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FGC #497.2 Tokyo Mirage Sessions ♯FE

Please note that this article contains distinct spoilers regarding Tokyo Mirage Sessions ♯FE. You have been warned!

Go Goku!There’s this moment in Dragon Ball Z at the end of the first significant story arc when Goku uses the Spirit Bomb. At this point, Goku has died, ventured through the afterlife, and returned from the grave when needed most to utilize a technique he could only learn from a nigh-god in another dimension. This attack, the Spirit Bomb, drains a tiny portion of power (“power” being vaguely nebulous in this case) from every living being on the planet, and combines all that strength into one focused “bomb” that he can hurl at his opponent, a giant monkey that is threatening everyone on Goku’s adopted planet (which is also Earth. You live there). In the grand scheme of narrative conceits, this is meant to be an important moment for Goku: he is the undisputed lead, the hero of this tale, but he cannot solve this problem with his own power. There is no solution here where Goku alone wins, so he must use this sacred technique, and, with the assistance of everyone on Earth, he can snatch victory from the hairy jaws of defeat. He can save the world thanks to the world. If this overarching metaphor isn’t obvious enough, Goku even whiffs his chance at pegging his opponent with this spirit ball, and requires another assist from another two fighters (one of which is best known for his propensity toward dying). Goku’s (currently) hated enemy is ultimately defeated by this spirit bomb, proving that it was not the super powerful Goku that was required to save the planet, but the strength of every person. Don’t put all of your faith in one “savior”, believe in the power of not one, but everyone.

And then Goku goes on to defeat every other opponent through hours and hours of one-on-one grunting ‘n punching. Goku is our Superman. Goku is our Jesus. All hail Goku, the guy that singlehandedly saved the world over and over again!

This happens often in fiction: the hero is the hero, and while there might be some moment or technique that uses “everyone’s power”, it all seems to come back to the one and only luminary. This is even more prevalent in videogames, as they are single-person experiences. Everyone in the party is working together to defeat the evil god du jour, but it all comes back to you, the exceptional player, making decisions, so the moral is muddied. And when you have RPGs that all but require the player to be the center of the universe, it gets even worse. That town lives or dies according to what sidequests you choose to complete, so it’s pretty obvious the world revolves around only you. Give me a moral about teamwork or whatever, fine, but in the end you intrinsically know that you are the only person that matters.

So you can imagine my surprise when Tokyo Mirage Sessions ♯FE actually pulled off a “spirit bomb” finale without making its main character the center of the universe….

FGC #497.1 Tokyo Mirage Sessions ♯FE

Let's go to TokyoTokyo Mirage Sessions ♯FE contains possibly the best idea in all of crossover games, and it is a complete waste.

Tokyo Mirage Sessions ♯FE is a crossover game involving the Shin Megami Tensei and Fire Emblem franchises. However, while both franchises are unmistakably involved, TMS♯FE has much more in common with Shin Megami Tensei’s own spinoff: Persona. And, to be clear, that would the almost spinoff of a spinoff, the post-Persona 3 editions of Persona. Like those games, this is a story predominantly featuring quirky teenagers banding together to fight unknowable, wicked forces while also occasionally hanging out and buying maid costumes at the mall. In this case, the twist is that there is less of a focus on school and “mundane” daily life, as the heroes of the tale are also performers of varying disciplines. Singing! Acting! Whatever it’s called when you’re secretly a Power Ranger! The whole gang is entertaining fans by day, but clearing out monsters by night. … Or… also during the day… I don’t remember if there actually is a “night” in this game…

Regardless! While it’s always interesting to know whether or not your favorite is getting enough hits on Youtube or whatever, the meat and potatoes of TMS♯FE is based on beating back the malevolent mirages in dangerous dungeons. Mirages are essentially demons from another world that prey on the raw fan-power of citizens of our planet, and if these creatures are not defeated, then the whole of the population might not be able to enjoy the finer points of the latest Hatsune Miku release. And, somehow, it is revealed that the whole enterprise of this soul-sucking was supposed to revive an enormous black dragon that could theoretically obliterate the planet, so there are some stakes that go beyond whether some models are inconvenienced by a possessed pervert (it’s… a weird game).

