Title: Hatsune Miku: Project Mirai DX
Platform: Nintendo 3DS
Release Date: September 8th, 2015
The publisher provided a product code for the purposes of this review.
Well, at this point, you’re either a Hatsune Miku person or you’re not. The above image goes a long way in determining whether or not Hatsune Miku: Project Mirai DX for the Nintendo 3DS is your jam or not. Do you like Vocaloid music? Do you find the Nendodroid-style chibi characters far too “kawaii” to ignore? Do I sound like a tool for putting kawaii in quotes? If all of the above answers are a definitive “Yes!” then, guess what, have I got a game for you!
The evergreen Miku series returns to Western shores again with the release of Project Mirai DX. This offshoot of the Project DIVA titles provides less of a challenge for veteran players but offers a veritable motherlode of content to explore in regards to unlockables, game modes, and Spot/Street Pass options. It happens to be a long-awaited localized version of Hatsune Miku and the Future Stars: Project Mirai from all the way back in 2012. Praise be to based SEGA for bringing this over because the 3DS faithful suffer from a severe lack of rhythm games on the platform. So thirsty.
The music is, of course, the main draw of any Miku game and DX offers a fantastic selection of nearly 50 tracks that range from remixed classics to entirely new tracks (to the West). Those well-versed in the Miku-verse will likely recall more than a few of the songs but for those new to the series? There has never been a better jumping-on point.
Music is truly the universal language and for all of David Letterman’s hemming and hawing about not getting the virtual diva’s presence on the former Late Show there is something special about Miku’s Vocaloid tunes. They are joyful slices of Japanese culture that somehow transcend the boundaries of linguistics and, instead, have become anthems to an entire generation of Western fans who just love a great pop song. The soundtrack of Mirai DX, from beginning to end, will sink its teeth into you, strip away your resolve and leave you with numerous tunes rattling around in your brain. The bevy of tracks run the gamut from BPM ball-busting bangers to far more simplistic J-Pop whimsy that will catch you off guard with how catchy they are. Perhaps this is the future envisioned by all those science fiction authors of years past? Pills in food form and Vocaloid stars ruling the day. We’re almost there folks.
Remember that mention of this being a great jumping-on point for those new to the entire Miku phenomenon? There’s a reason for that. It comes down to gameplay. Mirai DX offers those unaccustomed to the rhythm game way of living an option to play entirely on the touch screen. Miku becomes Taiko Drum Master at that point and, rightly so, the difficulty becomes trivial. I will admit to having a good time to tapping away to Doremifa Rondo or Happy Synthesizer, though. The face buttons (X, Y, B, A) work for inputs in the usual genre style with varying difficulties ranging from Easy to, on certain songs, Ex-Hard. (Pro-tip: EX-Hard is pretty friggin’ tough).
Series die-hards will notice, right away, that the difficulty prior titles are known for takes a backseat here to accessibility, collectibles (which there are loads of) and a, potentially, more kid-friendly feel. This is on a Nintendo platform after all, and the chibi caricatures of these well-worn characters certainly would go a long way in drawing in kiddos on the West side in on this whole Vocaloid thing. That said I never had some of the same soul-crushing and hand-breaking feelings that some of the prior Project DIVA games had. There is no borderline PSP-fracturing button smashing moments like Gekishou provided in the halcyon days of the franchise. The old hands might decry this lack of overall difficulty but for those not so used to it? A welcome refrain some of the more inaccessible rhythm game imports from the Land of the Rising Sun.
The music aside there are numerous other facets of Mirai DX to explore. The Nendodroid kawaii train doesn’t have any brakes on the 3DS this time, bucko. There are things to buy for your Vocaloid of choice’s living quarters, outfits to purchase, a scaled down version of a music maker, dance editor and, of course, Puyo Puyo and Reversi. There’s also this:
Day-One Purchase, of course. That aside the outfits are adorable, the various furniture and trinkets for the player’s virtual house are numerous and the customization available is far deeper than one would expect. Though there are no Platinum trophies to snag here, there are certainly enough reasons to keep coming back to get those Miku-bucks for more things to buy.
Hatsune Miku: Project Mirai DX serves as a welcome addition to the tepid rhythm game genre offerings on the Nintendo 3DS. The usual Miku seal of quality is present, as always, along with the music rating from good to exceptional in some instances. The difficulty won’t knock anyone’s socks off, but the customization options, collectibles and in-game chicanery will bring long-time fans back for more (at least until Project DIVA X hits like a typhoon). This is a worthy entry into the stellar Hatsune Miku franchise and well worth a look. Those new to the rhythm game genre won’t be scared off by difficulty and those who are already “in on it” will dig those sweet Vocaloid tunes. The addition of Reversi and Puyo Puyo adds even more value to an excellent package on offer. Snatch this one up, folks.
+ Great track listing including some fantastic remixes of prior songs.
+ Accessibility. The difficulty isn't as high thus encouraging new fans to check in on this great franchise.
+ The character design, inspired by the Nendodroid figures, is adorable.
+ Plenty of extras to keep players digging in and replaying songs.
+ The lack of rhythm games on the 3DS makes this an immediate consideration for purchase as it is typical Hatsune Miku quality.
- Graphically it pales in comparison to its VITA counterparts.
- Controls-wise it doesn't feel quite as natural on the 3DS.
- Difficulty is lacking in comparison to past titles so series veterans will easily best even the hardest of difficulties (which are only offered on select songs not all of them).