While attempts at bringing rhythm games back to the forefront via a plastic instrument renaissance weren’t quite as successful as you’d expect, that’s not to say the genre isn’t still around. You’re not strumming away at a plastic guitar, sure, but you can still enjoy some music-based action with Amplitude, Crypt of the Necrodancer and of course, the Project DIVA games.
The latest in that long-runing series is Sega’s Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA Future Tone, an absurdly complete collection of some of the series’ best music, and it’s a standout title on the PS4.
Future Tone fits into the same mold as most of the previous Project DIVA titles: it’s a rhythm game along the same lines of DDR or Guitar Hero with a special focus on the Vocaloid franchise. You’ve got various Vocaloid characters who can star in music videos as you play; what’s more, you can dress them up to your liking by purchasing new outfits and accessories with VP obtained by completing songs. There’s a Space Channel 5 costume. It’s all super adorable.
What’s special about Future Tone? Well, the most significant point is that there’s an absolute mess of songs. Seriously, there are a lot of songs. This can’t be overstated. We’re talking over two hundred different songs, each with a unique note chart and an accompanying music video. Lots and lots of songs, each of which were chosen for being standout tracks in previous Project DIVA titles. You’ll be playing for weeks. The songs are split up into a pair of collections, each of which you can purchase individually (for $30 each); if you get both (for around $55 if you get both at once), you will never want for Vocaloid action ever again. Naturally there’ll be DLC songs as well, because SEGA loves us and wants us to be happy.
It’s also, as per the norm with Project DIVA, incredibly hard. I’d say it’s on par with Dark Souls in terms of sheer brutality after you’ve gotten a few hours and difficulty levels in. I’m not even being ironic or cute in the Modern Games Journalism style guide, this game is hard as hell. Sure, it’s a cute pastel-colored rhythm game with Miku on the front, so you’d come in expecting the game to play nice…and it won’t. It’ll kick your ass, especially because now you’ve got multi-button hold commands on top of everything else you have to pay attention to.
Even if you’re doing well, Future Tone is going to destroy you, because in Project DIVA “doing well” is rarely good enough – only “perfect, absolute mastery” is. You can expect that you’ll need a lot of practice, and if you consider that you’ll need to individually practice each of those 200+ songs individually to really get good at them…
All of that’s tied together with the classic high production values and quality graphics that define the Project DIVA series. You’ve got plenty of great music videos to check out, which is awesome on the one hand and terrible on the other since they’ll be distracting you from the cataclysmic waves of notes that you have to follow. Sound-wise, well, it’s a rhythm game, of course it’s solid; it almost goes without saying that the enormous number of tracks means that it’s not hard to find something you enjoy listening to.
My policy when reviewing things is to score them based both on how much I enjoyed playing through them and how well they accomplish what they set out to do. That means that Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA Future Tone is an easy Editor’s Choice; if you want Vocaloid-based rhythm action then this is pretty much as good as it gets, and it’s hard to think of how they’re going to improve in the next iteration. That particular itch is scratched incredibly hard here and with further DLC songs SEGA’s going to continue sanding until it’s completely raw. In terms of content and quality gameplay, this is the Monster Hunter Generations of rhythm games. Check it out.