Let's rockBut how do your mundane teenagers save their humdrum lives from this wholly fantastic threat? Simple! They team up with their own, benevolent mirages. These “good” mirages transform into weapons and armor (or at least costumes) for our heroes, and now our leading lady is hurling supernatural blasts from a flying, mechanical pegasus (is noting a pegasus as flying redundant? I suppose it could be a lazy pegasus…). And for anyone familiar with the Persona series, yes, these mirages essentially function like the titular persona “spirits” of that franchise. Everyone gets their own unique mirage, and it is technically this spirit that levels up and learns new skills. Itsuki Aoi can’t really handle himself in a fight against eldritch horrors, but his mirage, Chrom, has got the situation well in hand.

Yes, I said Chrom. Yes, that’s the star of Fire Emblem: Awakening and incidental opponent in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. He’s a luminary of the Fire Emblem franchise, and he’s the prime mirage of Tokyo Mirage Sessions ♯FE. He is the main character’s mirage, so he’s the headliner of the Fire Emblem characters.

And that’s a good thing. In fact, it’s a brilliant thing! The number one obstacle to anyone starting a JRPG is that it is inevitably going to be “new”. The Final Fantasy franchise is amazing, but right from its first sequel, it has changed dramatically from edition to edition. There are always new characters, new systems, and new menus to navigate with every version. And it seems like the JRPG genre as a whole has followed suit, as we can nary get through a new Dragon Quest or Breath of Fire without a significant shuffling of the deck. Mario might get a graphical upgrade, but he’s always going to be able to jump on goombas, and it doesn’t matter if there’s a water gun strapped to his back this time. Meanwhile, the latest Final Fantasy might introduce its hottest protagonist as Sticky Wicket the Gibbering Thicket, and he may or may not even have a basic “fight” command. Final Fantasy 16 features the ARQ battle system, and you may only attack when the global price of oil has reached a high point. You’ll get used to it!

We're all real!But the benefit of the crossover integral to Tokyo Mirage Sessions ♯FE allows the user to skip that horrid “getting to know you” phase. Most obviously, the battle system of TMS♯FE combines the basic flow of Persona encounters with the nomenclature of both Shin Megami Tensei and Fire Emblem, so if you’re familiar with either franchise, you’re going to recognize the myriad of arrows you’re supposed to rain down on this mounted opponent. And the mirages serve much the same purpose, but to grease the plot in the same way as the battle system. Itsuki Aoi is a completely new character created exclusively for this adventure, and, out of the box, he could be anything. Is he aloof and distant like Squall? Is a he a debonair playboy like Zidane? What kind of protagonist is he? Well, his mirage, his “persona”, is Chrom. And that tells us a lot! This isn’t just a nebulous mythological creature like what we’re used to seeing in Persona: this is a particular, defined hero that has appeared in another game. Chrom is the star of Fire Emblem of Awakening, and there’s an entire game’s worth of story and plotting that will tell us exactly how Chrom would react to a situation. This isn’t to say that Itsuki Aoi is Chrom, but given these characters are inextricably tied together practically from their respective introductions, we do have a general idea how Itsuki and Chrom are similar. We don’t need to wonder what kind of protagonist Itsuki is supposed to be, because we’re quickly given a definitive answer: he’s like Chrom.

And this is an amazing way to handle a crossover. You can have your cake and eat it, too! You get to introduce all-new characters with unique motivations and designs, but their immediate association with established characters from another established franchise allows the player to instantaneously identify and, more importantly, identify with the new class. It’s the reason there is always a Link in every Legend of Zelda (he is always strong, but kind), and even the reason Chrom exists in the first place. Back in Fire Emblem Awakening, you were supposed to see “this guy looks like Marth” and immediately assume he is the next heroic lord of the franchise. New character, old archetypes. And using this immediate familiarity in conjunction with a crossover grants players an opportunity to see disparate franchises come together and immediately understand their apparent links.

It’s just kind of a shame that this idea was wasted by relying on the Fire Emblem franchise.

Away we goLook, I know I’m biased. As I pointed out back when I first reviewed Fire Emblem: Awakening, I am not someone that has ever been a big fan of the FE franchise. I’m not generally a fan of strategy/tactics based RPGs, and, frankly, the way the franchise introduces a new cast of fifty randos with every sequel is daunting. I don’t have the time or inclination to go down the gargantuan rabbit hole that is the complete 30 year history of Fire Emblem.

