Hatsune Miku Project Diva Megamix+ Review – The Most Miku
When the Hatsune Miku voice software debuted back in 2007, few could have guessed the tremendous impact it would have. The concept of a virtual singer–one whose songs were almost entirely user-generated–was a bizarre and intriguing novelty. 15 years later, Miku and her friends have endured, solidifying their reputations as pioneers across music, the internet, and gaming cultures. Sega’s Hatsune Miku: Project Diva serves as a powerful testament to the aquamarine-haired songstress’ lasting legacy, and Project Diva Megamix+ is a phenomenal reminder of Miku’s musical significance.
Like previous games in the series, Project Diva Megamix+ is a rhythm game built around the popular Japanese “virtual singer” characters of Hatsune Miku, the Kagamine Rin and Len duo, Megurine Luka, Meiko, and Kaito. Each game in the series offers a selection of songs sourced from independent creators who’ve made songs using these characters. Most of these tracks also feature an elaborately choreographed, real-time music video that plays in the background, which can be customized with costumes and accessories for the characters you earn with in-game currency.
Megamix+ is an enhanced port of 2020’s Hatsune Miku Project Diva Megamix for Switch, which itself was a “best-of” compilation based on the arcade and PS4 game Hatsune Miku Project Diva Future Tone. That might sound a little confusing if you’re not familiar with the series chronology, but the important thing is that it means that Megamix+ has no shortage of music. From the moment you boot the game, over 100 tracks–including many that were DLC-only on the Switch version–are ready to play. There’s also optional paid DLC to add most of the songs from PS4/arcade Future Tone that didn’t make it into the Switch game, and with up to five uniquely charted difficulty levels available for each song, you get a huge amount of bang for your buck, regardless of if you spring for the DLC.
What makes the sheer amount of music contained in Megamix+ even better is how much variety can be found among the songs. The music of Hatsune Miku and friends is largely made by independent creators with varied musical styles and tastes, and the selection of tunes here showcases exactly that. You’ll find a little bit of everything here: cheerful bouncy pop (LOL Lots of Laugh, Clover Club, Dreamin ChuChu), fast-paced rock (Rolling Girl, Ghost Rule), techno-industrial (Sadistic.Music∞Factory), bossa nova (Tricolore Airline), prog-rock (Meltdown), novelty earworms (Po Pi Po), eurobeat (Luka Luka Night Fever), jazz and piano (On the Rocks, Piano x Forte x Scandal), classic game music with new vocals (After Burner, Like the Wind) and even ridiculous memes (Nyanyanyanyanyanyanya! aka the Nyan Cat song). There are also a lot of offbeat tracks that are hard to pigeonhole into specific genres, like Alien Alien, Jitterbug, and Ooedo Julianight. Sweetening the selection is that each song comes with a unique and lavishly produced video featuring distinct backgrounds, choreography, and character models. Suffice to say, even if you’re not well-versed in the world of Miku’s music and producers, you’re bound to find a lot here to enjoy–which makes Megamix+ an ideal entry point for those curious about the series.
Like many music games, the mechanics are deceptively simple initially. The notes you need to hit are displayed over the music video as it plays. The control pad and face buttons are used to hit these notes as they fly onto the screen, while a spinning dial hand indicates the correct timing for each note (the perfect timing being high noon). Both the d-pad and controller face buttons are usable for the same inputs — for example, if you’re using an Xbox controller, you can press either up on the d-pad or Y to successfully hit a note labeled ↑ or Y. There are also slides, which can be performed by tilting the left or right analog sticks in the direction indicated for a set amount of time.
Sega’s Hatsune Miku: Project Diva serves as a powerful testament to the aquamarine-haired songstress’ lasting legacy, and Project Diva Megamix+ is a phenomenal reminder of Miku’s musical significance
Simple, right? But where things start to get a bit tricky is in the introduction of hold notes and connected notes. Hold notes give an extra score bonus when they’re held down, but you’ll frequently be asked to both hold down that note and hit a bunch of other notes at the same time, requiring dextrous use of both the D-pad and face button inputs. Linked notes require you to press two or more buttons at the same time, and can be hold notes as well.
As simple as this might sound, things in Project Diva can start to escalate very quickly. A song that starts with simple rhythmic button taps can evolve into a complex composition of sudden swipes, rapid-fire simultaneous multidirectional inputs, and challenging hold patterns requiring you to carefully (and quickly) coordinate D-pad and face button presses. Since a huge chunk of the screen is used to display inputs, notes can come flying in from every which way, requiring you to keep your eyes fixed on the entire screen lest a stray input zoom in from parts unknown. There’s definitely a learning curve when it comes to anything past Normal difficulty, as the inputs that start to be frequently utilized in Hard can be quite daunting. The game’s solution to this is Challenge Time, a brief period during songs on Easy and Normal difficulties where you’re given some of the more demanding inputs frequently seen on higher difficulties. You can’t fail out of a song during Challenge Time, making it relatively risk-free–though your performance does factor into your overall score, giving you an incentive to perform well. It’s a clever way to help ease players into more challenging mechanics and push them to try higher difficulties once they feel comfortable. Charts across all difficulties are well-designed and engaging, making you feel as though you’re part of the song–an absolutely make-or-break element for rhythm games that Megamix+ nails expertly.
Aside from the expanded music selection, Megamix+ offers a few extras over the Switch original. Players can now freely switch between the simpler character models of Megamix to the higher-polycount, more detailed models of Future Tone. You can also change the in-song note displays to match a variety of controller types, including the PlayStation, Xbox, and Switch controllers–or even just directional arrows. You can also use and customize a keyboard layout to play songs with, though it never quite feels “right,” especially when doing slide notes. (You also can’t customize the note display to exactly match your chosen keyboard inputs–even if you’re playing with WASD and numpad you’re stuck with arrow, symbol, or controller button displays.) Mix Mode and Tap Play, the JoyCon and touchscreen modes from the Switch version, are both absent here,–but given how gimmicky and unsatisfying those modes felt, I think most players won’t miss them.
Is Megamix+ worth it if you already own Future Tone or Megamix on Switch? It’s a very comprehensive package, but unless PC is your absolute preferred platform, it’s hard to recommend to series veterans who already have every DLC pack for the previous console games. The extra features are nice, but not enough on their own for a double- or triple-dip. Also, in order to unlock the Extreme and Extra Extreme difficulties for each song, you need to clear each of them individually on Hard, which will be tedious for music game devotees who want those crazy-hard charts but have to manually unlock them all yet again.
But for series newcomers and PC-focused players, Megamix+ is an easy recommendation. There’s a ton of content here, built upon a strong rhythm-game foundation that challenges you to grow your skills and aim ever higher–all while having fun watching music videos, playing dress-up, and collecting all the cool and wacky customizations for the entire cast. But most importantly, Megamix+ is the best showcase of Miku’s legacy to date, showcasing the unbridled creativity and variety of the online musical and artistic subcultures she’s inspired.