Theatrhythm Final Fantasy is a rhythm game (sweet descriptive title, bro) that hits a great blend of Elite Beat Agents and Guitar Hero. It has enough of its own personality so that it can’t be overshadowed by either one of these, and hits a great balance between gameplay and totally hitting its fans right in the nostalgia cortex. That’s a thing right?
Also: “Theater-Rhythm”? “Thee-At-Rhythm”? “Thea-Trythm?” “Kupo”?
A lot of the gameplay involves standard music game fare, notes are sent your way and it’s your job to hit them at the right time for the perfect score. It does mix it up a little as you play, and the game is much better for it. Sometimes you’ll see arrows, which you have to flick in the direction they face, other times you’ll have to guide the stylus along a winding path. While these simple changes don’t make it a wholly original experience, it does add more much needed change to make this stand out as something unique.
As you complete tracks, the party you’ve chosen (consisting of 4 characters you choose from a variety of Final Fantasy games) gains experience and levels up. The characters become stronger, gaining access to abilities that allow you to score better and complete harder challenges within songs. After each song you are also rewarded with “Rythmia” which unlocks bonus content after gaining certain amounts of it. You can unlock hidden Final Fantasy tracks, movies from the games, artwork, character cards, and more.
The game is split into different sections when you play a setlist. One part involves your character moving along the map, and you play the music to get them where they’re going. Next, you play through the battle music, as your party fights off monsters from the Final Fantasy game you’re currently in. In this stage, your characters can activate their abilities they’ve gained by leveling up to help destroy the monsters. Some of the tougher enemies actually explode when you beat them after playing through a difficult portion of a song, and hearing the -SPLOOOOOOSH- (explosion noise?) of the enemy dying after completing the challenge is rewarding by itself.
I have to admit, I’ve played less than half of the games the music is based on, and I’ve never really been the biggest fan in the world of any of them. The only one I’ve ever even finished is the first one. The being said, the music doesn’t resonate with me as much as it almost certainly will with committed fans of the series. I know how much I love Zelda music, so anyone with a passion for Final Fantasy tracks is bound to fall deeply in love with this game. The whole package seems like a love letter to longtime fans on the series. Each game is represented fairly, with a good mix of tracks from each main entry in the series.
Having enjoyed Final Fantasy 9 as much as I did years ago, I really had a great time playing through those songs I remember distantly, but fondly. I can’t stress this enough, if you’re a huge Final Fantasy fan who can hum every song from every game in the series, this thing was MADE for you. Seriously, you need to lock yourself in a room with Theatrhythm right now, you’re going on a magical journey into Happyland where nostalgia roams like wild Chocobos.
Even if you have a passing admiration of the series like I do, it’s still definitely worth a try just because the music of the series is still great, no matter your familiarity level with it. And it’s a damn fine rhythm game to boot. It has plenty of features and more than enough songs to keep you occupied. As soon as you finish a setlist of 5 songs, you unlock them to be played individually in challenge mode. This is where the game surprised me the most. Just as in Rock Band and Guitar Hero, the biggest satisfaction comes from playing an incredibly difficult song, and positively nailing it. The first time I realized I could up the difficulty to have more notes at a higher speed, I played a song and it was fantastic. After playing through this second difficulty level, it immediately unlocked an even higher difficulty, and I was on Cloud nine. Yes, I failed miserably playing my first Ultimate difficulty song, but it was still great. It’s a thrill to listen to such an epic soundtrack and see the notes flying at you at Mach 5.
Theatrhythm will be considered a truly fantastic game by Final Fantasy fanatics, and just a really good one to everyone else. If you don’t have solid ties to the series (like me), you’ll feel like you’re missing out on a little of the magic. But that shouldn’t stop you from enjoying what is still a very fun game any way you look at it…or listen to it.
Image Source: Joystiq.com