PAX PRIME 2014: Hands-On With Hatsune Miku: Project Diva F 2nd

ega surprised everyone last year with the announcement and subsequent release of Hatsune Miku: Project Diva F for the PlayStation 3 and as a downloadable title on the Vita. The Project Diva games should have been about as obscure as it came in the west, since the whole game revolves around the personification of a music creation suite called Vocaloid. Created by Crypton, Vocaloid allows its users to generate lyrics which are sung with the voice of the specific version you buy, and Hatsune Miku, though not the first, is far and away the most popular of the entire line, worldwide.

If you thought a quirky rhythm-music game based on a group of virtual singers with dress-up elements and theatre modes wouldn't fly, two things should be remembered; firstly, Hatsune Miku has wild, live freaking concerts in Japan (seriously!) and secondly, Project Diva F was a mad, runaway hit in North America, selling out in many, many places at retail, especially in the part of the world where I live.

No surprise then, that Project Diva F 2nd is currently being prepped for North American Launch by Sega on the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita systems. In a lot of ways, it's just like the original release with all of the exact same mechanics at its core. However, there are a few tweaks to the game overall that are sure to make it a better experience for those out there that aren't quite on the level of the die-hard, super-hardcore. Namely, now you can actually see fully-translated lyrics for the songs, rather than just the romanji which, while useful in teaching fans how to sing the Japanese lyrics, offers nothing in terms of actual understanding to those that didn't know the song to begin with or lacked the linguistic skills for translation.

In terms of the actual gameplay, the main new addition is the enhancement of the star notes. Star notes are activated by flicking the right analog stick just like in Diva F. The stars noted are tweaked with chained stars that behave exactly the same in terms of input, but offers a new visual cue by which to time your flicks. There are also double star notes, indicated by a W which, unsurprisingly, require a twin-input to trigger.

The new song list is also sure to delight fans of Hatsune Miku and beyond; in Sega's demo, fan-favorite “The World is Mine” was playable and sounded as great as ever. The two other songs featured in the demo were equally as strong. Complementing the great music selections, the visuals are, once again, crisp and smooth featuring all of the great character and costume design players have come to expect from a Hatsune Miku game.

For fans that have the original Project Diva release on PS3, stuff you've unlocked can be accessed in Diva F 2nd, and everything is cross-compatible between the Vita and PS3 versions. It's a nice touch that keep the first game relevant beyond the song list.

Speaking of the Vita version, Project Diva F 2nd on Vita is exactly the same as the PS3 version, having been developed in tandem rather than having one or the other developed as an update as was the case with the first Diva F in Japan. The star notes in this version are triggered with the touchscreen, but the full version will have options to change the input method; I found the touch screen to be just a bit too unresponsive.

November is looking good for the music rhythm gamer; Hatsune Miku: Projest Diva F 2nd on both PS3 and PS Vita should be a game to check out, especially if you've been a fan or even just mildly curious about what the hubbub is all about.

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