Back to Vocaloids, huh.
I know this doesn't come across at all in text but I'm holding my head in my hands and sighing right now.
On a serious note, we took our own screenshots this time! God bless the built-in snapshot feature on the Vita! Click to embiggen them, if you so desire. However, because we got our own shots, I have the unenviable task of informing you that there is a secret page lurking here. How will you find it? I'll give you a small clue- it's a link hidden as normal text, related to something intrinsically linked to anime culture. If you're smart and foolhardy enough, you'll find it... Also, we still have no idea how to parse Vocaloid names- do we do it like we do in the mean streets of England, i.e. forename first, surname last, or how it's done on the Vocaloid's home turf, the other way round? We gave up, so we tried to stick with just their first names... Except where we can't avoid it.
Also, once again we mostly skipped the DIVA Room and Edit Mode features, because they're auxiliary. Well, we think so anyway.
On the plus side, at least this time we didn't have to phone for help, like clueless punks. Probably a bad sign, that.

This is the continuing story of how I became the worst Vocaloid fan in the world.

(To make any sense of this review, you'll probably need to read our review of 2nd first.)

So, what's been happening in the world of Vocaloidin'? Well... I dunno. I'm sure that stuff probably happened, but I certainly wasn't privy to it. I was too busy playing catch-up and finding out that there's more Vocaloids than bloody Pokemon out there to actually keep up with the here and now of the whole thing. Gotta catch 'em all! It's quite complex, with many different companies beyond Crypton Future Media making their own 'oids, if you will (some of the more amusing variant names include UTAUoid and Megpoid). Not all of them are hits, obviously (I've heard some voice banks bad enough to set off car alarms for a five-mile radius) but beyond the Project DIVA cast, some of the better 'oids out there include Yuzuki Yukari (running on Vocaloid3 technology) and Miki (probably the most accessible 'oid, almost sounds human)... What I mostly learned is that the Project DIVA games are a decent introduction to the concept but miss out on whole swathes of content. Not that I'm an expert, far from it- I'm sure I only classify as a casual Vocaloid fan, and this obviously makes me THE ENEMY.

... So let's get back on track, here's another Vocaloid game. After 2nd, there was a stand-alone pseudo-sequel/expansion called Extend to finish the series off on the PSP (which I skipped because half the song roster is repeated, and also I'm cheap), and the series would leap to more powerful hardware (excluding Arcade, and all those Dreamy Theatre PS3 'ports') for Project DIVA f for the PS Vita (the version we're reviewing) and PS3 (not my department). It's not a cheap 'slap a new lick of paint on the old games and call it a day' job either, as it was fairly expensive to make, and Sega don't even know if they can do a sequel hahaha of course there's going to be another one, you fools. Ahem. Even so, it sounds like it was pretty expensive to make, which I found pretty surprising as I assumed Sega could crack these things out forever (with Miku or not, indeed- the PSP game's engine was modified and reused seemingly without Dingo Inc.'s involvement for a K-ON! game, based on an manga/anime that I assume is about girls playing guitars and eating pudding).

Anyway, it should once again be obvious that Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA f is a rhythm game.

The basics are the same as the PSP games, so we'll just go over them briefly again. As the promo video (PV) plays in the background, notes will drift on-screen from all directions, coming in four varieties- normal (press them!), Hold (hold until the line ends!), Direction (press both the button and corresponding direction at once!) and new to this game, Scratch (rub the screen, we'll get to these). Destroy them all! Press the buttons in time with the voice/music to pass! To clear a song, you need to survive until the end and rack up a certain number of FINE and COOL notes, which also maintain/refill your health meter, whereas SAFE (just got it) notes don't count, and SAD and WORST (you missed) notes take away from your life meter, and if it empties entirely, you fail. There's some new bits and bobs though, most of which we'll be dissecting in a moment, like the reshuffled Chance Time and all-new Technical Zone. The other parts of the Project DIVA experience- Edit Mode, the kinda-weird DIVA Rooms, the often-baffling loading screen artwork and the like- are all present and correct, so if you have any familiarity with the series, you'll be at home here. Then again, you'll probably have this game already, but let's not split hairs.

The thing is, they tried to fix all the problems present in the PSP games...

And they nearly got it perfect. Nearly.

