Written by Twisted Ideas
The Final Fantasy series has been making enemies of their fans. Whether it be its main games failing to deliver on what fans want or the numerous spin offs that are ignored, fans are becoming tired of waiting for something good from the franchise. While I don’t totally agree with the vocal fans Theatrhythm Final Fantasy has caught my attention. It combines my love of Final Fantasy music and rhythm games. Is this mishmash a good thing on another product waiting to be ignored?
Before Dance Dance Revolution and Guitar Hero with their peripheral controllers changed how rhythm games are viewed today, quirky rhythm games ruled. Guitaroo Man, Space Channel 5 and Parappa the Rappa were bizarre looking games with extremely catchy music and addictive controls. Theatrhythm Final Fantasy is most similar to the semi-recent Elite Beat Agents on the DS but without the licensed music.
Theatrhythm is completely controlled via touch screen. You follow prompts on the top screen to tap, slide and hold triggers on the bottom touch screen. Tap triggers just require a tap, slide triggers have you swipe the stylus in the direction given and hold triggers have to be held and released for the duration of the note. The more accurately you hit a trigger the more points you receive ranging from Miss to Critical. Getting Bad or Misses on a trigger lowers your main character’s HP. If your HP drops to zero then you have failed the song. You are rated F-SSS at the end of each song. Completing songs with an A rank or higher unlocks Expert and then Ultimate difficulty for that song. You can only receive SS and SSS ranks if your party does not have any items or abilities equipped (More on that later).
Songs come in three types: Event, Field and Battle Music Stages and the triggers behave differently on each of them. Event stages have a video representing the game in the background and triggers move in patterns to try to trick and distract you. Field stage have your party running to reach the end of the field to earn items and will trip when triggers are missed. Hold triggers require you to drag the stylus up and down to follow the track to keep you combo. Battle stages have your four party members fighting monsters for the duration of the song and triggers will move towards the four party members.
There are three main game modes: Challenge, Series and Chaos Shrine. Challenge lets you play songs individually. Series plays all the songs of a respective game plus a bonus opening and ending theme. Chaos Shrine are sets randomly generated songs that scale to your party’s levels.
Before you begin you have to assemble a party of four. When a song is completed you gain experience used to level up. Your stats will be raised and you may earn new abilities that can make songs on higher difficulties and earning items easier. Abilities and items are triggered when certain conditions are met during a song. Abilities can be passive, offensive, or supportive with offensive abilities alloted multiple castings during a song. Items can only be used once a song for as many songs as you still have stock.
When you complete a song you will earn Rhythmia based on certain conditions. Every 500 Rhythmia unlocks bonuses such as songs and videos in the bonus sections, new songs and shards which are used to unlock new characters.
Graphics and Sound
Theatrhythm Final Fantasy uses a chibi cartoony style as its visual ascetic. Main characters have small bodies with proportionally large heads with large eyes and rosy cheeks. Most enemies don’t look too different from they original counter parts but some are made to look silly. The colors are bright and vivid and there is a fair amount of detail in most of the character models.
The advantage that the 3DS has over the DS is the sound quality. The sound is very clear and sharp and the triggers are synced nicely with the music. The game takes three songs from Final Fantasy 1-13 plus bonus songs that are unlocked and from DLC. Most songs are some of the best song from the games. The older games use their original music and not any updated versions of the songs.
There isn’t much that I dislike about Theatrhythm. The music is in sync and it doesn’t have the problem Elite Beat Agents has where your hand obscure your view of the screen when trying to hit the notes. One of the few things that I have to complain about is that while the triggers are in sync with the beat of the song you may not know or even hear which beat they are following causing misses.
It is difficult to innovate with rhythm games but the Chaos Shrine with randomly generated songs does keep things fresh. You can also give songs via Street Pass which would be nice if the 3DS was more popular and if I knew people with the game.
Regardless of your feelings on the series, Theatrhythm Final Fantasy is a great rhythm game for the handheld. There are a several songs, DLC music, tons of unlockables and great music. You are rewarded frequently making you want to play more to get that next reward. The game is simple to learn and can be very challenging on higher difficulties. For anyone who owns a 3DS and is looking for something new to play one it you should consider Theatrhythm Final Fantasy.