Hatsune Miku in terms of video games is a Japanese series that has steadily been gaining a larger western following ever since Miku made her first appearance online just over eight years ago. For those unfamiliar, the Hatsune Miku games are a series of rhythm games based around Vocaloids, which means their voices are created electronically and are represented by fictional characters.
This particular title was actually released in Japan as Hatsune Miku: Project Mirai 2 as the second Project Mirai title on the 3DS. They decided to localize the second game for us though and renamed the title to Project Mirai DX, likely to prevent confusion by referring to it as a second title despite the first never being localized.
Project Mirai DX is packed to the brim with content, far more than you would expect from your average rhythm game. On top of the rhythm game portion, there are many ways you can interact with the various Vocaloids. There is so much content here, I think the best place to start is with the main draw of the game.
This title features 48 songs that you can play two different ways, on three different difficulties per method. The two methods for playing are called Tap Mode and Button Mode, and both are available for every song with their own easy, medium, and hard difficulty modes.
Tap Mode focuses on using the touch screen for tapping out the beats. On easy, you only have to focus on timing with a single note color. On medium another color is added, splitting the space on the touchscreen in half for you to switch between beats as necessary. On hard, yet another color is added with three areas on the touchscreen to worry about swapping between at a moment’s notice.
Button Mode uses the face buttons and directional pad on the 3DS itself to play. Easy doesn’t use the directional pad at all, while moving up into medium and hard introduces more complex and simultaneous use of the face buttons and directional pad.
Both modes feel fairly different to play and can add plenty of variety to the way you choose to play Project Mirai DX, and you are always free to pick whichever mode is most comfortable for you.
When it comes to actually seeing how the beats appear, Project Mirai DX has lines that the beats fall on over the top of a music video playing on the top screen. A circle follows along the line, and you tap or press buttons in rhythm for, at best, a “cool” rating on each note, and at worst a complete miss. Your combo can only be built by “cool” or “fair” ratings. Anything lower leaves you starting your combo over again on the next note.
To add onto this mode, some songs allow you to switch the performer out for a different Vocaloid, and you are free to customize the experience further with options to make the appearance and sound of notes more comfortable. You can even spend your Play Coins for various items that may make the experience a little bit easier, or so that you can add more challenge.
Now, as fun as this is, I can see some complaints coming up. For fans of the series, over half of the songs have appeared in Hatsune Miku games before. When it comes to the way beats are displayed on a line, some backgrounds can make it difficult to follow your circle indicator for hitting notes. Most notably, I can see people thinking the game is too easy, especially if they play the demo.
It’s worth pointing out though that the key to rhythm games is never simply beating songs. What you’re aiming for is something as close to perfect as possible. Project Mirai DX features special SP notes to hit in each song, and rates your performance up to S+. Even then, there is certainly challenge to be found, as every song is ultimately different and can add difficulty through unique lines or quick changes to different colors of beats or different buttons.
With every song you beat, you’re rewarded a type of currency called MP. MP finds its use in the other half of Project Mirai DX.
Outside of the rhythm game portion, you are free to interact with the Vocaloids who are referred to as your partners. Each partner lives in their own apartment, which you can decorate with furniture bought with MP. You can interact with your partners directly via voice commands using the mic, or via touchscreen commands if you want to be a bit more precise.
There are tons of outfits to buy for each partner, and you can buy things such as snacks for them as well. You can even give each partner their own allowance so that they can purchase various things they want to, which may include decoration items. They spend this money automatically over time, so don’t be surprised if you give all your partners a large allowance just to come back a few days later and find they’re all out of money.
To add to your interactions, you can even play Mikuversi, which is basically just the classic game, Reversi. Outside of main interactions, there is even another included mini-game called Puyo Puyo 39. This is a game similar to Tetris that you may already be familiar with, and it’s a nice way to spend some time aiming for a high score.
But is that everything in Project Mirai DX? Nope. We still have a little bit to go.
You can create cards for street pass and spot pass to be shared, you can watch each of the music videos from the rhythm game portion without the game part, and you can even create new dances to go with your favorite songs. To top it all off, there is an AR station, although I had no cards to try that particular part of the game.
The final thing worth mentioning is probably the fact that this game is near criminally cute. All the characters are represented in chibi style, and it is ridiculously cute seeing them dance around on the top screen, eat and drink things you buy for them, and interact with you when playing games or otherwise. This could be a hard pill to swallow for some, but I personally thought it added some nice appeal to the entire experience.
Hatsune Miku: Project Mirai DX is a game packed with so much content, I barely knew where to start with this review. The rhythm game portion is well done, the customization options are nice, and the mini-games and other extra features are all a treat. It may not be an absolutely perfect experience, but it is certainly a very well done one.
The one major turnoff I can think that may really affect the experience is the fact that this game is very Japanese. All of the songs are Japanese, the chibi style is very Japanese, and overall it does risk having more niche appeal than other entries in the series due to its overall design.
For fans of Hatsune Miku, this isn’t the strongest entry in the entire series, but it seems like a good purchase if you can get over only around half of the songs being new. For everyone else, Project Mirai DX is a great way to start digging into Hatsune Miku, and is a worthwhile addition to your 3DS library for any rhythm game fans.