First, let's deal with the biggest problem with the PSP games, the lack of feedback. Playing 2nd was basically like popping bubble-wrap, where it felt like you weren't doing anything or contributing to the song- you were just pressin' buttans. The PV would play on, regardless of your actions, and the only way to alter things would be to fail the song entirely, making it slightly unsatisfying at points and very difficult to gauge how well you were doing. In f, most of the new mechanics seem to be geared towards getting rid of those feelings, and while they don't fix the experience enough for 5 stars, they're an improvement.

Let's start with the Scratch Notes- these star-shaped notes require you to rub the touch screen to pass them, which helps get you a little more into the game and give some variety to your button mashing. They're usually quarantined in their own portions of the song, but sometimes show up amongst other notes to keep you on your toes, and they work a lot better than expected (as long as you don't lift your finger- keep it on the screen and rub in time with the notes to register it). The main criticism here is that a few songs on Extreme have Scratch Note patterns that are less like typical PD sections and are just total gibberish. You can sometimes pass these by just flailing around on the touch screen. There is a logic to them, but the first couple of times you play them you won't see it. It's not the best use of the touchscreen, I'll admit, but they're not as obtrusive or annoying as you might think, and it could've been worse- can you imagine if you had to touch them exactly where they appeared on screen as well as traditional button presses?

(It's also a nice touch that a handful of the PVs, mostly the ones near the end, actually incorporate button presses into the video.)

The rejigged Chance Time helps too, both in terms of feedback and difficulty- like before, it's usually at the end of a song, but this time hitting notes builds up a star meter in the corner. At the end, a huge Scratch Note will appear, and if you filled the meter, it'll be glowing- hit it and you'll change the ending of the PV (the audience gets trapped in a giant cage in Secret Police, sprinklers go off and a rainbow appears in Summer Idol, etc.) but if you weren't good enough, it'll do nothing. It's a minor thing, but as well as making you feel like you're contributing something to the song, it'll also give you a big boost towards clearing the song if you nail it. The Technical Zones, two per song on Normal and above, are similar- keep a combo going through the entire sequence, and you'll get a stage clearance boost. Combine these with the new status bar at the bottom of the screen- it's a much better visual representation of how you're doing than the orb from 2nd, and it marks where each rank minimum is- and you can gauge your skill a lot better, so the frustration you'd get from surviving a song but not passing is really rectified this time. A good example is when I was playing one of the harder songs, NegaPosi*Continues, on Extreme- unlike my first time playing 2nd, where I had little idea if I was really improving while playing Romeo and Cinderella, but this time I could see the bar getting further and further each time, which encouraged me to keep at it.

Smaller details added to the game build up and make the game feel more satisfying as well. This is stuff like the vocals being muted when you miss notes (this was in the very first game and removed from 2nd/Extend for some reason- it's not perfect as it plays the voices even if you get a Sad, but it's better than nothing), a new pass/fail system (Cool/Fine Notes and TZ/CT clears add to an overall percentage, which determines your rank), which make gauging performance a lot easier than last time (only whinge here is it doesn't do as detailed a breakdown of your combo points bonus), Direction Notes giving more points if you tap both buttons at once rather than hold then press, and finally the Challenge Items. First introduced in Extend, these are the opposite of the Help items in that they impose harsher playing conditions upon you, like giving you a set amount of non-regenerating health, only letting Cool notes count towards song completion, and so on. There's not many of them, but they add a reasonable challenge if you're looking for it (and veterans from 2nd might be, my life meter emptied a lot less in this game) and also benefit your DIVA Points- using these items can double, triple or quadruple DIVA Points earned from a song, which alleviates the grinding needed to buy all the stuff in the shop.

As for the difficulty, this was a problem in 2nd, where the first few songs in the game included some overly-difficult note patterns, essentially roadblocking me from unlocking new songs. I had no such problem this time, although this is almost certainly down to me actually getting good at the game rather than the difficulty being toned down. I only started to fail songs once I reached Extreme, but I'm willing to bet starting players will struggle with Secret Police and Cat Food. They're fast-paced, but Cat Food, as the first song, makes an admirable attempt to ease you into the Scratch Notes... This didn't help my test subject (sorry, John) who made it halfway through Cat Food three times before giving up, throwing his hands in the air and yelling 'it's not even in time to the music, this is [redacted]!'. However, the new status bar and boosts you get from Technical Zones/Chance Time make unlocking songs for the first time less frustrating. Unfortunately, a distressing percentage of the Extreme songs are chock full of ridiculous note patterns, with 'doubled-up' notes (notes that overlap, requiring quick tapping) everywhere- nothing quite as punishingly long as the strings from The Singing Passion of Hatsune Miku at the end of 2nd, but it saps the fun out of things when you have to Takahashi Meijin your way through some of these songs. To the point where my hand was actually starting to hurt! The only thing that can help, if your timing is right, is you can use the d-pad as a second set of face buttons, i.e. right is Circle, down is X, etc.

