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REVIEW: TheatRhythm: Final Fantasy

When this was announced I must admit tat I was sceptical.  Rhythm games have never held my attention for long periods of time like some people who are now rock gods when it comes to flimsy guitars and dodgey plastic drum kits.  So here we arrive at another relatively casual game for the wayward 3DS featuring the soundtrack of my life.

Even Nintendo admitted this past week that sales of the 3DS have dwindled since there is very little in the way of quality games, names  or new IPs available for the no 3D glasses required machine.  I get it, every console has their dry patch.  Q2 and Q3 are nearly always dry, but even more so in the case of the 3DS because of its lacklustre line up.  Unfortunately, slapping the Final Fantasy brand over what is essentially PSP Rockband won’t help it sell systems, but if you’ve already got a 3DS I would urge you to pick up this gem.

If you’re a fan of the Final Fantasy franchise and have been with it as long as I have then you’ll certainly get more out of this then others who are less familiar.  Fan favourites make nostalgic reprisals reminding us exactly why we love this franchise so much and what was uniquely brilliant about each game.

The premise of TheatRhythm is pretty simple.  You are played a song from [Said] Final Fantasy game and you have to copy the on screen prompts with your stylus in a tapping, swiping or holding down fashion representing the melody.  There are three different stages representing the journey, the battle and the summary of each Final Fantasy game and each is presents itself differently.

  • The journey aspect is shortened to FMS, which stands for something completely redundant but basically means your character will travel from right to left passing stylised landmarks from whatever Final Fantasy it is the song is from as you tap and swipe away to essentially world map themes.
  • The battle segments are shortened to BMS, again, guessing at Battle Music Stage.  It doesn’t matter.  This is most noticeably different from the FMS as it requires four party members of you choosing to participate in a battle with a sequence of monsters followed by a boss.  Your team, equips and abilities are all set up pre theme and can be customised from all of the main Final Fantasy regulars and some other unlockables later on as well.
  • The summary segment is called EMS and plays a video summary of the key events in each Final Fantasy again as you tap and swipe away.

All of the modes in this game are relatively similar.  Some will tell you which songs are coming, some won’t which makes for a nice surprise.  Others will change the sequence of the song so you can’t end up learning it, again increasing the game’s replayability.

Everything about this title is a great homage to 25 years of Final Fantasy which is being celebrated this November officially at the Distant Worlds concert at the Albert Hall.

OK so I think we’ve established that I like this game, however, it’s not without its flaws and by flaws I mean some medium, some tiny.  I’ll start with the medium.

Medium Flaws Include:

  • Final Fantasy XII’s roster of songs does not include Kiss Me Goodbye
  • Final Fantasy IX’s Melodies of Life is not in English.
  • Videos for Final Fantasys pre VII are in Japanese

Tiny Flaws

  • When the tapping and swiping becomes chaotic, 45 degree angle swiping accuracy goes out the window and I believe the difficulty to which you are asked to perform this inch perfect swipes to be a little unforgiving.  Up down left right, 90 degree swipes, fine, angled swipes, gimmie a break.
  • Sometimes the beats you are asked to perform add a freestyle feel to the song which is missing from the original track.  Unlike Rockband where you can literally go mental and not worry about what you’re pressing, TheatRhythm still continues to grade you on them making it difficult to actually associate what you’re doing with the song you’re trying to play.
  • On EMS stages the inputs can seem really laboured and sluggish and sometimes feel as though they aren’t 100% synchronised to the music

As a whole, if you own a 3DS then go and buy this for some quirky handheld fun.  If you like Final Fantasy and own a 3DS then why haven’t you got this already.

I got mine from the guys at Amazon but I believe Zavvi or ShopTo might be cheaper now by about 50p.

That’s all folks 🙂

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