But, that said, it would be nice if I even could.

Let’s see here… The first Fire Emblem game released in America was in 2004, far from the Japanese 1990 debut. From there, we saw the games featuring Ike on the Gamecube and Wii, but that was likely just because Nintendo was still smarting from the N64 years, and looking for a “Final Fantasy” killer… or at least one or two RPGs it could promote on its latest systems. Despite the Wii’s popularity exceeding certain kinds of bread (screw you, rye), Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn wasn’t a shining new dawn for the franchise. However, Fire Emblem Awakening, Fates, and Three Houses have been revelations across the board. If my twitter feed is any indication, Lady Edlegard is now the official Queen of Earth. However, that kind of popularity did not apply to Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon, a Nintendo DS release from 2009. It was a remake of a game that was not released in America, and this remake was released in America with about the same level of hype as Blue Dragon Plus. Remember Blue Dragon Plus? Me neither. But it’s not like half the cast of Tokyo Mirage Sessions ♯FE is based on characters from Blue Dragon Plus…

It’s my own fault for not playing a random DS title from a decade prior, right? If I wanted to see Marth in action, I should have taken the chance back when I could. And I did play Fire Emblem: Awakening, and that game is featured as much as (if not more than!) Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon. I should recognize everybody from that game!


Here she isThe second good mirage from Fire Emblem: Awakening that is introduced is Tharja. Tharja is a sorceress that is one of the most popular characters to come out of Awakening (apparently #3 in a Japanese poll that I have to assume is part of the national Japanese democratic process). She is a mage that is very shy, but very willing to use her magic and curses to damn anyone that gets in the way of her goals. She is also canonically bisexual, as she will fall in love with the main character regardless of gender. And her outfit is about 90% transparent nylon, so there’s probably a not insignificant portion of her fandom that simply wants to see her use her dark magic in more gratifying ways. In short, Tharja is a popular and unique character in FE: Awakening, so it makes sense she would be revisited for a crossover title.

And I’d love to tell you more about her, but when I played FE: Awakening, I kinda killed her on our first encounter. Look! I was trying to rescue a queen, and…. It was a bit of a whoopsie, okay? My bad!

Which brings us to the other issue with this Fire Emblem crossover: Fire Emblem is a very variable franchise. You saw it back in the day with permanent death options meaning some support buddies might not live to see the plot past the first chapter, and you see it today with Three Houses and three entirely separate stories dividing everyone’s experiences. Did you choose the Golden Deer route? Well, sorry about that reference to Edlegard being beloved earlier. You probably think she’s a bitch! And even within Fire Emblem: Awakening, you not only have the option of popular party members being killed, but about a third of the cast might not even exist if you don’t get the other 66% to breed like bunnies. Is Morgan your favorite character? Well I missed that dude or dudette, because my Robin knew how to keep it in her pants. There is a war happening, people!

Bye, friends!So this is Tokyo Mirage Sessions ♯FE’s greatest strength and most glaring weakness: it relies on a complete familiarity with Fire Emblem. Rather than going the “easy” crossover route of only featuring the most obvious titans of its parent franchise, it features random dudes and ladies from across a few specific titles, and thus requires the player to be unerringly knowledgeable about everything in those games. It takes days to complete a Fire Emblem: Awakening playthrough, and you better have found everything if you want to truly understand the nuances involved in another hours-long JRPG experience. What could have been an excellent introduction to the Fire Emblem world is instead hampered by its own requirement that you already be an expert. It’s a crossover by fans, for fans, and it squanders its supreme strength as a result.

Tokyo Mirage Sessions ♯FE is a great crossover title, but it would be even better if I knew what the hell a “Draug” is supposed to be…

