Hatsune Miku: Project Diva F is a very unique rhythm-based game. Inspired by the dominant Japanese Vocaloid craze – a piece of software that allows users to create songs – Hatsune Miku is a virtual anime-style Japanese idol and digital singer, with a vocaloid sound sampled from the voice of Japanese voice actress Fujita Saki.
At a quick glance, Project Diva F looks like something that you'd expect from the music game genre, with timed visual indicators corresponding to certain buttons and a flashy video and animations playing in the background. However, the game differs not only with its inclusion of addictive Japanese electro-pop beats, but also with its very harsh difficulty curve. There are four settings: Easy, Normal, Hard, and Extreme, though the latter two options are only available once a song has been completed on the easier settings. To score points, you must hit the corresponding controller buttons (matched with the correct thumb-stick direction) in time to the song, which is much harder than it sounds. To complete the track, you have to combo as many 'Cool!' points as possible, especially during the 'Chance Time' sections, which can award you with a high score as long as you don't break your combo.
During our first look at Project Diva F, we played three songs: 'Weekender Girl', 'Tengaku', and 'World's End Dance Hall', some of which featured other vocaloid stars such as Kagamine Rin and Megurine Luka. There are 38 songs in total to play through in the full game, including popular tracks 'Tell Your World' and 'Black★Rock Shooter'. Most of the songs are very catchy, upbeat tracks, which should instantly find you bobbing your head. The lyrics in Japanese romaji script appear at the bottom of screen, which is a neat addition, allowing hardcore vocaloid fans to learn the words and sing along in their squeakiest of voices.
Project Diva F provides the function of calibrating your button timing, so that if you're used to playing rhythm action games with a slight timing delay, you can edit the game to match. You can also change the sound of the buttons inputs, with options including a yapping dog. We tried the feature out, but immediately regretted our choice.
The animations and pseudo music videos in the background of the game screen are detailed, sharp, and overflowing with colour, which may seem distracting at first, however your eyes soon become accustomed to ignoring the background and staring intently at the moving icons which swoop across the screen. You can also edit and customize your virtual idol, with the option of over 90 costumes and 100 accessories, such as the obligatory cat ears and tails.
Hatsune Miku: Project Diva F certainly isn't going to appeal to everyone, but will likely offer an entertaining challenge for any J-pop or vocaloid fans. Overall, we enjoyed our time with the title, though we will hold back on passing judgement until we've button-mashed our way through a few more songs and entered the elusive 'Diva room'. While the titular green-haired popstar hasn’t coerced us into a full-on break dance just yet, she's definitely got our feet tapping.
Are you eager to put your button bashing to the test? There's a demo for Hatsune Miku: Project Diva F available from the PlayStation Store right now. Check it out, and let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.