It’s only logical that Sega would eventually release a new entry for the popular Hatsune Miku franchise on the highly successful Nintendo Switch hardware. It may have taken a couple of years for this to happen, but new entry Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA Mega Mix is out now on the Nintendo Switch.
For those unfamiliar with Miku and her games, it’s basically a computer generated character that has become so popular that people even attend concerts of her “playing” live. The games are your standard rhythm fare where buttons and directions must be pressed with correct timing whilst a music track plays in the background.
Now, it’s necessary to say that this entry isn’t exactly the most beginner friendly game in the rhythm genre. It’s actually quite difficult to occasionally follow some of the on-screen prompts used to describe which buttons to press or the direction to hold with the right timing. This is due to the random nature of the flow where these prompts move in that can make it hard to distinguish which to do first in order and more so if there’s a lot of them on the screen. There’s also the fact that the user interface is quite busy compared to other rhythm games whilst playing a song. There is a lot of information to process and someone who isn’t quite as skilled at playing the games in this franchise could easily struggle to keep up when playing some of the tougher music tracks.
At least there is no denying that the game comes with an impressive selection of music tracks and they are all playable from the start. It’s truly nice to see so much variety in terms of the type of music presented. It also means that with so many music tracks, it’s possible to cater for the hardcore Miku fans who probably can tackle them on hardest setting without breaking a sweat and poor innocent souls who might struggle on the easy setting.
There’s also downloadable content to purchase to add additional music tracks, but the fact that there are so many songs already included means that it benefits the fans more, since it consists of new music tracks that they will want to experience.
What is strange is how the game doesn’t include any kind of story mode or at least one resembling it, such as a world tour with challenges for Miku and her pals to tackle. It’s nice to have access to such a wide selection of music tracks, but it also means that it’s lacking the feeling of accomplishing something and being rewarded for it. There is in-game currency and it’s earned by playing music tracks, but it’s only used to purchase cosmetic items used on the characters.
The fact that there is a way to compete with others by means of online leader-boards, using different scores earned by completing music tracks, at least makes it possible for talented fans to have more of a reason to keep playing this for a long time. It’s even more clear that this was the intention since it’s only possible to upload scores for music tracks completed on tougher difficulty settings.
Now rhythm is an important factor when playing a game such as this. There is an option to try to change the lag, so that delay between pressing a button or holding a direction and what happens on-screen is minimal. It does help to do this when starting to play the game. However, there is still something occasionally slightly off about it and it feels like it’s more to do with how prompts are used for each of the music tracks. It’s only a mild inconvenience at least and it’s very rare for it to happen.
One of the big changes in this entry is the inclusion of the brand new Mix mode that makes use of the motion controls found in Joy-Con controllers. It’s a clever idea to try to implement and it’s still quite fun to use, despite the fact that it’s not very accurate and this is made more clear when trying to play a music track on the normal or a higher difficulty setting. This mode is played by holding one or both Joy-Pad controller upright and then moving them in one direct to also move one or two bars on the screen and then using a side button to hit the on-screen prompt with the right timing. The main issue being that it’s really difficult to make use of the motion controls when being asked to quickly change directions. At least it’s a much more pleasant experience when using just one Joy-Con controller on the easy difficulty setting and with a slower pace to make up for the somewhat unreliable use of motion controls.
At least with so many music tracks, there is something to please a lot of different players and some of them are really catchy. The visuals, albeit occasionally not useful when trying to focus on the button/direction prompts that appears on-screen, are definitely some of the best found in games that fall under the rhythm genre. Each music track comes with a high quality video of Miku and other divas dancing and singing with lots of flashy visuals and locations. In fact, those inclined to do so can just watch and listen to a music video for each music track. There’s even an option to create playlists to play music tracks or just listen or/and watch the music videos.
There’s no doubt that Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA Mega Mix has the makings of being another hit with fans, but it could prove somewhat lacking in the long term. The lack of restraint with regards to how content is unlocked and no real way to define progress, outside of scores and cosmetic upgrades, also narrows down its overall appeal for anyone outside of its target group.