If you’re a big fan of the Final Fantasy series, you definitely need to pick up a copy of Theatrhythm Final Fantasy for the Nintendo 3DS. For avid players of the series, the title is a welcome installment in the dwindling Final Fantasy series that harkens back to the characters and stories that originally captivated RPG fans worldwide. Read on!
The rhythm genre is a swift departure from the RPG-style gameplay that is prevalent in the original Final Fantasy titles, but the game does retain some novelty RPG elements, such as its leveling system. As the player progresses through the game, completing scores, the characters in their party gain experience causing them to level up. Upon gaining levels, characters will obtain new attacks, spells, or abilities that your characters may activate during gameplay. Some scores may prove very challenging, but with the right team and set of equipped skills, the level will be significantly easier to complete. One of the most impressive features of this game id its adequate learning curve – when you begin playing “Basic”, or easy scores, they will feel somewhat challenging to a beginner. As you become used to the game’s controls and mechanics, you unlock more difficult versions of the track. The most challenging game mode is the “Chaos Shrine” where you may play “Dark Notes”, difficult tracks that you unlock by beating previous Dark Notes, or that are obtained via the Nintendo 3DS’s StreetPass feature.
Upon booting up Theatrhythm, the player can expect to find three playable songs from each numbered installment in Final Fantasy the series from the series’ first title to its 2010 installment, Final Fantasy XIII. The game also features one protagonist from each of the aforementioned games. Upon meeting certain requirements or through the purchase of downloadable content, extra songs and characters may be unlocked. Additionally, there is also the well-worn card collectibles that are dropped by bosses or obtained from Moogles. This feature feels extremely tacked on, but it is a very convenient way to view Theatrhythm’s unique art style and its fresh depiction of familiar characters.
Additionally, a seemingly infinite number of Dark Notes may be unlocked, often featuring songs that are not available in the basic “Series Mode” or “Challenge Mode”. The “Series Mode” encourages players to play through three select songs from a Final Fantasy installment – for example, if one chooses to play the Final Fantasy VII score in series mode, he or she will play its overworld theme, the infamous “One-Winged Angel” track, and “Aerith’s Theme”. The “Challenge Mode” instead allows a player to play only one track, and is much more convenient for gameplay on-the-go or for an easy way to practice a track and beat high scores.
The graphics in Theatrhythm are quirky and unique, featuring adorable chibi animations of recognizable Final Fantasy heroes and villains. The 3D effects are superb, honestly featuring some of the best 3D imaging seen on the handheld to date. Certain cutscenes have been worked into particular scores, and these look amazing on the 3DS screen and they have also been reworked to feature 3D effects.
The soundtrack is obviously superb if you are a fan of the Final Fantasy series. The sounds ring crisp and clear through the 3DS’s speakers, allowing the player to experience the scores to their fullest capacity. The tracks are obviously classic – enough so to warrant the creation of their own dedicated game. Unfortunately, the game and its soundtrack will not be fun to an individual who is not familiar with the songs, characters, and environments of the Final Fantasy series. This game is definitely fan-service, but it is addictive and fun. It doesn’t seek to please those who have not been fans of Final Fantasy since its beginnings, but for its specified audience Theatrhythm proves a light-hearted nostalgic experience, perfect for a few minutes of play on one’s handheld, rather than requiring hours of dedication to enjoy.
Final Score: 8.5/10