It's no exaggeration to say that Hatsune Miku is the most popular virtual idol in the world; so it's not surprising that a new iteration of Project Diva was recently released in Japan. And while Project Diva F 2nd isn't vastly different from its predecessors, it is a welcome addition for anyone who enjoys music games.
Project Diva F 2nd sports a total of 40 fully playable songs, with an additional eight only available in the game’s AR/Live Stage mode. Of these, twenty of the songs are completely new to the series and four of the returning songs come with completely remade videos that play in the background. The new songs form a decent selection across several different genres; and while most of the songs have Miku in some form or fashion, about half the songs feature the other Vocaloid singers as well.
Like the other games in the series, Project Diva F 2nd comes with its own robust song creation mode. Using any mp3 on your memory card/hard drive, your can make you own Project Diva level. But this is far more than just choosing the paths of flying buttons and timing them to the music.
You are able to create full background videos from hundreds of different pre-set animations for Miku and the other Vocaloids. The editor even allows for lip-syncing and eye movement controls. Moreover, it’s rather easy to use, for the most part, and even has a streamlined version of the editor for beginners to use. And while the videos you make will likely never be on par with the official songs’ background videos, it is surprising to see just how good they can look.
For the most part, Project Diva F 2nd is identical to its predecessor with the exception of a few minor additions. In the rhythm game sections there are sliding touch screen notes—that follow a glowing path and can change speed—as well as double scratch notes. Beyond this, there are a slew of new costumes and items to unlock in addition to the new ability to change the cosmetic interface to any number of different unlockable skins.
If there is one issue I have with Project Diva F 2nd, it is that sometimes (read: in 3 or 4 songs total) the full motion video backgrounds interfered with my playing. In some cases, this was because the colors in the video matched those of the flying button prompts, making them seem to disappear. Other times, the video in the background was so busy with so many different things going on that the button prompts were absorbed into the chaos.
But perhaps the most enjoyable way the background destroyed me was by making the video too interesting. The sword fighting video of Knife was pretty distractingly awesome but one song, “Kagerou Daze,” completely derailed me. It has a video showing Miku stuck in a time loop that constantly ends in her death. I failed this song three times in a row because I kept paying more attention to the background than to the gameplay. I finally was able to buckle down and beat it—but, of course, the first thing I did after was watch the recording I made of it.
If you have played past Project Diva games and liked them, you will no doubt enjoy Project Diva F 2nd. It's just more of the same rhythm gameplay with some new songs and additional refinements. On the other hand, if you're new to the series, Project Diva F 2nd is a good place to start. The songs are catchy, the gameplay the best it’s ever been, and, if you feel like making your own songs, it's relatively easy to do and more than a little fun.
Hatsune Miku: Project Diva F 2nd was released in Japan on March 27, 2014, for the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita. It’s scheduled for a Western release this fall.
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