Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA Future Tone is a music rhythm game released by Sega on January 10th, 2017. It’s a Playstation 4 exclusive and digital only, so don’t look for it on store shelves. It’s actually based off an arcade machine rather than developed as a home console video game.
The most important thing to understand with this version of Miku is that, as a digital only game, it’s purchased differently than its predecessors.
First, you download the base game called Prelude. It’s basically a demo but you’ll need it in order to add more content later. All that will be available to you for free are two songs and some modules to test out the customization but it should be enough to let you know if you want more. And if you’re a music-rhythm fan, you’ll want more.
To get more content for the game you can purchase one or both of the expansion packs.
Future Sound includes over 120 songs from the previously unlocalized Hatsune Miku: Project Diva PSP titles and the DIVA F games on PS3 and Vita.
Colorful Tone, on the other hand, has over 100 from Project Mirai DX and some exclusive to the Japan-only Project Diva arcade.
Although you can buy each pack for $30 US it’s totally worth it to pick up both. First of all, you get a price break which is nice. More importantly, though, hairstyle customization and survival courses will remain locked until you buy both expansion packs. The copy of the game we reviewed did have both, so keep that in mind.
Now that that’s out of the way you’re probably thinking: It’s more Miku, right? And didn’t we just get Miku game like 6 months ago? The short answer is yes, but the long answer is no.
Project DIVA Future Tone is completely different to the Diva X game that came out in the summer of 2016. There’s no story to follow, instead you just choose one of over 200 songs (with both expansions installed) and play it on the difficulty you choose. Completing songs earns you points which you can then use to unlock additional modules. There’s a life gauge that you have to keep up or else you’ll fail the song and a clear gauge to tell if you’re going to pass or not. The pass/fail threshold changes for each difficulty.
Although Miku gameplay is relatively the same in each game there are a few adjustments to Future Tone that make it interesting. One is the update to holding notes. Now, instead of holding the note down for a set amount of time, you hold it for as long as you can. Longer holds give you bonuses until they max out, which is where you can let go. Of course, you can release the hold sooner for smaller bonuses. The catch to this is notes will continue to appear on screen forcing you to press other buttons while still holding one down if you’re going for a high score.
To make things easier you can use the four face buttons and the directional pad interchangeably. For example, if there’s a note that shows the X button on screen you can use down to hit it as well. This may seem simpler but when you add in hold notes and having to press up to four buttons simultaneously the game’s challenge level doesn’t change much. Still, it’s a welcomed feature that makes the game a bit more comfortable to play.
The other note change is instead of the touch screen notes from Diva X they’ve added slides that use the L and R buttons or left and right analogue sticks. Basically you just press and hold the correct direction until the end of the slide, similar to holding notes in previous games. Again, this gets hectic with other things going on while you’re sliding. There’s something really satisfying about nailing a perfect slide, though.
Speaking of nailing, in Future Tone there’s a segment in the middle of the song that’s harder than the rest called Challenge Time. The amount of damage you take from missed notes is negated but if you are successful the game rewards you with a visual change.
The gameplay challenges you in 5 difficulties ranging from Easy to Extreme, but not all songs are playable on all levels. If that’s not enough, survival mode, which is only available to players who have purchased both expansions, has you playing a series of pre-selected songs with a single life gauge. Even experienced players are not going to be able to clear this mode easily.
The concert editor from Project Diva X didn’t make its return in Future Tone. There is a playlist creator which lets you conveniently set up the songs you want to play or your favourites just to listen to. Unfortunately you won’t know what Miku is actually singing about unless you know Japanese – the subtitles are there for karaoke, but aren’t translated into English. There’s also a bunch of customization options for button config and lag to really hone the gameplay experience, which is vital when you get to extreme mode. Or you can just turn on no fail.
Modules are back and better than ever, with references galore. There’s the Miku staples and even costumes from Valkiyria Chronicles, Sonic, and Space Channel 5. Like always, you can customize the costumes and accessories of each vocaloid. In Future Tone, though, all the modules are available for purchase with in game points in any order so you can go right for the outfits you want without waiting too long. A new addition to this, though, is the hairstyle cutomizer. In previous games the hairstyles were set to each costume but in Future Tone you can set them independently for a more custom look.
Hastune Miku: Project Diva Future Tone is an amazing game jam packed with an unprecedented number of songs for a rhythm game.
They’re not bad, either – most of the 224 choices are enjoyable, borderline annoyingly catchy. Even with a few less fun tracks there are so many options that you can’t possibly be left with nothing to play. To make it even more impressive almost every song has a custom background visualization that either plays like a music video or includes your singer (complete with customizable costume) dancing. Some of them are such high quality it borderlines distracting to the gameplay because you’re trying to pay attention to both. Thankfully you can opt to just watch the video for each song.
The changes to gameplay are a lot of fun; everything is streamlined and easy to use. Rather than forcing a story or some other weird gameplay quirk, Future Tone knows that it’s an arcade experience and does that very well. The songs are quick to get into and there’s plenty of sorting options to find what you want easily.
Despite this, it loses points for replayability. Yes, over 220 songs can keep someone busy for a long time, but after that there’s nothing really to keep you coming back if you’re not competitive. Instead of unlocking modules through accomplishments you can just grind for the ones you want and the survival mode, when it comes down to it, is just another way to play the same songs. Plus with survival and the hairstyle customizer being trapped behind needing both versions of the game we can’t help but feel that it should never have been released in parts. It’s just something extra to confuse the player.