If you haven’t heard of Hatsune Miku, then get thee to a summary.
The first Miku videogame was a big release for Sega — with millions of rabid Miku fans, anything less than stellar would have earned the company frothing scorn. Sega kept it simple, producing an energetic rhythm game containing music created by those same rabid fans. Sega reaped enormous profits.
A year later, with two live concert performances under her belt, Miku once again arrived in my mailbox. On the surface, the second PSP game doesn’t seem too different; the graphics are pretty much the same, the music remains delightfully upbeat, and the game still revolves around tapping the right buttons at the right times. But that’s just the surface.
Import gamers will quickly discover that Project Diva 2nd essentially treats the original episode as a tutorial. New additions include long notes, which require a button to be held instead of tapped, and key notes, which require two simultaneous button presses. An “extreme” mode has also been added, no doubt inspired by those sadistic fans who created their own extreme mode using the original game’s stage editor. I haven’t messed around with the stage editor in Project Diva 2nd, but I hear it’s far less onerous than the original episode’s editor.
There are some more subtle differences, as well. The timing required to score “cool” and “fine” notes has been tweaked — matching notes to the beat is actually a bit easier now, although the Extreme mode goes beyond the original game and ensures there’s plenty of challenge. In the original game, “Chance Mode” required chaining notes together to achieve ridiculously high scores, and success or failure hinged on getting that one part of the song right. In Project Diva 2nd, those brief “Chance Mode” segments are less important to success; it’s essentially an opportunity to score extra points, as opposed to a make-it-or-break-it event.
For people who blazed through the first game, all of the old costumes can be imported from an existing save file. If you didn’t play the original, those costumes can be purchased with points earned through stellar performances. There’s a lot to discover — characters, costumes, “diva rooms”, and ornaments to decorate those rooms. A slew of new songs join old favorites, and a few duets have even been added. This is a great example of a company polishing a formula that already worked (which is what a sequel should be).
Anyone who enjoyed Megazone 23 or Macross Plus should consider that sales of the Hatsune Miku PSP games support more “live” virtual idol concerts and help those sci-fi dreams become reality. For those who simply enjoy music rhythm games, I absolutely recommend picking this one up, as it’s among the finest. It contains all of the old content, a lot of new content, and refined mechanics; that’s as perfect as a sequel can get.