I am a 35-year-old North American male, so what the hell am I doing playing a Japanese import PSP game whose target audience is people half my age and whose main attraction is mashing buttons to music sung by (mostly) underage (mostly) girls? For me, I think the hook is obvious. Not only am I fan of Rock Band, I’m also a fan of Japanese quirkiness and also happen to be a fan of the Vocaloids. So what do you do when one of your favorite console games completely bungles its hand-held port and someone else comes along with another spin on mashing buttons to music, including some other stuff you happen to like, on a system whose games are region-free?
If you need to know what a Vocaloid is, Wikipedia is a friend that can get you started. If you want to know what veered me into Vocaloid territory, I would have to tell you to thank Valve and Ellen McLain for GLaDOS. By making a humans sound like a computer, you’re bound to pique the interest of people using computer software that tries to sound human, and you get Miku singing a translated version of Still Alive, which at first listen could be mistaken as an official translation of the song. After that, I stumbled upon Caramelldansen, and as with any meme like this people are going to incorporate their favorite characters into it, including Vocaloids. The nail in the coffin, though, was Love Is War, an actual full-fledged song, reminiscent of Linkin Park, using Vocaloid as it was intended. Being fully subbed in Kanji, Romaji and English helped greatly.
(Lest you think English users are being totally ignored: English is harder to pronunciate, thus harder for a computer to pull off, thus the popularity problem. It’s become much better in recent years.
Enough digressions! Let’s talk game play. (More …)