Hatsune Miku: Project Diva F Review

Rhythm fans will find a lot of music, challenge, and customization to love as they get to know Hatsune Miku: Project Diva F.

The Project Diva franchise wouldn't exist right now if Japanese consumers weren't drawn to special characters known as Vocaloids. Crypton Future Media, the company behind a popular line of music software, created several fictional avatars to provide its program with an endearing human face. Since then, those singing and dancing salespeople have been embraced by the creative community they serve and have developed a life of their own in the form of fan videos, compositions, and artwork that now serve as the basis for entirely new creative projects. Hatsune Miku: Project Diva F is a chance for players outside Asia to finally see what the fuss is all about and perhaps even to join the craze.

Bunny ears? Flower petals? Some costumes leave things up to your imagination.

Hatsune Miku: Project Diva F offers a variety of creative modes right from the main menu, but its primary point of interest is the rhythm game. You can begin with the recommended tutorial, or you can immediately tackle a gauntlet of music. There are nearly 40 songs to master, including several that previously were available only as downloadable content in Japan but now are accessible as "extra" content that you unlock alongside the more standard tracks. The overwhelming majority of the music is predictably upbeat, with the guitar rock you might expect if you've listened to a lot of popular J-pop offerings, but some of the selections also feature a slower tempo and more instrumental variety (including a few that are driven largely by melancholy piano melodies).

Each composition is also accompanied by vibrant character artwork, with anime characters getting rambunctious around musical instruments. Lavish productions suit the accompanying music quite nicely, and the performers move around the stage with contagious energy. Subject matter is pleasantly diverse. One song features a bunch of oversized cats, for instance, while a more somber selection offers a stage production of a classic fairy tale.

Abundant personality is one of the game's most obvious strengths, but you could push it aside and still be left with an entertaining and challenging experience that in many ways resembles other notable rhythm games. The goal is to press face buttons in time with song beats. Note silhouettes, or nodes, appear around the screen, and you have to activate them as musical directives fly in from all sides like circling bomber planes. The appearance of those notes differs depending on how you are supposed to interact with them. Sometimes pressing a single face button is enough to get the job done, but in other cases, you must also press a direction on the D-pad or flick an analog stick.

Things can get pretty crowded on screen.

Although the general setup might not seem like it would lead to a lot of variety, there's enough to sort through that your fingers and sense of rhythm will enjoy a nice workout starting almost immediately. At first, even the easiest setting can prove quite overwhelming because you're never sure where to look next and the whirling notes quickly psyche you out if your performance starts to fall apart or you stop concentrating. Early failure is moderately distressing and then can become outright discouraging if it persists, but the payoff otherwise is a sense of real satisfaction following each hard-earned triumph.

There's a difficulty setting that's suitable for almost everyone, as well. The easiest setting lets you focus on simply pressing a few buttons in time with the beat, while more advanced settings assail you with a constant barrage of notes that would test nearly anyone's mental acuity. It's surprising how different the same song can feel as you bump things up or down the scale, which makes the generous variety of songs seem more expansive still if you take it upon yourself to truly master each one.

Hatsune Miku: Project Diva F doesn't always find the right balance where difficulty is concerned. You're going to have to pay close attention or you might miss some of the all-important nodes as they appear. Some of them are camouflaged by the distractingly endearing background animations, and the same is occasionally true of the notes that swoop onto the screen. Familiarity with each song helps combat that particular issue over time, but there are a few selections that prove needlessly frustrating when they're first attempted. Then after you finish a song and try to skip around the various screens and modes, you encounter frequent and somewhat lengthy load screens.

As you conquer songs by playing the main rhythm game, you earn virtual currency to spend on a slew of in-game items. It's possible to buy tweaks that make the game easier (for instance, you can purchase a consumable item that ignores the first 30 "bad" ratings you earn while tending to nodes) or even more difficult, but your funds can be spent on cosmetic stuff that caters to the characters' superfans. Each star performer you see in the videos has alternate costumes available for a price, or you might choose to buy the various divas presents such as flowers and teddy bears to win their affection. You visit them in their rooms, which you are allowed to generously outfit with expensive furniture that includes bookcases and beds, all without getting creepy about it.

