Theatrhythm Final Fantasy – A Refreshing, Musical Rendition on a Tried Formula

rsz_curtaincall

The DS/3DS, to me, is a portable console which does not outright challenges it’s competitive peers with power or specs, but rather, it’s creativity. The innovative use of two screens had created a new form of gameplay, and even storytelling; I remembered some games like Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days, really utilized the DS’s dual screen function well, as a result, telling a more powerful and emotional story.

Because the DS family strives on creativity, most of the games to me, are “concept” games. And out of all these concept games, I had recently been obsessed with Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call. I got into the bandwagon slightly late. During the first Theatrhythm game, it wasn’t released in the eshop, and since I get all of my games digitally, I was only able to enter the Theatrhythm party during the recent America release of Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call, it’s sequel.

Curtain-Call-gameplay-1_rshd

To those unfamiliar, Theatrhythm Final Fantasy is a rhythm game by Square Enix, which features, you guessed it, Final Fantasy tracks for you to play. The best part about Curtain Call is that it had a music library twice as large as it’s prequel; it contains music from all possible, existing titles which include all the way from Final Fantasy I to Lightning Returns; and also various other spin-offs such as Mystic Quest, Tactics, Crystal Chronicles; and even the CG film, Advent Children was included. Perhaps it has the advantage that it was working with a series which had been going strong for decades – allowing it to have a whopping 200+ tracks at it’s disposal, an amount unheard of for a rhythm game as far as I’m concerned.

Earlier, I mentioned how the DS strives on creativity and how it’s appealing point of the games is it’s “concept”. What makes Theatrhythm unique from typical rhythm games is that it is a sort of rhythm/RPG adventure hybrid. Instead of just integrating hundreds of music and allowing players to play them, the gameplay blended elements of RPG, the genre we all come and love from the Final Fantasy series, into the “rhythm-button mashing”. There are different types of songs; namely BMS (Battle Music Stage), FMS (Field Music Stage) and EMS (Emotional Music Stage), each of them with a different play style.

lightning

BMS is interestingly designed in a way that it is pretty much Final Fantasy classic battle encounters in rhythm game form. In contrast though, I’m actually more fond of FMS, which are pretty much “traveling” songs. When you’re playing a particular FMS song, the background will also feature the same scenery from the very song itself. For example, if I were to play “Gold Saucer” (from FF VII), then I will see my characters literally traveling with a Gold Saucer backdrop. Especially with the way the FMS is designed, it’s just as if you’re revisiting all the areas you had went through in the past when you were playing the original titles, all the time while playing the nostalgic music. Additionally, you can also get items from treasure chests from both BMS and FMS.

Another interesting to take note of, is the character customizations. Just like any other RPGs, your characters start from Level 1 and can level up. You get improved stats and skills which will make you traveling faster in FMS, or defeating more monsters in BMS (or rather, survive longer with the higher HP in Ultimate difficulty). You can even set up abilities for the characters to equip with just before each song; from magic like Aero and Fira, to physical abilities like Armor Break, to even character-specific abilities like the Omnislash. All these gameplay mechanisms make it look like as if you are really playing a genuine RPG. What’s even more convincing however, is “Quest Medley”.

Quest Medley features maps for you to traverse from one point to another, with random songs picked out by the game for you for respective points. This gives a strong sense that one is traveling around the World Map, and fighting monsters from battle encounters, just like what veteran players of the series had been doing from original Final Fantasy titles. It’s from here where players of Theatrhythm can feel like they are really on an adventure, and give them much more “purpose” rather than just picking out a specific song themselves to play.

yay!

yay!

While Final Fantasy’s gameplay is, arguably, a rehash of ideas, Theatrhythm was able to keep things fresh by taking a break from the main series, and shifting the focus on past, existing titles via music. Indeed, Theatrhythm is a refreshing, musical take on a tried formula; and evokes one’s nostalgia and adventurous mood of past Final Fantasy titles like no other.

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This entry was posted by Kai.

3 thoughts on “Theatrhythm Final Fantasy – A Refreshing, Musical Rendition on a Tried Formula

  1. Keep hearing a lot of good things about this from the video game podcast I listen to and almost tempted to pick it up or at least try the demo first. Only complaint/downsize I have heard expressed in one podcast is the difficulty: Easy seems too easy, and anything above that is too unbalanced or something to that effect. How is it to you?

    • Unfortunately, I agree. Playing a song in Basic or Expert mode isn’t that hard, but songs in Ultimate mode suddenly shifts the difficulty to a few several notches too much, so much that it’s better to just level up your characters and try them again later. It is certainly possible to clear some songs in Ultimate underlevelled of cause, though challenging. Quest Medley is better in that aspect because your HP does not reset after each song, your HP will carry over until you clear the whole map, which helps increasing tension and difficulty. You can also try high-level medium/long quests. Also in Quest Medley, your aim is to defeat bosses in BMS too, so your character also need to be strong enough to take them down, unlike in normal music stages where you only just need to survive to clear it.

    • And I forgot to say, you can try out online battles too. Other than the obvious reason where you will be facing a real challenge since you’re facing off against human opponents; in online battles, your opponent might inflict you with “status effects”, which can include things like notes flowing in irregular speed, to rotating directional notes and so on.

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