Jordan over at SwitchWatchTV got his hands on Hastune Miku Project Diva Mega Mix, and well, it sounds like he had a pretty good time. For all you Hatsune Miku fans out there, you may have a swell reason to be excited! Check out the video review below, or continue downward to read it here on SwitchWatch.co.uk.
Hatsune Miku is a cultural phenomenon in her home country of Japan. She is a chart-topping superstar that doesn’t actually exist. She is a vocaloid, which is not something I’m going to pretend I fully comprehend. Trying to talk about Hatsune Miku to me is like trying to talk to me about cryptocurrency. I’m just going to stare at you pretending I’m listening and internally think about what I’m going to eat for lunch. But thankfully, I’m not here to explain Hatsune Miku as a person/thing. Because I’m here to talk about this video game. Which is something I can actually do!
Before we begin to talk about today’s review, it’s worth pointing out that this is a review of a Japanese game. It’s not out in the west yet, and no release date has been announced so far. It is coming. We just don’t know when. So you’re going to be seeing lots of Japanese words in this review since that is the language I was playing in. And it’s fine, because it’s a rhythm game. It’s not a politically driven RPG or anything with reams of dialogue.
As I said, I’m not an expert in Hatsune Miku nor her games. But rhythm games are right up there along with my favorite genres. Taiko no Tatsujin on Switch is a love of mine, and my favorite 3DS game is Theatrhythm Curtain Call. With Hatsune Miku being a highly revered series, I was excited to delve into it after trying one of them ages ago.
ABOUT PROJECT DIVA MEGA MIX
Project Diva Mega39’s, as it’s called here in the east, is basically a best of compilation. We have a very healthy selection of 101 songs. Only 1 of which is brand new to the series. The vocaloid genre is an acquired taste, though. It not your usual kind of music, and I don’t think I’d personally listen to most of it outside of the game. But for me, there’s just something about the genre that fits so well with rhythm games. The upbeat tempo and the unnatural tones of the vocals suit video games so well. The energy is fantastic.
And there is quite a variety here. The songs that have been hand picked aren’t all the same. Many of them are quite distinctive, touching different musical genres with the vocaloid magic, and I was really quite impressed with the selection here. And don’t you worry guys, there’s plenty of DLC coming I’m sure, with a season pass purchase available already.
I’m never usually one to delve into DLC, but when it comes to rhythm games. Oh, god. Someone hide my bank card, please! So yeah, there’s plenty of music to be found here.
If you’re not familiar with how the rhythm plays out here, I actually find it quite trippy. It’s visually very chaotic as hollow letter-based on the Switch’s input buttons: A, B, X & Y. It has a count down clock hand that swirls until it reaches straight up, at which point a nice colorful note will fly in from off screen to join up where you press the corresponding button. If you hit it perfectly you’ll get a “cool” grade. However, if you’re slightly off with your timing you get lower grades of varying levels down to failure.
It may seem simple, even the Japanese tutorials are instantly understood, but it’s far from easy to master. Your timing truly has to be perfect, and the way the notes fly in from all over the place, it can be devilish and disorientating at times, at least for a beginner like myself. Even on the easiest setting, the songs always tend to throw in a curve ball near the end just when you think you’ve nailed the song. There are more advanced techniques such as flicking the analogue stick, pressing multiple buttons at once, and also holding down notes. It can get pretty hefty at times.
I played on normal difficult 95% of the time and still always struggled to get passed 75% grading, which is needed to unlock higher difficulties for songs. I don’t even want to know how evil the extreme difficulty setting is. Yes, this is a game that you will need a lot of practice. You know what, though? Yes, I’m pretty rubbish at this, but I had just incredible amounts of fun. I absolutely love it.
Everything about the gameplay just comes together fantastically to create a true musical experience. The music, of course, the gameplay which can put you in a zen-like state, and the background music video. Of which, every song has their own unique music video to go with it. That might not sound too impressive, but I find it steps up the production value massively. They’re all very impressive too. Great dance choreography, some fun, very unique visuals, so much variety, I was so completely dazzled by them.
It’s very rare a rhythm game goes the extra mile, but Mega39’s does. To me this isn’t just a quick cash grab, this is a premium rhythm game and one of the best that I’ve played. The fact that it takes time to learn and to get better but you’re still having awesome fun with it means that it’s a game that will last you a long time. Sure, game modes may be slightly scant, but this is just about the pure established gameplay that everyone loves and I now love too thanks to this game.
In terms of what else this game offers aside from the standard gameplay fans of the series will be used to, you have some extra stuff to keep you occupied. There’s a new gimmicky mode involving motion controls, and thankfully they aren’t as disastrous as Taiko No Tatsujin. Actually, they offer an excellent alternative. Basically, you hold your Joy Cons upright and on the bottom of the screen you have two paddles. Tilting the joy cons left or right will move the paddles. When the falling notes touch the paddles you press the shoulder button. It’s incredibly simple, if slightly visually counter-intuitive. Because you rotate the Joy Con downwards, you see the paddle on the screen arch upwards. There’s a slight disconnect there, but you will adjust.
I found this mode incredibly chilled and fun for the slower songs. It’s a bit too much at a faster pace, especially during more difficult songs, and those kind of make it far less fun. But if you choose the right song, this mode offers much more than just being a gimmick.
Outside of the the rhythm gameplay, there’s not an extravagance of things to do. A lot of the peripheral stuff will be for extreme fans of Hatsune Miku herself. There are plenty of outfits to unlock, hats and things, included for extra characters. There are actually quite a few. I have no idea who they are, but they’re here and can be customized too. Why customize? Well they will appear in the music videos however you’ve dressed them, and you can let them fill different roles in the videos.
