When you think of rhythm or music games, Guitar Hero or Rock Band probably sprint to mind. Those aren’t the only names in the rhythm game and are pretty tame compared to the likes of the Hatsune Miku games and even Persona 4: Dancing All Night. In fact we reviewed Persona 4: Dancing All Night last year and it is worth checking out if you own a Vita.
Hatsune Miku is a worldwide phenomenon at this point with live performances (in hologram form) across the world and expos dedicated to her as well. This insanely popular vocaloid also has a number of games under her name thanks to Crypton Future Media and SEGA. The Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA games are available on handheld systems and home consoles in addition to arcades in Japan. They’ve seen releases with varying content on PSP, PS Vita, PS3, 3DS, and even PS4 recently.
Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA Future Tone is the ultimate Hatsune Miku game. It is a port of the Japanese arcade game for PlayStation 4 and has more content than most games released today. This is both good and slightly bad. More on that in a bit. Unlike a normal release, Future Tone is split up into three different things on PSN. It is a digital only release and you first get the Prelude that has a few free songs. This is like a demo and I urge you to give it a shot if you have any interest in rhythm games. There are two sound packs consisting of over 100 songs each that need to be bought separately to get all the content Future Tone has to offer. The Future Sound pack includes more than 120 songs from the PSP, PS Vita, and PS3 Project Diva F games. The Colourful Tone pack on the other hand includes more than 100 songs from the 3DS and Arcade games.
There are two parts to the actual gameplay. There’s the core rhythm game and customisation. While earlier games allowed you to do much more in the customisation side, the core rhythm game is what I play this franchise for. With over 300 costumes for the massive song list, you’d be pressed to find anything lacking content wise. Your aim is to press the appropriate button on the controller when the highlighted note shows up on the screen. There are hold notes that have you holding as the name suggests and some super annoying sections that require pressing two buttons at once. This kept throwing me off. Watching the lovely music videos playing while notes fly from all over the screen and catchy music.
While this does have almost all the Project DIVA game songs together, controls are different. In fact they will throw you off initially if you’re a veteran rhythm game player as Future Tone was built for arcades and not a PS4 controller. I wish it made better use of the various sensors and buttons the controller has to offer. Maybe this can be added in a future patch because controls let the rest of the experience down to some extent.
If you aren’t a fan of rhythm games, you might be wondering what the draw is to pressing buttons according to notes on a screen over and over again. The visuals and music in addition to difficulty is what makes all of this come together. You also need to be able to keep a beat and recognise when to exactly press. Visually, Future Tone is the pinnacle of the franchise. Each song has its own backing visual or music video playing and they all look great. Performance is also the best it has ever been with a smooth 60fps throughout. Loading times are also almost non existent. The only aspect of the visuals I had a problem with was the interface for multiple button presses at the same time. It breaks immersion each time.
On the sound design and audio side of things, I have no complaints. Future Tone has all my favourite Hatsune Miku songs including Miracle Paint and Summer Idol. There’s even the nyan cat meme song which actually used Miku’s vocaloid bank. You also need to be a fan of vocaloid music to enjoy this game so keep that in mind. This isn’t like Superbeat Xonic where there are songs from varied genres and by varying performers. There are multiple vocaloids performing in Future Tone but in the end it is still vocaloid music.
If you’re a fan of vocaloid music and have even the smallest interest in Hatsune Miku, Future Tone is an essential purchase. I hope it gets a physical release down the line because one of the best music games in a long time deserves it. If some of the control problems can be fixed in patches, Future Tone will be beyond amazing. I’ve been enjoying taking a break from Overwatch with a few Miku songs between games.