Written by Twisted Ideas
Good old Square-Enix milking one of their franchises again. Theatrhythm isn’t a spin-off or squeal to a series nobody wanted; it’s their charming and addicting rhythm game for the 3DS. Curtain Call more than doubles the track list of the original but is this simply a cash grab or is there enough to revisit this game again?
Theaterhythm Final Fantasy Curtain Call
Developer: indieszero Co., Ltd
What is it?
Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call is a tap based rhythm game for the 3DS. It takes iconic songs from the entire Final Fantasy franchise. It has you play through 2-3 minute chunks, tapping, holding and swiping through the songs to pass.
Cue victory music.
You can choose a party of four characters who appear in the stages. The have their own stats and abilities that help improve the rewards earned during the stages. You party leader’s HP will drop if you miss notes. If it reaches zero, you fail the stages. Using abilities and items, you can heal HP.
There are three song types:
Field Music Stage has one track and your characters will be traveling across the field to find treasure. The track is straight but hold triggers require to follow the track with the analog or stylus to maintain the combo.
Event Music Stage has a FMV playing in the background during the song. Instead of notes moving towards the trigger, the trigger moves along the track over notes. The trigger zone moves on a fixed path but can change speeds and move wildly.
With the power of teamwork, we can defeat this giant cactus man with a curly mustache… Um, where are we?
Battle Music Stage has your party fight against several monsters who have a chance to drop treasures. Depending on your abilities they can perform additional attacks or effects based off of performance. Each member has their own track so you have to be aware where the triggers are coming from.
Disregarding DLC, out of the box there are 221 songs. There are more than double the songs than the original and still more if you added all 52 DLC songs. There are 60 playable characters total. They have added button controls to the game. You can play the game with just the buttons, a combination of the stylus and buttons or even one-handed with the analog and L button.
Curtain call uses several songs from most games of the series. They have included spin-off titles like FF Tactics even obscure ones like FF Mystic Quest and Type-0. There are also a few songs from the movie Advent Children.
The Chaos Maps have been re-purposed to Medley Quests. Medley Quests are randomly generated collections of stages where you have to play to defeat the bosses. The songs scale to your party’s level and it’s the best place to earn Crystal Shards to unlock new characters. You can find more Medley Quests from Street Passes as well.
Get on Cloud’s level, CEILING LEVEL!
Versus mode where you can play against the AI or players locally and online. Player choose one of the Battle Music Stages and fight for the most experience (points). Successful triggers eventually triggers the EX Burst which alters the opponent’s track, distracting them. If a player’s HP hits zero they will lose a large amount of experience.
How does it look?
The visual style hasn’t changed from the original. Characters and enemies are chibi versions of themselves. The backgrounds are redesigned versions from iconic locals from the games. This game looks fantastic on the 3DS XL, especially Event Music Stages videos.
How does it sound?
Curtain Call has a much bigger selection of songs so they don’t feel as cherry picked like it was in the first. The soundtrack is great using the original versions of the songs when they appeared. Expect 8 and 16 bit versions of songs again.
The one song that threw me off was 1000 Words from FF X-2. I like the song a lot but I’ve only heard the English version. The game uses the Japanese audio and for the song. It was jarring to play. I know there are people who don’t like dubs at all but for me, that isn’t the 1000 Words I know.
What do I think?
Curtain Call is essentially the same game with new bells and whistles but it’s been keeping my interest more than the original. I was surprised by the soundtrack because they dug deep. They deviated from the main series of games and had the weird spin-offs like Mystic Quest on the SNES, Crytstal Chronicles on the Gamecube and some titles I haven’t even heard of. I did not expect them to acknowledge some of these games and to a degree has revitalized my interest in the older FF catalog again.
221 songs is staggering; playing them even once is an undertaking. The Basic and Expert difficulties are relaxing and good for playing casually, enjoying the music. The Ultimate difficulty is quite challenging and when playing in multiplayer with EX Bursts distracting you they can be a nightmare.
Early on, the game rewards you frequently with new characters, cards, but most importantly the songs. The first Theatrhythm, I doubt I’ve unlocked all the songs and definitely didn’t unlock even a quarter of the characters but I’ve run out of new songs. Curtain Call starts you off with a few songs bases off the series the party members are from but after a few most become unlocked. Characters require several crystal shards to unlock but the first wave only requires a single shard that comes through regular play. It’s a good feeling seeing your progress in meaningful ways. It motivates you to keep playing and it will be a long while before you reach the point where it would become a grind.
There’s a lack of Event Music Stages. They’re my least favorite mode but they’re entertaining. I was expecting all of the previous EMS songs to return but I guess they haven’t.
The gameplay change I appreciate most is that you don’t have to remove all abilities to earn the SS and SSS rankings. In the original you would get a bonus 2, 000, 000 points if you had no abilities equipped. It was intended to reward players for making songs more challenging but it was an unnecessary hassle. This wasn’t immediately clear. You’re encouraged to use abilities because the party keeps learning more that help for getting items and rewards. It also trivialized the score for people who played a song with an ability because they were automatically penalized for nothing.
Versus mode is probably the sole feature (besides the soundtrack) to justify the new game. It’s addicting and frustrating when EX Burst puts you in bad situations. It does make for close and interesting games for people on different skill levels, especially if you play locally. There is also a feature where you can play songs without the EX Burst interfering so you can show off your rhythm game prowess.
The biggest thing that bothered me is the Remix CD that came as the pre-order bonus. It’s a soundtrack with 5 songs… that’s less than 13 minutes long… You would think that they could have hit random and came up with a Remix CD with more than 5 songs. I’ve gotten unimpressive music CDs from games before but none of them were games specifically about music. Not that I paid extra for this but it wasn’t what I expected. The limited edition does have a second CD with 20 songs, which I wish I got.
I do have song requests though..
Final Fantasy Unlimited was a pretty mediocre anime but those ending themes are really catchy and more memorable than the anime itself.
Should you get it?
Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call is intended to be the definitive version. It maintains its comical upbeat charm and with a huge soundtrack that takes good honest effort to get through even once. For players who have bought the original Theatrhythm there is enough here to justify the asking price. It’s less expensive then buying all the DLC from the original plus it would add 60-70 more songs so I doesn’t feel like a cash grab . The local and online multiplayer is appealing and great when you can get friends together and play. Also the game still provides a decent challenge for rhythm game enthusiasts. Again, if you’re a fan of rhythm game and a fan of Final Fantasy music then you’ll get even more of that here.