Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA Mega Mix+ Review: Bring Miku To The Players
I’m not the target audience for vocaloids like Hatsune Miku. I’ve never quite understood them, and I can’t say that playing Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA Mega Mix+ has changed that. What I can say, though, is that it’s an enormously entertaining rhythm game, something I do know a bit about even if my DDR days are long behind me, and it offers a ton of content. I only wish there was a bit more variety in what you’re doing.
Stuffed With Songs
When you first jump into Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA Mega Mix+ you’ll find there are really two main things you can do. Enjoy the more than 170 playable songs included, with another 72 from Project DIVA Future Tone available as a DLC pack, or jump in and start customizing your vocaloids. Miku and her friends all have a ton of costumes and accessories for you to dress them up with, and you can even create your own shirts to give the characters your own sense of fashion. It’s neat, though the characters being such a blank slate left me feeling a bit directionless in how I wanted to design things. No one’s going to mistake me for fashionable, but I did my best, and the sheer number of options is impressive if this is your thing.
Rhythm gameplay is more my thing and the sheer amount to do in this release is pretty staggering. There’s a rather insane amount of songs, and each of them has five difficulties available, though you’ll have to unlock the two hardest difficulties for each song, perhaps a pain if you’re a long-time devotee of the series. The normal difficulty was a great place for a lapsed rhythm game player like me to start, though, and even with some practice, the hard mode can be pretty overwhelming. The variety of music is awesome, thanks to Miku not being a single artist but rather a ton of people using her as a canvas to create their own work. You have rock, pop, techno, jazz, and more. It might not all be for you, but most players should be able to find plenty of music that grabs them.
Like most games in the Miku series, you have to time button presses to symbols matching up with the buttons on your controller (or keyboard) as they fly in from all sides of the stage. Primarily this uses your four face buttons and two shoulder buttons, though how much of each you’ll see depends on the difficulty. On beginner, for example, you’ll mostly see only two face buttons at a time. Situations when you have to hit multiple at the exact same moment are rare, as are those where you have to hold notes for extended periods. As the difficulty ramps up, you’ll see a lot more of this, though, and things can get difficult very quickly.
One of my favorite choices the development team made this time out is challenge time. On easier difficulties, there will be a section late in the song where the difficulty ratchets up as if you were playing the song on the next highest difficulty. These sections can at first be overwhelming, but while they do matter for your score, they’re no-fail, so you don’t have to worry about dying. This allows players who aren’t quite ready for a harder version to get a taste of it, to push themselves and learn and improve without fear of failing. It’s an inspired choice and one that more rhythm games should steal.
Lots Of Content, Few Modes
Less beginner-friendly is the lack of modes that Project DIVA Mega Mix+ offers. There’s no story mode or arcade mode or really anything to draw players who aren’t already fans of the series in. Just a selection of songs to choose from that you can play one by one. It isn’t so much that beginners won’t know where to go, they don’t have much choice, but that if the rhythm doesn’t immediately grab them, there’s nothing else to hook them. A good story, or gameplay progression, can be a huge help in keeping new players entertained until they start feeling comfortable with the flow of a rhythm game. Without that, this feels like a Miku title for long-time fans, more than one for all players.
Each of the game’s songs has a music video featuring Miku and her friends playing, and these are often very entertaining and beautiful to look at. One of my main issues with the series though has always been that these detailed videos feel a bit extraneous. There’s so much flying in from all sides of the screen that your eyes have to be whipping around at all times to keep up. It means you really don’t get much of a chance to enjoy these scenes.
For long-time fans of Miku, those who just want to dive into their favorite songs and challenge themselves, Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA Mega Mix+ is a dream. The pure variety of songs available and the series’ trademark gameplay will keep them busy for a long time, and that’s not even accounting for the options that the series being available on PC will provide to the community. While new players may find the lack of gameplay modes a bit off-putting, smart choices like challenge time should help them ease their way into the series’ style if they stick with it.
Final Verdict: 4/5
Available on: PC (Reviewed); Publisher: Sega; Developer: Sega; Players: 1; Released: May 26th, 2022; ESRB: T for Teen; MSRP: $39.39
Full disclosure: This review is based on a copy of Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA Mega Mix+ provided by the publisher.