The final improvements to the game come in the form of visual upgrades and more variety in costumes. While I was impressed with the graphics in 2nd, the Vita hardware (and that screen) make the game a lot more vibrant, and the character models are even more expressive. Rather than take what I call the 'porcelain doll' approach seen in the Dreamy Theater games and Arcade, this feels more like the next step up from the PSP games, with less jaggies and more dynamic lighting effects in the PVs. The costumes are all new (aside from Miku/Rin/Len's Append costumes), are as offensively colourful as the PVs, and are all customisable with the new accessories, which come in four types (head, face, neck and back) and range from cat ears to glasses. Speaking of, the shop system is the same as last time- earn DIVA Points by beating songs to spend on clothes- but has been made slightly less grindy with the DIVA Point bonuses available if you use Challenge Items. It's not entirely impossible to buy a good percentage of available costumes after clearing Normal and Hard (but let's be honest, once you've unlocked the Puyo Puyo-related garb, what is there left to buy?).

Unfortunately, the game does shoot itself in a foot a few times. The biggest bugbear is the slowdown and stuttering. Slowdown was a slight problem in 2nd- melt in particular would 'stutter' a bit in Extreme when too much was going on- but for the most part, it wasn't that obvious. In f, a considerable number of songs, especially on any difficulty above Normal, have a brief moment (usually less than a second) where the note movements will 'stutter' a little bit and slow down slightly. You might not even see it as it's usually only for a split-second, but when you do notice it, it can throw you right off your game. Worst for this is one of my favourite songs, World's End Dancehall, which is a damn shame as it was the one song that I knew was in here before getting it. That said, the first time you play each song, it's going to bother you, but certain songs are less affected than others- NegaPosi*Continues, one of the hardest songs in the game, doesn't seem to have any at all, and I had to play it a lot to clear it on Extreme- and the more you play, the less intrusive it becomes. It's just very sloppy, really- the game's running at 30 frames per second as it is, so the fact that it suffers any slowdown at all is kinda shameful! And slowdown in a music game, of all things, really now...

There's also the set-list, which is ultimately a touch weaker than the one from 2nd. To its credit, it avoids one of the problems 2nd had with repeated producers (2nd had something crazy like four ryo songs, three kz songs, etc.) with only ryo and wowaka making more than one appearance. Every song is new to the series (except Melancholic, also in Project MIRAI for the 3DS) and popular producers like kz and Dixie Flatline made new songs just for the game. The genre variety is still there (no ragtime this time, but you do get 90s-style pop choir, Beach Boys-style surf rock and 8-bit techno) and the songs that are good are really good (top choices include Weekender Girl, Sadistic.Music∞Factory and Left-Behind City). Fun both to listen to and play, some have some clever note patterns. It's just the gulf between the good songs and the bad songs is more pronounced this time, both in terms of the songs themselves and the note patterns (on Extreme in particular, some of these songs are a touch obnoxious) to the point where there's a lot more songs I just flat-out don't want to play again. The non-Miku vocaloids get a raw deal too, only two songs each to themselves again (except Len and KAITO, not even Sega likes them) and- if you ask me- it feels like they get one great song (Rin gets Melancholic, MEIKO gets Nostalogic) and then one, uh, lesser song (Luka gets MEGANE). Finally, there's just less of them, with 33 in total compared to 2nd's 46 without DLC. If you'll let me be cynical for a second, I'm willing to bet some of the old songs will be offered as DLC down the line (money for old rope, of course!) but, well, a few more songs wouldn't hurt, like.