A virtual pop star is not limited to earthly arenas.

Sega has also included a mode that enables the divas' most ambitious fans to create their own videos and photographs. There's a ridiculously complex editor (complete with its own tutorial) that lets you choose from available settings and poses over the duration of the desired song, which in the hands of a perfectionist would be a time-consuming project indeed. Then it's possible to password protect that video and share it with the world, if desired. Simpler content can also be produced, using custom backgrounds that you provide or by using those that already come on the disc. The creative possibilities are impressive.

Hatsune Miku: Project Diva F is a challenging and robust rhythm game at its core, complete with an overdose of anime flair. Then it adds a bunch of customization and content creation on the side, just for good measure. This quirky game and its musical hooks should hit the spot if you're looking for a colorful distraction from the norm.

The Good
Lively background videos
Demanding rhythm-based play
Lots of unlockable goodies
Robust video-creation tool
The Bad
Loading delays
Visuals are occasionally too distracting
7
Good
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

Jason Venter has finished hundreds of video games since discovering the hobby in the late '80s, and he hopes to play and write about hundreds more before they bury him.

Discussion

174 comments
disneyskate
disneyskate

I love the game, but one of my biggest issues with it is that it relies WAY too heavily on chance times and technical zones. It's becomes glaring and annoying when you screw up one note in a technical zone and mess up your score.

Skate360
Skate360

In my opinion fair score and its a great game for the hearts of all the Vocaloid Fans ;)

AlwaysRunning
AlwaysRunning

In defense of the reviewer, 7 is not a bad score, and people need to get off this idea that anything they enjoy MUST be rated a 9 or 10. There's nothing particularly innovative about the Miku games that would put them into that class. Parappa was doing the same thing back on PS1.

That said, overlooking the Install option is a pretty big flub, because it does make all the difference, and you're even presented with the option upon first starting the game, iirc. The other criticisms, such as occasionally poor distinction between busy backgrounds and the gameplay notes, are perfectly justified. He wouldn't be a very good reviewer if he swept obvious problems under the rug.

Personally, I'd give the game an 8, as an objective score. It's super fun, and the problems are very small. It's a heck of a lot more entertaining than the twitching mannequins and highway tracks in GuitarHero/RockBand. There's something genuinely creative going on with the videos and note gameplay in Hatsune Miku.

And it's happy! How many games during this generation have been happy games? It's something I've been sorely missing from the days of PS1/2. Take your bloody shooters and foul-mouthed characters and shove 'em.

david1230
david1230

in your review Jason Venter you don't even mention that you can avoid the loading delays by going into the options mode and doing a game install, that indicates to me that you actually didn't even go into that menu, i bet your a really bad reviewer, you almost seemed good, but when you actually look at your writing and realize how simple of a thing you overlooked to use it as a negative to somehow lower a games score, i mean a 7 might seem ok for a flawed decently good game, but this game isn't really flawed at all, i do agree with the sometimes the videos while playing get confusing for about 1 second but thats it. Again please reconsider doing journalism a good thing and go back and re-edit your review to explain that you overlooked the game install in the options menu, otherwise you are basically admitting that whatever degree from college you got really wasn't worth the time

Bongardo
Bongardo

Great "original" soundtrack? The soundtrack isn't original though. They are licensed vocaloids, using songs other people created. Shouldn't it be great "licensed" soundtrack?

pooperscooper66
pooperscooper66

lol i got the game it is okay except i always get CHEAP. pretty good game though you should buy it 

Fireninjastar
Fireninjastar

This game deserves a higher rating, because this is a game SEGA released that has a big fanbase that behaves better.


hurr hurr.

VenPlayer
VenPlayer

Huh.. the comment varies.. Now I'm really contemplating whether to buy this game or not..

