I didn’t want to like this game, going into it. ‘It’s too cutesy,’ I grumbled. ‘I have no prior knowledge of this series, save for a few random screenshots I’ve seen on Twitter and Facebook. How am I supposed to review this?’ Well, after spending a week or so with this game, I can admit that it has grown on me.
Hatsune Miku: Project Mirai DX is basically an enhanced version of Project Mirai 2. I am a total virgin where this series is concerned, but not to rhythm games in general. Elite Beat Agents is a personal favorite of mine, as is PaRappa the Rapper, and to a lesser degree, the Guitar Hero and RockBand series.
In Project Mirai DX, you pick one of six different Vocaloids (virtual pop stars), and basically play “Dress Up” with them. Who you pick doesn’t really matter, as you can switch between them at any time. When you’re not enjoying the expertly crafted rhythm game mode, you can play Reversi with your chosen partner, take them shopping (using currency you earn from either playing the mini games or the rhythm game), play PuyoPuyo (a very fun puzzle game that’s something like a mix between Tetris and any typical match-3 puzzler), admire the many stamps (this game’s version of Achievements) you’ve earned, peruse your screenshot album, tweak a few gameplay options, or just chill with the in-game music player, or the insanely enjoyable virtual synthesizer.
If you’re not into the whole “Doll House” thing, you can forego that, and just enjoy the rhythm game mode. Once on the track select screen, you can choose which song you’re going to tackle, the difficulty (you have two choices at first — Easy and Normal, then eventually Hard unlocks), and then which mode you’ll tackle the song with — Tap (using the stylus and touchscreen) or Button (using the face buttons…obviously). The way they differentiate the three difficulties is actually pretty neat; on Easy, you just have one area to tap (I have no experience with Button Mode, so I can’t really comment on that), two on Normal, and three on Hard. Believe me, even on Normal that can get pretty intense, with the faster songs.
As of the writing of this review, I have not yet unlocked every song, but I have played the game long enough to tell you it is deceptively simple to get into. At first, I was put off by the ease with which I completed each song, until I realized that that wasn’t even the tip of the iceberg. In each song, there are special nodes you can collect (referred to in game as “SP”), that help boost your score. But, in order to these SP nodes, you have to maintain a combo by getting at least a “Cool” or “Fine” ranking with each note you hit. I haven’t been able to do it myself, but it is possible to exceed 100% in each song, by holding the held notes a bit longer than normal. My personal best on any given song is 99.40% on Easy mode, with all SP collected. Apparently this is considered a “Perfect” score.
The real challenge here is mastering each song, perfectly hitting every note. I’ve watched a few gameplay videos on YouTube of perfect runs on Hard, and I’m just… blown away by the accuracy these players display. I just can’t get my idiot fingers to cooperate with me long enough to try that. My personal best on Hard mode for one song is 92.16%, with an “S” Rank. I’m quite satisfied with that.
The song selection is decent, if you’re into J-pop, which I am not, under normal circumstances. However, I’ve caught myself humming along and tapping my foot as I play the game. They’re cute, kinda catchy, and accompanied by an adorable video featuring each of the different Vocaloids. Even using the 2DS and its single speaker, the game audio was crisp, clear, and loud enough, but I’d still recommend headphones for this, especially if you’re playing on the go.
All in all, I’d say this game is a great addition to your collection, if you’re a fan of rhythm games, a fan of the series, or simply a fan of dressing up chibi versions of your favorite Vocaloids.
I’d give it a solid 8/10.