A lot of people forget when Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA originally introduced gamers to Miku and the other Vocaloids, it was a franchise unique to portable platforms. In fact, the original console games were unique titles that used a PSP and later data from a PSP save to unlock the game on consoles. Eventually, with the fall of PlayStation Vita and Nintendo 3DS losing steam, it started a trend of console releases. Given the experience with Nintendo in the past and the desire to take the games on the go, players were hopeful we would see a new release on Switch, a hope that was eventually answered with Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA MegaMix. With a ton of songs, countless costumes, and plenty of content, is this a must for fans or an underwhelming adventure that is, if nothing else, portable?
Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA MegaMix takes a path similar to the extremely successful Future Tone and simplifies the experience. Instead of a pointless story mode where you complete songs or interact with the girls though gifts and presents, it’s all about gameplay. This allows players to instantly pick it up, select from a wide variety of songs and try to beat it or set a new record.
Anyone familiar with the previously released Future Tone will likely find this release very familiar. Songs are presented in a list, across various difficulties ranging from easy to extra extreme, with the ability to set favorites, sort by name, and other details. Every song also has a difficult rating, optional tasks, and modifiers like hi-speed or notes appearing suddenly, the ability to edit singer, and more. It gives you a good idea of what to expect, though the difficulty rating, like usual in these games, can be hit and miss. Sometimes the arrangement or change-ups are harder than other times but it all depends on the person playing.
Now, if you haven’t played a Hatsune Miku game, they’re extremely easy to learn and equally difficult to master. Every song has some kind of beat and while watching a video of Miku or one of the other Vocaloids. Initially, you might get distracted with the video but over time you’ll get used to the timing and achieve better scores. Like all rhythm games, the score is dictated by your timing, so hitting too early might give you credit but gives reduced points and/or break your combo, giving you something to consider. As difficulty goes up, not only does the number of inputs increase, so does the variety. So easy might limit you to one or two inputs, normal might see all four and it just keeps increasing. The nice thing is that there is a sort of linear progression, assuming you spend the time increasing your skill, but that isn’t for everyone.
With all this being said, the biggest issue with Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA MegaMix is how similar to Future Tone it actually is. While the former boasts a seemingly impressive 101 (some people have noted they got 4 to 10 additional songs, though at the time of review I have 101) songs, the latter has over 200. Admittedly, 10 of the songs in MegaMix are not currently available in Future Tone, there will be a later DLC pack where you can purchase them, but that is quite the decrease.
In addition to that, due to Switch being a weaker system, some videos simply don’t look that impressive. One song that made it very noticeable was Shake It!, which is simply filled with pixelated backgrounds and rough details. To help Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA MegaMix achieve the right frame rate, there is a cel-shaded filter that helps, but isn’t quite the same. Popular YouTube creator Justonegamr actually uploaded some videos to showcase the differences between several titles and it’s pretty clear.
One of the better videos that highlight this is Odds & Ends. While some people prefer Future Tone to Project DIVA F and vice versa, MegaMix looks extremely out of place. Backgrounds and details are fine, in some cases, I can actually say I prefer the MegaMix look but anything with Miku herself is extremely out of place. The shading and contrast are lost, giving Miku a sense that a spotlight is always on her, ultimately making her seem foreign. It’s very different from the original vision, as seen in Project DIVA F, or how it was updated in Future Tone (for example Miku now casts a shadow) to being very bright and flat. For some, the change makes sense for the Switch and it’s perfectly fine if you like it but it is important to understand the difference before going into MegaMix.
Now, brighter or songs at a further distance aren’t as pronounced as things like the video might suggest. The MMORPG Addict’s Anthem, one of my favorite songs due to its association with Phantasy Star, isn’t a massive departure from the original vision. Those unfamiliar with the source or simply aren’t watching it at the same time might not even notice a difference. I tried Odds & Ends with a different costume to make sure I could not just replicate it but got the same result and it wasn’t terrible on its own, even it gives the song a different effect. This point is meant less as criticism, as much as to highlight how the experience differs in other versions.
While there are no doubt differences and things that bring it down, Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA MegaMix features a neat t-shirt editor. It isn’t the most robust model, though you can use the touchscreen to draw your own unique design for the characters to wear. It also features a new mode called Mix Mode that combined motion with inputs. It’s a good workout or change of pace if you’re used to the standard button presses.
Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA MegaMix Verdict
The struggle with Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA MegaMix is actually rather simple. The cel-shaded look might be hit and miss, the decrease in songs is far from ideal, there is certainly a decrease in quality, but it is still a fun game. It’s clear you’re trading a number of things for portability and honestly, for some that are enough. I won’t say this is a bad release, had it predated Future Tone it would probably be widely considered great, it just came at the wrong time and has some limitations. If these are things you can overlook, odds are you’ll still have fun and get enjoyment out of it. You just need to be aware of what you’re getting into before making the dive.
[Editor’s Note: Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA MegaMix was reviewed on the Switch platform. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]