Sometimes, generally in the midst of a mid-song transformation, I think the word “kawaii” was created to describe Hatsune Miku. Everything about the vocaloid diva is the very embodiment of both the word and the concept. So much so that it’s almost impossible to not be charmed by some aspect of the game, even if neither rhythm nor vocalioid games are your “thing.” Hatsune Miku: Project Diva X is the latest release in the game series, and it might be one of my favorites.
The story of Project Diva X is simple enough: there are five distinct “Clouds” (Classic, Cool, Cute, Elegant, and Quirky), each with a prism that must be recharged, by you and your team, to restore energy to their worlds. And, um, that’s pretty much it. For those uninitiated, one does not play a Hatsune Miku game for the rich story.
Progressing through each Cloud unlocks additional songs and Clouds. Once you’ve played the initial songs within a Cloud, a Main Event opens up. Defeating this then progresses you to the next Cloud, where you repeat the process. Once you recharge all five Clouds, the game ends much like Diablo, with the assumption that you’ll just repeat the whole process over again, in effort to unlock even more songs, items and outfits.
Oh, did I mention you can unlock outfits? For all intends and purposes, a big part of Hatsune Miku: Project Diva X feels like Dress Up Barbie, and I mean that in the most delightful, wonderful way possible. Songs are divided, more or less, into three parts: normal, Technical, and Chance. Technical challenges present a series of combos, in fast order, which can get you additional points. Chance is a series of combos which, if completed, allow you to transform into additional costumes. There are dozens to collect, making the game both collectible and adorable.
Outfits are not just adorably fashionable, they have certain bonuses and auras which match song auras. You can combine outfits and accessories to both humorous and helpful affect, in attempt to unlock additional items, score more points or just look fabulous while doing it all.
Early on, I unlocked a Green Tanuki suit, which was a Lvl 3 “Rare Module” outfit, meaning it had a higher chance of dropping rare modules (outfits). After defeating a song, I would often go back and play it with the Tanuki suit on, regardless of aura, in the attempt to unlock the rare module for that song (generally pictured on the song thumbnail). This worked every single time, making me feel like I was unabashedly cheating, after a little while.
There are additional challenges that can be unlocked, such as Festivals where you can mix and match three songs and a location to create your own unique challenges. There’s also a gift mechanic, in which you woo your various friends (and Miku herself). Gifting the right gift can result in a ridiculously adorable (some might say kawaii) scene in which said character enjoys said gift.
The game has an evolving series of difficulties, with Easy allowing players to go through an entire song pushing one button and flicking the stick. Normal adds in additional buttons and combos, and the harder difficulties ramp up the speed and combos as you would imagine.
I am, admittedly, not the best person at rhythm games. Much like Dark Souls, I’m not good at Hatsune Miku games, but I enjoy them immensely (wow, that has to be the first time Dark Souls and Hatsune Miku were in the same sentence together? Right?), in spite of it. Having said that, I do find it an interesting turn that players — both new and experienced — have to start with Easy and Normal difficulties. In fact, as far as I can tell, you have to recharge all of the crystal prisms before unlocking the additional difficulties, which may be off-putting for experienced players.
Granted, it’s not a huge ask, given that you can clear the initial five prisms in about four hours. The main gameplay concept is to go through all the prisms and all the difficulty levels not just with Hatsune Miku herself, but also her BFFs Rin, Lin, Luka, MEIKO and KEIKO, to unlock all outfits and accessories. And that’s pretty much it.
The concept of the game is simple, but the increasing difficulties add a good challenge to the gameplay and flow of the game. There is an undeniable charm and grace to Hatsune Miku: Project Diva X that makes it very appealing to both established fans and new. But be warned now, the music is catchy AF. Despite being in a language I don’t understand, in vocaloid form, I had several songs stuck in my head for hours after playing. I’ve spent the last week with people asking me what song I’m humming and my answer has been “I don’t know, but it’s awesome.”
Title: Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA X
Release Date: Aug. 30, 2016