FGC #497.1 Tokyo Mirage Sessions ♯FE

  • System: Nintendo WiiU, and now (finally) on the Nintendo Switch. No excuses! Go play it!
  • Number of players: Three man party, one man player.
  • Just play the gig man: The music is great. I mean, this is a game that is based on half the cast being in the music industry, so the music better be good, but… yeah. It’s good. It’s very easy to see how this game is the secret Persona game before Persona 5’s crazy soundtrack.
  • I assure you!Favorite Character: Ironically enough, it’s Kiria Kurono, the songstress associated with Tharja. While I’m always going to be annoyed when a character is built up as some incredible badass, and then the gameplay reveals she’s just kind of a middling mage (see also Persona 3’s Mitsuru), she also appears to be the only member of the team that actually knows what she’s doing at any given moment. And, yes, her whole “senpai” role seems to be literally designed to be appealing to the average Persona/SMT/FE player (again, see Mitsuru), and her “cool, but secretly cute” personality is obviously engineered to be endearing. But I still fell for it hook, line, and sinker, and I’m not going to over think it. Maybe I’m just happy she could hit that black dragon’s weak points.
  • Is there any other reason you like this game: Oh, I have no idea what you’re talking about.


    None at all.

  • Did you know? Draug is apparently a knight from Shadow Dragon, so that explains why I’ve never heard of the dork. According to the FE wiki, he is shown to have a comradery with two other characters, but this “link” only appeared in official art, and not actual gameplay, in his original games. So, yeah, that sounds like par for the course for the Fire Emblem franchise.
  • Would I play again: I’ll answer that shortly, as…

What’s next? We’re sticking to Tokyo Mirage Sessions ♯FE for the moment, as I still want to talk about this game in a non-crossover context. So please tune in next Monday as crossover week is finished, but talking about the same stupid game in a slightly different way is back. Please look forward to it!


FGC #221 INXS: Make My Video

Here comes a fun time!You’ll forgive me if there is already an established term for this phenomenon, but when constructing any creative work in any medium there’s something I like to call “the embarrassment threshold”. The embarrassment threshold might be the most important part of any creative work.

To explain the concept, the embarrassment threshold is the exact point a project dies because someone else said to the original creator, “really? That’s what you’re doing?” For an easy example, consider Sonic the Hedgehog fanfiction. According to statistics provided by deviantart, left to their own devices, the average person will create 12,000,000,000 instances of Sonic the Hedgehog fanfiction in his or her lifetime (note that “fanfiction” in this example includes sketches of original characters, whom you should not steal). Now, if you leave the average person alone with a Sonic Fanfiction Community, that output is never going to change; however, if you introduce the fanfictionado to a nearby friend, and tell said friend, “Hey, this is Chris. Chris likes to write about situations where Sonic the Hedgehog is more naked than usual,” Suddenly, Chris’s Sonic fanfic output drops to zero, because, outside of some random corners of the internet, Sonic fanfic is considered a less than savory pursuit. Thus, the embarrassment threshold saves society from being buried beneath an inescapable deluge of Tails x Shadow erotica. This is a very valuable purpose!

Now, the embarrassment threshold may have lost some power in the computer age when you’re just a post button away from uploading your Amy Rose magnum opus at any time, but your average video production requires an almost insurmountable embarrassment threshold. Come on, I know I have some creative types out there in reader land, tell me you’ve never tried to film a short story or skit or something, and found that getting even five people together at the same time to actually listen to a director for a half hour (it’s never just a half hour) is completely impossible. I mean, at least if they’re doing it for free. Next time someone Keep rollin'complains about Tom Cruise earning the gross national product of Ecuador to appear in one movie for six minutes, you punch that person right in the face, because herding a smile like that into Vanilla Sky is worth every gleaming penny. And do you see Tommy complaining about how Edge of Tomorrow’s time travel mechanics make no sense? No, of course not, he’s a consummate professional, and an incidental million dollars lowers anyone’s problems with a script. Nobody is embarrassed to be involved in Fanfic: The Movie, but that’s because Hollywood gives out shiny, golden trophies to celebrate its craziest ideas. That’s right, folks, rewards shows are the natural antibodies fighting the embarrassment threshold. Why do you think so many dames win Best Actress for playing complete uggos?

And, despite a complete lack of award-winning, INXS: Make My Video completely blows the embarrassment threshold out of the water.

