Vocaloid is a popular voice synthesizer music program. In Japan, they’ve even made cartoon characters to go along with the voices used in the synthesizer. Some of these anime characters have become very well known, especially the blue-haired pig-tailed girl Hatsune Miku. Now she and her friends have their own music game on the PS3 (previously on the Vita).
In the main gameplay mode, you pick a song to play and unlock more songs as you clear them. In each song, you’ll see a music video in the background featuring one or more of the Vocaloid characters. In the foreground, shapes will appear with clock hands on them. As the clock hands reach 12, an icon will fly by. Make sure to tap the button in time with the music as the icon passes by the shape and the clock hands reach 12. Sometimes you may have to hold the button down and release at the right time, too. The shape of the icon is important, because that dictates what button on the PS3 controller you’ll need to press. If you see a star shaped icon, flick one of the analog sticks instead. In Normal difficulty modes and above, you’ll need to use all the buttons, but in Easy mode you just have to press the circle button and analog sticks. During the songs, bonus chances appear where you must be as accurate as possible to boost your score and unlock secret parts of the videos. Clear songs to unlock new ones and earn Diva Points that you can spend in the shop to buy goodies.
Speaking of which, there are plenty of other side modes to the game as well. In the shop, spend your Diva Points to buy items to help you out in the main music game, as well as gifts and other treats. In the Diva Room mode, visit the Vocaloid characters you’ve unlocked and decorate their rooms and give them gifts and snacks you’ve bought in the shops to increase your affinity with them. I’m not sure what good that does, but I’ve learned that Hatsune Miku does not like milk, but she sure does like to drink orange juice and melon soda and eat donuts! You can also watch video performances of the characters, and take photos. Finally, you can even upload MP3 songs and make your own music game with them in Edit Mode and share them online. That last bit takes dedication, but I can’t think of too many other music games that let you do all that, so it’s pretty cool.
Despite all you can do in the game, I had a few problems with it. Mainly the difficulty, which is pretty unforgiving even on Easy. Plus, it’s hard to see the icons on the screen over the wild and colorful (and distracting) music videos in the background. Maybe it would’ve helped if all the icons appeared in the same place. Also, all the music is just original Vocaloid songs, so if you’re not familiar with them (like me), you may not like the selection of tunes. Some are kind of catchy, but others are just plain weird and annoying. Most of songs have a techno vibe to them, with singing robot voices if I had to compare them with anything. However, if you’re a fan of the Vocaloid characters and music, this game is a must-have for you. In fact, if you are a fan, you should probably stop reading this review right now and go out and buy the game.
Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA F is rated T for Teen with ESRB descriptors of Mild Lyrics, Mild Violence, and Suggestive Themes. While I couldn’t understand what they were singing in the songs, apparently there are some lyrics that appear on the bottom of the screen and a brief flash of a silhouetted violent act in one of the videos. But I think it’s a ‘blink-and-you’ll-miss-it’ kind of thing. Some of the female Vocaloid characters wear somewhat skimpy outfits, but I don’t think it’s any worse than some of the Bratz and Monster High dolls you see in stores. Kids, especially girls, will enjoy all the cute and colorful characters. But really, the best reason why this game is better suited for older players is the high level of difficulty.