A few years ago, publisher SEGA decided to take the risk on localizing the PlayStation Vita version of the original Project Diva F, which garnered critical acclaim and paved the waved for the sequel's PS3 and PlayStation Vita versions to be released for western audiences. Both games were known for their mix of rhythm-based game play and colorful motion backgrounds. The publisher's latest western release in the Hatsune Miku franchise, Project Mirai DX, takes that experience into a condensed, but not smaller-in-scope form, on the Nintendo 3DS. And while it might not be as hardcore technical-wise as the Project Diva games, it still manages to feel right at home on the platform.
The major difference between the Project Diva games and Project Mirai DX is that you have two distinct play styles available to choose from. In addition to the button-based gameplay featured in Project Diva, the player also has a new stylus-based "Tap Mode" option available which has the player tap color-coded sections of the touch screen. This is accompanied by occasional directional swipes and spinners that pop up every now and then, with the frequency depending on the difficulty mode you choose.
Another difference from the Project Diva games is that the button prompts appear on a line that moves around the screen depending on the music, instead of flying from different corners of the screen. Hardcore fans of the Diva series might balk at this, but it does do a lot to make newcomers not feel so overwhelmed as they only need to look at a specific area of the screen and can generally tell what notes are coming up next at any given time.
This feeling of inclusiveness also plays into the difficulty modifiers available in the game. Players have the ability to purchase items (which also includes being able to use Play Coins to purchase them) that either make the songs more forgiving or more difficulty, depending on your preference. For the latter, this includes making the clear guidelines a little more unforgiving or reducing the reaction time for reacting to the note prompts.
This leads into another issue I had while playing through the game for review, as even the most difficult difficulties for some of the more advanced songs are shy of what the more difficult patterns were in the Project Diva games. This is true even in the traditional button-based more, not just in the stylus-specific mode which would have been expected to be easier in nature. Some of the more difficult songs do use both the directional buttons and the A/B/X/Y buttons together to keep players on their toes, but for veterans of the series it'll still feel like something is missing. I'd prefer the difficulty to be a tad bit higher myself, but overall unless you're an uber-hardcore fan of the games it won't be as noticeable of an issue and does a lot to make the game more approachable for newcomers.
Difficulty complaints aside, the rest of the package is jam-packed with various goodies and extras for fans. The game features 48 different songs from Hatsune Miku herself and her friends, with the spread between them done in a manner where fans of specific characters won't feel like their favorite character got sidelined. Instead of the more realistic style featured in the Project Diva series, Project Mirai DX features the characters in a chibi, Nendoroid-like format. I almost prefer this style over Project Diva's, as it makes Hatsune Miku and her friends more expressive in the songs, which are accompanied by fully-animated models.
Outside of the music, SEGA managed to pack quite a bit of content inside the game. There's a Puyo Puyo inspired mini-game called "PuyoPuyo39" and a game called "Mikuversi", which is essentially a Miku-themed spin off of the classic board game Othello. Both of these modes are amusing for fans of Hatsune Miku and her friends, as they'll react to you as you play the mini-games.
You also can change the outfits of the characters by buying new outfits with money earned by successfully completing the songs, along with furniture to decorate the rooms they stay in (which you have a pick of a couple different themes to choose from). That latter point was one of my highlights, as I managed to unlock some classic SEGA arcade cabinets that, while I couldn't play directly, I could see the characters playing and really getting into it. I found myself booting up the game a few times just to mess around with the room mechanics for the fun of it, ignoring clearing any new music tracks.
There's also other options like a dance studio where you can have control over the choreography of the songs you unlock, re-watching the animations from the songs without worrying around the notes, and an AR mode that utilizes the AR markers included with the physical edition (or printable if you picked up the digital Nintendo eShop version). You also can customize a greeting card for people you StreetPass with, which was a nice touch.
Some fans might balk at the slight reduction in difficulty, but the modifications SEGA made to the formula really did a lot to make the game more inclusive to newcomers and those who have issues keeping with the note mechanics found in the Project Diva games. It goes to show that things in smaller packages don't have to mean a decrease in fun.
|The song selection has a lot of variety and should please fans of Miku and her friends.|
|The life sim elements of the game are a nice way to unwind and relax after completing a song.|
|If you found the Project Diva games too complex, you might find this entry easier to get into.|
|The hardcore Project Diva fans will likely dislike the somewhat lower overall difficulty of the songs.|
|The musical element is a big part of this game, so if you want more life sim elements you might be disappointed.|
|Those who dislike the music/sounds common to the Vocaloids won't find any changes here.|