Trip Down Memory Lane – Theatrhythm Final Fantasy Review

I love video game music. I don’t listen to many other types in fact. I’m proud of this fact. I don’t go by the norm. The music I like to listen to always has a memory attached to it. With some rare exceptions, this is how I pick my favorite songs. My favorite composer, for over a decade now, is Nobuo Uematsu. His music has always been an inspiration to me. Since we are in a bit of a lull as far as new Final Fantasy games are concerned, I decided to pick up Theatrhtythm Final Fantasy for the Nintendo 3DS, a music game containing pieces from Final Fantasy 1-13. Is it a good reminiscence?

Theatrhythm is a game in the vein of Rock Band for the DS. In the main game mode, you go through several songs from the main Final Fantasy games, one of several types: intro, field, battle, “event”, and ending. The graphics are a cute, chibi style for all the characters, including the enemies. As you can see by the pictures, this is definitely tailored to the younger crowds, and I’m perfectly OK with that. Why? It’s a fun way for them to hear  and see how this all started. During the event music in every game, the game shows scenes from that game, mostly cut scenes. These are the original pieces, none of the remakes, so we get the NES version of Final Fantasy 3, the SNES version of Final Fantasy 4, and so on. For some, like my 12-year-old sister, Final Fantasy 10 is something new.

The game follows the usual touch screen music game formula: you have your tap, tap and hold, etc. The main thing separating this and other music games are the RPG elements. You get to pick four characters to form your party, and they all have varying stats and abilities. All these have an effect on every stage you play. When you miss notes, you take damage. Depending on your HP, is how long you’ll survive if you keep messing up. Your agility decides how far you get in the field stages, your luck helps you get better loot, and your strength decides how much damage you do in the battle stages. It is really painful to mess up at the beginning, but it gets easier as you level up, both your abilities and your characters.

As you can imagine, you can only play for so long with this many songs, so the game depends on unlockables to keep you going. You unlock character cards, more characters to use, and items for your Theatrhythm street pass. The meat and potatoes of the game after finishing the main mode(which should be about three hours), is the Chaos Shrine. In this mode, you play harder versions of all the songs, encased in what are called Dark Notes. You get these sometimes as drops from enemies, and by completing other Dark Notes. Each Dark Note includes one field song, and one battle song. This is where you will find the bulk of your unlockables. It’s challenging and fun, but I can’t see myself playing it for too long. I’ve clocked in about 7 hours total into the game so far. It’s been a really fun ride.

At $39.99, I have a hard time fully recommending Theatrhytm Final Fantasy. It is a really fun game, but unless you really love the music like I do, the novelty may wear off a lot quicker. I think this is a great way for someone to relive the entire series, as the music and event stages really bring back the memories. Nobuo Uematsu’s music is still timeless, and Theatrhytm shows it. New players are also encouraged to try, just to enlighten them with all these great pieces of art. Square Enix will also make DLC available for Theatrhytm, at 99 cents a song. If you can snag the game for $30 or so, I fully recommend it. Now back to looking for remixes for these classics, I have the Final Fantasy music bug again 🙂 Oh and there is a story, it involves Chaos and Cosmos…not much happens there really.

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