Sega has been pretty good about bringing over every single Miku rhythm game they’ve published in the last several years. While Miku and pals have only been a thing in the West for about three years now, the Project DIVA franchise is two years shy of being a decade old in Japan. Project DIVA Future Tone is the latest release in the franchise, and it takes a slightly different approach from previous titles, focusing on polishing gameplay and giving a sizable track list over some of the other bells and whistles other games had. Project DIVA Future Tone brings together many of the best elements from previous DIVA games and turns them into the series’ magnum opus.
Future Tone is like a compilation album of the Project DIVA games. It comes in two versions, Future Sound and Colorful Tone. Each one is a mash up of songs from different Miku games. Future Sound features a selection of songs from all the console DIVA games, going all the way back to the first one on the PSP. Colorful Tone is a mix of DIVA Arcade exclusive songs and a few pulled from spin-off titles like Project Mirai. In total, there are over 200 different songs to play, making Future Tone the meatiest DIVA title Sega has released. The song selection is pretty varied, with Miku and her friends covering everything from pop and rock to synth and electronic.
Gameplay for DIVA titles, like many rhythm games, is based around timing button presses to on-screen prompts. DIVA prompts are colored icons that mirror buttons or d-pad directions on the PlayStation Dual Shock, but they spawn around the screen in patterns. It gives the game an active feel, as the player has to continually follow the path of prompts or risk dropping a combo and losing out on points or potentially failing to clear the song. There’s several levels of selectable difficulties that range from slow two-button schemes to dropping one note throwing the rest of your tempo off for the song. Sega did a good job at balancing out the difficulty of Future Tone for rhythm game beginners and veterans while also bringing a unique spin the music game foundation.
Future Tone is a game entirely focused on its rhythm game aspect. Plenty of previous DIVA titles have had quirky side-material including things like buying gifts for Miku and her friends, photo galleries, and other built-in mini-games. Future Tone has none of that, but instead makes it easier to obtain and change costumes for character in songs, lets players build an individual favorites list from Future Tone’s huge library of music, and gives a large amount of customization for individual stages in the game. Focusing on what aspects of a game make it great is the simplest way to guarantee quality, and Future Tone oozes quality in its focus on gameplay and gameplay related features.
No game is perfect though, and Future Tone brings its some flaws along with its polished aspects. For starters, the in-game models and movies that play during songs can be hit or miss at times. Future Tone uses much more “realistic” lighting than previous DIVA titles, which relied on cel-shading. Models look crisp and clear, and when animated properly look beautiful. There’s a few songs with that have some awkward motions built into them, and any song that does a close up on a character’s moving mouth can potentially look bad. Characters’ lip flaps are awkwardly animated at times, but for the most part things look fine. More often than not though, you will either not notice or care about what’s going on in the background while trying to watch prompts fly by.
The most unfortunate thing about Future Tone is its lack of song translations though. This has been a back-and-forth issue with previous DIVA games as well, as Sega seems to jump between either providing translations for songs or simply adding Romanizations of the Japanese lyrics. Trying to translate all 224 songs in the game would have probably led to delays on an already easy to import title. The translation issue and model quality are really just nitpicks though. Neither of these things negatively impact the gameplay. Future Tone is such a simplistic game by design that it’s hard to find faults in it.
Project Diva: Future Tone is easily the most accessible and affordable game in the line of various Vocaloid rhythm games and spin-offs. Its insanely huge song list, easy to pick up and hard to master gameplay, and bright color scheme make it enjoyable to play, watch, and listen to. Fans of music games should definitely look into trying Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA Future Tone.