Pretty much all of the songs need to be unlocked by completing them one by one. For all the glitz and glamour that Project Diva presents though, actually progressing through these stages is surprisingly underwhelming - you simply select tracks from a list and work your way down. Some kind of Career Mode or other contained scenario would have made the core experience feel a little less empty.
Worse, when you complete a stage you canít jump to the next one, meaning you have to endure loading screen after loading screen to go back into the song list, select a new track and enjoy another level. Thereís also one other niggle I encountered in regards to pausing your game mid-song. When you unpause, youíre thrown right back in without a countdown or anything, which can completely mess you up if youíre not careful. Make sure nobodyís around to bother you if you intend on making that perfect run.
On the whole though, the main element of the game is very enjoyable - but thereís also a selection of other modes and distractions to busy yourself with when you donít want to get with the rhythm anymore. On the surface, they donít appear to add that much replay value, but one look at the Edit Mode and youíll soon think twice.
Editing songs from the game is an extremely in-depth experience, and can extend the life of each track exponentially. You start by choosing a song, along with a Vocaloid character to dance along to the music. From there, you get to modify almost every element of the performance and the gameplay.
How the characters dance and react, where to place the button markers, what timings and arrangements you want... the modifications are staggering. You can even edit songs from past Project Diva games if you have import data available. Make sure you have an understanding of Japanese though, because this mode is extremely text heavy and you can easily get lost.
The obligatory voyeur modes in a game such as this are all present and correct - chief of these being the Diva Room, where you can use collected items, trade with friends and watch your chosen Vocaloid prat about in their own shoebox-sized apartment. You can also take snapshots of them sleeping and doing mundane tasks if you like that sort of thing.
There are all kinds of unlockables to get which can improve both the Diva Rooms and the core game experience, from room items to alternative outfits for your Divas - Valkyria Chronicles, Sonic the Hedgehog, Pirate, Magician and Space Channel 5 are just some of the inspired costumes you can purchase with points collected in the main game.
Quite simply, thereís a deceptively large amount of bang for your imported buck here. What starts off as a limited number of rhythm songs and an uninspired method of level progression turns into constant repeat-plays to earn Perfect scores, unlocking pointless outfits and virtual collectibles and sinking hours into the depth of the Edit mode.
And best/worst of all, itís a totally conflicting experience - it seems so wrong, yet feels so right. Oh my God, Iíve got the craving for another go. Help me!
Pros: + Fresh experience for fans of rhythm games. + Great set of catchy songs - something for everyone. + Music videos are excellently produced.. + Edit Mode offers insane amount of replayability.
Cons: - Would have loved a Career Mode. - No countdown when you unpause. - Loading screens - even if they are quite pretty. - The whole Ďmoeí aspect of things might make you feel a bit uncomfortable.
SPOnG Score: 7/10
Itís only a matter of time before the West is truly subjected to Project Diva and the Vocaloids, and SEGA introduces these companion games to unsuspecting Japanophiles and teenage girls. I welcome our new digital overlords as they look to inevitably conquer our land - largely because for all its bubblegum exterior, Project Diva Extend is a damn good rhythm game. Prepare yourselves.