We’re finally getting used to regular Project Diva releases in the West, after years of being envious of the series’ import-only fun. We get new games like clockwork, filling our need for Vocaloid rhythm action like it was Call of Duty or Madden. Now, as soon as we’re accustomed to it, it’s over.
Or it should be, anyway, because Hatsune Miku: Project Diva Future Tone is such an avalanche of gameplay that it couldn’t reasonably be followed.
We started talking about this last year, but Future Tone is part of a pair of releases that split the purpose of the franchise into two distinct experiences. Last year’s Project Diva X took on the duties of being more of an actual game, with story, unlockable content and progression. Future Tone, on the other hand, is more of a pure song catalog, but what a catalog it is: sold in two halves, the experience totals over 200 songs, which is… too many. It’s too many songs. But, you know, in a good way.
While most of Future Tone will be familiar to Western players, one big difference is that the rhythm action of the game is based on the Arcade release. That means that arrows and button symbols aren’t paired to play simultaneously at times! This removal of complexity makes more frantic note charts possible, rather than the other home games’ slightly less crowded but no less difficult ones. There are also shoulder button notes, which essentially take the place of the “flick” notes and often show up as a prompt to hold it for a specific amount of time. As for your typical hold notes, those long lines and arcs have been replaced with notes that have the word “HOLD” by them. You’ll get more and more points for as long as you can keep the button down, even as the song moves on. These changes make playing a song much more about score than completion, as any arcade-based rhythm game should.
The game is sold through two packs, Colorful Tone and Future Sound, each containing two games’ worth of songs on their own. You’ll find brighter fare more like the Mirai games in Colorful Tone and more of the Diva-style fare in Future Sound. It’s a great deal to buy both of them, though, so you don’t have half of the tracks and customization items unselectable and taunting you. Since there’s no specific progression here, all songs are available at once, so thankfully there’s an option to mark songs as favorites so you can get to those faster than scrolling by dozens of others when appropriate.
There’s still a reason to keep playing, though. You buy modules and various other accessories through currency earned by playing, and though it’s all available in the store, some special costumes cost a lot more than others. Since it’s based on the arcade version of the game, it’s also heavily geared toward chasing leaderboards, and that’s sure to please people who are… better at this game than us. We play to have fun, but all of you will beat our scores. For people like us, the incentive is to finish beating all the songs, increasing levels and raising the completion percentage.
With so many hours of music at your disposal, you may want a way to use it as a jukebox, and Future Tone is happy to oblige. With its playlist function, you can build sets of songs you enjoy (or just as many as you like) and go through them in set or shuffled order. You can even set specific costumes to them as you do, using this as an opportunity to mess around and swap in silly characters and looks.
With its ludicrous lineup of songs and robust library of customization options to keep your Vocaloids looking fresh, Hatsune Miku: Project Diva Future Tone is an unparalleled rhythm offering. It doesn’t have the surrounding world or minigames of other titles, but you’ll hardly have time to notice when you’re navigating the never-ending flow of note charts.