It’s no secret that Sega has really locked down the formula to making a fun rhythm game. The Project Diva franchise has been delighting fans for years now with it’s wide breadth of content & easy to learn/hard to master gameplay. Making the jump from Arcade to PlayStation consoles proved to be a successful and well received move, and it seems that they’ve done it again with the jump to Nintendo’s 3DS handheld platform. Project Mirai DX may be the 3rd entry in the franchise, but it’s the first one that’s seen a US domestic release, and they couldn’t have picked a more full featured version of the game to start off with.
The first thing you’ll notice upon firing up the title is the dramatic shift in presentation, opting for the ultra-cute look based on Good Smile Company’s popular line of Nendoroid toys. This proves less to be a setback for the game (as it can be with other fan favorite franchises) as the look provides a unique feel to the game and truly gives the 3DS platform it’s own take on the Hatsune Miku line. The chibi-styled characters move extremely well in the background videos, and really add that extra ounce of cuteness to some of the more sugary sweet songs.
The differences from the core franchise don’t stop there though, the gameplay is also custom tailed for the Nintendo 3DS platform. The first major gameplay difference you’ll notice is that the game supports 2 different modes; one that exclusively uses the touch controls and another using a traditional button layout. Each mode has it’s own unique charts, with each difficulty using a different amount of total inputs. This effectively gives each of the 48 songs in the game 6 charts to select from, meaning a massive amount of content to play through.
The gameplay interface is also drastically different from that of the Arcade/PlayStation versions. Unlike the others where notes fly in from the edges of the screen, Project Mirai utilizes a track that the notes sit on. Groove Coaster players will find the interface easy to adjust to, where anyone who has not played a track based rhythm game will definitely notice some charts make purposely tricky moves as the song progresses. Overall the charts are extremely well designed and fun to play within this interface, with each input mode making clever use of the tracks in different ways.
Songs are unlocked by playing existing available songs in the tracklist. Likewise, the hard difficulty for each track is unlocked by playing the normal difficulty first. While this adds to the replay value in a way, it also makes the game fairly tedious as veteran rhythm game players will very likely find the normal charts to be very easy. The timing for the game feels very tight and sometime unforgiving in the button based mode, while the touchscreen mode feels significantly more loose. During my playthrough I found my scores on the touch based modes to be significantly higher the first time through for this reason. Songs are fairly long to play through as well, which can make the game feel never-ending as you continue to unlock new tracks (48 in total). Depending on your preference this could be tiring in the long run.
Along with the vast amount of songs available to play, the game continues the series trend of including a ton of collectible content you can purchase by earning MP (Miku Points) during gameplay. These items are used to customize “your room” and interact with a character of your choosing outside of the main game. Other additional features of the game are a full featured, Vocaloid themed version of the Puyo Puyo puzzle, a simple keyboard toy, a vocal synthesizer, and more.
Sega’s choosing to release Project Mirai DX as the first entry in the United States is definitely a winning move. It’s cute, unique visuals are sure to please the most hardcore fans, while being inviting to players unfamiliar with the franchise. The songlist features an extensive range of genres, meaning there’s bound to be a favorite track included for everyone. The replay value is extremely high to the point where all of the unlockable content may seem daunting for some players. That wealth of content and gameplay variety coupled with intuitive controls and fun gameplay make this a title that no rhythm game fan should pass over.