I don't really care about the graphics.. I'm really up for any kind of rhythm game but I don't hate Miku.. (I listened to some of the songs)

Makoto03
Makoto03

This game looks terrible

art_vertex007
art_vertex007

Visuals are occasionally too distracting. LOLOLOLOLOL I know what you mean.

david1230
david1230

in your review Jason Venter you don't even mention that you can avoid the loading delays by going into the options mode and doing a game install, that indicates to me that you actually didn't even go into that menu, i bet your a really bad reviewer, you almost seemed good, but when you actually look at your writing and realize how simple of a thing you overlooked to use it as a negative to somehow lower a games score, i mean a 7 might seem ok for a flawed decently good game, but this game isn't really flawed at all, i do agree with the sometimes the videos while playing get confusing for about 1 second but thats it. Again please reconsider doing journalism a good thing and go back and re-edit your review to explain that you overlooked the game install in the options menu, otherwise you are basically admitting that whatever degree from college you got really wasn't worth the time.

david1230
david1230

Please go through all the menus in all the areas of the game next time Jason Venter before you do a "thorough review".

david1230
david1230

Seriously though Jason Venter. Did you do a game install once you put the game in, it was under the options menu, if you knew you could do that and it basically takes away load times and that was no longer a negative would you reconsider re-rating this game a 8 or 8.5 cause once you have done the game install the load times are like literally 8-10 seconds inbetween the two load screens for playing songs.

Spazzh20
Spazzh20

It reminds me of space channel 5 kind of.

zintarr
zintarr

I bought it.

Surprisingly fun!

I'm loving it.


TalesOfGod
TalesOfGod

Guys.

Game breaking question from me to all of you.

#1: Is Haku Yowane in this game?

#2: Does she get her own song?

#3: Do they get rooms like they had in Diva 2?

#4: Does Haku actually sing any song (at ALL)?

#5: Is IA in this game?

#6: How do you feel about it?

edpeterson
edpeterson

I can't wait to get this game! Played the demo and loved it (although I wish they had all 4 difficulty settings instead of just limiting you to 2). I can see why it got rated lower with the load times (if they really are that bad), and the visuals being distracting (it makes sight reads of the songs so hard lol), but it's still a fun game (at least from the demo)! I'm glad GS gave a wacky Japanese a decent score though! 

disneyskate
disneyskate

Since when does a game have to be innovative to be great? This is why we've been spoiled by too many AAA games with too much creativity. What's wrong with a game being similar to others? It still has it's own identity, and it's still an incredibly polished and exceptionally well made game that deserves at least an 8.5. Besides, he only has 2 complaints, one which is solvable, and one that is minor and only comes up on occasion in some songs.

Thetylander
Thetylander

@david1230 Don't listen to  Bowser05. It's impossible to insult an idiot who doesn't even notice the install menu. Cripes, it's always the first thing I look for on a game because I hate load times! Besides, doesn't this world suffer enough from too much hand holding and ass kissing? You didn't call names or act like a bully. You are telling it like it is and how you feel about the subject, as well as the author of the review, in your own opinion.  Now I am off to play Diva Extend on my PSP. I simply came to make sure that the good word of Project Diva was spreading and making sure that no professional reviewers trashed this excellent happy-fun game series!     

Bowser05
Bowser05

@david1230 While you present very legitimate points, I don't think you need to resort to insults. All that does is undermine what your saying and make you seem juvenile.

Bowser05
Bowser05

@Bongardo Well it depends on how you look at it. It is strictly a Hatsune Miku game that features Hatsune Miku songs...so while it IS licensed music...it is also considered original music since all the music is representing the one theme that the game represents. At the same time you could argue that the songs weren't actually created FOR the game...so in that sense it is original music. I honestly think it's a fine line here and either or would be acceptable.

disneyskate
disneyskate

It's okay except you suck at it and are blaming the game for it? Yeah, uh, shut up.

strawhat1987
strawhat1987

@VenPlayer its a very good game, but its more for miku fans than rhythm fans. personally i like it but in your case i would recommend trying the demo first.

Bowser05
Bowser05

@Makoto03 I'm not sure if you guys are being trolls or being serious, but if you are being serious than you must not like rhythm games very much. This is hands down one of the best rhythm games I've played. It has a good variety, good amount of content, great custom creation features and a lot of customization. I play rhythm games a lot (Rock Band, Guitar Hero, DDR, Elite Beat Agents, Beatmania, Rhythm Heaven, Dance Central...you name it I play it) and this one particularly stands out as an exceptional one. And that's coming from somebody who doesn't really care for Hatsune Miku. It's just an all around good rhythm game.

