Review: Theatrythm: Final Fantasy
By: Jeff Rivera
From its announcement, Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy was a game I looked at with an odd feeling of curiosity. The name is fairly ridiculous, and the premise looked to be Elite Beat Agents smashed up with Final Fantasy. As a huge fan of the former, and a former huge fan of the latter, I had hoped that Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy could scratch my itch for another solid rhythm game in the handheld space. After countless hours of play, I can safely say that Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy is a must-have for rhythm gaming fans while managing to be my favorite Final Fantasy game in years.
Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy is a well executed rhythm game, similar in gameplay style to many other rhythm games before it, such as Elite Beat Agents or Guitaroo Man. What makes it different from other rhythm games, however, is that Theatrhythm has some light RPG elements and deep fan service derived from one of gaming's most proud franchises mixed into the package that elevate it to something other than "just another music/rhythm game."
The game, mechanically, works like most rhythm handheld games. Markers that are synced to the musical tracks indicate whether you need to tap, swipe in a certain direction, hold, or slide your stylus on the touch screen. The controls work well and all inputs are accurately recognized, though at times you might get tripped up by triding to do a slide or swipe too close to the edge of the touchscreen. Over time you learn to try to keep centered, so it's only an issue early on when the songs are easy to handle. The markers are very well timed to the music, and more memorable tracks from the Final Fantasy series will coax a smile out of you when you're really keyed into how well everything works together.
Fan service in this game is through the roof. Every mainline Final Fantasy game is represented here and characters from each game make an appearance as playable characters. It actually matters which characters you choose, because as you play, you'll gain experience and characters will level up over time. With higher levels, characters will have more HP, better skills, and better resistances. And while many might question why those things matter in a rhythm game, it's because Theatrhythm has you actually taking and dealing out damage based on performance. In battle sections, enemies can only be defeated by successfully completing notes, and critical hits are awarded for perfect timing. As the difficulty rises, higher level characters can help to complete songs by compensating for you mistakes. And over time, the game can get brutally difficult.
DLC is coming to Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy in the form of new playable tracks, which start rolling out next week. Over time, Square Enix is expected to roll out roughly 50 new tracks to the already robust track listing. This is one title that will keep you busy for a long, long time to come if you're looking to score the best rankings possible on all the tracks the game has to offer.
In my hours with the game, I was continually impressed with the offering here. The art style might be weird for some, the premise might be a little strange, and some people just plain don't like Final Fantasy. But despite all of that, Theatrhythm: Final Fansty is still a rock solid rhythm game that is fun to play in small spurts or long sessions. At $40, the game might look steep upfront, but the sheer amount of content makes it well worth it for fans of the genre or Final Fantasy series. If you've got an upcoming summer trip, make sure Theatrythm: Final Fantasy is on your packing list.
4 Stars out of 5