The launch of PlayStation VR was always going to bring with it a wave of traditional games being spun into seemingly new VR experiences. Driveclub has already made the jump, with the likes of Hustle Kings, Super Stardust Ultra and Tumble going with it. Depending on how you look at it, Sega’s Hatsune Miku series was either the least or most likely to get the VR treatment. Regardless of your viewpoint on that matter, Hatsune Miku VR Future Live is here and it’s … strange, to say the least.
The main cause of that overall sense of strangeness is that there’s no real game here to speak of and from a franchise that is steeped in pure rhythm-action gameplay, that’s downright weird. What you get for your money when you’ve coughed up for the first part of VR Future Live is a “concert experience” starring the eponymous vocaloid. Using a single Move controller (DualShock is supported too, of course) you can change your position in the audience as you’re watching the show, putting yourself further back in the crowd, up on a platform above the stage, or even on the stage itself as Miku bounces around singing her digital heart out in front of you.
Aside from that, the only real interaction you have with the product is waving your Move controller along with the music from time to time when asked to or chanting into the PSVR headset microphone to get the crowd more worked up for the performance. On two occasions – yes, two occasions in the entire thing – a “rhythm game” section appears, where you must shake the Move controller on the beat for a few seconds as the traditional Miku-style stars hit their targets above the stage.
Seven tracks are included, with some making the jump from this year’s full Hatsune Miku title – Project Diva X – including the booming “Satisfaction” by kz. That tune’s almost worth the asking price alone, but if you’ve already got the main game – which is probably a given if you have any interest in VR Future Live – then you already have access to it, so it has no real bonus value here. That’s something which could be said about the entire concept of VR Future Live, if the truth is to be told.
There’s no real scoring to be found, but you will be awarded a random outfit card if you get everything right in a whole three-track show (which is practically guaranteed) and it’ll also cause Miku to grant you a personal one-on-one encore performance. During this encore, the inputs are removed entirely, so you just sit and watch as Miku jumps around a white room and the music pours itself into your ears.
On that note, praise should be given to the audio performance here. Moving around the arena changes the acoustics accordingly and turning your head also alters the sound correctly. Getting up close with Miku on stage even allows you to hear her voice more clearly over the backing track, until she dances away from you and takes that enhanced vocal line with her, of course.
The problem with Hatsune Miku: VR Future Live is that even as a concert experience, it doesn’t make a great deal of sense. Project Diva X has been given a free patch that allows you to play any concerts you create in the main game in VR mode, which works much the same as performances do here. The only difference is that you don’t get the Move-waggling “gameplay” if you decide to take that route, but that feature is so pointlessly weak that it isn’t needed anyway. So in essence, you’re being asked for $15 (or $40 if you want the season pass, which will ultimately contain two more comparatively sized sets of tracks) to play a game that is incredibly similar to something that you probably already have access to.
It may seem somewhat curmudgeonly to deride VR Future Live for not providing a full gameplay experience. After all, it isn’t really being advertised as a game. Yes, you can experience a short Hatsune Miku concert in VR and watch as she dances around while you listen to a few tracks and yes, that experience will occasionally put a smile on your face because of the upbeat music and some of the cool stage effects that are on display. But for the price you’re being asked to pay, it’s all over very quickly.
After each track, you’re asked which one you’d like to see next and on the first go-round, you’ll pick your favourites. On the second, you’ll pick the ones you missed first time. Then, when you’ve seen Miku perform each of those six stage tracks and the encore track twice (since that’s always the same song), you’ve seen the entirety of the product that you’ve purchased.
There’s not even any communication between PDX and Hatsune Miku: VR Future Live. After you’ve spent hours/days/weeks/months mastering the songs and trying to make your performers happy in the main game (and trying to get “Satisfaction” out of your head, obviously) you’d expect to be able to bring some of that unlocked content across to this VR title. Instead, you’re left to unlock costumes in VR Future Live that are identical to ones that you already unlocked many moons ago in Project Diva X. Even trophy-hunters will feel short-changed, given that there are only six on offer, two-thirds of which you’ll have unlocked by the time you’ve played through the tracklist once.
This review is based on the PlayStation VR version of the game, which we were provided with.
Those expecting any sort of gameplay at all in exchange for their money are out of luck with Hatsune Miku: VR Future. It’s most assuredly one for the vocaloid’s superfans and even they may be disappointed, given the fleeting nature of the experience.