Just short of eleven years ago, SEGA released a niche rhythm title on PSP: Hatsune Miku -Project DIVA-. As the name suggests, Hatsune Miku -Project DIVA- features music from Hatsune Miku and her fellow Crypton Vocaloid companions. Despite its initial obscurity, this Japan-only release was just the humble beginning. Hatsune Miku -Project DIVA- expanded into a series of its own and released on PlayStation Portable, PlayStation Vita, PlayStation 3, and PlayStation 4. In time the series even found itself with an international release, never missing a step along the way.
Since its conception, the Hatsune Miku -Project DIVA- has remained a PlayStation exclusive. With the release of Hatsune Miku -Project DIVA- Mega Mix, that too is about to change.
Can Hatsune Miku find herself a vacation home on Nintendo Switch?
As with Hatsune Miku -Project DIVA- Future Tone before it, Mega Mix features no order of operations in terms of song completion. Most games in the series start players out with only a handful of songs. Easy songs would need to be cleared to unlock others. As songs unlocked, their general difficulty would increase. “Boss” songs like “The Disappearance of Hatsune Miku” and “Sadistic.Music∞Factory” would wait for players near the end of their musical careers. In Hatsune Miku -Project DIVA- Mega Mix, even these endgame tracks can be played from the very beginning.
Arguably, good gameplay is the most important piece of any rhythm game. While it is true that the visuals and song selection might be what sells the game, the gameplay is what keeps the player coming back for more. Hatsune Miku -Project DIVA- Mega Mix features two different ways to play. These options include Arcade Mode and Mix Mode. The main attraction for series’ fans would undoubtedly be the Arcade Mode.
Arcade Mode is the latest incarnation of traditional Project Diva gameplay. Letters and arrows will preemptively flood the screen as Miku and friends dance in the background. When prompted, the player simply presses the corresponding button to match the beat. Though depending on the song and difficulty, it may be easier said than done. Hatsune Miku -Project DIVA- Mega Mix is easy to learn but difficult to master. Easier songs will focus on the A/B buttons while harder will be all over the place. With 101 songs available in the base game, most of which including at least 3 difficulty settings, Hatsune Miku -Project DIVA- Mega Mix has something for every level of player.
Despite the platform transition, Project DIVA on Nintendo plays just as it did on PlayStation. The biggest change in Arcade Mode is the difference between face buttons. On the Nintendo Switch, the game uses A/B/X/Y instead of PlayStation’s standard Circle/X/Triangle/Square. While this doesn’t affect the gameplay itself, it can be initially disorienting. Admittedly, the movement of the X button especially may prove to be a wee bit of a learning curve. Conveniently, Hatsune Miku -Project DIVA- Mega Mix includes a built-in Key Configuration setting. The feature allows some of the trickiest combos to be completed with the simple push of a button.
In addition to the tried and true Arcade Mode, Hatsune Miku -Project DIVA- Mega Mix also features Mix Mode. While this is certainly an interesting concept, it’ll likely be shrugged off as little more than a mini-game for the average series veteran. Mix Mode is a motion-controlled setting available for all 101 songs. The objective is to slide the Joy-Cons left or right to capture the falling beats. After proper alignment, pressing the corresponding R/RZ/L/LZ button will earn the available points. Though it can be a fun experience, the unreliability of the Joy-Con controls can be a bit of a buzzkill. While they work a majority of the time, the lack of the Arcade Mode’s pitch-perfect timing easily makes it the inferior way to play, especially in the higher difficulties.
2D Dream Theater
In terms of graphics, it’s hard to top Hatsune Miku -Project DIVA- Arcade. With its “Next-Gen” graphics, Hatsune Miku -Project DIVA- Future Tone for PlayStation 4 got pretty close. Rather than attempting to also replicate Hatsune Miku -Project DIVA- Arcade, Mega Mix takes a different approach. Much like Nintendo’s own The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Hatsune Miku -Project DIVA- Mega Mix utilizes of “toon shaded” graphics.