What?The embarrassment threshold probably didn’t hold much power over the videogame industry back in the 16-bit days. Want your hero to be an overweight plumber fighting dinosaur turtles? It’s your game, do whatever. Future guy with a sword fighting mutants that may or may not be future guy’s brother? Go for it. And, somehow, a worm in a suit fighting a booger was deemed “cool” by the masses, so that’s not even an issue. Videogames of the Play it Loud era tried to be dope and radical, but we still got stuck with Izzy, so it’s clear that push for blast processing in all forms was not a big concern. But this was also likely a side-effect of the industry itself: at the time, most videogames were coming out of large Japanese companies, and if your game featured a ninja fighting an octopus at an amusement park, that’s no big deal, the guy down the hall is making a game where a space ship fights moai heads. Don’t worry about it, dude, we’re all in this embarrassing industry together.

But the advent of the CD technology allowed for more “interesting” experiences, and games that included real life actors and actresses. Consider the possibilities! Finally, a real way to “play the movies” and be the heroes of your favorite films and TV shows. You could be Luke Skywalker! Or MacGyver! Or… INXS? Or how about, uh, someone making music videos featuring INXS for a pair of woman playing pool at a bar? Does… does that sound like fun?

What?INXS: Make My Video is a whole lotta “movie” before you get to the actual game (“game”). The premise is that two women are playing pool in a crowded bar, and four separate factions want to sleep with these women, or play pool, or maybe play pool while sleeping with these women. I don’t know, it’s a very complicated plot. But the two women (apparently named Layla and Joey) aren’t going to give up their pool or panties until someone creates “the ultimate INXS music video”. This might sound like some kind of “when pigs fly” esoteric wordplay, but, no, they honestly want the best INXS music video, and they want it now. So you, player, must listen to each of the random want-to-have-pool-sex factions, follow their instructions, and then make a flawless INXS music video.



Yep, this happened.

There is potential in music video creation software. This game was released in the heyday of the MTV era, and, full disclosure, there was a time I probably would have crawled naked through a broken glass emporium to be able to “make music videos like the pros”. Unfortunately, this is not music video creation software. I’m familiar with making music videos, and it’s a tweeeeeak different from what we have here. INXS: Make My Video offers a “live” editing experience: you have three different feeds, and you have to splice the feeds together while the featured song is playing. Okay, fine, this is a videogame, I guess that adds a little urgency to the normally slow and methodical video editing process. That’s okay. But what’s not okay is that one feed is playing the original music video for the song, and the other two feeds are playing complete nonsense. It’s mostly (entirely?) stock footage, and during a few videos, I was able to spy with my little eye:


  • A Circus
  • 80’s Bikini Babes
  • The Olympics?
  • Some cartoon about a monkey
  • Can-can Dancers
  • That one clip of the whirligig flying machine that you see everywhere
  • A family of meerkats
  • Dancing skeletons
  • Race cars!
  • Martin Luther King Jr.

These are all, clearly, things that belong in an INXS video.

But the complete insanity comes in attempting to tie it all together. In order to justify making a music video that is “the regular INXS video plus stock footage of grandma”, each of the pool-sex factions offer advice on what they’d like to see in their “perfect” music video. This leads to actual, real live human beings saying things like:

  • “Let’s see some more cows and shoes.”
  • “We need beaches… swimming pools. But cut the letters floating in the water, they’re irrelevant to the idea.”
  • “And put in mean streaks. But lose the umbrellas.”
  • “Add zebras and prison bars.” “Yeah, that’s cool.”

You know, basic stuff that would come out of your human flesh mouth at any given drinking bar.

And that’s what really gets me about this whole game. I can buy a Sega CD game that uses “live” video splicing to make a game out of editing. I can believe that INXS saw no problem with lending three songs (three whole songs!) and a few images to an “up and coming” medium. I can believe that someone at Digital Pictures thought the starved Sega CD user base would leap on any available game like a rabid dog. No.And I can even believe that someone thought a script where “cool” people made recommendations on what random stock footage to use in a video would work out. It takes an exhausting amount of mental gymnastics, but I can believe all of that.

But what I can’t believe is that actual, living people (paid actors or not) got all the way through this script, and didn’t revolt. The footage got filmed, the game got made. At least ten people said… everything… in this game, and nobody destroyed everything about this production for the good of humanity. I’m currently writing thousands of words about a JRPG where a robot with a tummy laser turns out to be Mary Magdalene, and I can’t believe a real person put on a leather jacket, faced the camera, and said, “How about this? Some skeletons. And a shot of that mummy!” That’s… how can that happen?

