Project Mirai DX was released in North America on September 8, 2015, and is currently available on Amazon. The Launch release comes with a wallet chain and 19 double-sided AR cards. The game was developed by SEGA and is available for Nintendo 3DS, marking the Western debut of Vocaloid on the Nintendo handheld. In Japan, it was released as Project Mirai 2. A demo is still available on Nintendo's eShop. It's the sequel to the Japan-only Hatsune Miku and Future Stars: Project Mirai 3DS title, and is part of a spin-off series to PlayStation's Project DiVA series, which has a PS4 installment currently in development. The word "Mirai" literally translates as "future" which is a play on the meaning behind Miku Hatsune's name. Hatsu, Ne and Miku when combined means "the first sound from the future" in Japanese.
NOTE: This article was modified on 09/20/2015 for added content. Lesson learned, review games AFTER finishing. ^.^;
Project Mirai DX was originally slated for a May 26th release, but was delayed due to undisclosed issues with the game. As an apology, the first copies were released with a wallet chain and 19 double-sided AR cards, making for a total of 38 AR images in all. As an added bonus, GUMI/Megpoid was added as a secret character to many of the songs.
Considering the ground-breaking history of this game for the Vocaloid franchise, I figured this game would be the perfect cart to start my video game review section, and I for one am not disappointed. But before diving into the colorful rhythm game, a little back story for those new to the franchise.
Vocaloid began as a voice synthesizer, developed by Yamaha, the same company responsible for musical instruments and hot motorcycles. Essentially, the software allows your computer to "sing" in the form of .wav and .midi files, which resemble natural, human singing. Black Soul singers LEON and LOLA were the very first Vocaloids ever launched in 2004, designed to mimic English speaking Soul singers. Miriam was the third to follow and the first celebrity voice, as her samples come from Miriam Stockley. The first Japanese Vocaloids were MEiKO and KAiTO, who were also the first to have their design be based on anime-style drawings. But the series of software went absolutely nowhere in sales, until 2007, when celebrity voice actress Saki Fujita lent her vocals to Miku Hatsune, the series first teenaged Vocaloid, who sports teal pigtails, a more manga-style image, drawn by artist KEI Garō, and a costume that borders on business-Lolita. She is also the first android character in the series, though modern interpretations of her depict her as a more human, teenaged idol. It's also debated she is the first time-traveler Vocaloid, as she is the "sound of the future" but some suggest LEON and LOLA share the mantle, as they were also considered to be the future of signing as well. Miku Hatsune debuted on August 31st of that year on the Vocaloid 2 engine, which produces a smoother sound than Vocaloid 1. Miku's sweet sound pulled at the heartstrings of savvy listeners via YouTube, and the rest is history. Soon after Miku's success, MEiKO and KAiTO started enjoying a second chance at stardom, as newer singers Rin and Len Kagamine and Luka Megurine hit the scene, joining Miku for the Vocaloid 2 library. Today, while there is still no official Vocaloid anime in Japan or America, the franchise has spun off several manga titles, "Hologram" CGI concerts using the Pepper's Ghost technique, and more video games and merchandise you can imagine. The original software, not to be outdone, has now surpassed Vocaloid 3 into Vocaloid 4, with more than 40 Vocaloid characters, plus several "Appends" for Miku, KAiTO, MEiKO and a select handful of fan favorites.
For a more robust crash course on Vocaloid's robust history, check out Bill Treadway's slideshow via Rant, which is a must, especially if you happen to be a confused parent, whose kid is posting about Miku non-stop on Facebook right now.
Speaking of parents, one last word of caution. While this is an E10 game, aimed at ages 10+, the songs Adolescence, Cantarella and Romeo and Cinderella all feature sexual themes, with Cantarella also having lyrics about Miku stabbing KAiTO. Speaking of murder, the Rin and Len songs for Daughter of Evil are about killing as well. If you play the Rin version, Rin is beheaded. Len's version has him dressing in drag as Rin and being beheaded in her place. Also, Hello Planet and Kokoro also deal with death of a loved one, with Hello Planet ending in Miku passing away. Pretty creepy for Chibi characters, but they are fan-favorites. Go fig. Also, MEiKO's few songs show her wearing pretty skimpy clothes, showing off her massive bewbage. Granted, she is 25 years old, so normally I wouldn't have any issue at all with her showing off her bewbs, but this is an E10 game, and she's a Chibi, so it's a little weird. But hey, at least it's not a bikini, so I'll shut up about bewbs now. Also, Reverse Rainbow has a moment where Miku kisses Rin on the cheek. I think it's cute, fanfic writers think it implies romance. I'll stick with cute, you be the judge.
Now onto the game itself!
You unlock new features by playing through each of the 47 songs found in the game. As the Vocaloids sing, an animated line with command circles will appear. Depending on what mode you're playing and how you've set it up, you must either tap the screen or the buttons on the 3DS in time with the circles. The higher your score, the more points you get and the more you can unlock. The music should help you time your taps just right, but if you;re starting to annoy your parents with Japanese autotuned singing, (Or in my case, my husband, sorry!!) you can always challenge yourself by muting the game and just tapping when prompted. I doubt Miku would mind. You will later have access to a movie theater, which lets you play the music videos back again, and yes, all of it is in 3D if you flick the switch. A handful of songs also allows you to swap out one Vocaloid for another.
To switch singers though, you must beat the song in easy, normal and hard mode, and each song has a different combo. For example, Snowman let me beat the game on tap mode in easy and normal, so I could choose between KAiTO or Len. But for Romeo and Cinderella, I have to beat the game on all three levels in tap mode (or button) and then in easy on button mode. (Or tap if I didn't choose it before.) I've beaten it only on easy and normal on tap, which lets me switch between Miku and Rin, but the other two will let me unlock Luka for the same song.
Unlocking the characters for each song and finishing the tracks will unlock bonus outfits, room items and in the options menu, extra videos to watch.
Here's a list of the singer-swap songs you can unlock:
- Animal Fortune-telling: Miku, Rin, Luka, MEiKO
- Terekakushi Shishunki: Len, KAiTO
- Reverse Rainbow: Miku and Rin, Rin and Len, and Miku and Luka
- Sing & Smile: Miku, Rin, Len, Luka, KAiTO, MEiKO
- Mousou Sketch: Miku, Rin
- 1925: Miku, Rin, Len, Luka, KAiTO, MEiKO
- Romeo and Cinderella: Miku, Rin, Luka
- Snowman: KAiTO, Len
- Electric Angel: Miku, Rin, Luka
- Interviewer Miku, Luka
- Tricolore Airline: Miku, Rin, Luka, MEiKO
- PianoxFortexScandal: MEiKO Miku, Rin, Luka
- Watashi no Jikan: Miku, Rin, Len
- Snowman has been the easiest unlock so far. Interviewer only needed me to finish normal mode on tap. I haven't unlocked the others yet.
Another bonus game is hidden in the "Hang out" mode. When you hit that button, press and hold the Y/Mic button to call your Vocaloid over. From there, you can choose to feed him/her, give him/her an allowance, or play Reversi with them. Reversi is a challenging game where you either get black or white pieces, and you have to take over the board with them. I'm sorry to admit, Miku has beaten me twice so far. The smart A.I. of the Vocaloids is incredible. They even know how to make "poker face" and when to mock you. If you're starring at the top screen, you can easily fool yourself into thinking you're winning.
Project Mirai DX is colorful, fun, funny and the perfect introduction to the Vocaloid universe. It's a great game to have on a long car ride, and is neither too long nor too short. The replay value is heavy, and the launch copy is a must for any Vocaloid fan.