In the end, Project DIVA f is two steps forward and one step back. Had the game not improved in all the other areas from its predecessors, I probably wouldn't have been so nice to it, especially with those technical problems. 2nd earned its 3 star score by being a decent enough rhythm game with no real feedback, but f does everything it can to fix those problems, turning it into a pleasant, more satisfying rhythm experience. In the same way 2nd had lots of little problems that built up to sap my enjoyment, f implements of a lot of fixes that build up to improve the game. For the effort, I have to give it an extra star, but it's not yet at a 5-star level. With a bigger and better set-list and all the slowdown and stutter eliminated, this would've been highly recommended to all but the rhythm game crowd who need instrument controllers to get their groove on, because throughout my playtime for this review (40 hours and counting, oh God what have I become) I was wringing a lot of entertainment out of the game... It's just there was also this nagging thought that with just a few more changes, it could've been even better. Obviously, it's not strong enough to sell a Vita to you, but if you have one, and are down with this whole Vocaloid nonsense, you'd do well to grab a copy.

Unfortunately, there's no Godzilla this time. SAD FACE.

The best we can do is Haku pretending to be that robot boss from Contra III: The Alien Wars.

For tinkering and toiling to fix a decent game, Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA f is awarded...

In a sentence, Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA f is...
Nearly there.

And now, it's that time, folks!

Again, we've glossed over some of the finer details regarding both the game and Vocaloids in general.

For more detailed intel on the Project Diva series, point your eyes at The Project DIVA Wiki which catalogues... Everything.

For more information on Vocaloid itself, go forth to The Vocaloid Wiki although be warned, you're best searching for producers rather than individual songs.

I'm not responsible for what you do with this knowledge. Stay dangerous, everybody!

Now, our review's based entirely on the PS Vita version. What about that console one, though?

The PS3 version of the game was released March 3rd 2013, and is called Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA F (note the capital F).

In addition to 6 new songs, 14 new modules and 20 new accessories (they're listed below in the DLC section) there's a few other changes to the game. The main one is that since there's no touchpad, Scratch Notes are now Flip Notes and are performed by moving the analogue stick (if you really want to stick to touch pad controls, one of Hori's official controllers for the game has a mini-pad for you to touch). If you like, there's a free Help item that moves Flip Notes to the shoulder buttons, though it'll still display a Help icon if you clear the song this way. Also, the AR features have been replaced- photography's gone in favour of a Photo Studio mode, allowing you to take a picture of a character against a backdrop (including pictures/photos of your own) and AR performance is changed to a Live Stage mode where you get to watch the AR performance songs on a stage modelled on the arena for Project DIVA f's launch concert, DAIBA de DIVA and you can fiddle with the camera. For those with the right TV, you can view the PVs in 3D so you can watch the Vocaloids escape the confines of your TV and no stop don't do it don't set them free! As for options, you can now alter the volume levels for music and sound effects individually in-game rather than from the options menu, and you can also change lag settings in case your TV's not playing nicely with the game. Finally, the DLC packs from the Vita game... Are still DLC. You'll have to pay to get your Haku on, yo.

Anything else? One moan from me- the game's PVs still run in 30fps, which is a shame as I'd much rather see 'em in silky-smooth 60fps, but at the very least, on a HD set-up the game looks great- absolutely crystal-clear, with none of the 'bloom' present in the Vita game. The assets themselves aren't improved- the only way to test this was to play the same song at once on both versions and compare, and I couldn't see any improvements (why yes, I am insane, what makes you ask?)- but it still looks good on the big screen. The analogue sticks also serve an adequate replacement for the touch screen, although it's very easy to flick the stick a bit too hard and have it register two hits rather than one, and they feel a wee bit less satisfying than the touch screen... But that's just personal preference, I suspect. Finally, it would appear that the weird 'stuttering' that happened in busier songs in the Vita version has mostly gone (the easiest way to tell is Sweet Devil- the Vita version has a fair bit of stuttering in the opening note barrage, but that seems to have gone for the PS3 version).

It's a perfectly fine version of the game, and by that I mean it's basically a straight port with extra content added- the PS3 one was developed near the end of the Vita game's dev cycle- so don't expect any improved graphics (beyond the lack of that bloom) or substantially modified game mechanics.

Of course, if you only have the PS3 version, you can't do things like the picture below:

Well... Unless you took a photo of Enforcement Droid 209 on its own then transferred it to your PS3 and...

Nah. Way too much effort.

And now we move ungracefully into the bit about the Western version of the game.

Yes, both America and Europe got to play this one!