The embarrassment threshold was hastily invented at the start of this article for a reason, people! There are supposed to be safeguards built into our society. If this can happen once, what’s to stop it from happening again? And again? Before you know it, kids are going to be wearing their pants backwards and rapping about makin’ videos with Betty Boop, and there will be nothing we can do to stop it!

So, in conclusion, INXS: Make My Video eroded the very fabric of society. Have a nice day.

FGC #221 INXS: Make My Video

  • System: Sega CD, and, with God as my witness, I will see that it never appears on another system again.
  • Number of players: Do not play this game with anyone else in the room. In fact, why not always make sure you’re not in the room when it is playing, too. It will be fine without you.
  • No FX: Oh yeah, forget to mention that you can add some stupid “effects” to your music videos, like “make everything green” or “make everything fuzzy”. Actually, given the fidelity of Sega CD video, practically every effect is “make everything fuzzy”. So, uh, enjoy?
  • So, did you beat it? Surprisingly, yes. You only have to follow the instructions to a T for one video to win, and the punk girls’ recommendations of “make everything puke colored” and “use the mummy” seemed to work out for me. See?


    Eat it, Kathryn C!

  • Favorite INXS song: Uh… I mostly just confuse INXS for XTC, because my brain works like that. I just checked my playlist, and I have one INXS song on there: Kiss the Dirt. So I guess that’s my favorite? It’s not in this game, though.
  • Come to think of it, there’s a lot of Sonic fanfic bashing here for someone who has written Sonic fanfic: That does not count. That was raw.
  • Did you know: Scott Menville, who seems to pop up in the “did you know” section of this site once per hundred entries or so, actually appears in this game. He’s not doing a voice! It’s actually him! He’s playing Ted! Oh, this is an exciting day, indeed.
  • Would I play again: Ah ha ha ha. Oh God, no.

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Out to Lunch for the Super Nintendo! Last entry of the year, and it’s a game about… eating? Maybe lunch meetings? I… have no idea. But we’ll find out! Please look forward to it!

And then they traveled through time…

FGC #185.1 Hatsune Miku: Project Diva (series)

WoooI’m an old man, and thus I am entitled to complain about a few things. Top of that list?

MTV doesn’t play music videos anymore.

Now, before you start telling Ol’ Man Goggle Bob the true story of how I don’t understand the kids today and whatever, let me just point out that I’m a student of media, and I know damn well why MTV quit the music biz. I admit that this problem was mostly caused by me, and my generation, and every other person out there that (allegedly) downloaded 3 gigs of MP3s off Napster while still rocking a 56k modem. I know the problem is Youtube and every video streaming service that lets you watch anything you want, any time you want. And I know that, let’s be honest, about seven out of ten music videos completely sucked, and a half hour of The Real World probably gets more eyeballs than three minutes of the latest from Wham (no, you are not worthy of an exclamation point). I know the video star had to die, because, ultimately, the medium itself was untenable in a post-internet environment. I know that.


I miss music videos.

When I was a teenager, I had “the triangle”. Channel 30 was MTV, 46 was VH-1, and 22 was The Box: Music Television You Control. The Box might require a little explanation, so, for those of you that didn’t have such a wonderful service, The Box was a channel that played music videos, and those videos were completely controlled by the viewers (who shelled out to call a 900 number). It was like a jukebox… on your TV! Wow! MTV and VH-1 played videos as according to their corporate overlords, but The Box was totally in the hands of the people! And the people liked Bone Thugs-n-Harmony for some reason, but, still! What an amazing time to be alive! I could scan those three channels at any time, and odds were good that I’d find a music video that was at least passable. And if Al TV was on? ROCK OUTForget about it, I’m not getting anything done for hours.

Obviously part of the appeal of music videos was the, ya know, music. This news may shock you, but I may not have been the most popular teenager in my school, but at least I could listen to the latest hits and impress the pretty girls with my knowledge of counting blue cars (“See! I like popular things, too! Please like me!”). And I guess I enjoyed the actual songs. Looking back on it in my advanced age, I literally cannot tell you if I enjoy a single Blink 182 song, because, somehow, I’ve been listening to tracks from their 90’s hits for the last two decades, and, at this point, they’re practically hymns in my mind. Like, I can’t remember a time I didn’t “know” these songs, and… what’s the musical equivalent of “it tastes like chicken”? “It sounds like pop”? At this point in my life, I feel like I have more discerning tastes, but anything pre-2001 or so kind of blends together into a smoothie of… God help me… now that’s what I call music. Ugh, I think I just made myself sick.

