Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call Review
When considering the most iconic and well-crafted songs in video games, you’d be hard pressed not to list a large number from the Final Fantasy series. Say what you will about Squaresoft/Square Enix, but you can’t deny that they both have, and have had some of the most talented composers in video gaming working for them. With a history of dozens of titles spanning two decades, there’s an awful lot of great music associated with the Final Fantasy name. Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call is all about that great music. A rhythm game for 3DS where players tap buttons or the touch screen in time with the music, Theatrhythm has over two hundred songs from the long running series. From FF1 to FF14. From the Dissidia games to Crystal Chronicles. From Tactics to Advent Children. There’s a wealth of songs here for fans of the series, or for people who just really like great video game music.
If you’ve played any rhythm video game, you’ll know what to expect. Press the buttons or tap the touch screen in time with music as scrolling icons move from one side of the screen to the other. Easy enough. However, there are also a number of nifty little style and gameplay differences which help add depth. Rather fitting for a Final Fantasy game, Theatrhythm adds a number of RPG style trappings. Theatrhythm divides its collection of songs into three types of stages. Battle stages, usually featuring the faster paced combat and boss fight themes so iconic to each game in the series, field Stages, usually featuring the more relaxed background and stage themes, and finally Event Stages which feature songs backgrounded with some full cut-scenes taken from straight from the game or film (Advent Children). For the first two, they feature your selected characters either battling enemies or moving across a field. Aside from the purely aesthetic use of characters as your on screen avatars, there’s also a gameplay difference. These characters level up as you play the game, unlocking new abilities that help influence the way the game plays. These characters tend to have specific strengths and weaknesses and depending on how you put your team together, what you equip them with, or what stats you decide you spend your status boosting collectable cards on, can really have a significant effect on your high score. For example, a heavy hitter like Cloud Strife is particularly useful in battle stages due to naturally high strength stats as well abilities focused on damaging opponents. Tidus on the other hand is far more useful in Field Stages for his agility and speed boosting abilities. Creating a team that gels well together, customising them in their own small ways, and kitting them out is exactly the kind of RPG style minutiae you’d expect from a Final Fantasy game. It is of course, not essential to do these things though, and you can just as easily play through the game treating it like any other rhythm title. Using the RPG elements can help give you an edge and a better high score though.
Along with these rather interesting twists on the rhythm game genre, there’s also plenty to do. There’s over 200 songs to play through and a significant amount of things to unlock. As you play through stages you earn Rhythmia points which, upon passing milestones unlocks new features. New songs, new characters, new game modes, as well as in game items, and collectables. Speaking of gameplay modes, aside from the simple quick one song play mode, there’s also two others of note. Battle mode allows you to take on computer or human opponents in a head to head competition with both sides granted abilities that can be used to hinder their opponent; randomly slowing down songs, obscuring their icons, and so forth. Quest Medleys on the other hand function like randomly generated playlists. You play through a “quest”, going through a number of stages and randomly selected songs in sequence, any health your team loses remains lost, however, pushing forward and trying to extend your quest as much as possible yields greater rewards. Needless to say, while quite a few rhythm games lack longevity, Theatrhythm offers a surprising amount of depth and ton of unlockables to keep you occupied.
In terms of presentation, Theatrhythm has exceptional music as you’d expect, with a track list of over 200 songs taken from twenty odd years of games. Classic titles you’d remember fondly rub shoulders with some of the more obscure games in the series. While they’ve done the best to collect the most iconic songs and give equal attention to each game, there’s bound to be a few gamers disappointed that their favourite soundtrack didn’t get more focus. The graphics favour a heavily cartoonish style, with rather scaled down and simplified depictions of characters and backgrounds. It’s charming, if a little basic, but graphics aren’t much of a consideration considering it’s a rhythm game.
Overall, Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call is a great rhythm title and a celebration of one of the best and most enduring features of the Final Fantasy series. It rather comprehensively collects some of the most iconic songs from the long running franchise and packs it all into one title. Fans of Final Fantasy, of rhythm games, and of video game music in general should definitely give this a shot.
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