It’s a little tricky to organize while I’m playing in Japanese, but a bit of fiddling around the menus and experimenting will get you where you need to be. I’m sure fans will love changing her hairstyles, and the costumes. And my word, is there a lot to unlock, all of which can be bought using VP which is earned through playing the songs.
There’s even opportunity to design your own t-shirt, but I feel this is something that would have been left in the planning room. But Meirin over in our Discord server sent us what they made using it, and I was well impressed. I thought it was impossible, but Meirin managed to make the SwitchWatch logo and have Hatsune Miku dance around in it. So maybe if you’ve got the skills, then it could be fun. Though they did say they used a stylus to help, which makes a whole lot more sense. There was me fiddling around with the analogue sticks like an idiot. Thanks to Meirin for showing that! It really made my day to see it.
And finally there’s a place you can customize playlists, and you can just casually watch the awesome music videos if you don’t fancy playing the game, especially if you just want to listen to the vast amount of music.
If I had one major complaint, it would be that I wish there were some touchscreen gameplay modes in here too. Using the touchscreen can be fantastic for rhythm games, so it’s disappointing to see them not even try. They could have at least made it possible to manipulate the motion controls using your finger on the screen instead or something. I don’t know. It just seems like an oversight that they didn’t try something.
VISUALS & PERFORMANCE
In terms of visuals, this is easily top tier when it comes to rhythm games. There’s so much visual flair and distinctiveness to every music video shown, and the 3D models, while simple enough, are strong thanks to the bright nature of them. The choreography is wonderful, and I was just completely impressed by how this game looked. It looks great on a TV, but just don’t sit too close otherwise it’s difficult to keep an eye out on the whole play field. The background music video can also be distracting. It’s incredibly suited to handheld mode, and I highly recommend plugging in some headphones and zoning in on this one. I promise you, you will loose hours at a time with it.
Audio, well, I think I’ve already kind of covered that. Vocaloid may not be to everyone’s taste, but then again, I thought the same thing. They’ve always been my least favorite songs in something like Taiko no Tatsujin, but here they are just so excellently fitting. And because they’ve been handpicked from the series, you’ve got all the creme of the crop. No fat to pad out the list.
Looking at value, it’s hard to know where to approach games like this. It’s not released in the west yet, but it will eventually and the price is unknown. So I’ve just got to go with what’s available now.
You can get your hands on it in a couple of ways. There are digital and physical options. On the Japanese eShop, you’re looking at a very premium ¥6,589, which is around £46, $US 60 and €55. It’s a hefty 14.3GB download, too. You’ll need some Japanese eShop credit, however, so check the links below as to where you can find some if this is the avenue you want to go down.
You can also check out the Hong Kong eShop, which has it more affordably. It’s almost $400HK which is £39, $51, and €47. Although it’s worth noting that finding Hong Kong eShop credit is not the easiest thing in the world.
Now there’s also a better way. You can purchase a physical version for import, either the Japanese or Hong Kong version. When you get that you also get a download code for some extra songs.
Now, of course there’s no English here. There’s been no announcement of if English will be patched in later like it was with Taiko no Tatsujin, so I’m sure you’re all wondering why not just wait for the western release. Well, fair enough, if you have the patience, but there is no indication if this is getting a physical release in the west. Nothing has been said aside that the game is coming at some point this year.
Personally, you don’t need English much, though. The gameplay is very explanatory, and there are no story elements. Going through the menus is pretty easy as there is some English. Only the inner menus will be a little troublesome, but nothing that a little bit of experimenting can’t get over. You really don’t need English as long as you don’t mind being a little adventurous, or nothing a quick Google Translate can’t solve.
I was a little worried going in. But after playing just a couple of hours, it was like the language difference wasn’t there at all.
Plus, there’s also an awesome collector’s edition, which I’m kind of regretting that I didn’t get, because it has a whopping 5 CDs in it and I really want it now.
If you want to import this physical yourself, then all the links are below for all the editions available. If you use those links to import, then you’ll also support us at the same time, helping us improve the show for you guys. Helps fund these import reviews that you guys love so much. Plus, when you use our links, don’t forget when you’re checking out to use the coupon code SWITCHWATCHTV for a nice 5% off your order. But don’t forget to use our links, or it won’t support us.
Hatsune Miku Project Diva Mega39’s (No English)
Standard (Asia): https://bit.ly/39zxwFn
Standard (Japanese): https://bit.ly/3bK7wJF
Collector’s (Japanese): https://bit.ly/2USg2A5
9000¥ eShop credit: https://bit.ly/2GQw7Pw
¥5000 eShop credit: https://bit.ly/2V6VMLG
¥3000 eShop credit: https://bit.ly/2vDMhsd
¥1000 eShop credit: https://bit.ly/2V2bur4
Depending on if this does get a physical in the west or not, I’m sure it’s going to be one of the top tier imports for the Switch this year.
Overall, if you’re into rhythm games, well look no further. In terms of fun, challenge, and production values, this is the game to have. Yes, it’s in Japanese right now at the time of this review’s publication, but that doesn’t in any way affect the enjoyment to be had out of it. I probably prefer Taiko no Tatsujin more, just because of the giant drum, but this easily stands toe-to-toe. I can’t wait to actually start getting good at it. Maybe see you in about 100 hours?
Playing this game really opened me up as to why Hatsune Miku is such a star. I mean, this is a game that’s as charming as they come and put together so well. Perhaps they could have eased off the DLC a bit and had more original songs, plus no touch screen controls outside of drawing your t-shirt seems a bit of an oversight. Still, for me, it’s a fantastic rhythm game, and anyone who even vaguely likes the genre should own this. Whether you download, import, or wait for the western release, this is top tier stuff.