The Project Diva games are well-known (er, by this genre’s standards) as being mind-blowingly difficult. This reputation is well-earned. Just check out my last review of one of these for reference. If you aren’t a rhythm game pro, you’re going to run into issues, and if you’re a perfectionist you’re probably going to be pulling your hair out. Despite the cute trappings, these games don’t play; because of the cute trappings, I play them, while the rest of the Popzara staff cowers away in fear from the pink rainbows surging out of the 3DS.
Anyway, today we’ve got Hatsune Miku: Project Mirai DX! This is an updated port of the Japanese Hatsune Miku: Project Mirai 2, adding a new song, new animations and a few new note charts. Insofar as I can tell, it’s the first of these titles we’ve received on 3DS, so that’s new. There are over 40 songs running the typical gamut for Miku, meaning it’s mostly cutesy J-pop that people who play Miku games know and love. Much like previous games, you’ll be following winding paths over a music video and pressing the appropriate directions and buttons as they pop up onscreen.
It’s also not quite as hard as you’d come to expect! Personally I found the difficulty level to be pretty comfortable, making this a game that’s easy to recommend to players who are new to the series. It’s also not a bad choice for those who were turned off of the Project Diva games after having their butts kicked in previous entries.
On the other hand, it is in fact a much easier game. In fact, it’s so easy that the game’s producer has addressed the issue, saying that the game isn’t just about completing songs. Instead, it’s suggested that you focus on complete mastery of each song, aiming for a Perfect rating gamewide. Whether or not this will serve as an acceptable substitute is really up to the individual player. I could see long-term series fans not buying it, honestly, and there’s certainly some room for disappointment if you come in expecting the usual treatment.
Aside from the rhythm gameplay, we’ve also got an absolute ton of customization options available to mess with in Mirai DX. It borders on a dating sim, actually – you pick a character from the Vocaloid cast, give them gifts, decorate their home and so on, which in turn provides unlocks like new animations. You can compose your own animations for the various songs, you can dress up your characters as you’d expect, there’s alternate vocal options for some of the songs…it’s surprisingly extensive. The Nendoroid-style graphics tie it all together in a package of kawaii, which is not a phrase I thought I’d ever be saying. I’m reconsidering the path my life has taken as we speak.
Anyway, I’d almost say that this customization is the central focus of the game moreso than the rhythm aspects. There’s even a minigame or two available – in particular, you can play Puyo Puyo, the classic stacking game that pretty much everyone might remember in some form from their childhood. Everyone likes Puyo Puyo, even if they don’t know it. It’s part of being human. The other option is essentially Reversi, but that can’t really compare to Puyo Puyo. Still, it’s cute.
We’d be amiss to not say that “cute” might not be enough for diehards; Hatsune Miku: Project Mirai DX is definitely an easier game. Perfecting all the songs is a nice self-imposed challenge, but self-imposed challenges isn’t what many fans of this series come for. Instead, I think Project Mirai DX is going to appeal more to gamers interested in the customization and sim aspects more so than the rhythm aspects of the game. Rather than making Project Mirai a bad game, instead we’ve got a solid experience with a different focus. Nothing wrong with that. Vocaloid fans should check it out, as should fans of titles like Theatrythm Final Finatasy and its sequel.