The Final Fantasy series has always been famous for many things, from the characters and stories to their gameplay and music. This last aspect has been considered one of the most important during its history. Most of them were created by legendary-composer Nobuo Uematsu who created many songs who are now thought to be hymns of gaming by many fans worldwide.
If you’re one of those players who simply loves the music in Final Fantasy games (like me), then Theatrhythm is definitely the game for you. Basically, it’s a rhythm game for Final Fantasy music with a little touch of craziness unique to the series here and there, like boss battles, RPG elements and item equipping. But with that said, it must be noted that though TFF is an excellent game, its contents will be appreciated mostly by people who played the main series and know its most iconic songs. If you have never cared about FF but enjoy musical games, you’ll probably find this game boring and uninteresting.
But that’s definitely not the game’s fault because what it tries to do is to please fans of the main series with a solid rhythm game with great gameplay and it manages that perfectly. Whether a player likes or not the Final Fantasy music is entirely up to them.
The game can be played in three modes; Series is a single-player mode which covers three specific songs from each Final Fantasy game from FFI to FFXIII without spin-offs like Tactics or sequels like FFX-2. Challenge is another single-player mode that allows you to play any song you’ve unlocked, including extras and DLC in any difficulty and aim to level-up or beat a high-score and the last mode is Chaos Shrine where the game will form random-generated “Dark Notes” with two songs each where players can unlock items and level-up in both single-player and local cooperative play for up to four people.
For each stage, you’ll need a party of four characters of your choice. At first only the main protagonists of each game are available, like Cloud, Cecil or Lightning but as you play, you’ll be able to unlock other iconic characters like Seifer, Vivi and even Sephiroth himself. Each character has a stat for Strength, Magic, Agility and Luck and each stat is useful for a specific thing. Strength and Magic are for killing enemies and bosses in Battle Music while Agility and Luck will determine how much distance you’ll travel in Field Music and how many items you’ll find in the way.
This brings me to the game’s song types which can be played in three ways: Field Music, Battle Music and Event Music. Field Music consists of songs for specific locations like world maps, towns and dungeons. Songs like Giza Plains from FFXII or the Main Theme from FFVII can be found here. Battle Music includes fight themes and songs from boss battles like FFVII’s One-Winged Angel or Seymour Battle from FFX while Event Music covers other iconic songs for specific and climatic chapters of each game like Theme of Love from FFIV or Waltz of the Moon from FFVIII.
Graphically, the game is very pretty. Each character is represented by a “chibi” version of themselves which look very cute, even the serious guys like Squall or Lightning look absolutely adorable in Theatrhythm. Enemies are also very cartoony but easily recognizable if you’ve played the games they come from and the environments are simple but very pretty. Square-Enix takes a lot of advantages of the 3D power in the portable console. When turned on, the 3D effects are very good and it’s possible to see how the characters, enemies and notes you’re supposed to touch seem like they’re outside the screen. It’s very impressive.
Gameplay-wise, each song, whether it’s a Field, Battle or Event music will consist of a set number of notes of different types and with different variety and speed depending on the difficulty and the song itself. The notes come in three kinds, Touch Triggers require you to tap anywhere in the touch-screen at the exact moment a red dot touches a certain part of the top screen. Slide Triggers are similar, but instead of simply tapping the touch-screen, you’re required to slide it with the stylus in a set direction given by a yellow dot in the top screen and finally, Hold Triggers make you hold the stylus in the touch screen while a green line crosses a part of the top screen.
When you finish any song of any type, you’ll get some points called “Rhythmia”, the more you have of this, the more stuff you’ll be unlocking. You can get songs for a music player, movies for each game in the series, items and even crystal shards to unlock the secret characters. You can also equip characters with items like Potions, Phoenix Downs and other things to use in the songs and abilities to kill monsters and run in the Field Music stages. For example, you can equip Shantotto with Firaga and Blizzara to deal massive damage to bosses while Bartz has abilities like Dash and Luck-Up to run faster and find more treasure in the fields. The key to success in the game is to know what to equip to the characters to get the most of a single run of a song or Dark Nota in Chaos Shrine.
Musically… well, this is a rhythm game based on Final Fantasy music so there’s very little that could have gone wrong with Theatrhythm and in fact, nothing did. Square-Enix did a great job in choosing the very best songs from each game in the main series. The game feels like a gift to the fans. If by some reason your favorite is not in, you’ll probably be able to find it as DLC available in Nintendo’s e-Shop for one dollar each. It’s a little expensive considering that there are already about thirty songs but there are many great choices besides the incredible playlist in the game itself.
For closing comments, I can say this is definitely one of the best games in the 3DS right now. It doesn’t have cutting-edge graphics, a deep story of its own or lightning-fast gameplay but it fulfills its mission in an insuperable way, being a game that works as a tribute to the music in the Final Fantasy franchise. The modes are all very fun to play, both alone and with friends with you. There are tons of things to do like level-up, get perfect-scores and unlock hidden items and characters. And even if you only have fifteen minutes to play something, Theatrhythm will be perfect for it. But I repeat. This game, though excellent, will be enjoyed mostly by fans of the series and people who recognize the songs and the games in the main series.
- Excellent tribute to the Final Fantasy franchise.
- It has the majority of the best and most iconic songs in the series.
- Many modes and songs to enjoy.
- Fast and easy-to-get-into gameplay mechanics.
- Vast number of characters and items to equip.
- Graphics and 3D effects are very pretty.
- Cute art-style for the famous characters.
- DLC songs are too expensive at $1 each.
- Sometimes it’s a little annoying to get the crystal shard you want due to the random nature of the Dark Notes.
- Graphics and Visuals………...8
- Music and Sound Effects….....10
- Replay Value………………...10
- Overall Score……………….. 9 / 10