This game is the best videogame of the year so far. Okay, so it’s still January. But look – it’s going to take something very special to outperform this enormous beauty. This is pure, sweet, videogaming – fired straight into your fingers, eyes and heart.
The Hatsune Miku games might look baffling to a newcomer. There’s this girl, Hatsune Miku, and she’s a pop star. Is she a robot? She might be. She certainly has a robotic voice. In fact, she’s all about the voice.
She’s a persona that’s been bolted onto a “vocaloid”, a programmable voice synth. Musicians can creating te songs, and program her to sing them. And so she does. She’s 16, doesn’t actually exist, is improbably famous, and regularly performs to real-world audiences as a hologram.
And these are her computer games. SEGA have used her music, her image, and the images of her supporting cast, to create the greatest rhythm game of all time, with the very best songs.
And listen – your man here is a rhythm game veteran. I love them all. The DDRs and the Pop ‘n’ Musics. The Rhythm Heavens and the Gitaroo Mans. The Frequencies and the Para Para Paradises. But this game?
Man. This game. If you buy the full bundle, at 45 quid, you’ll have over 220 songs to play through, at various difficulties. Easy mode lets you tap along, with the freedom to enjoy each song’s colourful, gorgeous music video. Ramp things up towards Extreme, though, and you will have to call upon Rhythm Ninja Skills From the Beat Dimension. Work hard at this game and you will feel yourself ascend to gaming god status – your fingers will be a blur, and your mind will be at one with the music.
How does it work? Well, as each song plays you simply tap X, O, Up or Left at the correct points in the song. Then you’ll use your sticks, on occasion, to slap out left-or-right strikes. And sometimes you’ll use your stick to do a slide. That’s pretty much it. But the patterns! The patterns!
Each rhythm pattern for each song is incredibly satisfying, creating the impression that your input is the key element of the whole performance. The crunch of that pattern, as your beats slam into some of the catchiest Japanese synth-pop you’ll ever hear, creates a real sense of connection with the music. It’s hard to explain, because it’s all about feel, and it’s what separates great rhythm games from mediocre ones.
The songs themselves are tremendous. There’s some genuinely brilliant songwriting on display here. Mainly bubblegum pop, with a healthy amount of dance, and a surprising amount of experimental stuff that always seems to work – you’re going to be changing your mind about your favourite song every time you sit at the game. My favourites, right now? “Hello, Worker” and – most spot-on song title ever – “The Intense Voice Of Hatsune Miku”.
Intense, indeed. This purchase is a no-brainer. A gargantuan game, a true challenge, a fun time, with great levels culled from years of rhythm game success. And it makes you feel so happy, too. It’s colour and charm and leeks and pigtails. It’s your first must-buy of the year, no matter what age you are, what colour your hair is, or whether or not you’re a robot.
(Psssst. It’s out now on PSN!)
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