Hatsune Miku Project Mirai DX Review
While Hatsune Miku is a household name in Japan, the blue haired virtual diva is only now making her way to the West. Having had concerts in New York, and even an appearance on Late Night with David Letterman, SEGA has now finally localised the first 3DS Game Hatsune Miku: Project Mirai Deluxe. The game is actually a re-release of Hatusune Miku: Project Mirai 2, which was only released in Japan. For those who don’t know who and what a ‘Miku’ is, she and her friends are ‘Vocaloids’, which is just a fancy way of describing a series of recorded digital voices that anyone can arrange into their song.
If you’re at all familiar with Hatsune Miku: Project Diva, you will feel right at home with Mirai. Miku, Rin, Luka, Meiko, Kaito and even GUMI return to bring their J-pop synthesised vocals to the 3DS. Unlike in Diva, some songs will support the ability to choose the singer, and thus change the sound of the song. For example, the song ‘Tricolour Airline’ by default is song by Miku, however, you can change this to be sung as Rin, Luka or Meiko. Also returning from Project Diva is the ability to dress up any of the crew in various outfits.
The technology of the 3DS now also means that the background videos are fully 3D. If you ever had issues distinguishing the button prompts to the background video, the 3D effect really helps define and separate them. However, with the larger buttons and easier note charts, even in 2D I never had an issue with this.
There’s two ways to play the Rhythm sections of this game: through the Touch screen, or with the Buttons. Button mode is exactly what you would expect; notes come through on a highway that follows a set pattern as it twists and turns on the screen, and you use the ABXY and ←↑→↓ buttons when the appropriate prompt is on screen. Project Diva veterans will be most familiar with this mode, as that entry allows you to either use the directional buttons or face buttons to hit the note (ie Y and ← are considered the same notes and can be used interchangeably).
Touch mode is a new addition to the series in Mirai, and has the touch screen divided up into 1, 2 or 3 sections based on your selected difficulty. While notes still come through on the same patterns and highway, this time they are made up of coloured prompts which associate to the touch screen, and also have flick notes where you flick the stylus anywhere on the screen in the direction the arrow is facing. Regardless of the mode chosen, they still include rainbow hold notes where you rotate either the circle pad, or the stylus on the screen, allowing you to rack up some hold bonus points.
Scoring in this game is different to most rhythm games, as while you are still ranked according to your hit percentage and combo bonuses, you are also scored by your timing. There are 5 rankings of timing in this game: Miss, Safe, Sad, Fine and Cool. To get a completion rank of 100%, you need to not only hit every note in the game and have a full combo, but also hit every single note with the ‘cool’ ranking. Yes, that means one ‘fine’ note will give you a score of 99.99% and so on. This unfortunately for me kills the re-playability, and while I’m sure others will be driven to play over and over to get a perfect score, I found myself going to other Miku games to get my quick fix.
Overall I believe this strict scoring was added to make the game more of a challenge, because personally I found Mirai is much, much easier compared to Project Diva. The game rarely challenges you to press more than 2 buttons in a sequence of notes, even on Hard, compared to Project Diva, where Press 4, even 6 different buttons in a row is common ground on the higher up difficulties. There’s 3 difficulty modes (easy, normal, hard) and only Easy/Normal are unlocked by default. To unlock more tracks you need to playthrough the songs on normal, which grants you access to hard mode for that song, and the next song on the list. For most people, clearing out songs on normal won’t be a challenge, but if you do have some trouble, there’s items you can buy with Play Coins that can make the song easier.
With over 40 songs available in this game, and with the option to swap between characters for most songs, which as mentioned, also changes the vocals of the song, it’s amazing how they crammed all that onto the 3DS Cart. As for the soundtrack of this game, I’d argue this is where most people will judge the game the hardest, as it’s all in Japanese. The only localisation the team did for the English version is provide English menus and in-game text, and romanised lyrics on the touch screen (no, not even translated in english). So all the songs are sung by their Japanese vocals, which although fans of the songs will appreciate, newcomers may be turned away by.
The other modes in this game I will quickly gloss over: Department store will allow you to buy new costumes, furniture and items for your chosen diva, an alarm clock is confusingly added as a mode and you can even play a surprisingly fleshed out version of Puyo Puyo that supports multiplayer as various songs play in the background. PV mode allows you to see the background video of any song without the notes in the foreground, and AR Cards that are included with the game will start an AR based concert. All in all there’s a TON of content available in this game, so you are definitely getting your money’s worth if you are interested in the genre.