Developer: Sega, Crypton Future Media
Release Date: January 10th, 2017
Price: $29.99 (Future Sound/Colorful Tone), $53.99 (Bundle)
Note: This game is a port of an arcade rhythm game that has no story structure. Therefore, the review score will be reflected in the grades of the remaining four categories.
As much as I loved my first step in the Project Diva waters, there’s no denying that Hatsune Miku: Project Diva X has a disappointing amount of songs. In what feels like an apology, we’ve got a Project Diva Arcade port boasting over 200 songs! Is there more to the game than just its tracklist, or is the game just content with having a big number? With none of the fluff, Hatsune Miku: Project Diva Future Tone is easily the best game in the series.
Instead of having a story like the previous title Diva X, Future Tone is a straight port of the arcade version with the expected snappiness and visual presentation. If it wasn’t obvious enough as a Japanese arcade game, the localized version just has English text for the menus. Kanji and other elements of the Japanese version like album art made the jump untouched.
The downside to this is that song lyrics are only available in Romanji, the English equivalent of kanji. While it sucks when coming from Diva X, the position and size of the lyrics means you won’t be able to read them anywhere besides PV (Promotional Video) Mode.
The vocaloid models also differ slightly from the previous console games. It still looks fine, but they look more like plastic dolls. Some songs improve this by adding a cel-shading effect, making it more pleasant on the eyes.
Besides this, Future Tone’s songs tend to fit into three types of PV. First, there’s the ones like Diva X that feature a sedentary stage with one or two vocaloids. Second, there are more sophisticated performances in the style of music videos with a lot more cinematography involved. Finally, a few songs have only music videos in place of the vocaloid models.
Unfortunately, the full music videos are the most consistent visually. The stage performances can have goofy motion capture, especially with mellow songs. The more sophisticated songs can have the problem of drab or ugly-looking backgrounds. Some of these stages tend to be reused for multiple songs as well.
Shortcomings aside, the rest of Future Tone’s presentation is made up for in vocaloid customization. Over 300 modules and accessories are available to pick from for Hatsune Miku and friends. Future Sound and Colorful Tone each have their own modules to choose from, with some shared between the two. Instead of modules being unlockable like in Diva X, points you earn while playing can be used to buy them.
The level of customization means that each PV that features a vocaloid isn’t prerecorded and needs to be loaded in. When compared to Diva X, the load times in Future Tone are pretty fast. The only songs to have noticeably load loading were ones with all 6 characters. The game also runs immaculately as a buttery-smooth 60fps experience. The only technical downside is that like Diva X, music is disabled for recording and streaming. It doesn’t affect gameplay, but makes the Share function useless.
Of course, what would a rhythm game be without its music, and Future Tone has the biggest library of the series. The Future Sound set has 127 songs, while Colorful Tone includes 95. Combined with the 2 songs available in the free demo, this brings the total to 224!
Future Sound’s music will likely be most familiar to those who played previous Diva games. These songs fall more in the J-Pop and cutesy categories with heavier songs mixed in. Colorful Tone pulls from Project Mirai DX for the 3DS, as well as other arcade-exclusive songs. These tend to be the reverse; heavy electronic and rock, including quirky with a dash of cute.
There are bound to be plenty to choose from with the number of songs available. However, there’s just as much of a chance that there are plenty you won’t like. There is also quite a bit of crossover with both versions having extended or remixed versions of the same songs.
As far as actually playing the songs, Future Tone has some major tweaks to the Project Diva playstyle. Basic button presses remain the same, but the other functions are enhanced quite a bit. Instead of during certain segments, hold notes can optionally be held until the button has to be pressed again. These can net you massive bonuses if you coordinate the D-Pad and face buttons properly. Slide notes can also be hit by flicking the sticks or pressing the shoulder buttons.
Double notes have also been expanded into triple and quadruple notes. Instead of hitting the same direction on the left and right of the controller, these kinds of notes mix things up with multiple directions. This is the main thrust behind learning new button-pressing techniques, especially when combined with hold notes.
While not impressive on their own, putting all of these elements together makes Future Tone a complex and challenging rhythm game. It’s not overblown either, as it’s a ton of fun once you adjust. To help with acclimation, the highest difficulty you can pick for the first time playing a song is Hard. Afterwards, you unlock Extreme and EX Extreme. It’s a good method for easing players in, but it’s a bummer for those who don’t need the help.
Future Tone’s initial version (called Prelude) is worth checking out, as it comes with 2 free songs and a few modules to try out. After that, Future Sound and Colorful Tone are available separately as DLC, or you can buy both together for a discount.
Owning both versions also gets you some additional features. For some modules, you have the ability to change hairstyles independently. Survival Mode, a challenge mode involving playing multiple songs in a row, is also available.
Hatsune Miku: Project Diva Future Tone is a culmination of the series’ strongest aspects into a full game. Bursting at the seams with songs and replayability, this game may not hold up as well if it wasn’t for its tight package and excellent gameplay. There’s little benefit to owning both Future Sound and Colorful Tone besides more music, and this does make for a larger percentage a songs you may not like. However, it’s still well worth the investment, even if you only get one or the other.Buy it on PlayStation Network