HomeReviewsNintendoGAME REVIEW | A "Mega Mix" Worthy of Hatsune Miku’s Milestone

GAME REVIEW | A "Mega Mix" Worthy of Hatsune Miku’s Milestone

Hatsune Miku can be a cruel mistress sometimes. While there’s no doubt of her adorable attitude when she’s behind the mic or on the dance floor, it’s in the video game realm where her sadist intentions are in full swing. For ten years, her Project DIVA rhythm games have delivered gorgeous visuals and catchy tunes. But those pretty sights and sounds are meant to distract players from hitting buttons at the precise moment, killing combos and the chance of hitting that perfect score. In that way, the blue-haired waifu and the rest of her Vocaloid cohorts can be seen as kind of evil.

Project DIVA Mega Mix, the franchise’s debut on the Nintendo Switch, adds more tough concepts to gamers, bringing a motion-control element to the already-challenging rhythm series. With 100 songs to choose from, the game gives you two options to play: the classic button mode and the new Mega Mix mode. By completing songs in either mode, players can earn points to unlock costumes for the characters to wear as they hit the stage.

After taking on the game’s tutorials, Project DIVA Mega Mix throws you into the musical madness that it has to offer. Like before, the normal mode has you hitting buttons, attempting combos, and trying your best to get a high score. As you play, some great videos with killer dance routines and beautiful worlds blast through your screen, as it makes you try to mess up on your rhythm. And it will happen a lot as you play, as it’s nearly impossible to not get lost in the antics of Miku, Luka, Kaito, Meiko, and the siblings Rin & Len.

The arcade mode is what you’ve come to expect from the franchise, as you time the button presses to the beat of the song. At first, it’s a smooth transition playing each song, as you can easily get into its groove. But depending if you have it set to any difficulty (save for the hardest one), it will up the tough factor towards each song’s bridge. Here, you have to be on your toes, as those who are not familiar with playing on high difficulties will no doubt be thrown off-course and stumble through.

When playing in handheld mode, Project DIVA Mega Mix gives you a taste of the arcade version, with you bopping the buttons on-screen rather than the controllers itself. While it doesn’t have that same squishy feeling as the massive arcade buttons, it does make it feel like you’re doing some cool DJ-styled beat drops as you bop your way through combos. The feeling of dancing via your fingertips is a delight, as if you’re creating audible magic with every press of the button. It’s pretty fun, even if the visuals can still be distracting.

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It’s the new Mega Mix mode that can be the most frustrating to play. Holding the two Joy-Cons in hand, you’ll have to twist your wrists or raise your arms in order to hit the markers at the right moment. However, the “up is down, right is left” setup of the motion controls makes it all the more irksome to play, as it constantly threw me off and forced me to fail almost every time when I played. Even when you try to get into the song’s rhythm, it was still jarring to move one direction to get an opposite one. (Despite its flaws, Mega Mix is a bit more fun when playing with a friend.)

And yet, even through all the frustrating parts of Project DIVA Mega Mix, it’s hard to be angry at Hatsune Miku. The songs and visuals — all of which are some of the Vocaloids’ best work — are so wonderful for the eyes and ears. On the Switch, the graphics look just as great as they did on the recent PS4 versions, with all of the characters brimming with the cutesy sweetness that has made Miku and company icons in the digital music world. (It’s why I’m so happy with the Playlist Mode, which lets you watch the videos without any sort of distraction.)

PROS:

  • Great song selection
  • Beautiful visuals
  • Good controls for Arcade mode

CONS:

  • Mega Mix mode is wicked tough
  • Takes a long time to unlock everything

FINAL THOUGHTS:

Despite the new mode’s frustrations, Project DIVA Mega Mix offers a lot of fun and catchy songs for fans and newcomers. It’s a game that — while not the strongest in the Project DIVA series — offers enough to showcase the power that Hatsune Miku & friends have crafted over the past ten years. With some more tinkering, the new mode has potential for greatness; but as of now, the original Arcade mode (and its handheld version) are where the true good times can be found.

FINAL GRADE:

Promotional consideration provided by Jonathon Stebel of SEGA of America

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Contributing Editor at ESH since 2008, and host of the No Borders No Race podcast show, which began as a humble college radio program in 2006. My passion for discovering new bands, developers, and Japanese pop culture is what drives me to give you my all in every article published and every podcast recorded.