Hatsune Miku: Project Mirai is for the young (and young at heart)

There’s no age limit on Hatsune Miku games. Everyone can enjoy them, no matter how old or skilled they are. But if someone has played entries in the Project Mirai and Project Diva series, they might notice the titles give off certain vibes. To be more specific, the 3DS games feel as though Sega is trying to lure in younger players, while the Vita and PS3 releases are more mature.

It’s evident at a glance. Look at Hatsune Miku: Project Mirai DX and what do you see? Super deformed characters designed to look as cute as possible. Using the Good Smile Company Nendoroid figures as a template, all of the characters are squat, chubby little things with oversized eyes and expressive faces. They look like toys.

The Project Diva Vocaloids are realistic renditions of the characters with more accurate proportions. Even their movements seem more natural, with music videos and dance moves that could easily be performed in real life, rather than the childish chibi’s quick steps and exaggerated actions in the 3DS games.

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The tracklists for the two games highlight the appeal to different audiences as well. Project Diva features more mature music, counting on serious themes, fanservice, more varied genres and even meme familiarity to delight players. Older folks who have been on the internet longer know about the whole “Ievan Polkka” viral video, hence its inclusion as a tutorial in the Vita game. “Dear Cocoa Girls” is a pure fanservice song, with the characters clad in bikinis. “Sadistic.Music∞Factory” is pretty scary when translated, with lyrics like, “If you slack off again, then consider this place your grave.” There’s more variety, with complex songs from unexpected genres. You won’t see something like “Dye” in Project Mirai.

The 3DS games instead focus on songs that are mostly bright, cheery, and colorful. There are the occasional exceptions, like the matching “Aku no Musume (Daughter of Evil)” and “Aku no Meshitsukai (Servant of Evil).” But most of the songs are ones that can have cartoonish music videos accompanying them, like “LOL -lots of laugh-,” “Koneko no Paya Paya,” “Sweet Magic,” “Age Age Again” and “Shake It.” All of the songs tend to fit comfortably in the pop and rock genres, resulting in a tracklist that has a wider appeal.

The customization aspects in each Hatsune Miku series provide additional evidence. In Project Mirai DX, people can express themselves in two ways. You can take one of the existing songs and pair dance moves with it to create a custom performance. It is also possible to compose a brief jingle. Each effort is easy to put together, doesn’t require too much thought or engagement and is a supplemental, “isn’t this neat” feature.

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Project Diva is far more intense. This line allows people to import their own MP3s, then spend hours customizing the backgrounds, putting together videos, adding note patterns and even adjusting the Vocaloids’ facial expressions to make it look as though they’re lip syncing along with the music. A successful presentation requires a lot of patience and attention to detail. Mirai DX‘s dance can be done in about fifteen minutes, but a good Project Diva performance will take at least an hour.

The minigames included in Hatsune Miku: Project Mirai DX are pointed toward a younger, more general audience as well. The lack of additional activities in Project Diva suggests a stronger focus on enjoying the included songs and making of your own. With Project Mirai DX, you have extra diversions like Reversi and Puyo Puyo 39. It’s almost as though it were made for people who might want something else to do in case the music wasn’t enough for them.

Vocaloid games like Hatsune Miku: Project Mirai DX and Project Diva can appeal to everyone with their catchy songs and attractive virtual idols, regardless of age. There’s something to appreciate about each one, but if you are looking to bring someone new into the fold and are wondering which series would be a better fit, consider the points we’ve gone over today. If someone is new to music games or is under the age of 12, go with Project Mirai. If they’re more experienced and mature, Project Diva will do. The former will be available September 8, 2015, and the latter is out now.

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