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Square Enix’s Theatrhythm Delivers High Crit but Misses its Limit Break.

Posted on July 10, 2012 AT 07:39am

Theatrhythm Final Fantasy is a game that was developed by indieszero. Square Enix published it exclusively for the Nintendo 3DS and made it available to the masses on July 3rd, 2012 in North America. Square Enix knew they had a glorious catalogue of music just sitting around gathering dust. It was only a matter of time before they decided to revitalize the music that Square fans- to this day- still hold close to their hearts. If only they had an anniversary or something like that to help promote it. How fortunate for them that they were celebrating their 25th anniversary this year.

Theatrhythm Final Fantasy is a rhythm-based game that requires the player to tap, slide and guide the stylus in time with various pieces of music from the first thirteen Final Fantasy games. This “first” thirteen does not include any of the Tactics, Dissidias or the existing sequels of the thirteen mentioned. Sorry Final Fantasy X-2 and Final Fantasy XIII-2 fans, you may have to sift through the downloadable content to get your fix.

The graphics in Theatrhythm Final Fantasy are refreshing and infectiously adorable. Many people were hesitant to the sprite design and wanted the sprites of their nostalgia. You do get the characters as you remember them in the Event stage mode. So you can relax.

The game houses 70 songs with more content being available through the Chaos Shrine and DLC. (Microtransactions- gotta love em!) There are three modes of gameplay: Series, Challenge and Chaos Shrine. Series allows the player to select four Final Fantasy characters, choose one of the games nodes and then participate in three very unique stages: Field, Battle and Event.

Each game node will have a different order of stages- this is to keep the player on their feet.
Challenge mode lets the player choose a song from the Series mode that they have cleared on the normal difficulty and try to master it on a higher one. Challenge mode offers a “No Fail” practice option too which gives player a safe place to hone their skills. Once a player has achieved an “A” or better ranking on a song the next difficulty becomes available. When the player has done this for all three songs from that Game node, that difficulty will become available in Series Mode.
The last Mode Chaos Shrine consists of two stages: A Field stage and a Battle stage. The songs found in the 99 levels of the Chaos Shrine mode can only be found there. The player can go at this task alone or can take the cooperative route and play with three other companions. This element could make for some interesting gameplay down the road.

The story of the game is simple at best. In all Final Fantasy games we are dealing with deities to some extent. There are two gods Cosmos and Chaos. Between the two gods is a space called Rhythm. A crystal is formed there that controls all the music in the world. Chaos has managed to interfere with the crystal, and it is up to our four heroes (whoever you choose) to restore the crystal back to normal by gathering Rhythmia.

Theatrhythm literally screams at the player to replay it. Multiple play throughs are needed to get everything from the Collector Cards and the color shards needed to unlock more characters. It is also what I’d call a gamer pallet cleanser, it serves its purpose as something different from what the habitual gamer will play, it centers and grounds the player until the next rage quit at least.

Now with as fun as light-hearted as this game is- there are some shadowy areas that need to be addressed. The first issue lies within the story. The player hardly intereacts with the deities. Cosmos doesn’t really appear until the very end of the game, and Chaos only shows up after the player has accumulated a certain number of Rhythmia and that triggers the final battle. The story would have aided from more interaction between the two gods. The goal is to make the player want to restore music to the world. The games doesn’t give the player the “want or need” to do this. The player will get caught up in their love of the music and forget what they were doing. Theatrhythm could have also produced real midbosses for the player to come across to create more conflict for the plot. Also the game should have given the element of music some real significance. What does a world without music look like. WHY-SHOULD-WE-CARE? Without these details the story feels hollow. And it is. The last bone to pick is with the release price point. Theatrhythm has a price point of 39.99 USD. What you get in the game doesn’t match what the consumer pays for it.

Reception of this rhythm-based game in to the Final Fantasy franchise was mixed at the start. Some saw the potential sales revenue while others just didn’t know how it would work, and if it would work well. This game is a good gateway to bridge two categories of gamers: nostalgia lovers will flock to this game as will rhythm-based enthusiasts. In the end both will utterly enjoy the game.

Theatrhythm Final Fantasy gets at 8.0 out of 10. It is entertaining, light-hearted and fun, and is implemented better than expected it is just missing that “it” factor. Square Enix is on the right track- it just needs to reach its Limit Break

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