As 2013 was the year of Out-of-Left-Field Localisations (see also: Project X-Zone, Bravely Default), Project DIVA got to be one of them, although only one made it to 2013 itself. The order of release was reversed this time- first, the localised PS3 version was released on disc and digitally in the US on August 27th 2013. PAL-Landers got a much rawer deal- it was digital-only, it was delayed by a week til September 4th (which prompted some backlash, including Shenmue fan backlash for some reason) and had its price jacked up from £31.99 to £36.99 about half a day after it landed. Anyway, several months later the Vita version was released digitally in both territories- 4th March 2014 for America, 12th for Europe- but it's worth noting the ESRB did rate the Vita version at the same time as the PS3 version, it came out later anyway, because...? Importantly, the extra PS3 content is not standard for the US/EU version, but comes at a massively reduced price to compensate. Kinda. Also, the Vita DLC in Europe was delayed by a day (Snow Miku) or two (Extra Characters), because, er...? Anyway, for the most part, this is the same game, but with translations- beyond the obvious (hey, I can finally read the menus and see what the game calls its note butto- wait, what? They're called Melody Icons? I've been living a lie!), the song titles have been translated (with subtitles for song title/producer names added in the PVs) and song lyrics are given in Romanji (Japanese with the English alphabet). Also, only half the DLC- specifically Extra Characters and Snow Miku 2013- made it across the pond.

Now, changes! First, some English terms used in-game have been altered for the localisation, as below.

The 'original' song titles are taken from those given on Project DIVA Wiki.

Term Category Japanese English Localisation
Character Name KAITO Kaito
Song Title Left-Behind City Urbandonment
Net Game Addicts Sprechchor The MMORPG Addicts Anthem
Continuation of Dreams Continuing Dream
Note Type Flip Notes Stick Notes
Note Ranking FINE GOOD
Song Ranking CHEAP LOUSY
Game Mode DIVA Room Miku Room

Amusingly, this means the Note Rankings- now COOL, GOOD, SAFE, BAD and AWFUL- are the same ranks used in Parappa the Rapper!

There are some other minor changes, probably the most notable being that the X and O buttons have had their functionality in menus changed around, as per Playstation localisation standards (will this cause you to exit menus you wanted to proceed through? Aw yeah, you know it!). There's also been some very slight changes to graphics/text in certain PVs- specifically World's End Dancehall (Two lines of text changed), Urbandoment (Text changed), Summer Idol (Sign changed), Stay With Me (Text changed), Remote Control (Dreamcast swirl on controller and TV changed from red to blue) and The MMORPG Addicts Anthem (text on right monitor changed, item text translated). Finally, the DLC was handled differently, as the Snow Miku 2013 pack (along with a PS3 theme) was a pre-order bonus for the physical PS3 version at Gamestop in America, and the Teto, Haku and Neru pack was downloadable on release. Europe got the Snow Miku 2013 and Extra Characters packs later- but, well, at least we got them! The Vita DLC was a bit closer to release date, though.

Beyond that... This certainly is an non-iOS Hatsune Miku game released in Western territories, in a mostly unaltered state. Sega didn't so much 'localise' the game (i.e. change it) as just translate it, and I, for one, am quite content with that. Was anyone expecting more? As for why Sega decided to release it in the West, I can't say for certain. Oddly, a demo unit of the game was on the floor at E3 2012 to gauge interest, and there was obviously the game's Facebook campaign... However, Sega passed up localising the XBLA port of Virtua Striker outside of Japan so talking about justification for localisation decisions and Sega in the same sentence is a losing battle.

OK, it's DLC time. Quite a lot here.

If you own the Japanese version of either game, you don't have a choice beyond getting a Japanese account- IGN has a guide to switching accounts- and getting money either via a Japanese credit card or these digital cards. If you own the localised version, you've got no such troubles. We'll be going over specific release dates and prices after the content, so stick with us.

The first DLC (all territories, both formats) is a bunch of old friends. For your money, you get three new characters to play with. From left to right above, two were standard characters in previous games- Haku Yowane (the strongest Vocaloid!) and Neru Akita (the grumpiest Vocaloid). They were reduced to DLC for this version because...? However, Haku seems to have been designed to have worried-looking eyebrows throughout every single PV, which is adorable. And hilarious. Hilardorable. The third one, Teto Kasane, an UTAUoid originally created to troll Vocaloid fans, was DLC for 2nd and Extend too, so her reappearance isn't too surprising. All of these characters are listed under EXTRA on the Module Select menu, and while they don't have any extra costumes, you can stick accessories on them and the three of them share a DIVA Room (only one's in there at a time). This means that yes, you can touch Haku, you weirdo. However, they don't have any individual voice samples for the DIVA Room and Teto doesn't talk at all, not even on the song results screen.

