It’s now over ten years since the original Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA game was released, and in that time the series’ gameplay hasn’t changed much.
It’s got a little more complicated, sure, and certainly more refined, but the crux of the gameplay remains the same; icons fly in from the edge of the screen, and as they overlap with their matching static icons waiting patiently in the middle of the screen, you need to press the correct input. Time the press perfectly and you’re cool. Get it late and you’re bad. Missing notes entirely is probably a sign that you should turn the difficulty down. It’s simple, but it works.
Having previously found success on PlayStation Vita, it only makes sense that the series would eventually makes it way to Nintendo Switch. And so here we are with Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA Mega Mix, the biggest, and perhaps best, Project DIVA game yet. It has all the features you’d expect, a whopping song list, and some new additions to capitalise on the new hardware. But deep down it’s just as joyous, care-free and accessible as ever. Whether you’re a rhythm game newbie or pro, you can get a lot out of it.
“It’s just as joyous, care-free and accessible as ever”
Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA Mega Mix is an apt name for this Switch exclusive release, as it does really feel like a best-of of sorts. It’s bursting at the seams with just over 100 songs – some old, some new – and features the tried and tested gameplay that fans have come to know and love along with heaps of customisation. But there are also new aspects to this release, ones that fans are sure to both love and feel lukewarm about.
Firstly, Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA Mega Mix features a new look. The series has always been anime-ish, but now it’s gone full anime. Every single one of its songs has been done over with the new anime-style visuals, making them feel fresh and more eye-catching than ever before. Not that you can particularity afford to gawp at them while actually playing. You’re better off sitting back and simply enjoying the songs as music videos if you want to do that. Which you can do, by the way.
What will divide fans, however, is the new gameplay style. You can play Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA Mega Mix like any other Project DIVA game if you wish – using face buttons, bumpers and analogue sticks – or you can elect to use the new Mix Mode where success is all in the wrists. The choice is yours.
Playing Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA Mega Mix in Mix Mode is like playing an entirely different game, really. With the Joy-Cons detached, you hold them upright in each hand with your thumb on either the shoulder button or trigger. Then, you simply tilt your wrist left and right to move a coloured bar the same way on the screen. Match them up with the notes coming down, and then press either the bumper or trigger when they overlap; it’s as simple as that. Holding gold notes is about as complicated as it gets.
“Whether you’re a series fan or a newcomer looking for the perfect entry point, Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA Mega Mix fits the bill”
On easy, you only have one giant bar to worry about, which makes playing the game an absolute doddle despite there being a noticeable delay between you moving your wrist and the bar actually moving. Step it up to normal and you have two smaller bars – left and right – which makes playing in Mix Mode a little more challenging yet also more engaging. On hard, the bars are further reduced in size which makes success even trickier. Unfortunately the motion delay and the less than great shoulder/trigger buttons on the Joy-Cons don’t make it much fun.
Playing in Mix Mode is okay for a bit of a laugh, and those new to the game will certainly find the simplified inputs more intuitive than the standard arcade controls, but Project DIVA fans are likely to find themselves returning to and sticking to the control system they’re already used to pretty quickly. Arcade controls are more complicated, no doubt, especially on higher difficulty settings, but they also feel more accurate and reliable. They truly make the game a test of skill.
Whichever way you play, as you make your way through Hatsune Miku Project DIVA Mega Mix‘s exhaustive song list you’ll earn VP based on your performance. And it’s with VP that you can enjoy the game’s customisation features. There are countless modules, hairstyles, accessories and more to unlock, allowing you to add your own spin on each song’s video. Some might not care for it all, but those who do have bit more impetus to perform well in each and every song.
It’s hard to not be charmed with Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA Mega Mix. The visuals are more consistent and pleasing to the eyes than ever, the song list is gargantuan, and the gameplay is just as solid as it’s ever been. Only the new Mix Mode is a let-down in this package, but it really doesn’t matter as it’s simply an optional way to play. Whether you’re a series fan or a newcomer looking for the perfect entry point, Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA Mega Mix fits the bill.