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Hatsune Miku: Project Mirai DX Review (Nintendo 3DS)
Review by 
9/10 from one rating
Hatsune Miku and her fellow Vocaloids have sang their way to stardom, but I've largely overlooked the phenomenon up until now. It's a unique music sensation involving singing voice synthesizers known as "Vocaloids" that provide the vocals to a variety of catchy songs. This software is personified by Hatsune Miku and other characters that make up the cast of Sega's Hatsune Miku: Project Mirai DX. Don't worry if you're unfamiliar with these songs and fictional singers. I was, and still am to a certain degree. Just know that this is a quirky rhythm game with an upbeat personality and a wide variety of music that is fun to play along to. It's clearly a love letter to fans of Vocaloids, but those who have a taste for rhythm games will feel right at home with Hatsune Miku: Project Mirai DX.

Project Mirai DX has a style all its own. The music is the meat of this game, but it's garnished with all kinds of unconventional content. The first thing you're tasked with is to pick a Vocaloid that will occupy an apartment of your choosing. You can change apartments or Vocaloids at any time, and your selections have no effect on the core gameplay. These choices simply give the player an opportunity to interact with the characters and personalize their experience. Decorating apartments, putting together dance routines, and playing Puyo Puyo are just a few of the things that you can do when you're taking a break from the main portion of the game. These simple diversions make Project Mirai DX feel like more than just a rhythm game, and I appreciate all of the extra effort that went into them.

That said, you will spend most of your time in the rhythm game mode where you can either press buttons or use the touchscreen to follow along with the music. Once a song gets going, a blue line will appear. The objective is to hit red, blue, and yellow circles that travel across that line within a circular frame to match the rhythm. Normal mode actually limits the beats to red and blue while yellow beats only appear in hard mode. There are also grey circles that require you to swipe the touchscreen in the direction that they indicate. It doesn't matter what part of the touchscreen you swipe for the grey circles, but each colored circle corresponds to a specific section of the touchscreen. This makes keeping up with a song engaging, and it can get pretty challenging if you're shooting for a high score. It's nothing out of the ordinary for this genre, but the mechanics are incredibly solid and fun. The beats are timed well to the music, and the controls feel perfectly responsive. I also like that the line which the beats travel on moves all over the screen. I think it adds some extra energy to the visuals.

Most of the songs are pop-flavored, but there's a surprising amount of variety even within those borders. Just about each song has its own distinct look, feel, and sound. That's an impressive feat considering that there are quite a few songs in this game. Playing through one song usually unlocks another, and getting a good grade may unlock costumes, items or features themed after that song. Basically, there's a lot in place to keep you playing long after you've cleared each song at least once.

Another noteworthy aspect of this game is the presentation. It's overwhelmingly cute. The Vocaloids are expressive even when they aren't singing, and their toy-like proportions add some silliness to their performances. The backgrounds for each song are just as lively, too. Sometimes I get distracted and miss a beat or two because I'm enjoying the visuals so much. Sega did an awesome job bringing these characters and their stages to life.

Like many 3DS games, Streetpass also comes into play. Similar to Final Fantasy Theatrhythm, you can create a profile card and it'll automatically be sent to other Project Mirai DX players that you've tagged. The card's appearance can be customized in all sorts of ways, but many of the options have to be unlocked first. A song and dance routine that you've made can also be attached to the card for other players to view. I managed to tag a couple of other players prior to this review, and one of them had a Vocaloid rendition of a Legend of Zelda song attached to their card! StreetPass also exchanges comments that you and other players have left on songs in theater mode. Simply view a song in theater mode that has been commented on to see comments and emoticons scroll across the screen. Each song can hold 250 comments, so it could be quite a sight to behold if you manage to tag multiple people who own Hatsune Miku: Project Mirai DX!

At the end of the day, Project Mirai DX is a robust rhythm game that can easily be enjoyed by those who are unfamiliar with these characters and songs. The music works extremely well within this context, and I think you'll have a great time as long as this genre appeals to you.

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Posted: 11/05/15, 10:40:17  - Edited by 
 on: 11/05/15, 22:51:33    
Why not sign up for a (free) account and create your own content?
I'm fascinated by the concept of Vocaloid. It's basically the same thing as American pop, except more honest. They don't even pretend that real people are performing!

