Final Fantasy Theatrhythm Review

Final Fantasy Theatrhythm is the latest Final Fantasy spin-off from Square-Enix released for the 3DS. It isn’t a traditional game, and, therefore, is actually quite difficult to review. It is a standard  rhythm and action game, but its true purpose is as a 25th anniversary game for fans of the Final Fantasy series. This game is a love letter to fans pure and simple. Unlike Nintendo’s offering for Mario’s 25th anniversary (Bad, overpriced All-Stars port), Square-Enix has provided its fans with something truly unique. The game relies entirely upon nostalgia, but, for once, that is a great thing, as that’s kind of the whole point of the game. If you are a gamer and don’t know what Final Fantasy is, I’m very ashamed of you. It is the biggest JRPG franchise in the world, actually, it is probably the biggest RPG franchise in the world period. It has spanned 14 main games (2 MMOs), and countless spinoffs, some hugely successful like Final Fantasy Tactics, and some not so much like Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles. It is a series that is extremely famous for its excellent music, which makes Theatrhythm a great idea. Like all recent JRPGs, the series has been criticized this generation, especially the release of Final Fantasy XIII, which I stand by my opinion that it wasn’t that bad. The Final Fantasy series also has one of the worst fanbases in the video game industry with the majority of forum dwelling “fans” hating most of the series and being very vocal about it. Well this game is for everyone. Old fans who hate most of the series can enjoy the Final Fantasy VI and IX tracks and the rest of the fanbase can enjoy the whole thing.

Seriously, I don’t need to tell you what’s wrong with its name… right?
Theatrhythm is a basic rhythm and action game in the same vein as the Elite Beat Agents. The basic gameplay consists of hitting notes on the touchscreen as they pass by. The idea is that you hit these notes as part of the rhythm of the music that is playing. There are three kinds of notes to hit. The basic red kind simply requires a tap of the stylus. The green kind requires you to hold down on the touchscreen for a period of time, and the yellow requires you to slide the stylus in a certain direction. There isn’t much more to the gameplay other than type of stage, as well as timing and speed of the notes. There are three different types of stages. Field stages are slower paced and often feature overworld music. Battle stages are more fast-paced and upbeat and feature, surprisingly, battle music. Finally, event stages have an irregular pace and style. All of these stages are set agains familiar backdrops. You will recognize the moving world in the field stages, or the battlegrounds in the battle stages. Most impressively are the event stages that are set in front of major story events, frequently FMVs for later games. There is major nostalgia to be had from all of these, and you’d be hard pressed to not want to play a Final Fantasy game after this. 
Byblos or Behemoth? 
Like Dissidia, Theatrhythm allows you to pick from a stable of characters from the entire series except for 14, which barely counts anyway. You will be creating a party of four to play through the stages. There is one representative from each series unlocked at the very beginning and one more for each series can be unlocked while playing the game and collecting gems. A precious few games have a third representative that can be unlocked the same way as the second. With one exception, Theatrhythm’s characters are all heroes, so don’t expect to be able to rock a party of villains like in Dissidia. This is a bit of a missed opportunity, but the huge amount of characters to choose from compensates for this. While characters all have different stats and skills, there is no major advantage to using one over the other, so fill up on your favourites.
Don’t worry. You don’t have to play as Vaan.
Each of your characters has four parameters: Strength, Magic, Agility, and Luck. The first two will help you kill more enemies in battle stages and the second two will help you go further and get more treasure in field stages. These can be improved by leveling up or equipping certain skills. Your characters will acquire skills by leveling up. Some skills are unique like Squall’s Lionheart and some are shared between multiple characters. These skills will cause a variety of effects from damaging the enemy to healing your party. You will also obtain one-use items from defeating enemies that can be used to power up your characters in battle. The RPG elements are rather circular. You want better items and skills so you can get better items and skills. In the end, save for the healing abilities, none of them really help you through the stages, they just give you better rewards for clearing them. Also the best ranks can only be achieved if you don’t equip any skills or items.
You get this for free with the game. I’m rocking Lightning.
*PS. Guess where I got this image
Of course in any rhythm and action game the star of the show is the music and that is especially true in this game. The Final Fantasy series has incredible music and it is brought centre stage for this game. This isn’t Dissida with its multitude of remastered tracks. This game keeps the original sound of all of its music. You won’t be getting the beautiful orchestral One Winged Angel track. You will be getting the dirty, off-beat midi version and that is a major selling point. This game is a celebration of the history of the series and it doesn’t pretty up the tracks. Some fans may have wanted totally remastered tracks, but this fits the purpose of the game far better. This game was also the first time I had seen Final Fantasy II and III’s non-remastered graphics, so that is a plus right there.
Zell’s face tats fully endorse this decision
To start off, there are three tracks per game. One field, event and battle. There are several unlockable tracks, but not many. For the most part, only the best of the best were picked, but there is the occasional weird choice. The problem celebrating a series that is known for its amazing music is that each game has enough content for three Theatrhythm games. Because of this there is bound to be some disappointment. Fortunately (Or not depending on your stance on the matter) there are more songs available as DLC. Unlike most games, this isn’t a choice. I don’t “want” Zeromus’ battle theme or Cosmo Canyon’s theme. I “need” them. Eight new songs are available now for .99 cents each, which is a little high, but not outrageous. Because I’m such a shill and you should see the gameplay in action, here is the DLC trailer.
The art-style is extremely cute. It has been criticized for being too much so, but it fits the light nature of the game nicely, and provides a unified vision for the game. There is a huge amount of series representation in this game. You will see familiar faces like Ifrit and Shiva and less familiar faces like Final Fantasy III’s Hein. The game does a good job of taking enemies from all across the series, making them cute and putting them seamlessly into the game. Half of the fun is recognizing enemies as you dispatch them. Killing off Seymour or Kefka is just as fun when you are doing it through song. 
If you can’t name at least five, you sicken me.
The game has several modes to play in. There is series mode which lets you pick a game in the series and play through each set of songs. There is challenge mode, which lets you pick an individual song to play, and lets you pick harder difficulties so you can unlock harder difficulties in series mode. Finally, there is the randomly generated Chaos Shrine, which puts you up against two higher level songs and is the primary area for unlocking new characters. The major downside to the game is that there simply isn’t a huge amount of content, which explains why this review is going up so soon. There is plenty of collectables to unlock and higher difficulties, which are very challenging, but once you clear series mode, you’ve played almost all the songs in the game. Fortunately, you will definitely want to play them again and there is a rudimentary highscore system in place. 
Bartz, I’m afraid you are likely to break that Chocobo’s back if you ride it.
Overall, Final Fantasy Theatrhythm, no matter how stupid its name is, is a great game for fans. It will not appeal to any other demographic, but it is a perfect 25th anniversary package and will remind any fan of why they love or used to love the series. There isn’t a huge amount of content here, but any fan will definitely want to play through the songs many, many times. 

Fun, addictive gameplay
Nostalgia pouring out of every pixel
Great representation from the entire series
Amazing 25th anniversary game for fans


Note enough content 
Ancillary RPG mechanics
First day DLC
Will only appeal to Final Fantasy fans


Mistranslations for the Modern Gamer

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