The second DLC (Japan-only, both formats) is cross-promotion with Toro and Kuro, Sony's cat mascots for the Playstation brand in Japan. Toro by himself first appeared in Doko Demo Issho for the PS1, then Mainichi Issho for the PS3 introduced Kuro, Toro's neighbour. They get around a lot, having appeared in Street Fighter x Tekken, Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale and Everybody's Golf 5... And now, the world of Vocaloid. For your Zenny, you get seven new accessories- Toro and Kuro masks, Toro and Kuro hats (?!), Toro and Kuro backpacks, and a TV with a cat face on it- and a new song to play. Well, it's sort-of new- it's a 'Special Edition' version of PoPiPo from 2nd, with a new PV with Toro and Kuro and totally different note patterns. The song's also shorter than it was, as you only play one verse. I'd use that money to buy Zanac X Zanac instead, honestly (but get the Haku/Neru/Teto pack first, obv.)

The third DLC (all territories, both formats, pre-order bonus in the US) is traditional, it's the Snow Miku 2013 pack. Every year, a new Snow Miku costume is created and gets merchandise made (in particular, Nendoroids) and it usually ends up as DLC for the DIVA games. So here we are. For your cash, you get two new modules for Miku in her Snow Miku 2013 design- one with the hood, one without. That's your lot.

The fourth and fifth DLCs (all territories, Vita only) combine to make the big one for Vita owners. So big, the game was updated to Version 1.01 to accomodate it- it's the extra content from the PS3 version. One, called the Additional Item Pack, is free and has 18 accessories and a bunch of extra junk for the Edit Mode, while the other, Additional Song Pack, is priced differently in the different regions- ¥3000 (!) in Japan and far cheaper elsewhere ($9.99/£6.49/£7.99). Anyway, with both packs combined, and excluding the Edit Mode stuff, you get... Hold on, gotta take a deep breath for this one...

6 new songs
Tell Your World, Tokyo Teddybear, Dream-Eating Monochrome Baku, Sweet Devil, Rin-chan Now! and Senbonzakura
14 new modules
For Miku - Linkage, Honey Whip, Rin-chan Lover Squad No. 1 and Sakura Cherry Blssom No. 1: Ouka
For Rin - Scissors, Sakura Cherry Blossom No. 2: Kochou, Sakura Cherry Blossom No. 2: Kochou AS and Future Style
For Len - Tricker and Sakura Cherry Blossom No. 2: Senbou
For Luka - Rin-chan Lover Squad No. 1 and Sakura Cherry Blossom No. 3: Fuukou
For KAITO - Sakura Cherry Blossom No. 0: Sousetsu
For MEIKO - Sakura Cherry Blossom No. 0: Benitsubaki
20 new accesories
Mini Silk Hat, Chef's Hat, Noble's Headgear, Mikudayo on Head [no - Ed], Mikudayo Headgear [NO - Ed], Sharp Sunglasses, Swimming Goggles, Party Glasses, Clown Nose, Fox Mask, Badge, Name Tag (Green), Name Tag R (Yellow), Name Tag L (Yellow), Name Tag (Pink), Name Tag (Blue), Name Tag (Red), Rucksack with Posters, School Bag with Recorder (Black) and School Bag with Recorder (Red)
4 new AR song performances
Time Machine, Weekender Girl, ODDS&ENDS and 39

The two Mikudayo items come with the Additional Songs Pack, all the other accessories are free.

Well. Blimey. For what little it's worth, I much prefer the PS3-exclusive songs to most of the standard songs (even the Len one was good). However, the weird stuttering problem the game has is still apparent in these songs, if anything it's worse than normal (especially Sweet Devil on Hard and Extreme). If you have no plans to buy the PS3 version or just like the portability that much... Yeah, grab this DLC, if for nothing else than to use the Mikudayo headgear for as many disturbing screenshots as possible.

The sixth DLC (Japan-only, both formats) is corporate sponsorship. For 200 Yen you get a FamilyMart-san Miku module. This was originally a freebie for those who pre-ordered the PS3 version of the game at FamilyMart, a Japanese convenience store chain that used Miku as part of an ad campaign (is that Miku's Project DIVA model being used there?). See, they have naff pre-order bonuses worldwide. Anyway, if you missed it then, you can just buy it now.

