QCF: Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA F

he first time I went to Pax (2012) I told myself I would not be leaving Boston without three particular games: Final Fantasy Type Zero, Suikoden II (One of these days, I promise) and Project Diva. I made it out with two of the three. Me being me I actually ended up buying Project Diva Second instead of the first game, but thankfully these games don't have “Play of Previous Title Recommended” stamped anywhere on them.

Upon learning that the Project Diva series would be making the transition from PSP to PS3 under the Title “Project Diva F” I got super excited, making it my must get game when we attended Pax East in 2013. Sadly I left Boston with my obsession with Pokémon renewed and no Project Diva F.  However, two months after Pax, my luck would change as on June 06, 2013, Sega confirmed that Project Diva would be coming to the West.

Project Diva F is a Rhythm game with fairly simple mechanics, press a button or flick the analog stick in time with the button indicators on screen.  An icon representing either X, circle, square and triangle will appear on screen in time with the song, the better your timing, and the better your score. At times, the Icon will be an arrow facing in anyone of the 4 Direction buttons on the D-Pad. Just pressing the arrow button won't get you a good score, you need to make sure you press the corresponding Letter button at the same time, so if the arrow is pointing down you will need to press the X button at the same time. You can also use the arrow button in place of the letter buttons, but the arrow means that both the D-pad and the face buttons be used.

New to this game is Star Notes, making use of the PS3's analog sticks. Just like pressing a button, you flick the analog stick to match the Star icons on screen. During “Chance Time” A large star icon will appear at in the bottom left hand corner,  Play well enough to fill this star and hit the Final Star Note will actually make a change in how the Music video plays out.

Depending on how well your timing is you will be given a score of Miss, Bad, Safe, good or Cool. The

Better you do, the higher your score, the more Diva Points you earn. Diva points can be used to buy new outfits (or modules) for your performers, accessories such as bunny ears or cat Tails, Gifts and event items that can be used in the Diva room.  The better your score and the higher the difficulty the more Diva Points you'll earn.  Unfortunately, it takes a while to buy all the outfits as some of them can get pretty Pricy, especially when you're only earning a few thousand Diva points per Song.

While the game play is very basic in its presentation, the extras are where Diva Really steps it up.

The game is colourful and vibrant, the characters are cute and the models are smooth. With a decent song selection, you will definitely find yourself humming a few tunes that would never think to listen to again. I have definitely found a few new favourites while Playing Diva F, but the real fun begins when you start stepping into the Extra Features.

The Diva Room is always fun, letting you get up close and personal with your favorite Vocaloid. You are able to buy them gifts that they will use to decorate their room with and giving gifts will help raise their Affinity level. Once their level is high enough, they'll take an interest in you and even ask you to play games with them. Vocaloids react differently to gifts depending on their likes and dislikes. A hesitant move with flowers with indicate that the gift is appreciated but not overly loved while an “Arigato” with hearts is indicative that you've found their preference. The more the gift is loved the high the experience.

You can also purchase event items, these items can range from such things as a keyboard, a paper-craft doll to a sketchbook. Various items will give you a short cut scene of your Vocaloid interacting with the item, such as playing the keyboard, or sketching a fellow Vocaloid. Other items such as the Jukebox, allow you to play music from the game while in the Vocaloids room, or the alarm clock, which you can set to wake your Voicaloid should they be taking a nap. You can also play dress up, changing the outfit of your Vocaloid to any of the ones that you buy in the shop. The outfits for the most part will correspond with a particular Song, for example The Guilty (Katio), Amour (Luka) and Innocent (Miku) outfits are the Standard outfits for the Song Acute.

Another fun feature of Project Diva F is the Edit mode; this allows you to create your own game sets will control over the characters, the button presses, where you want technical events to occur as well as the song. Songs are not limited to those in the game; you can upload songs from your PS3.

Once you're done with your edit, you can upload it for other people to play. Mind you, if they don't have the song your edit is intended for the edit will be a little awkward.

At this time there isn't a lot of DLC, you can purchase three new Vocaloids, Haku, Neru and Teto but they don't have any specific songs or new outfits you can buy them. To me this seems like a step back as Haku and Neru were previously in Project Diva Second with additional outfits. Not a big step back, but still a bit disappointing none of the less.

Shump fans will enjoy the ending credit, which is seeing upon clearing all the standard unlockable songs.  The player is treated to the staff roll and a movable mini Miku, pressing the X will cause her to fire leek shots into the credits, destroying letters in the names and ranking up a high score that displays in the lower right hand corner of the screen.

Despite all the great things that I enjoyed about Project Diva F, I walked away with a couple of pet peeves. First, I love being able to change my performer as I find that I perform better when using certain characters. However changing your performer does not change the vocals so it's a little weird watching Katio sing in Miku's voice. This has been my own personal pet peeve since playing Project Diva Second, and I still haven't come to terms with it.

Secondly, as nice as it is to have the Romanji lyrics for the songs instead of full Kanji, there is no option for English subtitle, so if you're looking for an English translation you'll need to hit up your nearest search engine.

Overall, Project Diva F is an absolute blast to play. The songs are catchy, the characters Vibrate and lively and the gameplay will keep you on your toes, especially with the high difficulties and certain Songs (Sadistic Music Factory is, shall we say quite Sadistic). Sega has also recently announced that a sequel to Project Diva F is currently in process and is set for release Spring of 2014. With any luck we'll see that release state-side, if not at the same time then shortly after.

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