Publisher: Square Enix
Release Dates: July 3rd, 2012 (3DS), December 13th, 2012 (Mobile)
Available on: Nintendo 3DS, Mobile
Reviewer’s note: I played the 3DS version of this game. There may be differences between versions.
You know, it’s honestly surprised me that it took this long for Final Fantasy to get a rhythm game. The games are well known for their music and there’s really a ton of good tunes among them. So finally they come up with a rhythm game to go along with them, and it’s actually pretty fun.
The story in Theatrhythm is pretty much non-existent. All they really say is that Cosmos and Chaos (The two gods from Dissidia: Final Fantasy) are fighting each other again. Apparently there’s some space know as Rhythm and they need an energy known as “Rhythmia” to control it, so they call on their heroes (The heroes and villains of the FF series) to get this. That’s about as far as the plot goes, so you don’t need to worry about this being a plot heavy Final Fantasy.
Theatrhythm comes loaded with 77 songs from the original Final Fantasy, up to 13. Each game is guaranteed to have 5 songs, with a few having a couple more. There’s also an extra 52 songs available to download at 99 cents a pop, so there’s a good chance that your favorite is included somewhere among the bunch. Theatrhythm isn’t just a rhythm game but also combines some RPG elements into it. You’ll make a party of Final Fantasy characters, each of whom have stats that effect some gameplay elements. The game is broken into four different styles of play, each of which use different musics. The simplest is the intro/outro musics. Each set for the games starts with that game’s introduction song, and ends with it’s credit song. For this mode all you have to do is tap the screen when a note reaches the crystal in the middle. It’s extremely easy and is pretty mindless. It’s also completely optional, but skipping it would mean turning down a good chunk of Rhythmia, which you need to unlock things.
The real game starts when you get to one of the three main modes. The first is called Field Mode. In this one you listen to one of the world map or traveling songs from the game while the character you play advances down a field. You simply need to tap, swipe, and drag your cursor along with the beat. While the game starts out easy you can unlock more difficult versions of each song which can be pretty challenging. The goal of each Field Mode is to try and reach the end of the field before the song ends. Your character’s agility and your ability to hit notes is going to be the deciding factor as to if you can do this. Mess up and your character will trip, wasting time. There’s also a chance you can run into a moogle and get items, though none of the items are really useful. If you don’t manage to get to the end before the time runs out you don’t have to worry about it. You move on anyway, and it’s not likely you’ll manage to get to the end very often at the start of the game. It does, though, confirm my biggest problem with the game: The RPG elements are useless. I’ll go over the RPG elements more later though.
The second mode is Battle Mode. Here you’ll listen to a battle or boss song from the games while your party fights monsters. Every time you hit a note your party attacks the monsters, doing damage. If you defeat the monster a new one will take it’s place and you keep going until the song ends. There’s a chance that you’ll run into a boss monster and killing one of these will net you an item, but if you don’t it’s okay. On the other hand, if you do good enough you can summon a summoning from the series that will kill whatever monster you’re currently fighting. This mode was my personal favorite, but that’s more because I’ve taken a liken to the battle themes in the FF games.
The final mode is Event Mode. Here they play a song that was probably used in a cut scene or dramatic event. In this mode you follow the on-screen prompts while a movie plays in the background. The movie usually just sums up all the important events in whichever game you’re on. This mode doesn’t really require any part of the RPG background fluff, so you’re free to enjoy it without thinking about that. It’s tough to actually watch the background movie over the notes, but if you’re really that interested you can unlock and watch the movies later.
Now, the RPG stuff. Like a traditional FF game you can create a party of four for use in Field and Battle modes. Each character has different stats that will have a small effect on the background stuff. You can level them up with XP you get after the battle and equip a single item that the character’s share which can have some effect on them. You can also assign abilities to the characters and they get new ones with leveling up. For example, you can give Lighting the fire ability which will cause her to deal extra damage to an enemy if you hit a specific amount of notes in a row. But if you want the highest scores you need to unequip all items and abilities and just ignore the RPG element, because then you get a 2,000,000 point bonus, something that is needed to get the best grades. This really just makes the whole RPG thing feel tacked on and it’s really just best to ignore it.
Once you complete the main game you can replay the five song set list for each FF game on a harder difficulty. You also unlock Dark Notes, which stick a random Field and Battle song onto a note and you have to try and clear it. You can get some special rewards for doing so and if you get a combo you like then you can send that Dark Note to a friend with the 3DS’s street pass. You can also play in a co-op multiplayer mode with up to 4 people where each person gets their own line on the Battle Mode. Sadly you can only play this mode locally, so you’d have to have friends with the game as well.
Theathrhythm: Final Fantasy is a surprisingly fun rhythm game. While it sucks that the RPG elements are so behind the scenes that they can be ignore completely, I do like what the game tried and tapping along to my favorite Final Fantasy tunes is a lot of fun. If you like the music of Final Fantasy then this one is for you.