And now, for ease of reference, all the DLCs in a little chart, explaining when they were released, where, and how much:

PS VITA VERSION JP Release Date JP Price US Release Date US Price EU Release Date EU Price
Extra Characters Pack 06/11/12 ¥600 04/03/14 $2.99 14/03/14 £1.99/€2.49
Toro/Kuro Pack 04/12/12 ¥600 - - - -
Snow Miku Pack 05/02/13 ¥300 04/03/14 $2.99 13/03/14 £1.99/€2.49
PS3 Content Pack 07/03/13 ¥3000 04/03/14 $9.99 12/03/14 £6.49/€7.99
Additional Content Pack 07/03/13 Free 04/03/14 Free 12/03/14 Free
FamilyMart Pack 29/06/13 ¥200 - - - -

PS3 VERSION JP Release Date JP Price US Release Date US Price EU Release Date EU Price
Extra Characters Pack 03/07/13 ¥600 27/08/13 $2.99 02/10/2013 £1.99/€2.49
Toro/Kuro Pack 03/07/13 ¥600 - - - -
Snow Miku Pack 03/07/13 ¥300 08/10/13 P $1.99 25/09/13 £1.99/€2.49
FamilyMart Pack 29/08/13 P ¥200 - - - -

The packs available on both formats are also Cross-Buy, but have to be from the same region to work.

A little P next to a date means this was a pre-order bonus in that territory, and the date was when it was released to all users.

It seems that's your lot for DLC this time around.

And my editor owes me a tenner, they did re-release old songs!

Well, one old song. It seems Project DIVA f 2nd will be the one to get all the repeated songs. Never mind~

With three exceptions, all the costumes in the game are new, so no returning Sega references. Booooo.

This time, there's four costumes that come from other Sega games, probably the oddest so far:

Miku has a FOnewearl costume (from Phantasy Star Online 2).
Beat Netge Haijin / Online Game Addicts Sprechchor on any difficulty to get it in the shop, then buy it for 20000 DIVA Points.
The song is about playing an MMORPG, and the PV is based on PSO2 with a crowd of PSO characters

Luka has a Altina costume (from Shining Blade).
The costume's called Fairy Princess of the Forest, which is basically what Altina is too. As I understand it.
Beat every song in the game on Normal to get it in the shop, then buy it for 30000 DIVA Points.
(Credit goes to Twitterer @GRSonic who spotted this was from Shining Blade.)

Rin has a Arle Nadja (!) costume (from Puyo Puyo) (!!!).
The costume's called Egg Mage in Japan and Apprentice Magician in the US/EU, and is based on Arle's appearance in Puyo Puyo!! 20th Anniversary.
Beat every song in the game on Normal to get it in the shop, then buy it for 30000 DIVA Points.

MEIKO has a Fiona the Operator costume (from Border Break).
(Fiona's the woman in the middle of that linked picture.)
Beat every song in the game on Normal to get it in the shop, then buy it for 30000 DIVA Points.

There's also two Puyo Puyo-related accessories that any character can equip.
The first is a red Puyo hat that Amitie wears, the second is a Green Puyo hairclip that Ringo Andou wears.
Both are head accessories.
It unlocked for us when we beat every song on Normal- buy the hat for 20000 DIVA Points, and the clip for 15000.

There's a nice Sega reference in the PV for Remote Control too.
It prominently features a modified Dreamcast controller. With twin cameras.

We thought we were done with Sega references, but eagle-eyed Liam Ashcroft spotted this in the PV for Left-Behind City / Urbandonment.
It's a Game Gear! See the red power light and blue start button? All in the right places!

Finally, there's a mini-game during the credits where, as Hachune Miku, you throw leeks at the staff roll. Buying the arcade machine for the DIVA Room allows you to replay the game, and replaying it a certain number of times unlocks new features like a charge-shot, additional backgrounds, etc. If you watch the credits 33 times, then please get a better hobby the above message appears, a nod to Space Harrier. Sadly, the extra background this message unlocks is not Moot or Plaleaf (it's an upside-down version of the set for What Do You Mean!?).

Alas, the question remains, again- where the hell is Miku's Honey costume? You know it makes sense!

Haven't had enough of Miku? There's an app for that.

