Review: Hatsune Miku: Project Diva Future Tone (PS4)

Formats:

  • PlayStation 4

Format/Hardware Used:

  • PSN Download
  • PS4 Pro
  • HDTV

Extras:

  • DualShock 4 Required (1)
  • Move None
Title: Hatsune Miku: Project Diva Future Tone
Format: PSN (12.17 GB – Base Game Only)
(27.42 GB – Game and Both Song Packs)
Release Date: January 10, 2017
Publisher: SEGA
Developer: SEGA
Original MSRP:

  • Free download with two songs
  • $29.99 Colorful Tone Song Pack
  • $29.99 Future Sound Song Pack
  • $53.99 Colorful Tone/Future Sound Song Pack Bundle

ESRB Rating: T
PEGI: 12
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Miku, everyone’s favorite virtual idol, had a productive 2016. There were two Hatsune Miku games released in the second half of the year and now Hatsune Miku Future Tone drops only a couple weeks into 2017. Three Miku games in six months might be overkill, but clearly she saved the best for last.

The difference this time is that Future Tone is a port of the arcade game and it’s split into two large song packs. There is a free base game, essentially a trial version with only two songs, and the packs make up the bulk of the content. There are no gameplay differences between the packs so I’ll cover the whole thing in this review.

For those who might want one or the other though, Future Sound is the pack that features songs from the PlayStation-centric Project Diva series. Meanwhile, Colorful Tone has songs from the 3DS Project Mirai series as well as songs exclusive to the arcade games.

Gameplay:
Future Tone, like most of the games before it, is a rhythm game featuring Hatsune Miku and her Vocaloid friends. It’s a little more focused on the rhythm game aspects, with fewer frills on the side, compared to previous games. The upside to the focus is that there is a lot of content in it, even if the game can be directionless at time.

The rhythm gameplay is similar to the Project Diva series but for those who aren’t familiar with them, the series is a break from other music games in one big way: the targets for the notes don’t stay in a single location. Unlike a Guitar Hero or DDR, the note targets can appear anywhere on the screen.

These targets are shaped like the button the player needs to press and the notes fly in from the sides of the screen when the player needs to hit that button. This isn’t a huge change over the traditional lane-based rhythm games but it has huge ramifications as it makes even simply reading the note chart more challenging.

… a few minor issues with the platform change …
Still, the Miku games always look harder than they actually are. Once the player becomes familiar with the game, and the occasional tricks it will pull, the crazy “flying anywhere” notes begin to make sense. There are other subtle hints to help with timing, including a clock hand on the target and the spacing from one target to the next on the screen.

The game makes a pretty easy jump to the PS4 from the arcade as the arcade game already used the PlayStation symbols for notes for example. There are however a few minor issues with the platform change since the arcade game used four large buttons that the player would hit with their hand rather than thumb buttons on a handheld controller.

The way the problem manifests itself is in multi-target buttons. Occasionally, the game will have the player hitting two or more buttons at a time. The controls for the game are configurable, and by default the face buttons (ie Cross, Triangle, etc.) are mirrored to the D-pad, so it is possible to find a setup that works okay.

Still, for me coming from the previous Miku games on console this is a challenge. Those mirrored the face buttons to the D-pad so that part isn’t hard for two-button notes but adding in a third or fourth button either requires finagling my thumb to hit multiple face buttons or trying to use the triggers on the controller.

To make matters a little worse, the Miku arcade game also has a long touch bar which is used in some songs for slides. Obviously this is one is a bit of a no-brainer to map to the touch pad on the DualShock 4. Unfortunately, the implementation is a bit finicky so I didn’t use it in that configuration all that much. It’s kind of a missed opportunity.

By default the slides are mapped to the triggers, shoulder buttons, and the analog sticks. By the time I realized I was having an issue with multi-target notes, I had gotten used to using the shoulder buttons for slides and reprogramming myself on multiple things at once seems like a recipe for disaster.

… a good amount of variation in songs to play …
Hold notes contribute to the problem as well. Rather than having a specific hold duration, hold notes just say “hold” and holding that button for several seconds racks up the points until it reaches a set maximum. The chart might call for other buttons to be pressed after the hold, so getting the best score sometimes means being able to hold button(s) while pressing some other button(s).

