There is absolutely no denying the glory that is Final Fantasy’s music, Nobuo Uematsu has repeatedly outdone himself in every Final Fantasy entry with the beautiful music. And to celebrate this wonderful music, Square decided to grace us with Theatrhythm Final Fantasy.
Theatrhythm Final Fantasy is a rhythm game developed by indieszero and published by Square Enix. The main purpose behind Theatrhythm Final Fantasy is to celebrate Final Fantasy’s 25 year long run as a successful franchise, and it also offers a ridiculous nostalgic value.
The story of the game is not something that has kept my attention during the 6 hour long playthrough, all I got was that there was something wrong with the rhythms of some place and that you have to collect rhythmia to fix some crystal that has something to do with the universe. The plot is weak, it definitely did not hold my attention, but it’s there just for the purpose of the game having a plot.
The main attraction of Theatrhythm is the series mode where you play through the entire Final Fantasy series all the way from the very first game to Final Fantasy XIII. Now I never played any Final Fantasy game (save for 4 hours on FFXIII) so this review will mainly be from a standpoint of someone who enjoys rhythm games.
Series mode offers 13 titles over the span of 5~6 hours depending on if you’re a perfectionist and want to score a S on each stage or not, it took me 5 hours and change to do so, and this only shows how engaging the gameplay was.
Each Final Fantasy game has three levels plus skip-able intro and outro. Those 3 levels are Event Music Scene, Battle Music Scene, and Field Music Scene with each having their own style of tapping those pesky colored toggles. In the EMS you are presented with a scene from the Final Fantasy game you’re in, this scene can be gameplay (mostly of the Japanese versions) or a cinematic from the game, you tap the touch screen of the 3DS according to the toggles you’re given on the upper screen, there’s no special precautions here, only that the ring in which you align the notes moves. Also it can get a little dizzying with all the background action going on.
FMS is my personal favorite and, well, the easiest of the three, it has your leader moving in a field with the notes coming to you and you have to tap them, the only difference here is that your ring moves only vertically, and you’re the one who moves it according to the incoming notes.
BMS is the final mode and it’s basically Guitar Hero, you have four rings, four incoming sets of notes, though you do not need to move your stylus anywhere on the touch screen, just tap in the right time and you’re good to go.
Now to explain a little about what the leader I mentioned earlier is good for. The game asks you to pick four characters from the Final Fantasy universe, you have 13 to choose from initially, one from every Final Fantasy, with characters unlockable through other game modes. The characters have different sets of attributes with strength being more beneficial from BMS, and other attributes being better for other scenes. The characters you choose level up with each scene finished, adding a RPG element to the game, and you can also equip your characters with items and potions to help them defeat more monsters in BMS or simply survival longer when hitting too many bad notes. Though the RPG elements were mostly half baked and did not have that big of an impact on the game, I did not customize any characters’ item sets throughout my entire playthrough and still got S on all Final Fantasies, so it’s really not essential. The RPG elements in this game only serve to show the wasted potential of the game.
Square decided to opt for the chibis art style, and it works splendidly! Seeing Lightning and Cloud as chibis is admittedly weird though extremely cute and fluffy (for lack of a better term). There also are some animations whenever you hit enemies in BMS, though minor as they are, they mostly eliminate the monotony that the game would have been. Other than that the game is mostly cinematics of other games.
This is where Theatrhythm excels, and rightfully so considering the name sake. Final Fantasy games have always had splendid sound tracks, and Theatrhythm celebrates that by having the most notable music pieces from all Final Fantasy games with more purchasable as DLC. Your different note plays add different sound effects to the already superb music, but it doesn’t ruin it, far from it, it complements it in a very engaging manner, in BMS for instance, when you swipe down and you hear a swoosh sound right where the music pounds, it just adds more to the dramatic value of the piece.
If you’re a perfectionist, there’s tons of re-playability here, you can get better scores, thus unlocking more collectible items and videos in the collections menu, there’s also Chaos mode and Challenge mode that both offer other challenges to go through and unlock different things, from characters to items to collectable cards and videos. Theatrhythm offers a ton of re-play value here.
Theatrhythm is mainly aimed as a celebration of Final Fantasy, but that doesn’t mean you have to be a Final Fantasy fan to enjoy it. If you like rhythm games and REALLY outstanding music, this game offers so much. If you’re looking for deep RPG integration in a rhythm title though, look elsewhere.