Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Hatsune Miku Project Diva Future Tone Review (PS4)

The latest Hatsune Miku rhythm game follows the Rock Band / Pinball Arcade “DLC platform” format to great success. Project Diva Future Tone delivers the great music, fun gameplay, and cute vocaloid waifus you love in a selection of a’la carte DLC that gives you a surprising amount of bang for your buck. They maybe trimmed it down too much to chop it up into DLC, as this game is almost entirely devoid of extra fluff, but if you’re only interested in playing the songs it is arguably the best Miku game yet. See all of the details here in our full review.

Game Details

  • Publisher: SEGA
  • Developer: SEGA
  • ESRB Rating: “T” for Teen
  • Genre: Music / Rhythm
  • Pros: Great gameplay; nice presentation; fantastic songs
  • Cons: Lacking modes
  • MSRP: DLC varies
Project Diva Future Tone page at PlayStation Store

Hatsune Miku Project Diva Future Tone is essentially just a DLC platform. You download the base  “game” for free, which only has two songs and a bunch of outfits for each character, and then expand the game as you see fit by buying DLC packs. Unlike Rock Band, however, you don’t just buy songs one at a time. Thankfully, in Future Tone the song DLC is currently available in two big chunky packs that each offer 100 songs for $30 each or $55 in a bundle. Getting more than 200 songs for the price of a normal game is pretty darn awesome, all things considered.

If you want even more costumes, and a couple of extra songs, there are also three “Encore Packs” that include new costumes and accessories and even some extreme difficulty versions of songs. These cost $10 each or $25 together in a season pass. Normally you have to unlock the extra costumes and stuff with in-game points you earn by playing, but you can also pay $13 for an Unlock Key DLC that opens up everything immediately.

The presence of the Unlock Key DLC is sort of puzzling to me, though, because outside of earning points that you use to unlock costume modules, Future Tone doesn’t give you any sort of structure or meaningful progression system. There is no story mode or career or anything to really “do” besides just playing through one song after another. It isn’t as if the story mode in Project Diva X was particularly good, or anything, but I did like having a feeling of progression. All of the songs you own are available and you just pick one after the other and play through them with no fanfare. I also preferred having to unlock costume modules via in-game actions (performing well in specific sections of songs) rather than simply buying them in the menu in Project Diva X as well. Future Tone just sort of opens everything up and says “Have at it” without giving you a goal.

Your goal becomes, then, to simply play the songs and have fun at your own pace. And because of the wealth of songs (assuming you bought the song packs) and costume options, there is a lot of fun to be had here because the gameplay is genuinely great. I also have to admit that playing dress up with the vocaloids is a lot more fun than you’d expect and some of the costumes are pretty spectacular and awesome and cute (and sexy). Every song has a unique music video - that your chosen characters in your chosen costumes are then placed into – and they are really, really impressive. The fact that every one of the 240+ songs has a unique video tailor made to perfectly match it is just astounding. The amount of work that goes into these games is awe-inspiring and makes the bland and repetitive backdrops in other music games seem pretty pathetic.

The gameplay in Future Tone is a little different from past Project Diva games on consoles in that it adds a fair bit of complexity. The core game is still the same – you press buttons to the rhythm as they fly in from offscreen – but Future Tone adds slides on the PS4 touch pad and having to press multiple buttons at once on top of everything else that really ups the difficulty. Honestly, it takes quite a while to get used to it if you’re coming off of Project Diva X like I was. The multi-press prompts are also kind of hard to see since they’re spread across the whole screen, too, which makes them hard to recognize and press in time particularly on harder difficulties with a million other button prompts flying around at the same time. Once you wrap your head around the new mechanics they’re fine, of course, but expect a steeper learning curve than in past games.

The presentation in Project Diva Future Tone is quite nice. As mentioned above, the music videos for the 240+ songs are all unique and awesome and had a ton of work put into them. The character models also look really great and some of the costumes are really awesome. Sound-wise the game is spectacular with a ton of fantastic music. The song list is essentially a greatest hits collection from the franchise as the songs are taken from previous console releases in the series in the Future Sound song pack and from the portable and arcade games in the Color Sound pack.

All in all, Hatsune Miku Project Diva Future Tone is an outstanding entry in the franchise. The gameplay is fantastic and a little more complex than past entries, the presentation is spectacular, and the song list comprised of all of the best songs from previous installments is awesome. If you’re already a fan, having all of your favorite songs in one place is a dream come true. Likewise, if you’re new to the series having all of the greatest hits in one game makes Future Tone an obvious starting point. Keep in mind that the game doesn’t have any structure or progression – you just pick songs and play them – but the music is so awesome and gameplay so solid that it is easy to spend hours just going through the song list. And then playing your favorites over and over again. Hatsune Miku Project Diva Future Tone is highly recommended for vocaloid fans, music / rhythm fans, anime fans, and anyone in between.