Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA F arrived on the PlayStation 3 in the West last August and now 7 months later, we get the PlayStation Vita version of the game which pretty much brings the same exact experience as the console version, but with just a bit more features.
I would usually always pick up a console version of a game, but with Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA f, I would certainly make the exception for the touch screen controls and portability. With both versions, I wouldn’t expect to play this hours on end, unless you’re in Edit Mode perfecting that video.
As you progress, matching button presses to the music and completing songs, you’ll score Diva points that can be used in the shop to buy over 90 new costumes and about 100 accessories so customization is a big thing here. The song list is exactly the same as the console version other than 6 songs that are missing bringing the song count to 38, but those missing songs are available as DLC.
A Star symbol has been added to the game that represents a new scratch indicator where the player will have to rub the touch screen in any direction instead of pressing as you would normally do. The HUD has been given a nice makeover, giving a more futuristic look as well as a neatly placed progress bar showing progression throughout the song with your COOL and FINE judgment. Hit the wrong button input on time? Your judgment text will become slightly warped on screen which is also a new feature for the Vita version.
A new game mechanic has been introduced called the “Technical Zone” in which the player has the ability to connect combos within the time limit to earn bonus points, which end up helping out. In the Diva Room, players can now interact with the Vocaloids by playing and petting them. An Augmented Reality feature called “Studio Mode” has been implemented that displays a “life size” Miku character in the real world with the ability to take pictures of her and the world around you. You can also make AR concerts where Miku will dance and sing to one of the four exclusive songs that are not playable in the normal game mode, bummer.
Hatsune Miku: Project Diva F doesn’t always find the right balance where difficulty is concerned. You’re going to have to pay close attention or you might miss some of the all-important nodes as they appear. Some of them are camouflaged by the distractingly endearing background animations, and the same is occasionally true of the notes that swoop onto the screen. Familiarity with each song helps combat that particular issue over time, but there are a few selections that prove needlessly frustrating when they’re first attempted. Then after you finish a song and try to skip around the various screens and modes, you encounter frequent and somewhat lengthy load screens.
As you conquer songs by playing the main rhythm game, you earn virtual currency to spend on a slew of in-game items. It’s possible to buy tweaks that make the game easier (for instance, you can purchase a consumable item that ignores the first 30 “bad” ratings you earn while tending to nodes) or even more difficult, but your funds can be spent on cosmetic stuff that caters to the characters’ superfans. Each star performer you see in the videos has alternate costumes available for a price, or you might choose to buy the various divas presents such as flowers and teddy bears to win their affection. You visit them in their rooms, which you are allowed to generously outfit with expensive furniture that includes bookcases and beds, all without getting creepy about it.
Song completion data and edit mode are available and can be shared through both Vita and PS3 systems. Edit mode, if you haven’t seen from the PS3 version, is where you’re able to create and edit you’re own Hatsune Miku video with button inputs, dancing, camera angles and so much more. There’s a ridiculously complex editor (complete with its own tutorial) that lets you choose from available settings and poses over the duration of the desired song, which in the hands of a perfectionist would be a time-consuming project indeed. You’ll spend a lot of time in this mode if that’s your thing.
Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA f can of course can be challenging for seasoned vets, but also beginner friendly. Characters have become more advanced than the PSP releases with better facial expressions and more interaction with other Vocaloids throughout the game. Visually, Project Diva ƒ is a huge step up from the PSP entries in the series. Colors pop on the Vita’s sharp display and the framerate remains smooth, regardless of the frantic action taking place on screen. Artistically and stylistically, the game also impresses, with Miku’s energetic personality and infectious dance moves conveyed perfectly by her fluid animation, detailed character model and varied expressions. Occasionally, the background elements can obscure or detract from the on-screen prompts, but this is only an issue on rare occasions during the harder difficulty levels. Customization and unlocks are plentiful with lively background videos that give this game the anime flair it always had.