Hatsune Miku comes dancing back onto the PlayStation 4 shortly after her previous appearance in Project DIVA X, but what does Project DIVA Future Tone do that warrants a release so shortly after a new game?
Unlike the previous games in the series, Project DIVA Future Tone is based on the direct port of the arcade game of the same name. Instead of having extra features like petting your favourite vocaloid and ravishing them with presents, this has been ripped out of the Arcade version and Sega has focused on a pure rhythm game.
All-in-all the arcade version has an exceptional playlist encompassing all of the songs from 2009’s Project DIVA to Project DIVA f 2nd, as well as all of the Project Mirai songs from the Nintendo DS. The entire soundtrack clocks in at over 220 tracks that will keep you playing for months or even years. A bonus is that there are some added songs that aren’t included in the previous titles too.
Much of the game is similar to the titles of old. You have a setlist of songs (which are fully unlocked in Project DIVA Future Tone), a plethora of modules, accessories and several tiers of difficulty. If you’re one for watching each of the PVs (promotional videos) then you’ll be happy that you can still create a playlist and watch them in any order you like. An added bonus to the PVs is that you can create screenshots of the action – these are then used for the loading screens in between songs.
With the sheer scale of songs at the ready, the modules associated with that song will be included, but due to the amount available it can occasionally take a really long time shuffling through over 100+ modules for Hatsune Miku alone. Thankfully the remaining characters (Rin, Ren, Luka, Meiko and Kaito) are not as commonly present as Miku so their module count is exponentially shorter.
These modules can be used for any song as well as the accessories, of which these are not character bound. To unlock these modules and accessories you need to play songs and earn points. Each module can range from 200 points up to 950 points, though most adhere to around 600 points. Playing and getting a “great” rating on each song will net you 800 points so the grind – unlike previous games – is non-existent.
The difficulty spike in this game can be quite unforgiving depending on the song you’re trying to play. All past titles are based on using the controller, but as this version is a direct port of the arcade machine, the control scheme has be changed up massively and includes the proper use of the touchpad.
Porting the controls has been quite a success, with the four huge round cross, square, triangle and circle buttons, plus the touchbar on the arcade machine, being the only inputs. Sega has mapped these buttons to not only the face buttons, but also the cursor buttons.
The arrows that appear can be triggered by using the shoulder buttons, the analogue sticks and even the touchbar. What doesn’t work very well is the touchbar; sure it works when you can reach across to it and perfectly hit it spot on, but what really cracks the pinata is the fact you have two sticks protruding out by your thumbs that consequently get in your way. This is no fault of the game but of the hardware in question. If Sega released a controller for this game then it would be divine.
When choosing a song you can select the module that goes with the song by selecting the “recommended” module. The remaining three options are a “no fail” – in case you’re just that bad at rhythm games. “Modifiers” – such as hi speed notes, late appearance cues, or no cues whatsoever. “Alternate voices” – for when you want the other vocaloids to sing along to the tunes.
Passing the songs increases in difficulty when playing the harder settings. When you’re going for ‘Expert’ then just to pass the song requires you to hit a high 70%. It doesn’t seem too hard until you try a song that’s gauged at an 8 or higher difficulty, then your fingers and arms will start to ache from tapping like a madman.
Each song gets more difficult as the difficulty is increased, but they have added an extra difficulty setting with the imaginative and aptly named “Extra Extreme”. Most of the songs that have this extra difficulty are the ones that are quite easy to pass on Extreme. There aren’t many of them and there wasn’t any information on screen telling me which ones had this, but it’s a welcome addition to the most hardcore of rhythm game goers.
During each song you have the PV in the background with the notes that appear on the screen (which you need to hit the buttons in time to). These notes have a timing hand that rotates through 360 degrees. The yellow arrows are most suited for the shoulder buttons, unless it requires a double direction, then you need to use the sticks instead – just don’t use the touchpad unless you are able to manage to reach it in time to a fast track!
At certain times there’s a Challenge Time where you can double your points by hitting the notes, and you’ll see the difference in the rainbow coloured shading on the screen. At the end of this special you can invoke a special ending to the PV (if it is available) by hitting the large Rainbow Target.
What makes playing the songs particularly difficult is that there are many times where the notes can blur in with the PV. The gameplay looks simple and it certainly is, but it can get infuriating at times when you miss a note that you didn’t see because your focus was elsewhere due to the PV. Concentration is definitely required to play the harder songs otherwise you’ll be pouring tears into your hands.
If you’re a trophy collector then don’t expect much here. There is no platinum but instead a list of trophies that will make you cry as it takes a very long time to do; in fact it’ll take you longer than most JRPGs. So if you’re that collector of everything, then I do not recommend trying to play this game for a quick 100% because it’s not possible. However if you love the game and genre then you’ll naturally achieve it without realising.
The price – like the trophies – are split in three. The base game (which comes with two songs and is free), the Future Tone pack (which is £25 and is based on the PlayStation songs) and the Colourful Tone pack (which is also £25 and based on the Nintendo DS/3DS songs). Even though the cost is a total of £45 for the whole package, it’s superb value for money.