Saturday, June 27, 2009

Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA Review

Last Updated: July 4, 2009 @ 7:00 PM

I've had the honour today of obtaining the much-anticipated VOCALOID PSP game, 初音ミク-Project DIVA-. I've purchased the limited edition which comes with a special Nendoroid Petit (but it does not actually ship out until July 2nd). Therefore, I've had to rely on other means of obtaining the game in the meantime.

Confirmed running on a PSP-1000 with 5.00 M33-4 or above using Sony NP9660 UMD driver.

Note: Will run laggy on TA-86 motherboards, but not TA-82.


It has come to my attention that the game is now shipped out to retailers and is selling in certain circles (such as in Hong Kong). I know my UMD has shipped out it's just a matter of waiting patiently for it to arrive.


Mechanics:

Let me explain a bit how the game works. There are 39 songs and only 3 of them are playable from the start. Since only "Easy" and "Normal" modes are available for a song until it is beaten, I found the game to be somewhat repetitive since the only buttons you'll be pressing in those modes are circle or cross. It isn't until a "Hard"-leveled song when you'll be pressing triangle and square as well. Songs are rated in difficulty by a 1 to 5 star rating with 5 being the hardest (However there are two songs which have hard modes ranking 6 and 7 stars).

The scoring system in Project Diva can be somewhat harsh at times. The high scores are obtained by getting a full combo throughout the "Chance Time" which occurs normally near the end of a song. The combo will be broken if you miss a note or press it just a split second too quickly. The later you can press it the more likely you'll get a "Cool!" score as opposed to a "Fine" or "Safe". Missing notes will get you a "Sad" or "Worst". Finishing a song will get you 1 of 4 rankings: Cheap, Standard, Great, or Perfect. If you fail to clear the song you'll get a MissXTake rank and Miku will "OTL".

Impressions:

Being a fan of the 8-button DJ Max Portable series, once the level of difficulty is pumped-up in Project DIVA, I've found the game to be quite a blast. Graphically the game is very pretty and Miku is adorable. The faces she makes while singing and the movements are so...uh..."moe". They really took the time to make a decent model of her (and I'm looking forward to unlocking more costumes which are unlocked by meeting certain performance conditions while playing). Also, the environments seem to be unique to each song so far and I find that to be quite appealing; it keeps the game entirely fresh.

Navigating the Game:

Needless to say, I do not speak Japanese, but it has been easy enough to navigate through the menus of the game. I'll list in order my 'translation' of what the menu looks like:


Free Play - Choose from the song library a song to play.
Module Convert - Lets you choose a character and costume skin. Presented below are some screen shots of some costumes I've unlocked so far. In this menu, conditions are listed that need to be met to unlock a costume. It's important to note that you need to AT LEAST meet them, not simply meet them exactly. For example, if you have to play a song 5 times on "normal", you can play it 5 times on "hard" instead and have it still count.
Miku's Room - Your character is in a room interacting with the environment. You can change the music, the overall skin of the room, and shuffle some minor furniture items around. Pressing R lets you take a screen shot to the memory stick (which you can see I've already done).
Custom Songs - Import songs from your memory stick and make note-tracks for them. You're also able to play other people's note-tracks loaded from the memory stick. I see this being a feature which will keep the game alive in fan communities for years to come. UPDATE: I've created a guide on how to do this.
Save - Obviously creates or deletes save files.
Options - Adjust the music and sound volumes.
Extras - Character artwork and etc...
Exit - Exits to the start menu.

(all screen shots were taken in-game using Custom Firmware Extender and the built-in screen shot mode of Miku's Room)

It's all fairly straight-forward even if you're not familiar with Japanese. The only thing that I'd say you'd need a tutorial to do is the song creation. It just so happens that as of my last update, I've done just that. View my guide here.


Song List:

I have a total of 525 VOCALOID songs in my personal library but only about half of the songs in Project DIVA are familiar to me so far (and the ones that are not I have grown to like already). The only slight annoyance I've found is that most songs have a tambourine sound accompanied with each button press which can distract from the song itself. Thankfully the noise can be turned off before the song starts (there's a left/right-selectable option in the bottom-left of the screen). Here's the complete song listing (from Moetron):

