Celebrating the 25 years Final Fantasy as a series has been active, they thought to release something a little special and that is Theatrhythm which is a Music/Rhythm game (kind of like Elite Beat Agents/Ouendan). It was also a pretty big nod to Nobuo Uematsu who created such memorable and beautiful compositions for the series (minus 13).
Yeah, do you remember DISSIDIA? Well take that story…water it down and try to make sense with it with music (the points you get are called “Rhythmia”). Also when you get to 10000 of these points you get to fight Chaos and that’s pretty much it…nothing in between to really tide it over til you get there…bone-dry on the story.
The main gist of the game for being a Rhythm game is quite self-explanatory, meaning that keep the rhythm and do what the game tells you to do like tapping, sliding, and directional swipes. Point of the game is to complete the stages! Yeah, easy right…well let’s talk about what’s up.
There’s 5 songs to represent all 13 of the core games of the series! So most of the time you’re going through Series mode at first completing this task at hand. There’s four styles of gameplay which I will talk about
- DMS (Demo Music Stage) – Let’s just get this one out of the way, this is the MOST BORING of the stages. Basically you’re supposed to tap the crystal in the middle of the screen matching with the notes that swirl around said crystal. You can’t lose here and you can also skip these stages. The bad thing is that we see this kind of stage twice in all 13 games which is even more pointless and shoots down the game by a good margin.
- BMS (Battle Music Stage) – As the most difficult of the four (personally), BMS are structured like the classic FF battle scenes with the enemy on the right and the characters on the left (of which you can have four characters out at once). They all each get a line and with the music you have to keep up with it since it’s moving from the left to the right lol. Of course when you have abilities on said characters you get extra things happening. In this case Summons take over and get one line and yeah easy xD. On the flipside of that coin if you don’t have abilities on you get a nice Stoic bonus (which I’ll get to later in the review).
- FMS (Field Music Stage) – The next one seen the most is the FMS which n the outside looks like all you’re doing is waling the landscapes of the various FF games (and there’s some unique ones for certain tracks not in the main core games). Here there’s one singular line that moves a bit faster than BMS but the new trick here is that when you have holding line, you can move it up and down to follow the line which is the trick of these stages. Just like the BMS, you have feature drives to kind of worm you’re way…though it’s only transforming your character into a Chocobo for a period of time. Once again no abilities = Stoic bonus.
- EMS (Event Music Stage) – The last and least seen stages, the EMS is only seen once in each FF category so it’s bit of a bummer because this is the closest to Elite Beat Agents you will get. Basically there’s a mark that follows a path and you have to input the right marks and such. In the background though is various memorable scenes of the games (though some are odd which I’ll talk about as well). Once again feature drives are present and completing those correctly will garner you an extended ending of the EMS and like the previous two, Stoic bonus is here.
Initially you start out with nothing basically except Series mode and you’ll eventually start to unlock things here and there.
Now there’s another aspect to the game and that’s the RPG-ish outlook to the game. Now you choose 4 characters to start out with (from the 13 games there’s at least one from the get-go so your favorite mains are present!). So if you want Cloud, Squall, Bartz, and Lightning together then DO IT! Now they all (and the hidden characters) have different abilities and stats which is no surprise and you have to level them up to get the better ones (which to be honest is useful in Chaos Shrine, which I’ll explain later as well). Sadly with all of the RPG elements at hand, they really didn’t seem to impact the game heavily (if not made it easier for the most part). Though I can’t say much because people who probably suck at rhythm games would probably depend on it a ton more than someone (like me) who’s really damn good at them. Though there’s items too so you can get behind that too for the beginners! Plus it’s REALLY easy to level your party up (as of this writing 12/13 of the main characters are at Lvl. 99.
As for the stages, I did feel like tacking on the Opening/Ending DMSs was a lazy addition because you seriously had nothing to do except collect Rhythmia. No idea why they did that to be honest (especially since a good portion of the opening DMSs were variances on the “Crystal Theme”. I didn’t have many problems with BMS and FMS as they were actually pretty good choices. EMS stages weren’t bad either, but with the early FFs…why is it Japanese text? I mean for the American fans this is kind of absurd that they didn’t at least edit this area out and slightly breaks the nostalgic feel about said early games.
