|Pub: Square Enix|
|Screen Resolution: N/A|
by Jenni Lada
Theatrhythm Final Fantasy was an ingenious spin-off. Really, Square Enix should be applauded for even coming up with the notion. The Final Fantasy series is renowned for its incredible soundtracks, and a music game inspired by it leverages players nostalgia and love of the series and turns it into success. Even if it had been rudimentary, Square Enix would have won, but instead it took a step further and made Theatrhythm not just a classic 3DS and iOS title by including RPG elements.
Theatrhythm Final Fantasy's success practically assured a sequel, and sure enough, it's happening. Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call will further tap into the Final Fantasy catalogue to provide people a chance to follow along with their favorite songs. In fact, the whole game seems to take a "more is more" approach, by bumping up the number of playable characters to over 60 and available songs to over 200.
But that many aren't available in the Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call demo I've been playing for the last two days. No, it only offers a rudimentary sampling. While the full game groups songs into Battle, Event, and Field music, only Battle and Field songs are offered here. "Fight with Seymour," from FFX, was the only returning track. Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII's "Crimson Blitz" and "Serene Forest" from FFXIV: A Realm Reborn were the newcomers.
However, it really feels more like two old songs and one new, given the nature of "Crimson Blitz." People who don't know better may have trouble differentiating it from "Blinded by Light" from FFXIII and XIII-2, due to a similar arrangement and inclusion of vocals and themes from the familiar FFXIII song. Personally, I think the inclusion of Final Fantasy Type-0's "We Have Arrived" would have been a smarter choice, since it would have provided an Event song.
The Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call demo also automatically assigned Lightning (Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII), Tidus (Final Fantasy X), Yuna (Final Fantasy X-2), and Y'shtola (Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn) to the party. While the full games allow players to customize characters with abilities, this feature was omitted here.
I immediately went for "Serene Forest" after starting the game, seeing as how it was the lone Field song. Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call allows characters to travel by both Chocobo and airship during Field tracks, and I wanted to see if the demo showcased the new travel method. Alas, it did not. Excelling during the Feature Zone portion of the song only triggered the now-familiar Chocobo Time.
In fact, I was hard pressed to find any difference between Theatrhythm Final Fantasy and Curtain Call based on the 3DS demo. Field Music sections proceed as normal, with players watching as one character walks through a world, tapping, swiping and holding notes on screen as indicators line up with a specific icon. Missing a note decreases the lead character's health and causes party members to switch. Performing well in a Feature Zone leads to Chocobo Time, which makes the character speed up. Reaching the end can means encountering a chocobo who provides an item.
Battle Music follows the same routine as well. The four characters each stand in battle positions in a line, with a target in front of each one. Players must again tap, swipe and hold notes as indicators reach each target. Failing reduces health again, and good performance during its Feature Zone summons an Aeon/Esper, like Ramuh or Bahamut, to take out the current monster. Here, the goal is to defeat as many monsters as possible with precision taps.
I did notice two things that, at the very least, seemed like potential changes. The first is that the confirmation chime seemed a bit quieter. Perhaps I've just forgotten how loud it was in the past, but it seemed a tad more subdued during the Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call songs. Especially when riding a chocobo or preparing a summoned creature's attack.
The other was the absence of the random pre-performance quote. In the original Theatrhythm Final Fantasy, your four characters would each spout off one word as something of a battle cry before a player launched into a song. This was absent during the Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call 3DS demo. Instead, the facial expressions of Lightning, Tidus, Yuna, and Y'shtola would change. I genuinely hope this was due to demo restrictions, and isn't an indication that this "feature" will be absent from the final release.
Given the focus on gameplay, the Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call demo also fails to provide any indication of final gameplay modes. The original offered Series, Challenge and Chaos Shrine options. However, we do know that this installment will introduce Quest Medley and Versus Battles.
The Quest Medley seems perfect for people who have started to master Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call. When someone decides to head off on one of these quests, they'll randomly experience some Battle and Field Music selections, then face a boss at the end. It sounds similar to the Chaos Shrine Dark Notes, and I suppose you could think of it as the musical equivalent of your standard RPG side-quest.
Versus Battle, on the other hand, will provide the multiplayer experience that was missing from the original Theatrhythm. It lets two players "fight" against each other as they play through the same song. The one who gets the highest score is the winner, but it isn't as simple as just going through a song you may have already committed to muscle memory. Keeping the beat gradually fills an EX Burst Status Gauge. Once it's filled, a negative status effect is applied to your opponent. It can do frustrating things like alter the appearance of notes, strengthen monsters, and speed up a song in an attempt to throw your enemy off his or her game.
Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call is coming to Japan this Spring. Given that Square Enix has filed trademarks for the name in both the US and Europe, I'm sure we'll be tapping along to more Final Fantasy favorites as well.
Date: February 3, 2014