Some of this is probably just me being stubborn and used to the previous games. The options allow for a lot of control over the button layout, so I’d advise trying to find a good one when starting. Just be aware that the game calls for some double-slides and that it’s nice to be able to hold one or two buttons and still tap a third at the same time.

Of course there’s always the Miku branded PS4 controller with the large buttons, for those who want to drop some cash…

Outside my concerns over the buttons, Future Tone plays fantastically. Most of the note charts are well done and there’s a good amount of variation in songs to play. Both in terms of musical styles and difficulties, the game has a lot to offer.

As alluded to earlier, outside the music game, Future Tone is rather light. Unlike the other console games, there aren’t any modes for editing dances or for interacting with the vocaloids. There’s only one alternate mode, which is a set of courses consisting of a series of specific songs, but it otherwise doesn’t seem to change the gameplay much.

Really, the only other thing to do in the game is watch the music videos that play in the background. There’s a mode to create a playlist of songs to watch or they can be played one at a time from the gameplay mode.

The character that appears in the music videos, both during gameplay and when watching them, can be adjusted. There are a ton of costumes in the game, over 300, plus a handful of accessories to toss on the characters. These are purchased with in-game currency but are otherwise all available from the start. Costumes even include some SEGA throwbacks to properties such as Space Channel 5 or Valkyria Chronicles.

… the huge song library represents a ton of gameplay …
The flipside to the lack of modes is the huge amount of music. The Future Sound pack has over 120 songs and the Colorful Tone pack has just shy of 100, for well over 200 songs total. Since songs are content for a rhythm game, the huge song library represents a ton of gameplay.

I’m glad that all of the music is unlocked from the start, though the Extreme and Extra-Extreme difficulties have to be unlocked on a per-song basis, but the game can feel slightly aimless. There’s not a whole lot pushing the player forward so it’s really up to the player to set their own goals. This isn’t a huge break for rhythm games though, so I imagine most players interested in this one won’t have an issue.

Visuals:
The music videos are the main source of visuals and they can vary greatly in quality. Some look fine, but others seem to have a plastic look to the characters. I’m not sure if there’s some variation in lighting or something that causes it but it does change from song to song and from costume to costume.

In general, it feels like the songs that come from the Project Diva games look better than the songs that don’t. But even there, those don’t seem to be quite as good as in the past games. The mouth movements don’t seem to be as good and some songs are lacking effects that were present before.

Aside from the occasional plastic look, the videos are fun to watch. Plus it’s cool to be able to customize the characters in the video. A few of the songs are a little distracting when playing behind the notes but I’ve learned to tune it out when necessary over the years of playing Project Diva.

… this might be the only game you’ll need in the Miku franchise …
Audio:
As mentioned before, there is a huge library of songs in this game. Even only getting one of the two packs gets the player several times more songs than have appeared in any single incarnation previously. For comparison, the last rhythm game, Project Diva X, had less than 40 songs even after DLC.

The music genres trend toward the J-pop genre but with some outliers and unique pieces here and there. They’ve even managed to slide in a few songs featuring a vocaloid singing to a classic SEGA song, such as one from After Burner.

As a fan of the previous games, I love the selection of songs. Pretty much all of my favorites are present. Of course, the synthesized vocaloid “voice” may be a point of contention for some players but I’m sure most people know if they like the style or not already. If not, try a few Miku songs on YouTube before buying into Future Tone.

Online/Multiplayer:
The only online feature is the leaderboard. Or well, leaderboards, since each difficulty of each song has its own online leaderboard. Plus there are a few leaderboards for overall stats to help players see how they stack up against the other players.

Conclusion:
There’s a part of me that’s sad that Future Tone lacks the bells and whistles of the extra modes. But that’s a very small part which is easily overcome by the huge selection of music in the game. Having all of my favorites in one place more than makes up for any flaws.

I’m sure some Miku fans might be skeptical of buying a third game in six months but this one is worth it. And for anyone jumping in fresh, this might be the only game you’ll need in the Miku franchise. Hatsune Miku Future Tone comes highly recommended for anyone interested in Miku music games.

Score:

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

Written by Andy Richardson

Andy Richardson

A longtime PlayStation fan who enjoys JRPGs and rhythm games when he’s not tweeting about his parrot.

Twitter Digg Delicious Stumbleupon Technorati Facebook