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Which Japanese Music Game Should You Import This Summer?

July 7, 2014 Written by Heath Hindman

UTAKUMI575-VS-HATSUNEMIKU

Summer has a notorious game release drought. True or not, the reputation has endured over the years. If you’re looking at these next two months and thinking there’s not much for you, it might be time to import from Japan.

In particular, Japan got two fun music games that I find noteworthy. One won’t arrive outside Japan until September or October, and the other is sure to stay in Japan forever. Here, I’ll help you decide which Japanese music game is right for you, this summer.

Uta Kumi 575 vs. Hatsune Miku Project Diva f 2nd

It’s all about touch…
Uta Kumi 575 is entirely touch-controlled. The only thing a button can do is remove a dialogue box. It can’t move conversations in the story, it can’t select modes, nothing. Gameplay, too, is all about the touch screen and back touch pad. If that’s how you like to roll or if it’s a non-factor to you, Uta Kumi serves.

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Hatsune Miku: Project Diva F 2nd, on the other hand, allows you to avoid the touch screen. Scratch notes, bound to the touch screen in Miku’s first Vita game, can now be assigned to analog sticks or the back touch pad if you like. Use either one you like. I was all too eager to put those things on the sticks, myself.

Games With Friends…
Uta Kumi 575 has its two leading ladies as the only vocalists. Hatsune Miku is the definite star of the game which bears her name, but it includes a handful of other likeable characters who feature in cool videos and sing catchy tunes of their own. It’s also got a bustling online community with fan-made stages. If you want Vocaloid variety and online functions, go with Hatsune Miku: Project Diva F 2nd.

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My Pop Secret…
If your musical taste leans toward J-Pop, Hatsune Miku might be the way to go. Both games star Vocaloids, but Miku’s music has a more J-pop feel, with an inclusion of rock not found in 575. Uta Kumi 575 definitely has a J-Pop flavor, too, but I feel the force is a little stronger with Miku’s crew. Her songs are somewhat more memorable, as well, with the exception of 575‘s first track.

Project Diva F 2nd also has a bit more variety in its playlist.

For the Japanese Student…
Those of you studying the Japanese language would be best off with Uta Kumi 575. (Though if you’re studying a language, practically any video game in that language is a good idea. Some better than others, but all are good, especially any that increase your drive and interest in continuing.)

You’ll have hiragana and katakana lyrics on the screen at all times, and the game forces you to fill in the blank spots from a word bank. Correct choices are rewarded. Even if you’re an intermediate or advanced Japanese learner and think you have kana licked, your speed could probably use some improvement; in Uta Kumi, you read it fast or you fall behind. Furthermore, your task isn’t just to read it, but to read and understand it. Then, read the word bank choices well enough to understand which words should go to which places in the song lyrics. It might look like newbie stuff, but it’s tougher thank you think.

While Project Diva f 2nd also has Japanese language all over the place in both spoken and written forms, most of it could be ignored. The menus can be navigated easily with no Japanese knowledge. For that reason:

If you’re studying Japanese: I recommend Uta Kumi 575.
If you don’t speak/read a lick of Japanese but wanna game: Hatsune Miku.

Video Killed the Radio Star…
If you crave elaborate videos, Hatsune Miku is the clear winner. Uta Kumi‘s videos and dance routines are very simplistic, and it’s quite charming. But if charming isn’t what you’re looking for, Hatsune Miku is back with stuff straight out of the most elaborate anime. Here’s Knife, for example. You don’t start with those costumes unlocked, but still. Whoa. What a production.

Now compare that to Uta Kumi 575:

Yeah, 575 is definitely the lower-key of the two. So if you wanna get real crazy, go with Miku. If you just wanna sing and dance with an occasional pretty background, Uta Kumi is your jam.

I Wanna Make You Sweat…
If the summer heat isn’t enough to make you sweat and you need games to bring the perspiration, look to Hatsune Miku: Project Diva F 2nd.

Uta Kumi‘s difficulty can get up there, with certain songs, but overall, Hatsune Miku’s newest game wins this contest. In Uta Kumi 575, you’re either going to touch the front screen or hold it, and the same goes for the back touch pad. You’ll also have to choose lyrics, but that’s also just a touch of the screen. HM:PDF 2nd has over a dozen things it might ask you to do, given how many different buttons it uses, plus the inclusion of double notes, Scratch notes, and holding. It can — and will — come at you with guns blazing.

Uta Story…
If you’re looking for characters that do anything other than sing and dance, Uta Kumi is the way to go. Miku and her friends go all-out in videos and can be creepily spied on in their rooms, but there’s not really a story being told. Uta Kumi 575 has two high school girls with an objective, whose interactions are shared with you.

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The Conversation Piece…
If you’re like me, you’re a pretentious ass about the games you import and can’t wait for your friends to ask about them. When it comes to luring your friends into a conversation about how cool you are because you play games in Japanese, both Hatsune Miku and Uta Kumi are good bait to have on the shelf.

Uta Kumi 575 has two girls in classic Japanese school uniforms, smiling and having a good old time, while Hatsune Miku as a huge worldwide following and is becoming more and more recognizable in North America.

Both of these games serve your ego and make your friends hate you (either because they are envious or because you are an egomaniac).

Why not both?
If your Vita is really needing a kick in the pants and the summer gaming drought is hitting you harder than ever, well, I suppose there’s the option to import these two games together to get the best of both worlds.

Games obtained via Play-Asia.com. Hatsune Miku Project Diva F 2nd can be ordered here and Uta Kumi 575 can be ordered here.

These are clearly life or death decisions. If you should have any questions, I’m always here to talk. If the above hasn’t helped you decide which way you want to go with your importing, we’ve got reviews of both games. Uta Kumi 575‘s can be read here while the Hatsune Miku: Project Diva F 2nd review is right here.