story mode, revolving around filling five different song clouds by dancing to the songs. It's amusing if you're a hardcore fan of the Vocaloids, but it's a bit barebones from what you'd normally expect as a "story" mode and feels more like fluff to get people to try out the different songs they might not otherwise attempt normally as you need to clear at least a specific high score to move on. One nice touch I did like is that you can dress up the characters, and picking clothing that matches the cloud's theme (i.e. "cute" clothing for the "Cute" cloud's songs) gives you bonuses you wouldn't otherwise be able to obtain.

One negative, especially for returning fans, is that you are locked exclusively to Easy/Normal for the first time through the campaign. Upon completion you are tasked with replaying all of the songs over again, but you are allowed to use the higher difficulties. But on the flip-side, for those who like the story mode or might not be as advanced skill-wise, the new story mode mechanics with their constant unlock mechanics do a lot to entice newcomers to keep on playing through the songs.

As far as the track list goes, there's about 30 songs in total this time around in Project Diva X. This time around the great majority of them are new to this entry, with a few different songs being medleys that bring together previous Project Diva songs. Whether or not the song selection is a hit or miss will depend on the person in question, but based on my judgment I have a feeling the hardcore fans won't rate this game's selection overall as highly as some of the prior entries.

That isn't to say that the music selection is bad, though. I really liked the wide variety of the track list, as it covered a number of different musical genres without feeling like they blended into one another. Each of the songs have subtitles as well, which is a nice touch (although with how frantic the higher difficulties are, you might have a hard time reading them and playing at the same time). That said, there is a bit of a focus more on Miku than some of the other more less-popular Vocaloids, so if you preferred the more balanced character variety in previous entries Project Diva X may turn you off slightly in this regard if your favorite character is the one less featured.

In terms of extras, if you've played previous Project Diva games you'll know what to expect here. The gift giving mode is back, although it's slightly modified in the sense that it's more basic this time around. You can give gifts that you earn by playing the songs to each of the six Vocaloids, in turn raising your friendship level with them. Some of these gifts even come with their own animations, such as Miku playing on a pseudo-PlayStation Vita.

Additionally, there's an extensively detailed photo mode where you can place the Vocaloids in quite a number of different positions and choose from their different costumes. There's also a concert editor feature which lets the player create their own music video, or if you're not musically or technically inclined "” re-watch the original songs with their animations without worrying about failing inputting the notes.

For the purposes of this review, we had early access to some of the initial DLC content for the game, of which SEGA will be rolling out gradually upon release and in the weeks following. What we had access to was mainly comprised of additional costumes and new songs. The extra costumes are nice, especially if you're a fan of particular ones like the Snow Miku designs, but the new songs are probably the standouts for some buyers in particular as it really helps round out the song repertoire for the game.

One specific note, as we reviewed the PS4 version, is that this version support 1080p but in particular also support 60fps. If you've played previous Project Diva entries in particular, you'll notice this right away as it makes a huge difference with the newfound smoothness this brings to the table.

Final Thoughts

While Project Diva veterans may scoff at the story mode changes and its simplicity, especially due to the unlocking requirement tied to this mode, it does do a lot to help ease newcomers into the series in a way that previous entries hadn't. And once veterans get past those initial issues, it's the same familiar, jam-packed Project Diva goodness you've come to know and expect.

If you're a newcomer to the series, the new story mode changes do a lot to help ease you in.
It may not suit everyone, but the track list has a nice variety.
That classic Project Diva gameplay hasn't changed, and now is in sweet 60fps goodness.
Some may dislike the smaller track list, sans DLC.
The story mode changes, especially how it affects Free Mode, may annoy veterans.
Some may dislike that the gift giving feature is more basic this time around.
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