It was only September last year that Hatsune Miku graced our PS4 consoles with the fantastic Project DIVA X, a game we awarded a rather worthy 8/10. It would seem that she’s been a busy little vocaloid though, as now she’s back with yet another new title, the more arcade-orientated Project DIVA Future Tone. But is it worth your heard-earned cash so quickly after the last release?
Unlike Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA X, which was a standard full price game release complete with a campaign and a smattering of extras, Future Tone does things a little differently. The core of the game, or the Prelude, is available to download for free and features two songs, enabling you to sample the experience before parting with any cash. And if you do find it to your liking, there are two major content packs available, titled Future Sound and Colour Tone, priced at $29.99 each or bundled together for $53.99.
"Whilst the cost of the content packs may initially seem a little steep, when you consider that each one boasts over 100 songs, their price point is actually very reasonable."
Whilst the cost of the content packs may initially seem a little steep, when you consider that each one boasts over 100 songs, their price point is actually very reasonable. The Future Sound pack is comprised of songs from previously unlocalised Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA games for the PSP, as well as the Project DIVA F series found on the PS3 and PS Vita. The Colour Tone pack, on the other hand, may be more interesting to fans as it features songs from Hatsune Miku: Project Mirai DX for the 3DS, as well as the Japan-only Project DIVA Arcade. Anyone that buys both packs will find themselves with a huge number of great songs to play at their leisure, and as an added bonus, they’ll gain access to a number of exclusive high-difficulty survival courses too.
When it comes to the actual act of playing through the songs, little has been changed. New slide moves have been introduced, as well as more complex multiple button prompts, but there’s nothing that makes the experience feel particularly fresh. Hold moves have been changed too, no longer requiring you to release buttons at a specified time, but again, it doesn’t feel like a major innovation. All in all though, the tweaks to the gameplay combine to make Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA Future Tone perhaps the most challenging release in the series, and so also the most rewarding when you do pull off an impressive performance.
Being arcade-focused, there's no campaign/story mode or gimmicky relationship management features like those found in Project DIVA X; Future Tone is all about the songs and pure gameplay. Some players may find an issue with this, others may not – it’s truly down to personal taste – but there’s certainly not a lack of things to do. Each and every song can be played at multiple difficulty levels for instance, with some even having an extra extreme version. There are a number of gameplay modifiers to spice up the action too, such as button prompts that appear suddenly or disappear. And of course you can also choose to watch any of the songs as a music video rather than playing them, either individually or in a playlist. The biggest reason for many players to keep playing though, will be to unlock the many customisation modules available for its cast of characters.
For each and every song you complete in Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA Future Tone you earn VP; usually between 600-800 if you perform well, or a measly 10 if you fail. It serves a dual purpose: firstly, it allows you to improve your respective Future Sound and Colour Tone rank, although it seems rather pointless as there appears to be no real benefit to doing so. What it also allows you to do though is buy new outfits, accessories, and, for the first time in the series, hairstyles, with which you can customise your performances. There’s an impressive amount of items on offer –Hatsune Miku alone has around 150 outfits for the taking – and best of all you can generally unlock at least one after each successful performance as they’re not ridiculously priced.
"Think of Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA Future Tone as a massive ‘best of’ compilation of her greatest hits that you can play and you can’t go wrong. It’s the kind of game that you’re likely to revisit for years to come."
There are a couple of minor issues for potential purchasers of Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA Future Tone to be aware of though. The lack of English subtitles for its songs being one, especially when previous titles have managed to have them. Also, trophy hunters should be aware that the game does not feature a platinum trophy; there’s just a short list for the base game and some extras on top for those who buy the content packs. Again, both are minor niggles, but some players may be swayed by them.
On the whole though, it’s easy to recommend Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA Future Tone to fans of the world famous vocaloid. Those who have never sampled the delights of a Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA game would be wise to download the free Prelude edition of the title too, just to see how quirky and addictive it can be. Its huge catalogue of songs comes complemented by some sublime visuals and animation, and whilst those who look for some sort of structured progression in their games may find themselves out of luck, the sheer number of unlockables on offer makes up for it in my opinion. Think of Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA Future Tone as a massive ‘best of’ compilation of her greatest hits that you can play and you can’t go wrong. It’s the kind of game that you’re likely to revisit for years to come.