Final Fantasy is pretty much a house hold name when it comes to gaming at this point. Almost every RPG fan has a favorite character and game from the series. Even more beloved than the games themselves, however, is their music. In what is easily one of the strangest titles to be released this year, Square-Enix’s Theatrhythm Final Fantasy mashes together classic Final Fantasy tracks with the music game genre. The result is one of the biggest nostalgia trips ever.
Big fans of musics games, especially games like Gitaroo Man and Elite Beat Agents, will feel right at home with Theatrhythm. The gameplay style is similar to the two aforementioned titles and this is really the best choice for it since its on the 3DS. TFF presents all of the gameplay you need to watch on the top screen and all of the actual playing occurs on the bottom screen. Playing the music is as simple as following the prompts on the top screen by tapping, holding and swiping on the bottom in time with the chart. The simplicity of the controls makes it so that this game is easily playable no matter where you happen to be.
There are 3 different types of tracks in the game, Field Music Tracks, Battle Music Tracks and Event Music Tracks. Field Music Tracks show your character walking across a field from the game the song is from and require you to move your stylus in sync with the top screen for some sections. Battle Music Tracks are set up like a classic Final Fantasy battle and pits you against monsters and bosses from the series, dealing damage to them every time you hit a note. Lastly, the Event Music Tracks let you watch a video of scenes from the respective games as you play a song from a major event in the game (i.e. Suteki Da Ne for FFX and A Theme of Love for FFIV).
You start the title with being able to choose your party. I went with Tidus, Lightning, Zidane and Warrior of Light because, honestly, they were my favorite characters unlocked from the start. As you beat songs, you gain exp that will level up your characters and the big upside to having higher leveled characters is they have more HP, which is lost anytime you miss a note, and their stats go up so they are better in fights. As the characters level up they also learn new abilities for you to equip to them which can range from stat increases, to magic damage on the enemy, to increasing the chance of finding rare items.Items can be equipped and be used to heal, summon certain summons and a plethora of other things.
The game may feel a bit empty at first since the only option available is Series Mode but worry not as all the other modes are quickly unlocked. By playing the game, you unlock Challenge Mode, Chaos Shrine, tracks for the music player, videos from the series, new characters and even collectible cards. Series Mode allows you to play 5 tracks from each of the 13 games (I-XIII) in the main series. The tracks it gives you are the Opening Theme, an Overworld theme (or the equivalent depending on the game), a Battle theme that is many times a boss fight theme, a Major Event Theme and the Ending Theme. Once finished, you unlock all songs from that line for play via Challenge Mode.
Challenge Mode allows you to play any songs you’ve unlocked individually. This mode also allows you to unlock harder difficulty for each song. The hardest difficulty, Ultimate Mode, will challenge even the most seasoned music game player. The Chaos Shrine, however, is one of my favorite parts of the game. The Chaos Shrine allows you to face off against “dark notes.” Dark Notes make you play two songs back to back at increasing difficulties depending on the No. of the Dark Note. As you beat one Dark Note, you unlock more to face off against.
As you progress through the game, you gain Rhythmia which is almost like the game’s currency but instead of being spent, you hit milestones and unlock different things. Rhythmia can unlock everything from Dark Notes, to music/video tracks to Crystal Shards which go towards unlocking other fan favorite characters such as Yuna, Sephiroth and Ashe. You gain more Rhythmia and EXP from harder difficulty songs and even gain bonuses to Rhythmia for having the title character in your party from whatever game you’re playing a song from.
Theatrhythm Final Fantasy has the unique honor of being the first game on the 3DS to have paid DLC. While some people may complain about this, I find it completely fine since there are music games out there which put out weekly paid DLC. The cartridge offers you more than 70 songs on it to play so you have more than enough to hold you over for a while. The only real complaint with the DLC from me is that you cannot preview the songs from the in-game store. Its not hard to find the songs online to listen to but the convenience of having previews would have been nice. At only $1 per song, its a nice option to be able to add some songs to the collection already on the cartridge.
Theatrythm Final Fantasy is definitely one of the weirdest games to be released this year but it offers a lot of enjoyment. There are many hours of fun offered with this title and is definitely a must buy if you are a fan of both Final Fantasy and music games. Theatrhythm boasts both a fairly impressive track list and simple, yet addicting gameplay. The game is a much welcomed addition to my collection of Final Fantasy titles.
- Great gameplay
- RPG elements
- Huge nostalgia trip
- “The Man with the Machine Gun”
- If you are not a fan of music games, it may not be for you