But no matter, what’s important is that I finally get to the point of this article. Music videos had something that I feel is completely lacking in today’s media: true randomness.

The Age of MTV was a truly wild and untamed time, and it seemed like, at any moment, some artist could come along with a halfway decent song and make a big splash by, I don’t know, employing a claymation studio, or maybe dressing up the entire cast in dinosaur costumes. Or both! And the bands actually participated. It wasn’t like these were short films that just happened to be scored by the leaders of the music industry; oh no, this was a time when a band could define itself by how much fun it was having “on set”. Ha ha, this song might be heavy metal, but here’s the drummer Even the loading screens are coolscooting around in a wheelie chair. And if the group wanted to be serious, they could be… for this song. This one is a ballad, so let’s make it dark in a moist environment… but who cares if we do the next one on a front porch swing?

And that’s what I really remember about music videos, looking back. Nowadays, I feel like every musician has to be a brand, and, thanks to media outlets and tweets galore, Kanye West must at all times be Kanye Westing, and Lady Gaga must for every second be Lady Gagaing. I’m sure there are music videos today where Rihanna is taking a piss with her image, but since there’s not much reason for anyone but the dedicated fans to cue her up on Youtube, it’s drowned out by social and big media. This is Drake, and we’re far removed from the days when Michael Jackson could be a gang member in one video and an everyman/zombie the next.

In short, I miss the “liquid” music video star; the mercurial creature that could be anything or anyone as the song demanded, schoolgirl or ninja, whatever direction, just so long as it’s entertaining.

And, what’s more, I didn’t realize this is what I missed until Hatsune Miku Project Diva F.

The Project Diva games are rhythm games first and foremost. Hit X or wiggle the analogue stick at the right time to keep the music going, and, if you’re good, you’ll get a high score. It’s the same as it’s been since DDR or PaRappa the Rapper.

This song is nutsBut what sets Project Diva F & Project Diva F Encore apart from the competition is the music video aspect. The titular Hatsune Miku is as unpredictable as her MTV forefathers. In this video, she’s a forlorn lover. Now she’s a ghost. Now she’s a goddess. Now she’s some kind of rampaging machine monster. Now she’s an obsessed fangirl. There is no codified Hatsune Miku, and, while she and her friends may have a tendency to fill certain positions, any of the “stars” of this game are in the same boat. You’re unlikely to see the same environment or “module” twice, and it defines a game that refuses to let the beat drop.

MTV as I remember it may be gone forever, but its spirit lives on in a ridiculous Japanese rhythm game. We’re past the days of leather jackets and multi-colored logos, but it looks like we’ll have the Vocaloids to carry on the torch a little longer.

Way to go, Hatsune Miku, you brought a smile to an old man’s face.

FGC #185.1 Hatsune Miku: Project Diva (series)

  • System: Playstation 3, Vita, and now Playstation 4.
  • Number of players: One? I guess this isn’t Gitaroo-Man.
  • So, which version/game is best? You never forget your first time, so Diva (1) seems to have the best songs. Unfortunately, it also doesn’t have English subtitles, which were introduced in Diva Encore, which are helpful to figure out what the hell is going on in these tunes. But I don’t really like the songs as much in that version… I guess? And then there’s the recent Playstation 4 release, and… we’ll talk about that more later.
  • CreepyFavorite Song: Of them all, I actually like a song from Diva Encore the best: Close and Open, Demons and the Dead. Couldn’t tell you why, exactly, but it… feels right? I’m not a music reviewer, dammit!
  • Did you know? The Vocaloid software was called, while in development, “Daisy”, presumably because of Daisy Bell (Bicycle Built for Two). Also presumably because of HAL 9000, because artificially generated voices weren’t creepy enough already.
  • Would I play again: Well…

What’s next? I’m not done yet! I’ve got Vocaloid fever, and I’m not wasting this series on a post about rassin’ frassin’ MTV. Get ready for another look at the Hatsune Miku Project Diva series, maybe this time actually looking at the game for more than a paragraph. Please look forward to it!