Definitely going to pick this game up. Maybe in the B2G1 sale at Target this weekend.

How full-featured is the version of Puyo Puyo? I haven't played it much since the early GBA days.

Posted by 
 on: 11/06/15, 03:21:28

It's a Vocaloid-themed version of Puyo Puyo that's light on content, but still plenty of fun if you like those games. It has a short single player mode with four difficulty settings and a local multiplayer mode. You can set the background music to any song that you've unlocked if you're playing the multiplayer mode, and you can even change the appearance of the puyos to their retro designs if you want.

Posted by 
 on: 11/06/15, 05:32:28  - Edited by 
 on: 11/06/15, 19:07:39
Excellent review. So glad this game came out. The industry needs stuff like this, especially since stuff like Space Channel 5 and Parrapa The Rapper basically no longer exist.

Posted by 
 on: 11/06/15, 16:02:22
Ooo, local multiplayer, even? I mean, the odds of finding someone who's not either way worse or way better at than me at Puyo Puyo are astronomical, but still! Being able to switch the music is cool, too. Have you tried the AR stuff? It might be time to break out my gigantic Question Block poster...

Posted by 
 on: 11/07/15, 03:05:39

I have! The game came with a bunch of AR cards. Some of them are character cards, but most of them are song cards that show the Vocaloids performing their songs when scanned. It's pretty neat.

Posted by 
 on: 11/07/15, 05:54:03
The game came with cards?!? Oh man. Guess I shouldn't opt for the digital download version.

Posted by 
 on: 11/07/15, 14:20:13

They were advertised as a launch edition bonus, but hopefully there's enough to go around for a while.

Posted by 
 on: 11/08/15, 06:39:09
Ugh, Launch Edition Bonus. I can't always buy a game right away, publishers! I can't roll like that.

This is another reason I'm kinda miffed about the Limited Edition Rodea the Sky Soldier bundle. Apparently the only way to get all the cool stuff is through NIS's official online store. Not at a normal retailer. That suuuuucks.

Posted by 
 on: 11/09/15, 19:04:07
When you say 'cool stuff', are you talking about tchotchkes or the Wii version? Because I'm pretty sure that the Wii version is included in (at least) the first print run of every Wii U copy of Rodea.

Anyway, I did end up ordering Project Mirai as part of the Target sale. (And Rodea the Sky Soldier, as well!)

Posted by 
 on: 11/09/15, 21:28:51

I mean STUFF! There's a 40-page hardcover art book, a music CD of the game's OST, a charm for a bracelet....I'm pretty sure there's a poster in there as well. A cloth poster, maybe? Can't remember if it was for Rodea or for Stella Glow.

You're right, the Wii version comes standard with all (physical) copies of the Wii U game.

Posted by 
 on: 11/11/15, 01:05:43  - Edited by 
 on: 11/11/15, 01:06:27
A few of my students just did a presentation on Hatsune Miku today. I told them about the 3DS game.

Posted by 
 on: 11/11/15, 01:16:20

Did you SHOW them the 3DS game? I bet they'd get a kick out of it.

I assume you bring your 3DS to work, yeah?

Posted by 
 on: 11/11/15, 21:43:10
So I actually played it! It's pretty fun. I only played one song, but I messed around with all of the extra content. Seems like a robust package. It was nice to play some Puyo Puyo again, although I forgot most of the strategies (and why no download plaaaay?). And the AR stuff is a trip!

Also, Miku sucks at Othello.

Posted by 
 on: 11/13/15, 16:28:25  - Edited by 
 on: 11/13/15, 16:28:44

Posted by 
 on: 02/16/16, 15:53:34  - Edited by 
 on: 02/16/16, 15:53:52
Who's headlining?!

Is it Peelander-Z?

Posted by 
 on: 02/17/16, 23:35:16
I wish.

Hatsune Miku IS the headliner!

Posted by 
 on: 02/17/16, 23:59:36
What a crazy world we live in... It'll be fascinating to see how many people show up.

Hey, tag links can't be spoilered, apparently!

Posted by 
 on: 02/18/16, 03:35:46
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