“World is Mine” by ryo
“Koi wa Sensou” by ryo
“Hinekure Mono” by ryo
“MELT” by ryo
“Sono Ibbyou” Slow Motion by ryo
“Marginal” by OSTER project
“Miracle Paint” by OSTER project
“Koi suru VOC@LOID” by OSTER project
“Dreaming Leaf – Yumemiru Kotonoha” by OSTER project
“Fukigen Waltz” by OSTER project
“Amenochi sweet drops” by OSTER project
“Strabo Nights” by kz
“Packaged” by kz
“Last Night, Good Night” by kz
“Far Away” by kz
“Star Story” by kz
“Kouya to Mori to Mahou no Uta” by Travolta-P
“Kouya to Mori to Mahou no Uta” (Rin ver.) by Travolta-P
“Kouya to Mori to Mahou no Uta” (Len ver.) by Travolta-P
“Inochi no Uta” by Travolta-P
“Inochi no Uta” (Rin ver.) by Travolta-P
“Inochi no Uta” (Len ver.) by Travolta-P
“The secret garden” by Hata Aki and Kousaki Satoru
“Loveliest Koushinchuu?” by Hata Aki and Kousaki Satoru
“Biroudou Arabesque” by Hata Aki and Kousaki Satoru
“Dear cocoa girl” by Hata Aki and Kousaki Satoru
“Hatsune Miku no Shoushitsu -DEAD END-” by cosMo@BousouP
“Sakura no Ame” by absorb
“IevanPolkka” by Otomania
“Miku Miku ni shite ageru♪ [Shiteyan yo]” by ika
“Anata no Utahime” by azuma
“Miku Miku-kin ni Gochuui♪ by Hayaya
“Hato” by Hatano-P
“Electric Angel” by Yasuo
“moon” by iroha (sasaki)
“Kogane no Seiya Sousetsu ni Kuchite” by Deadball-P
“starise” by Yodare-P
“Love it” -Radio Edit- by CleanTears
“Kikoete Imasuka…” by G@POPO
“Shooting Star Prologue” (Short Edition) by Sososo-P
“Setsuna” by shiki2
“Yuugure Nostalgic” -remix- by Guri@guriplus
“Oshiete!! Mahou no Lyric” (short version) by TakeponG@Chomu-P



I'm quite looking forward to some of the other surprises I know I have waiting for me. Maybe some hidden songs? Maybe some costumes we've never seen before? Whatever it may be I'm rather excited.

I'm eagerly awaiting the arrival of the UMD. Currently I'm only able to play the first half of the song list as the second half lags to the point of being unplayable.

I've a few more screenshots to share to finish this off:





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Sunday, June 21, 2009

Anime Evolution 2009 Convention Report

This year was the first year Anime Evolution has taken place in the Vancouver Convention Center. It's a brand-spankin'-new building able to accommodate the mass that is AE (with room to spare, plenty of it). The VCC was a great place to hold AE, however the only drawback I see is that I have to say I will actually miss Simon Fraser University. It felt more like "home" for this convention and the vast outdoor space with grass to sit on was always always advantageous.

** Photo credits go to Billy Cheng, Dan Wu, and Chun('s husband).


My Cosplays:

Snow Villiers - Final Fantasy XIII
(please notice my friend Stephanie creeping in the background)

Ike - Super Smash Brothers Brawl (Fire Emblem)

KAITO - Vocaloid

I debuted two new cosplays this year, Ike from SSBB, and Snow Villiers from FFXIII (and brought back Vocaloid KAITO as well). Last year was the first time I did KAITO and I ended up having a great time at the meet-up photoshoot meeting all sorts of new people. This year, not so much. I can't say I didn't have a great time this year because I did, but for a totally different reason than last year. This year I felt closer to my SIAT (school) friends than ever. It's more like finding a place I belong? I've seen too clearly where I don't belong over this last year.

For the first time in 5 years, I actually participated in the cosplay contest. With my Super Smash Bros. Brawl group, we did a skit. Hilda's (Marth's) sister, Florence, taped us so video credit goes to her. We didn't win, but I had lots of fun anyways. The group that DID win I am amazed with. It was the Kamloops crew that comes down every year who won with their Chrono Trigger skit. At the end of it, the Crono proposed to his girlfriend of 4 years (Marle). It was probably the most touching thing I'd seen since the first ten minutes of Pixar's "Up". Please watch their video here, and watch ours below:


Embedded video. If it doesn't work, go here.

I ran into a total of three Danny Choo.com members while I was there. Chun, LightningSabre, and Akari. Akari I found out I had met after the fact because he was so shy in asking who I was that I misunderstood what he was asking me, but Chun and LightningSabre I found together in the Art Gallery. They were like, "lulz cleartranquil" and I'm liek "lulz chun! wow lightningsabre too~!".

Yeah something like that.

Well, anyways. It was good meeting them in person. I even got to pose with one of Chun's little dollies.

Please continue reading for pictures of the fun I had. There's no shortage of photos from the convention itself floating around the internet and Facebook if you want to see what else went on. As of now, this group has 6500+ photos.

Continue for more:


VOCALOIDs goofing around:

There were quite a few VOCALOIDs this year. About as many as last year, I suppose, but with more variety. Last year I was the only male VOCALOID cosplayer, this year I had Johnny as Akaito. He's the spice that melts my ice cream (Yes, it's meant to sound suggestive). I was very impressed to see a Honne Dell and Yowane Haku show up this year (and I knew the Dell!). It was also great to see a couple of girls do Meiko and Neru as well.




Ike fights for his friends:

Remember, it's not gay if the tips don't touch. Here's Hilda, Joanna, and myself as Marth, Roy, and Ike (respectively). We had fun taking some photos together (even managed a Brawl shoot that day) before we did the skit.




Snow and company:

This is pretty much how my Sunday was: Just hanging out with my school friends in my Snow cosplay. I posed with Rifa, the awesome Zidane (with an even more awesome Freya 2 years prior), and an awesome Yoko cosplayer. My friends Andrew and Nathan went as gender-bent Haruhi Suzumiya and Nagato Yuki. They were recognized surprisingly. Stephanie, when she's not photo-bombing my pictures (see above), was Lenne (FFX-2) most of the time but also below is her lolita fashion cosplay. Ain't she cute?







I leave you with this, Billy as Abe-san. Nice guy with a guitar.

Yaranaika?



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