Hatusne Miku: Colorful Stage! is a rhythm game starring the Vocaloids of Crypton Future Media, Incorporated. Vocaloids are voice synthesizer programs used for various voice-based projects. Hatsune Miku is the most popular Vocaloid whose fame originates from the spread of various covers using her posted online. The most notable cover is that of the Finnish folk song “Ievan Polkka” as part of the Leek Spin meme. From then on, she became a cultural phenomenon with her own concerts and the like. The question is if this mobile title lives up to that reputation.
Sega is the publisher of Hatusne Miku: Colorful Stage! along with many other games in the series. The developer Colorful Palette appears to keep a low profile, as their website only has a Japanese option. As for the game’s premise, it revolves around five highschool bands working through their problems with the Vocaloids’ help. The Vocaloids provide moral support via dream spaces called SEKAI (“world” in Japanese), which serve as hubs in the overworld. It’s also worth noting that the Vocaloids’ names, unlike the highschoolers names, are in the Eastern order, i.e. last name first.
The gameplay of Hatsune Miku: Colorful Stage! doesn’t take long to learn. The notes ride on a track that comes from the screen’s center much like Guitar Hero. There are three different actions players perform with the notes: tap, hold and flick. The held notes have a colored path between each end while the flick ones have a red arrow. Of course, the game offers first-time players a tutorial which is thankfully optional. Just remember to select the “Show” option for the actual gameplay, as “Story” is nothing but cutscenes. In addition, playing songs costs stamina.
Just because the gameplay of Hatusne Miku: Colorful Stage! is easy to grasp, it doesn’t mean the game is a breeze. While the game has five difficulty settings, it can be challenging for newcomers even on the second-lowest difficulty. Fortunately, the game allows players to adjust note speed, as well as retry or quit songs without cost. Finding the right posture to play this game can be a challenge, as one must always have two fingers ready. It’s probably best to play with one’s device on a flat surface for the sake of comfort.
Reading the Fine Print
The presentation of Hatusne Miku: Colorful Stage! is what one should expect from a company of Sega’s stature. Character models and animations are smooth and detailed for a mobile game. The cutscenes even use animated models instead of the customary static portraits with slight variations. Granted, the cutscene models only face forward and don’t interact with each other, but it’s still more effort than most. The cutscenes are also fully voiced, though players can choose to forgo voices to save on data usage. Fortunately, the cutscene files are temporary so that they don’t clog up device storage.
Hatusne Miku: Colorful Stage! is upfront with its microtransactions. The game welcomes first-time players with age verification and legal agreements to read and sign. It even greets players with a disclaimer reminding people to monitor minor players to prevent overspending. Of course, it feels more like Sega trying to legally protect themselves, given the addictive nature of gacha mechanics. The obligatory gacha may only be for costumes and character variants, but it still affects the brain like gambling does. Moreover, the character variants have different skills that affect one’s performance and thus the completion rewards too.
Hatusne Miku: Colorful Stage! is a rhythm game that does what it sets out to do respectably. The controls are simple, responsive and effective. While it relies on gacha pulls and tons of different currencies for cosmetics and variants, acquiring new songs is straightforward. One just buys them from a shop using a currency earned through various tasks. The characters may be clichéd in many ways, but the gameplay just works. This title should satisfy Hatsune Miku fans along with rhythm game fans despite the free-to-play trappings.
Is It Hardcore?
Hatusne Miku: Colorful Stage! is an easy-to-learn rhythm title that’s surprisingly challenging. The fact that the game’s plot revolves around highschoolers may disinterest some, but the gameplay makes it worth tolerating. Fans of rhythm games and J-Pop will likely have fun with this game.