Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call (3DS) Review
- A rhythm game with all your favourite Final Fantasy tunes – what's not to like? Be prepared to lose hours of your life.
Not so much?
- The DLC songs and characters will soon add up to be quite a costly package – you could easily spend as much as you did on the original game, and then some.
The forces of light and darkness are in conflict once again, and this time, music is the key to restoring balance and conquering evil. Under the guidance of the goddess Cosmos, can the heroes of the worlds of Final Fantasy use the power of rhythm to save the crystals and defeat Chaos? In 2012, Square […]
The forces of light and darkness are in conflict once again, and this time, music is the key to restoring balance and conquering evil. Under the guidance of the goddess Cosmos, can the heroes of the worlds of Final Fantasy use the power of rhythm to save the crystals and defeat Chaos?
In 2012, Square Enix commemorated the 25th anniversary of their flagship RPG franchise by releasing Theatrhythm – a Final Fantasy rhythm game. At first, it sounded like a cheap cash in designed to strip hardcore fans of yet more of their hard-earned money, but in fact, it was a fun and addictive experience. Two years later, an upgraded and expanded sequel is on the shelves, but should we really be throwing more money at this?
As it turns out, the answer is probably yes. Just as Dissidia 012, the sequel to the Final Fantasy beat-em-up Dissidia, expanded on the original enough to feel like more than just a cheap remake, so too does Curtain Call bring a lot more to the Theatrhythm experience. Having played the original to death, I was fully expecting to get little more than a few new songs from this title, but in fact, it offers a lot more than that.
Although Curtain Call is slow to unlock all of the available modes, once you get going, there’s certainly plenty to do. This time around, there are over 200 songs available, not only from all the mainstream Final Fantasy titles released so far, but also from a fair amount of sequels and spin-offs, such as Crisis Core, Advent Children, Tactics, Final Fantasy X-2, the two sequels to FFXIII, and even the much criticised Mystic Quest. As with the first game, Square Enix are slowly releasing even more songs as DLC, although if, like me, you spent quite a lot on DLC for the first game only to get all those songs for free in this release, you might find yourself wary of sinking yet more money into this series.
The core gameplay for Curtain Call is the same as it was for the first game. You choose four familiar FF characters to act as your party, and then choose from one of three different types of stage – Field Music, Battle Music, and Event Music. In Field music, your characters walk across an FF-theme landscape, and the more button presses you get right, the farther they walk and the more items they find. In Battle Music, your party faces off against a succession of familiar adversaries, scoring damage when you time your button presses correctly, and losing HP when you fail. As in the first game, Event Music is the least interesting, being just a sequence of button presses played over cutscene footage from the various games. Fortunately, the more exciting Field and Battle stages are far more numerous.
Given the Final Fantasy is a famous RPG series, Square Enix have done more with the game than just take a standard rhythm game format and slap some FF graphics onto it. As you play, your characters will level up. All the usual RPG stats are here, but with more relevant applications – for example, higher HP means that you can make more mistakes before failing a level, whilst higher strength means characters can deal more damage to monsters, for example. You can even learn special abilities or equip familiar Final Fantasy items that will make beating the levels easier – although if you prefer to rely on your rhythm gaming skill alone, there’s no need to use any of these.
As you beat levels, you’ll accumulate ‘Rhythmia’, a special musical crystal energy that basically keeps track of how many hours of your life you’ve lost to the game. As your total Rhythmia score increases, you’ll start to unlock various extras, including new songs and characters to choose from, as well as entries into the obligatory gallery, theatre and music player.
In addition to just picking your favourite songs and playing them as and when you like, Curtain Call has two new gameplay modes that replace the Series Mode and Dark Notes from the first game. In the new quest mode, you take on a series of consecutive field and battle stages, ending in a final boss whose defeat can bring you various goodies such as crystals to unlock new characters. Each time you beat a quest, new quests are randomly generated, and you can trade quests with other players via Streetpass, should you desire. The other new option are versus battles against either the computer or other players (local or online), in which you both play through the same battle music stage, and aim to trigger handicaps that make the level harder for your opponent. Both of these new modes are a lot of fun, and just add to the general time sink nature of the game.
As with the first game, Curtain Call takes all your favourite characters and turns them into cute cartoonified versions of themselves – even the most badass of bosses from the main series has been made to look quite adorable. If you haven’t seen this style before, it might take a bit of getting used to, but in time it will grow on you. All your favourite FF touches are there too – you can meet with moogles, ride chocobos, summon Shiva, Ifrit, Bahamut, Odin et al, and even encounter the legendary Fat Chocobo. All the field and battle stages take place in recognisable locations from the main FF games, with a level of visual detail that surpasses the first game and really makes you feel like someone cared about getting the graphics just right.
Given that this is a music game, it should be no surprise that there’s a vast amount of it on offer, from favourites that every FF fan will instantly recognise and want to play, to obscure tracks that you probably didn’t even remember existed. Whilst a few of the tracks from the earlier games appear to have been remade to more modern standards, some of them are still in their original 8 and 16 bit versions, which will either be nostalgic or disappointing, depending on your point of view. As with all rhythm games, there are always going to be a few underwhelming tracks that no one really cares for, but of course true addicts will play them for completion’s sake anyway.
Sceptical as you might be at the prospect of a Final Fantasy rhythm game, there’s no doubt about it – Theatrhythm Curtain Call is darned good fun. If you like the music of Final Fantasy and rhythm games in general, then there’s no reason not to give in and purchase a copy of this game. The only thing you’ll regret is the hours of your life you’ll spend on it.