Niche? Niche? There’s no chance of a Japanese finger-tapping rhythm game being described as niche. Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA Arcade Future Tone is a big deal in the land of the rising sun, and there’s always an ample audience in the west ready for the latest import or localisation. Now, I’m no expert when it comes to the culture, but I was ready to go in with an open mind. The game boils down to choosing from an eclectic mix of J-pop songs, learning the rhythm, and trying to match the commands that pop up on screen with a corresponding button press.
The gameplay is intuitive enough, although my fingers struggled to match the on screen commands during the first few tries. I got used to it eventually, and found a game that was better than I expected. It’s a port of a popular arcade game, released for the Playstation 4. You’re essentially chasing high scores and perfect taps, and there’s no better way than to settle down and get to know the tracks. As an arcade port, there’s no real story mode, although there are brief cut scenes and interactions before you move onto the next song.
The game takes place within a virtual world, and you earn Vocaloid Points to spend on a vast array of additional content. There’s heaps of unlockables if you’re in it for the long haul, although I did find my attention began to wane after a few hours of the same thing. If you’re one for extra costumes and hairstyles it’s sure to keep you amused, although the extra content is mostly superficial. Dance Dance for your fingers doesn’t really do it justice, although it does offer a glimpse into just how addictive it can be if you find a couple of tracks that you really like. There’s a total of 224 songs to choose from at the start, allowing you to browse the entire range from the beginning.
You can set the game to easy difficulty, although a number of the tracks do have to be played on normal. It’s great that the entire list of songs is ready to be played, although some of the songs are ridiculously hard for new players. That being said, it’s evidently a great challenge for returning gamers, who will be relishing the chance to up the ante with their favourite tracks. (There’s a Practice Mode and a No Fail Mode for beginners, which I did find helpful.)
Fans of the series will need no introduction, although it could be a little too out there if you’re not sure that the game will be right for you. As a newcomer myself, I found it hard to get to grips with the gameplay, and it’s not the most noob-friendly title on the Playstation. In other words, it helps if you already like the music or the series. It wasn’t my cup of tea, but I can still recognise why people will enjoy the game. It’s sure to warm the cockles for those who were patiently waiting for the port to arrive, and there’s potentially hundreds of hours of gameplay if you want to master the tracks.
Final Verdict: Hatsune Miku: Project Fan Service 4/5
Hatsune Miku: Project Diva at CeX
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