Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA Future Tone is deceptive. No, not in the bad way, but in the sense that although it is a Project DIVA game, it’s also very much a different game at its core. Much like Project DIVA f/F, F 2nd, and X, and even Project Mirai DX, players tackle a variety of Vocaloid songs voiced by Hatsune Miku and friends, tapping buttons in rhythm and trying to rack up combos to keep in tune with the game’s various music tracks. To this end, “variety” is probably where most people will realize that Future Tone is different; compared to the 30~40-ish songs that the Project DIVA series normally comes with (and the 50+ that Project Mirai DX released with), Future Tone comes with over 200 across its two song packs – Colorful Tone and Future Sounds. Between them, almost every song that is available to play in Project Diva F, F 2nd and Project Mirai DX are playable – along with some extras. That is a lot of Miku.
The second thing that players will notice stems from the fact that Project DIVA Future Tone wasn’t originally a console Project DIVA title at all. It’s a port of an arcade game, and as such the control scheme is a little bit different. There are no “arrow notes” (or notes where you need to hold down two of the same notes) as in the other Project DIVA titles on Sony platforms, and “hold notes” work somewhat differently here as well. Songs are especially built around the “hold” mechanic on higher difficulties, where you may end up holding all four of the primary notes at the same time in many Extreme difficulty note charts. In addition, because of its roots as an arcade game, there is no Diva Room available for players to mess around in – besides using points to buy costumes that you can use to customize your dancers, all there is to the game is playing the games many, many songs and trying to reach higher and higher high scores.
That all being said, Project DIVA Future Tone is some of the most fun that I’ve had with the series to date. What Future Tone might lack in game modes besides the regular rhythm game it more than makes up for with renewed gameplay depth, and a much broader range of difficulties. I pride myself in having perfected most of the Extreme note charts in the other Project DIVA games – but even then I consistently struggle to clear even most of the Extreme or Extra Extreme charts in Future Tone. In some cases, Future Tone‘s Hard note charts for songs that were also available in other Project DIVA or Project Mirai games are closer to the “Extreme” or Super Hard note charts in those titles. Besides the aforementioned changes to hold notes, some songs include “slide” notes that act similarly to “star” notes in previous titles, but which require you to flick your stick either left, right, or a combination of the two between both the left and right stick on your controller. Having multiple sections in songs where you’re required to press multiple notes of differing symbols at once – something never found in the mainline Project DIVA – is the icing on top that might throw off veteran fans the most.
All this added depth is great, but it goes without saying that even the most veteran of Project DIVA players will have to take some time getting used to the various changes in place here. I’d even go as far as to say that Future Tone’s changes to the formula are so extreme that it certainly wouldn’t surprise me to find out that there are certain fans of the series that might be turned off from it. In some ways I’d liken Future Tone as more of a mix of Project DIVA and Project Mirai‘s gameplay, since it features a grading system more closely related to Project Mirai, although its core gameplay is still more or less the regular Project DIVA, albeit with some rather monumental changes. Thankfully, the title features some rather robust control mapping options to help make getting accustomed to the new mechanics just that little bit easier.
It’s weird to talk about the rest of the game, since Future Tone really is all that it says on the tin. If you liked any of the songs from the Project DIVA/Project Mirai titles that have been localized (bar Project DIVA X), they’re all here, along with some friends. With just how big of a track list the title sports, it’s practically guaranteed that if you’re a fan of either Vocaloid music, the series, or both, you’re going to find more than a handful of songs that you’ll want to play. The art style is more realistic in some ways, though if I had one complaint about it – it has to be that, while it can look better than any other Project DIVA title at the best of times, Future Tone certainly can show its age as an arcade title when you pair the lighting for some songs with certain character skins. As good as Future Tone can look, it can look pretty ugly too. Also, maybe I’m just imagining things, but I could swear that some songs outright share the same backdrops.
That’s all that can really be said regarding Project DIVA Future Tone. Part of me is still shocked that SEGA managed to sort out the licensing hell that was 200+ songs and get the game overseas in the first place, but now that it is, there’s not much else to say. It’s Project DIVA, albeit with some interesting changes to mechanics, with an absolutely monstrous track list. It goes without saying that if you’re a fan of rhythm games in general, or more specifically Project DIVA titles, Project DIVA Future Tone is more or less a must buy.
Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA Future Tone was reviewed on PlayStation 4 with a code provided by the publisher.More About This Game
Project DIVA Future Tone is easily the most content complete Project DIVA title yet. It's not perfect - and it won't necessarily appeal to all fans of the series - but it nonetheless stands as one of 2017's first must buy titles.
- 200+ Songs
- Harder Rhythm Gameplay
- Easy Controller Mapping
- Hit or Miss Art Style