After my dismal experience with Project Diva X, the stripped down version of Hatsune Miku that was dragged down by a visual novel experience, I was starting to wonder if the Project Diva series was starting to suffer from over-saturation.
Pretty surprising, given its late start in the US, since the cult classic PSP releases completely missed localization. If nothing else, though, Sega continues to innovate in different ways with the series, and with Future Tone, Project Diva’s innovating where it counts: by adding to the core gameplay experience, not by completely adding unwanted features(such as Diva X’s cringe-inducing story mode).
Future Tone, for starters, has an absolutely massive songlist. Right from the start, with no unlocking required, both the Future Sound and Colorful Tone packs bring the total songlist of Future Tone to a massive 224 songs. Not only is it a collection of some of the best tracks from earlier games(some of mine including Weekender Girl, Remote Controller, Luka Luka Night Fever, and Wintry Winds), but many of them are brand new to the game, at least to US players, thanks to being drawn from the unlocalized arcade version of Project Diva.
Of particular note is one of my all-time favorite songs, and the first Miku song I ever experienced, ‘Melody’.
Thankfully, this version of Project Diva doesn’t just rest on its laurels of the gigantic songlist. It also fixes the biggest missteps from Project Diva X. The story mode is gone, and everything is accessible right from the start. Additionally, the music videos are back in all their splendor, so no more DDR-esque dancers in front of generic backgrounds.
As an added benefit, they’ve been redone with the updated models, making them look even sharper. Some also have brand new music videos from the arcade version, making a console debut(such as Senbonzakura, seen below).
While I have a fondness for the original appearance of the background videos, the fact that Sega went to the effort of updating the visuals with new models rather than just doing a quick upscale deserves recognition.
There’s also several interesting new gameplay mechanics. The L1/R1 buttons now have prompts for special notes which can be held down for extra bonuses(and also using the PS4 controller’s speaker for added effect, a nice touch).
There’s also a new feature which gives bonuses for holding the note down up to a certain point, allowing the player to rack up extra points if they can keep the button held while continuing to play other incoming notes. It’s thankfully not mandatory, but it adds an interesting risk/reward feature to the game: make the game harder to earn the extra bonus, or give up and focus on hitting the regular notes?
Future Tone isn’t quite a perfect version of Project Diva. It has a gigantic songlist, great visuals, and an immense amount of modules to choose from, but the earlier versions still have a few tracks that didn’t quite make the cut, as well as a certain charm to their dated visuals.
Another small nitpick is that subtitles are strictly romanized Japanese, the translated lyrics from Project Diva F are nowhere to be found. Considering how large the songlist is, Sega probably didn’t consider it worth the extra effort.
Future Tone is still proof that Sega have plenty room to spare with innovating on the Project Diva series, by pleasing old fans and welcoming new ones alike.
* Review copy provided by the development team or publisher