|Dev: Square Enix|
|Pub: Square Enix|
|Release: July 3, 2012|
|Screen Resolution: N/A||Fantasy Violence, Mild Blood, Mild Language, Suggestive Themes, Use of Tobacco|
by Becky Cunningham
Final Fantasy fans are often big fans of the series' soundtrack, as evidenced by the crowds attending the live Final Fantasy concerts that have been traveling around North America. Thus, it's not terribly surprising that Square Enix has decided to create a Final Fantasy-themed rhythm game. Theatrhythm (it's theater plus rhythm, get it?) Final Fantasy for the 3DS will be showcasing the music and characters from Final Fantasy I all the way through XIII, and is aimed at everyone from novice to expert rhythm game players.
For those unfamiliar with Japanese rhythm games, they're like playing Guitar Hero or Rock Band with a game controller rather than a plastic instrument. In most respects Theatrhythm plays like a traditional rhythm game. The basics involve interacting with the touchscreen as prompted to the beat of various songs from the Final Fantasy series. There are three different kinds of prompts: red notes require a quick tap, yellow notes require sliding the stylus in the specified direction, and green notes require holding the stylus against the screen until a second prompt instructs the player to let go or to end the hold with a slide. Depending on the mode, players may also need to trace the stylus along a specific route for the green and yellow notes.
The game mixes up the rhythm action a bit via various modes. In battle mode, a party of four characters is fighting a monster. The amount of damage the characters do to the monster depends on how well the player hits the rhythm prompts. Field mode involves the party characters taking turns exploring the world. Hitting correct notes may result in finding treasure or riding a chocobo, while missing notes could result in the character falling into a trap and being replaced by the next member of the party. Event modes show scenes from the games using the original graphics, with the appropriate music track on top, and players simply follow the prompts as they flow around the scenes.
In field and battle modes, the Final Fantasy characters are portrayed in a style that mixes the Japanese "chibi" look with Western-style dolls, somewhat like the characters in Fable Heroes but without looking as though they wish to devour souls. One main character has been chosen from each of the thirteen main Final Fantasy games, from the Warrior of Light from Final Fantasy I to Lightning from Final Fantasy XIII. Various sub-characters have also been chosen from various Final Fantasy games, such as Aeris from Final Fantasy VII and Cosmos from Dissidia Final Fantasy. Sub-characters must be unlocked through gameplay, but once unlocked can be used as party members just like the main characters.
The player has two main choices of how to play through the levels. Series mode allows the player to choose a game, then play through all the songs associated with that game (including field, battle, and event modes). Challenge mode allows the player to select a single song and play through or practice it. The characters that the player has selected will level up and unlock new levels or other bonuses as the player successfully completes parts of the game. Amongst the collectable items are dark notes, which are randomly generated challenges consisting of a field mode song and a battle mode song. Players will be able to view various unlockables such as character cards in a museum section of the game. On top of all this, players will be able to select the overall difficulty level of the game.
Multiplayer mode is available for Theatrhythm, but only locally with the use of multiple 3DS systems and Theatrhythm cartridges. It will take place in the Chaos Temple, a special version of battle mode that allows the player(s) to fight famous bosses from the series to the beat of special "dark" music arrangements. Players will also be able to share dark notes with each other via StreetPass.
In Japan, Theatrhythm Final Fantasy was one of the first games to make use of the ability to purchase DLC on the 3DS. Extra songs for a variety of games were released for the Japanese version of the game, even including a piece from the unreleased Final Fantasy Versus XIII. We don't have any confirmation that this DLC will be available here, but perhaps we'll learn about it during E3.
Theatrhythm Final Fantasy is reported to be a surprisingly addictive rhythm game that is filled to the brim with Final Fantasy nostalgia. Big Final Fantasy fans should love it, but it sounds like a good time even for those who consider the series to be merely a minor part of their gaming regimen. Keep an eye out for Theatrhythm at E3 and in stores this July.
Date: June 12, 2012