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Review: Theatrhythm Final Fantasy for Nintendo 3DS

Nostalgia, Rhythm Gonna Get You in This Music Game

About.com Rating 4 Star Rating


Review: Theatrhythm Final Fantasy for Nintendo 3DS

Theatrhythm Final Fantasy is a rhythm game based on the popular RPG series.

Image © Square Enix

Ask anybody unfortunate enough to witness me in action and they will say that I can’t dance and I can’t sing. Well, actually I can but it might cause bystanders to either call an ambulance or the cops because they’ll decide that I am either a) suffering from a seizure or b) causing a public disturbance. Fortunately, my performance is a lot more serviceable when it comes to rhythm games. From Taiko no Tatsujin to Dance Central, your Mr. Hidalgo gets the job done. Not that I’m an expert by any means, mind you. But at the very least, I won’t bring the house down in a bad way.

Given my fondness for rhythm games, it was with keen interest that I viewed Theatrhythm Final Fantasy for the Nintendo 3DS. A rhythm game that uses Final Fantasy’s music, characters and battle elements, you say? That definitely sounds like an intriguing proposition.

When starting your game, you have the option to pick the main character from each primary Final Fantasy game to form a four-person team. In my case, I picked the protagonists from my top four favorite games in the series: Terra from Final Fantasy VI (my all-time fave), Cecil from Final Fantasy IV, Cloud from Final Fantasy VII and Tidus from Final Fantasy X. Each of the characters also excelled in different specialties (e.g. magic, strength, agility) which affects your team's performance in the game. That’s right, this rhythm game borrows some RPG conventions from the Final Fantasy series, which you have to keep in mind when coming up with a strategy for attacking the various stages. Other RPG elements used by the game include the ability to level up characters and equip abilities and items, such as magic skills and potions.

In the main part of the game, you start by clearing the various “story” stages — which is organized into one per series divided into three different main phases. You have a Field Music Stage where you have to tap, swipe and hold on the touchscreen while traveling through a, um, field. You also have a Battle Music Stage reminiscent of classic Final Fantasy games where you try to defeat monsters while following the screen prompts. Lastly, you have an Event Music Stage, which allows you to relive key scenes from each game in the series. By going through the stages, you earn Rhythmia, which you’ll need to build up to a certain level for the “last” boss to appear.

The game starts out slow and a bit sparse. Keep playing, however, and Theatrhythm gets deeper thanks to a large number of unlocks that include items, songs and characters. You can also unlock Challenge Mode and the brutal Chaos Shrine, which allows you to earn Dark Notes if you survive the pumped up difficulty. Keep in mind that you'll need to approach various stages and modes differently depending on your goals. Not using equipment, for example, gives you point bonuses if you’re aiming for score. It’s also important to have a well-rounded team as some stages get easier when using characters with high strength or magic while others require high luck or agility.

Admittedly, this game isn’t for everyone and it also helps to be a Final Fantasy fan. I got my first Perfect Chain on the Final Fantasy VI course, for example, because I adored that game’s soundtrack and found myself extra motivated to do well. Meanwhile, I didn’t do so well during my first run on the course for Final Fantasy XI which I had no emotional connection with. In short, if you like rhythm games and also love Final Fantasy to boot, then this game is for you.

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  • Platform: Nintendo 3DS
  • Cost: $40
  • Final rating: 4 stars out of 5
  • Official site: www.theatrhythm.com
Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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