Wednesday, April 19, 2017

IA/VT Colorful (Vita)

IA/VT Colorful is a rhythm game released only in Japan.  The game is in Japanese but the menus are easy enough to navigate and have limited English headings.  If you've ever played a rhythm game before, then you can guess which option is what.  The game features the Vocaloid known as IA, which is a voice synthesizer.  There are a total of 60 songs, which is a huge amount of content that will take you approximately 4 hours to play through each song once.  Add in three sets of difficulty, challenges and collectibles and you have a meaty game that will give you hours of game time (it takes roughly 24 hours to get the Platinum trophy as a guide).

You first start off with only a limited amount of songs to play but you unlock more as you level up.  You level up through obtaining points via completing songs to a certain rank, the higher the rank, the more points you get.  You don't get points if you end up obtaining the same rank for a song as last time.  This is fine though since unless you are horrendous, you will never reach a point where you run out of new songs to play due to not unlocking them in time.  As a rhythm game, the mechanics are clearly the most important aspect.  Thankfully, IA/VT's gameplay is polished and works really well.  It only uses the D-pad and the four face buttons as button prompts.  It is surprising that it doesn't attempt to use the touch screen, analogue sticks or shoulder buttons.

IA/VT is super easy to pick up and play, relying on solid simple controls rather than annoying gimmicks.  The game is forgiving as the window of timing for pushing the right button is wide.  You can easily get a "Cool" rating even though it feels like you were too late or early.  This makes even Hard Mode a breeze and you can get a "Perfect" rating on the song in your first try.  Even if you didn't, it only takes a few more retries before you will get that "Perfect" rating.  Hard is the recommended difficultly to get the most fun out of the game as it provides enough of a challenge, a faster pace and is not too difficult.

The game inserts a little bit of difficulty via a moving rhythm line.  Usually, the button prompts travel upon a line which makes then easier to predict and track.  This line will end up moving in higher difficulties of the song, which can provide more challenge than initially expected.  The main gimmick of the game are score multiplier segments called Colorful.  You can get up to 2x score multiplier depending on your timing on certain button prompts in earlier segments.  There are at least two to three of these Colorful segments in each song which usually takes place during the chorus so you really do feel as if you were working up to that point as the climax.  As is expected from Vocaloid rhythm games, a video plays in the background during gameplay.  Some of the songs are pre-rendered videos while others are rendered in real-time, therefore allowing you to change costumes.

You'd notice a lot of the songs are pre-rendered, in reality, only 15 of the songs allow you the option of changing costumes displayed during the video.  This feels limiting considering that there are more than 60 costumes to unlock.  IA/VT has a bright colorful user interface that you can also change.  The short loading times are fantastic.  While there is a large quantity of songs, none of them really jump out at you immediately that'll make you love it.  The choruses of many songs feel like an anti-climax since they are usually slowed down segments after an epic build up.  Each of the songs require you to listen to them multiple times in order to start liking it more.  IA/VT focuses at being a good rhythm game and doesn't include any tacked on modes.

Various other modes do exist, the main one being Step Up Play.  These are stages where it provides various challenges.  The game gets much harder in these stages as you are playing through predetermined songs with handicaps, ranging from speedier prompts, dual notes of using different face buttons (i.e. instead of Right D-pad and Circle at the same time, you have Down D-pad and Circle which is very confusing), higher rank requirements and prompts coming from multiple directions at the same time.  This makes it very challenging and frustratingly unfair at times because it is not about skill at that point but rather whether you have memorized all the patterns by playing the same song fifty times.  The game also cheats in Step Up Play when it throws the prompts that require you to press D-pad and a face button at the same time but the two prompts come from different directions and are sneaked in between normal button prompts.

In the harder levels of Step Up Play, the prompts are randomized thanks to the "Random" modifier.  What could be X prompts in one playthrough of a song would be a Triangle prompt in the next which makes it much more annoying to learn the song.  Another mode is the Daily Play mode where each day, there will be one song that you play and fulfill certain criteria to earn points.  You can only play the song once and cannot retry at all.  There is a My List mode which lets you select songs to play one after another, and also an Online score leaderboard.  Overall, IA/VT Colorful is a fantastically fun rhythm game.  The forgiving nature of the gameplay, coupled with a good song selection that eventually grows on you makes it perfect to satisfy your hunger for the rhythm genre.


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