While somewhat new to the series, a cel-shaded style fits quite well in Hatsune Miku -Project DIVA- Mega Mix. Despite not being an actual anime character, even official artists generally draw her in such a style. Outside of Project DIVA and MikuMikuDance, it’s actually more uncommon not to see Hatsune Miku portrayed in anime-inspired animation and imagery. Speaking of animation, the game offers any playable song to be watched as a Music Video with the very same in-game graphics.
Considering the power difference between the PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch, the Toon Shader style allows for Hatsune Miku -Project DIVA- Mega Mix to look unique to the series, not merely a Future Tone port. This fits Miku quite well and could be seen as a recurring art direction in the series moving forward. As the unofficial successor of the PlayStation Vita, it’s only natural that Nintendo Switch would house the definitive portable Project DIVA.
Speaking of past games, Hatsune Miku -Project DIVA- Mega Mix includes just about every character and module the series has had to offer. The original versions of the artists are available from the start. This includes Hatsune Miku, Kagamine Len, Kagamine Rin, Megurine Luka, MEIKO, and KAITO.
Additional modules including new and legacy can be unlocked by in-game currency. Even Miku’s Persona 4: Dancing All Night costume is available to equip! Swimwear aside, most costumes can be obtained following a single song completion or two. The bikinis will take a bit more dedication. In addition to modules themselves, a plethora of hair and accessory options to mix and match. While not every piece of legacy clothing is available in the base game, the most notable exclusions will be available yet again in the form of DLC. Considering the number of cosmetics that the series has to offer, Hatsune Miku -Project DIVA- Mega Mix certainly has its fair share of unlockables.
from Y to Y
Chances are that anybody reading this already knows what to expect in terms of Hatsune Miku. The electronic diva and friends sing an entirety of the game’s available songs. While KAITO, MEIKO, Luka, and the Kagamine Twins each get their turn in the spotlight, Miku sings a majority of the soundtrack. As the Project DIVA series is made up of Crypton Vocaloids, others such as Gumi, Gackpo, Lily, and IA, won’t be making an appearance.
Hatsune Miku -Project DIVA- Mega Mix easily features one of the best lineups the series has to offer. Outside of the giantess that is Hatsune Miku -Project DIVA- Future Tone of course. Hatsune Miku -Project DIVA- Mega Mix includes several staples including “Melt,” “Colorful X Melody,” “Just Be Friends,” “Rolling Girl,” and “Cantarella.” The game also introduces instant classics like “HIBANA,” “ROKI,” and “Teo.” Not to the game’s theme: “Catch the Wave.” It should be noted that each song is featured in its entirety. While this is nothing for series fans, it should come as good news to newcomers interested in checking it out. Not including full tracks was the of another recent Vocaloid title: GROOVE COASTER WAI WAI PARTY!!!!
Hatsune Miku -Project DIVA- Mega Mix includes a total of 101 playable songs. These include tracks throughout Miku’s ten-year career. Sadly “Ievan Polka” is exclusively a tutorial track yet again. In addition to the base game, there are a total of 40 additional songs that will be available as DLC. 36 of which are purchasable in the form of 6 song packs. The remaining 4 will be available next month for free. For anyone that purchases the Mega Pack or base game with the season pass, this would bring the total song count to 141.
In comparison to Hatsune Miku -Project DIVA- Future Tone‘s current total of 230 tracks, this may not seem like much. To be fair, Hatsune Miku -Project DIVA- Future Tone is essentially two games combined into one through the power of music. With a majority of the Project DIVA titles featuring about 39 tracks each, Hatsune Miku -Project DIVA- Mega Mix is certainly worthy of its title. Nintendo Switch is a brand new venue for Hatsune Miku. With any luck, she will return for an encore.
Overall Hatsune Miku -Project DIVA- Mega Mix is a great addition to the series and a perfect introduction to the Nintendo Switch. The “toon shaded” visuals give the game a unique look compared to its various PlayStation counterparts. The Arcade Mode gameplay plays better than ever before with the option of customizable configurations. Including 101 tracks is truly a great start. With at least 40 additional tracks to be available as DLC, Miku has a promising future on Nintendo Switch. Now we only need the announcement of a second season pass, hopefully, complete with a personal favorite: “StargazeR.”
HEY! HEY!! LISTEN!!! gives Hatsune Miku -Project DIVA- Mega Mix 9.7 “Secret Police” out of 10.