What is Hatsune Miku Project Diva: Future Tone?
Hatsune Miku Project Diva: Future Tone is a rhythmic button mashing music game centred around Hatsune Miku, a "vocaloid" character from Japan. Pressing buttons in time with the music and prompts in order to score points, while being sure to take time out to dress characters up in a range of outfits and accessories to dance along, the game itself comes in three distinct parts - a free 'Prelude' demo that includes a couple of songs and outfits, and two huge song packs, Future Sound and Colourful Tone, which can be purchased either as separate downloads, or as a bundle. Each song pack contains around a hundred songs, some new and some taken from past games in the series, as well as a large number of unlockable outfits and accessories.
How do you play Hatsune Miku Project Diva: Future Tone?
Kind of like Guitar Hero, Rock Band, or Dancing Stage, only without the expensive peripherals, Project Diva is a game all about pressing buttons in time with the music, following the prompts on screen. Once you've chosen a song to play, icons will start to slide across the screen - and as they pass over the corresponding silhouette, that's your prompt to press the indicated button. The more accurate your timing, the more points you'll earn - and the more points you earn, the more virtual currency you'll earn at the end, which can then be spent on various outfits, accessories and extra characters from the store, letting you jazz up your characters for future songs. With no real story to play through, Future Tone is all about the music, with nothing in the way of frill - just a huge collection of tracks to enjoy.
How easy is Hatsune Miku Project Diva: Future Tone to pick up and play?
In terms of accessibility, Hatsune Miku is perhaps more challenging than other rhythm action games. While Guitar Hero and Rock Band have note tracks, the prompts on Future Tone fly in from all corners of the screen, meaning there's more to keep an eye on, and it can sometimes be harder to judge which note's going to reach its silhouette first. As button prompts appear at quite a rate, particularly in the more up tempo songs, and with busier background videos, notes can easily be missed, potentially leading to you failing out of a song. Likewise, timing is an important factor in how well you do, and it can take some practice to get your rhythm just right.
To help newcomers find their footing, there are four difficulties on offer here (along with an unlockable extra extreme fifth), with higher difficulties simply adding in more complex rhythms and a greater array of button combinations. New prompts which require you to press two different buttons at once can be a little tricky at first, although they seem to be largely absent on easy, cropping up with increasing frequency from normal onwards.
There's also a 'No Fail' modifier you can switch on if you're struggling. Ordinarily, if you miss too many notes in a short space of time you'll be kicked out of a song and have to try again - with No Fail switched on however, you're free to carry on playing the rest of the tune, right through to the end. It is worth noting though, that even if you turn No Fail mode on, you'll still end up with a 'Not Cleared' rank if you ended up missing too many notes while you were playing, so you can't use it to clear songs you otherwise couldn't manage.
For the youngest of players, though, there's very little in the way of reading to do in Hatsune Miku Project Diva: Future Tone, outside of the menus and odd tutorial.
As a light-hearted music game, Hatsune Miku Project Diva: Future Tone has little in the way of mature content. There's no violence, no blood and gore and no dodgy sex scenes either. About as risqué as it gets is the odd low cut outfit or bikini you can buy to dress up your characters, some mildly provocative dancing, and a sword fight between characters in a music video. Songs are sung entirely in Japanese (with the occasional contextless English word thrown in for good measure), so there's no obvious bad language, or questionable innuendos to speak of. However, should your child happen to be fluent in Japanese, some of the songs do deal with more adult topics - it's never apparent from the background videos or subtitles in the slightest, but songs do stray into prostitution, crazy obsessive scorned lovers, death, creepy demons and kidnappings to name but a few.