Thesuperstar2k
Thesuperstar2k

@Makoto03 

agreed.  blame for lame miku fans for wanting this shit game.

Mitsuki_nyan
Mitsuki_nyan

Forgot to mention Yoshitaka Amano has illustrated Japanese Vocaloids.

Sikrion
Sikrion

@Thesuperstar2k why would you click on a review with miku in the title then? I don't like green day so i am not going to bother with green day rockband/guitarhero/w.e its on. That doesn't mean they should go and die it means I have a different preference of music. Grow up.

Mitsuki_nyan
Mitsuki_nyan

@TalesOfGod 

1: Haku is DLC

2: No.

3: Yes.

4: No. You can use edit mode, though.

5: IA is by 1st Place while Project Diva is by Crypton so they can't get the rights to use IA in the games. But maybe someday. Gumi is in Project Mirai 2! 

david1230
david1230

@edpeterson wanna know how bad the loading times are? if you do a game install from the game then you don't have any delays at all, like about 5 seconds inbetween two load screens before you actually get into your song, this guy who reviewed it obviously didn't do the game install from the games options menu.

Bongardo
Bongardo

@Bowser05 @Bongardo I guess. But I think since the whole thing, vocaloids and the music, are licensed, then it is a licensed sountrack. But I dunno, clearly Gamespot knows the origin of the music, so there must be a reason they gave it that ribbon. But it may have been a mistake.

Bowser05
Bowser05

@strawhat1987 @VenPlayer I don't necessarily agree. I never ever listened to Miku in my life. Never had an interest. Even now I'm not a fan, but as a rhythm game I enjoy it VERY much. It has a good presentation, is fun to play, has catchy music AND has some really good customization and edit options. It's one of my favorite rhythm games now.

Fireninjastar
Fireninjastar

@Thesuperstar2k Lame? They took this freaking VOICE and made it into a full fledged cultural phenomenon.


It's this, or Bronies.

Bowser05
Bowser05

@Fireninjastar @art_vertex007 LOL you guys are silly. The visuals ARE too distracting. While the reviewer may have been talking about the girls, I personally find the bright and flashy scenes to contrast horribly with the actual playing field. Sometimes I can't even figure out where the next hit is and then I miss it. THAT'S how it's distracting TBQH, not because of the girls.

Fireninjastar
Fireninjastar

@Bongardo @Fireninjastar 

-They posted a traced copy of fanart instead of the original version in a game in The Black Knight

-They used a piece of fanart as a texture without permission in All Stars Racing

Bongardo
Bongardo

@Fireninjastar Sonic team messed up something fan art related and got themselves in trouble? What did they mess up? And when?

Fireninjastar
Fireninjastar

All of the songs are fan-submitted and approved, and the loading screens are fanart. So yeah, like Miku herself, the game runs on her creative community.

At least the team on Project Diva F weren't Sonic Team, snorting crack, and messed up something fan-art related and got themselves in trouble.

Twice.

Bowser05
Bowser05

@Bongardo @Bowser05 Oh don't get me wrong...I actually agree with you. Just saying that I can kind of see where they could be coming from if it wasn't a mistake.

Bowser05
Bowser05

@Thesuperstar2k @art_vertex007 I'm curious, Thesuperstar2k, what enjoyment do you get out of making yourself look juvenile and idiotic on the internet? While I understand the joy of trolling (I troll my friends all the time...so I understand how that can be fun), I don't understand the need to be so juvenile in the approach so that nobody finds you funny or insulting...they just find you annoying. Just curious is all.

Hatsune Miku: Project Diva f More Info

  • Released
    • PlayStation 3
    • PlayStation Vita
    Hatsune Miku: Project Diva F lets players join Hatsune Miku in an all-new rhythm video game featuring selections from her popular songs.
    8.7
    Average User RatingOut of 99 User Ratings
    Please Sign In to rate Hatsune Miku: Project Diva f
    Developed by:
    Sega
    Published by:
    Sega
    Genres:
    Music/Rhythm
    Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.
    Teen
    All Platforms
    Mild Lyrics, Mild Violence, Suggestive Themes