Music Girl: Hatsune Miku, developed by WROCK Games, is an app for your iPhone that was released to promote the Japanese release of the Vita game in August 2012- Marza Animation Planet, who worked on animations for the Project DIVA games, were involved. It's essentially a skin for your device's standard music player, with the main difference being limited ways of selecting tracks, and instead of displaying track information and album covers... You get to see Miku jig to the beat. It also doubles as a communication game! She'll do her best to pick up the beat of the music and dance along (only with very slight movements, though- no over-the-top dance numbers for you, sorry) and, as she does, the blue orb in the corner will fill up. Once it's full, you can either touch Miku's hand (no, really) or she'll ask you a multiple-choice question, sometimes trivia and sometimes just small-talk. Depending on your actions here, the pink orb will fill up, and when that one's full she'll give you a present (including wallpapers for your phone and, well, weird junk). You can also buy her new outfits if you really want (with real cash!). It's cute, I guess, and uses Miku's model from the game... But most of your enjoyment will come from the odd questions Miku asks and some of her more bizarre observations. As a music player it's a bit pants, as selecting songs isn't that easy and trying to select specific parts of a song is super-fiddly.

Now, there was an English version, and this is where it gets weird. The English version was released in August 2013, just about a month before Project DIVA F was due to drop onto American/European soil... But it's a straight translation of the Japanese version. Miku and the app repeatedly refer to the Japanese release date of the Vita game (and also a DVD of a live Miku concert), and not the international release! I'd say this was a missed opportunity for a bit of promotion for the game... Except while the Japanese version was free, the English version is £2.50 right out of the gate. You do get an extra costume to compensate, though. If that's any consolation to you.

Finally... Some observations about the game's age rating.

As this one was localised, we get to talk about three rating systems, whee! Let's start in Japan, with their CERO system- it's a bit like a mix of the American ESRB (letter ratings instead of specific ages) and European PEGI (uses symbols to denote content) systems, it goes from A-D and then Z. Up until this point, every game in the Project DIVA series received a B (12+) rating with a 'sexual content' advisory label (Project mirai only got an A, for reference) but somehow Project DIVA f (and F, obv) got a C (15+). Again, it also gets a 'sexual content' label like the previous games.

Why's that, then? Unfortunately CERO doesn't offer more in-depth explanations of their ratings, so we must wildly speculate instead. At first I idly considered it could be the PV for E? Aa Sou. as the opening segment is, to put it mildly, a wee bit suggestive. Certainly a step above the likes of Kocchi Miute Baby from 2nd. There's also the actual lyrics of the song which I'll let speak for themselves, although whether that alone would be enough to bump the rating up, I dunno. The Vocaloid Wiki has a different theory- in their words, 'little nudity'. They give an example as wearing MEIKO's Blue Crystal module (the one where her chest's covered by just two belt- classy!) in Nostalogic. When I checked, it wasn't exactly nudity per se but combining that PV with that costume is the easiest way to spot that the game has jiggle physics, which I'm certain weren't in 2nd (and no, I'm not going back to check). That's all I can come up with for this one.

Next, America! Both on the PS3 and Vita, the ESRB rated the game Teen (13+) with the descriptors 'mild violence', 'mild lyrics' and 'suggestive themes'. Their rating summary goes into slightly more detail, citing MEIKO's Crystal Blue costume (aha!), a silhouetted character getting stabbed with a sewing needle (That'd be Tokyo Teddybear, then) and song lyrics, even though they're not actually translated... But generally this is what you'd expect- slightly revealing skirts/tops, provocative dancing, etc.

(Yes, the US rating gave us less room to wildly speculate. Sorry.)

Luckily, Europe came up to bat for this one in the wild speculation stakes. Gets a bit weird now. Initially it looked like it was going to follow suit with the rest of the world, as the PS3 demo was given a PEGI rating of 12, with a symbol warning of 'sexual content'. Yep, pretty normal so far... Except when the game was finally released, it had its rating reduced to a 3 with no warning symbols at all. The same is true on Sega UK's product page and the official PEGI site, which adds further mystery to proceedings as it notes the game's release date as 20th September rather than its actual release date of the 7th. Curiouser still, Twitter user @GRSonic (who has been mentioned on this page twice now) noticed that the game is set to Parental Lock Level 3, the equivalent of a 7 rating. Finally, the Vita version stuck with its 3 rating from the off. What's the crack here, then? Anyone willing to hazard a guess, a postcard to the usual address, if you please.

This might be the last we'll see of Project DIVA on this site. Kinda sad, I guess.

... Then again, as long as the Vocaloids remain... It can happen again.