Graphics / Sound
Graphics: Even though this is no core FF game and we aren’t getting that sexy look that most of the recent ones have had, Theatrhythm goes into a more cutesy look. I mean the characters are all drawn in this chibi-style art and almost kind of reminds me of LBP but a little less fluffy! Everything is quite simplified and the enemies too have that chibi-look. Menus are neat and easy to work with and even though the 3D is kind of pointless in this game it does work and watching some of the EMS of the later games looks surprisingly good! I also loved the touches they did to fit the games through the various stages throughout…Not bad!
Sound: Well this is a music game…so the sound is the most important thing here. The sound is really good though full taking the songs from their original forms and just sounds all kinds of good. Of course the 13 games there are 5 tracks each in Series mode (though the DMS stages can NOT be played in Challenge mode).
Of course the selection of songs is amazing though with 65 initial tracks (and 12 that has to be unlocked with Rhythmia). It’s a pretty big number and there was so much to choose from too! There were a couple of odd things like some tracks (One-Winged Angel and Dancing Mad) where it’s not played in its entirety (but makes sense as they are LOOOONG songs). Still it’s definitely an impressive amount of songs!
There’s a lot to go through so I’ll list it!
- Challenge Mode – So after you get through all of Series Mode you unlock this and this is where most of the game from here on out will probably be at. You can practice or tackle the songs singularly and of course songs that aren’t in Series mode are found here. DMS songs aren’t for obvious reasons. Of course when you get a good grade, you unlock harder versions of the songs and of course when you get to Ultimate and make SSS grade (that’s when you know you’re AMAZING). So far I haven’t been able to do that with all of them but will do in time xD.
- Defeat Chaos – Completing the story will need 10000 Rhythmia and he’s not difficult, but it does end the story here. You do unlock “Dancing Mad” from defeating him but that’s it.
- Get through the Chaos Shrine – The Chaos Shrine is how can I explain it…kind of like a series of 99 challenges to tackle and it depends on the average of the 4 characters in your party. If everyone is a Lvl 1, it’s super easy…Lvl 99 is a total bitch because they throw in something unexpected which is spinning directional slides which if you don’t know where it is at the left of the screen, you’re screwed XD. I haven’t defeated this yet, but damn 99 stages that consists of one BMS and FMS. It does get repetitive because it just uses a couple of the songs and not a totally random fest.
- Unlock Characters/Songs etc. – So there are unlockables in this game and some of them have odd ways to be unlocked. Characters are unlocked by collecting 8 shards of a specific kind. Sadly most of them can be found easily be farming in the Chaos Shrine, sometimes Rhythmia gives you one for passing a milestone (which late in the game happens every 500). Songs are unlocked through passing milestones and there’s 12 of them! The other unlockables include cards (which give information but otherwise meh, items to use in battle, characters for your StreetPass cards and the ability to listen to the songs without playing the game (only for the in-game songs).
I was shocked, but there are 52 other songs available as DLC…however they are only available through Challenge mode, extending the game so much more. Though they are only EMS and BMS tracks, that’s OK since they were the more difficult kind of stages. Great addition. Though I’m slightly bitter at the fact that the iOS version has so many exclusive tracks that I wished Nintendo had put those on here too…>.<
I have to say that this game is a must-have for music-buffs (who are or not into Final Fantasy) it’s just a collage of such great songs throughout Final Fantasy’s history that it’s hard not to admire such an anniversary present. Even Uematsu was overtaken of this project…it was just such a nice thank you present not to only the fans but to the musicians. The presentation was really nice and easy to go through and the gameplay is simple and fun to go through (though it could wear the screen out if you’re that person that shoves his stylus against the screen like that. The content was definitely amazing and the giant DLC bonus makes it even better but it brings up the biggest complaint from me…..
Where are the other games? I shouldn’t complain but considering the series has 25 years on it, you would think they would broaden things out. Ok, the DLC has XIII-2, Versus XIII, and Type-0, but couldn’t we have a bit more of an addition to some of the lesser known ones. You know like Tactics, Chocobo’s Dungeon, Dirge of Cerberus/Crisis Core/Advent Children….for fuck sake’s why is there no Final Fantasy X-2 here?!? I know the iOS version of the game has fixed those issues but we’re talking the 3DS version…it just felt like there could’ve been more songs from the obscure FF games and XIII-2 could’ve had more representation as it was the newest released.
Beyond that complaint, I was definitely happy with this game and will for sure find myself playing this over and over until I have SSS all over the place!