- Genre: Rhythm
- Platform: Playstation Vita (Also available for PS3)
- Full Completion Normal/Hard, all but 2 songs Extreme difficulty
- Completion of all available song DLC at the time of playthrough
Project Diva is very obviously a game concentrated around the Japanese Vocaloid characters and music. However, underneath the surface, there’s a really strong music rhythm game to be had. There’s a large variety of content to run through, a nice range of difficulties, and a lot of side-activities for completionists to run through. If you’re fine with the very much anime-styled experience to be had with this, it’s one of the better rhythm games I’ve seen on a a portable system of late.
What I Liked
Overall the rhythm gameplay was pretty well put together. The core actions are all button presses, but there’s a mix of straight symbol/d-pad presses, combination symbol/d-pad at the same time (Ex: X + D-Pad down), as well as hold variants typical of the genre. On the Vita, there is also screen swipes with the inclusion of the front touchscreen. By the time I got into the extreme difficulty, I was playing a lot of thumb gymnastics trying to keep up with the pace of symbols coming in. The nice thing about this is that the presses follow the music very closely, so growing familiarity with the songs increases the effectiveness of play throughs, even on top of simply getting better at recognizing the patterns coming in.
On top of that, there is a lot of flexibility in how the game is played, both cosmetically and functionally. Song modifiers can be set before a song is played to increase the difficulty (Ex: random direction of symbols moving onto the screen), or to help clear tough songs (Ex: touch screen swipes can now be activated with the shoulder buttons). This gives another nice layer of modification even on top of the set of difficulties available. As a cosmetic incentive, the animated characters in each music video can be cosmetically changed, from simple things like hats, to completely different outfits. This plays into some of the completionist goals, where certain unlockables can only be obtained by playing songs with specific conditions of all of the above.
Indifferent, but Neat
The completionist aspect moves beyond just cosmetic changes. Each character can be interacted with within a customizable room, where you can give them gifts and interactable objects, growing relationships. I didn’t see anything to this beyond a handful of trophies, but it adds another layer of something to do for completionists to chase after.
What I Didn’t Like
The touch screen swiping was pretty poor. However, I chalk this up more to the system than to the game’s implementation. Over time, the typical touch screen finger grime would build up, and I’d start missing swipe inputs. Knowing about this to clean the screen before songs is fine, but hitting that tipping point mid-song tended to be frustrating as hell.
Extreme difficulty is also pretty appropriately named. While most of it was pretty much tuned to the rhythm of the song, some of the later songs were very clearly chosen to be absurd. Double press 16th notes wrapping around the button mapping felt next to impossible on the long travel, small buttons of the Vita. I suspect the PS3 controller would have felt better with its easier button presses, but the later songs on Extreme often times felt unfair to try to get through.