For whatever reason (and I really have no idea why), I never thought to check the iOS App Store for Hatsune Miku games. I knew that there is a Miku free-to-play RPG over in Japan, because I played it at Tokyo Game Show two years ago, and my wife likes to rub it in my face that she’s playing the game now while I’m assuming it will never be localised for the west (it’s good).
Related reading: Matt’s experience at a Hatsune Miku live concert. Spoiler alert: he kinda enjoyed it.
Actually, perhaps that’s why I didn’t bother searching for Miku stuff on the App Store before; I assumed that the games weren’t being localised, and that the only stuff I would find would be painfully bad unlicensed fan nonsense.
But then I was flicking through the rhythm game charts and Miku Flick/02 was there (impressive, really, that it’s still charting given it was originally released in 2012). A proper, bona fide Miku rhythm game that I could have been playing for three years now, and I’ve only just discovered it now. Well did I ever feel silly about that. But let’s make up for that by talking about it now.
It has immediately become my favourite Hatsune Miku game. Of all. More than Project Diva. More than Project Mirai. I know that’s a big call, but there are a couple of reasons for this:
- The rhythm game action is so, so good. In the other Miku games you simply tap buttons (or the touch screen, in the case of Project Mirai) in time with the music. It works really well, but it’s not the most creative or innovative approach to a rhythm game. But with this one you need to tap or swipe Japanese characters that appear as a keyboard on the bottom of the screen in time with the lyrics of the song in question. I realise this sounds like it would be impossible to play unless you knew Japanese, but the visual cues about which “key” to tap, and the direction to swipe it, mean you don’t actually need to understand what the word, or lyric, in question is. Now this is creative stuff – in fact, I’d suggest that it’s the most innovative rhythm game I’ve played to date.
- The visuals are absolutely mind-blowingly incredible. The screenshots simply don’t do it justice because in motion this game looks far better than the best console option (Project Diva F 2nd on the PlayStation 3). It’s been a couple of months since I last played the Miku arcade game in Japan, but from my memory of that game, what you get on the phone is basically the same quality. Each of the characters look incredibly detailed and large (especially on my large iPhone 6 screen, which Miku Flick has been updated to be fully compatible with). And, let’s face it, it’s the characters as much as anything else that draw people to the Miku games. For this reason alone I just can’t see any situation where I’ll reach for the Miku Diva games on my Vita when I could instead just take my iPhone.
- There are no costume or character changes. Each track has a specific video that plays in the background, and that video has a specific costume and character associated with it. One of my favourite little hobbies within Project Diva f games was sticking Hatsune Miku in MEIKO music tracks. I do this because MEIKO music tracks – and specifically Nostalogic and Change Me – are so completely sexy and, well, yeah. I also liked playing around with the costumes they would wear in the tracks. But none of that is possible with Miku Flick/02, and from a purely fan service point of view, that’s actually quite disappointing.
- It’s an expensive game. The base download costs about $Aus10, and comes with about a dozen tracks. That might not sound like much – and it isn’t – so the good news is that there are another 63 tracks available for download. Grab everything that Miku Flick/02 has around 75 tracks. The problem is that those DLC tracks come in at about $Aus6 for each “pack” of three, so to get everything you’re looking at an outlay of $Aus130. Now, as a guy who bought every bit of DLC possible for Project Diva F 2nd (and that was a lot), I didn’t even hesitate in reaching for the credit card. Other people might be more hesitant, however, and because there’s no way to preview the DLC music before purchasing it, unless you’re an existing fan of the whole Miku culture and music library, you’re going to have no clue to which music packs you should be buying to suit your taste in music.
But, again, despite these faults, I must re-emphasise: I actually like this more than the three previous Miku games that I have, I say that when between those three I have spent over 800 hours playing Miku games. Whether I get to that kind of… dedication (I’m assuming an intervention is coming soon enough, but for now I’m calling it “dedication”) with this one remains to be seen, but given that it offers a plenty stiff challenge in its own right, and given that I’ve got a lot of commuting ahead of me this year, I wouldn’t be surprised if I do end up piling hundreds of hours into this one.