Well, I know I’m late on the ball, but I feel like I can finally give a solid review of Theatrhythm Final Fantasy. The game came out last month, but I honestly needed a month to play it. Then when I was going to write this originally, I got sucked into the game and forgot about wanting to review it. So besides this being horribly delayed, let’s get this review going.
If you haven’t heard about Theatrhythm, then let me give you a quick explanation. Take the plot line of Dissida, but place it in a world of chibis and music. And that’s about it for plot. Now how the game works. There are three notes you need to be aware of when playing the game: tap notes, slash notes, and hold notes. Tap notes are red, and all you have to do is tap on the screen to play the note. Slash notes are yellow, and you must slash across the screen the direction the note is showing. Charge notes are green, and to play them you tap and hold at the beginning of the note then release when the note finishes. Also some charges will end with a slash, so you need to keep an out for this trick. The only way to fail a stage is if your HP runs out. You loose HP by missing notes, but there are ways to gain HP back that will be explained in the character section of this review. Also in the stages are event charts and bonus charts. I will explain these when I talk about the different types of gameplay.
The game give you about 5 Songs for Final Fantasy 1-13, and unfortunately there are no charts for the Tactics games. The songs are divided into 4 categories: Open and Closing themes, Field Music, Event Music, and Battle Music. The opening and closing themes just require you to tap out the beat of the themes used for the opening and closing of the game. This is a mini even that you can skip out on, but if you complete these you get bonus Rhythmia, the currency that tracks your progress. For every 500 Rhythmia you gain, you unlock something such as shards that will unlock characters to videos and music you can listen to in the museum.
The field music charts are usually soft and light music, and they are also usually the world themes for the games. There is only one chart, and you must tap along to the beat. The charge notes will make you slide your stylist up and down the screen according to what is going on the top screen. The Event chart for this stage turns silver, like most of the event charts, if you hit enough of the notes correctly then you unlock the bonus chart. This chart turns you into a Chocobo. This will give you extra points that you wouldn’t access if you failed the event chart. The field stages also have Moogles and random characters will appear if one of your party members has a good luck stat. Overall the field stages are fun, and they can get challenging once you unlock the Ultima charts for them.
The Event Music Charts are perhaps the oddest charts in the game, and also the timing for the notes is also odd. The track is laid out where your timing circle will move along a predetermined track. All you have to do is tap out the notes that the circle comes across. Also the background of the chart is a montage of key moments from the game the music is from. It sounds easy, but depending on the difficulty that you are on, the speed will increase in some areas. For example, one of my favorite Event scores in the game is the theme of the rebels from Final Fantasy 2 on the NES. There is a section in the song in which the speed jumps for a good 5 notes, and then the speed drops back to its normal bpm. The event section of the song will determine if you get the extended ending. The extended ending is for bonus points as well as seeing the ending of the video.
The last music chart in the game is the Battle Music. This stage will feature the 4 heroes that you’ve chosen for your party battling various monsters. The track is split up into four sections, one for each hero. Once again, you just need to tap out the notes that come along the track. Also you don’t need to worry about the position of your stylist. To me, the Battle stages are the hardest tracks in the game once you unlock the ultima charts for the songs. These charts will follow the beat and melody of the song very accurately, and there are times when you will have a section of red notes mixed with yellow slashes. Not to mention the charge notes will very from short to long, with areas that have charged notes stringed together. The event chart of the battle songs will determine if you can cast summon. If you are successful in hitting the notes in the event chart, the summon will occur. You then play out the bonus chart for extra points, and when the chart is finished the summon will attack. This will automatically kill the enemy that you are facing. As you are paying, your characters are doing damage to the enemies they face, and you will fight multiple enemies. The more you kill, the more experience you get.
And yes that is right there is experience in the game. I know; it surprised me too. When you first start the game, you have access to 13 characters. These are the main characters from the games. What you do is that you select 4 to take with you to the stages. This will form your party. Each character has 4 different stats that you can increase: Strength, Magic, Agility, and Luck. Strength and Magic are more focused on the Battle Music stages while Luck and Agility are focused on both the Event and Field music stages. Each character will have a letter associated with these stats. So if you want a group that will beat a lot of monsters in the battle stages, then you chose characters who all have high Str and Mag. The character possibilities are endless. Also for beating stages you will gain experience that will help level your characters up. By leveling up you will increase stats, HP and you will learn abilities. These abilities will effect how your character is in certain situations. There are abilities that will teach your character magic, increase a said skill by a few points, and even give your team an edge when you need it the most. Also for beating stages you may get items to give you an added effect. But once an item is used it is gone till you can get another one. Now for the most part if you do really well on a chart the best you can get is an S rank. However, to be able to get higher than an S rank, you need to turn off your abilities and items. This will give you a “Stotic Bonus” This is the only way to get high scores on the charts.
Now all that is left to explain are the 3 game modes you can chose from: Series Mode, Challenge Mode, and Chaos Shrine mode. The Series mode is the first mode you can play next to chaos shrine. In Series mode, you select a Final Fantasy game to play. You then will play that game’s charts. The charts are always on the beginner charts, but you can unlock two other difficulties. Once you have completed the game’s charts, you will then unlock that game to play in challenge mode.
Challenge mode is the mode for score fanatics. This is the mode that if you love showing your friends up, you will play the charts again and again and again. Here you will find the chart’s expert mode. If you get an A or higher on the song, then you will unlock the Ultima chart. Once you have completed all of the Expert or Ultima Charts, then the Expert and Ultima charts will be unlocked for series mode. Also in challenge mode you can play the songs that you have unlocked from the Rhythmia you have collected as well as the song purchased as DLC. Yes, this is the first 3DS game to feature DLC, and if you are a Final Fantasy Fan, then some of the DLC songs you will have to download.
Chaos Shrine Mode has both a Multiplayer and a single player. Unfortunately in the month I’ve played the game, I never had a friend who also owned the game. Here you will play two songs, a Field Music Stage and a battle music stage. For the most part, the songs will be charts that you have never played. This mode is used to rack up exp as well as gain crystals to unlock new characters.
As both a rhythm game fan and as a Final Fantasy fan, this game is fantastic. The music brought back memories of playing the games for the first time, and it felt like I was re-experiencing the series all over again. The pure challenge that you get from the Ultima charts satisfies my craving for a challenging rhythm game, and it’s fun fighting to complete charts that I seem to fail. I would recommend this game to anyone, even if you are not a Final Fantasy fan. Sure, you might not get the full grandeur of the game, but the amount you can do in it makes up for.
This game gets 4 out of 5 Gunblades.