The Game: TheatRhythm Final Fantasy
Publisher/Developer: Square Enix/indieszero
Genre: Rhythm play
Describe This Game in Three Words: Most Magic Music
Plot Synopsis: As in Dissidia, the forces of Cosmos and Chaos are at war over the fate of the Final Fantasy multiverse, and draw heroes and villains from the 13 different main series games to battle on their behalf. This time, though, it's to restore balance through the magic of music.
Up Up: It's gimmicky, it's kitschy, it's completely unnecessary, but my god this game is more fun than it has any right to be. Using the stylus, you tap out some of the most enduring melodies in video game music history. Doing so guides your characters through landscapes or has them battle monsters and bosses.
You level up just like in regular games, and doing so nets you abilities that will aid you in battle, especially the awesome-looking summon spells. There are no words to describe how cool it is when Ifrit pops out and mows down the opposition just because you got a 34 note streak.
You also unlock famous cut scenes, music and collector's cards as you continue to move through the game. Usually this stuff just feels like filler, but TheatRhythm manages to really immerse you fully in the huge history of the series. If there was a hardcover bestiary available for sale, I would totally buy it.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
Down, Down: While it's neat to see my favorite cut scenes in 3D, the game doesn't otherwise benefit from playing outside of two dimensions. Also, the texts in the classic movies and the lyrics to vocal pieces all remain in Japanese, which I thought was kind of a lazy move.
Left, Right, Left, Right: The stylus is your only option in the game, but don't worry. It's very forgiving, and while it's easy to get overwhelmed on the faster tunes full of multiple tap input styles, that's what separates beginners from masters. Controlwise, the game couldn't be more perfect.
B, A: I've spent a lot of bandwidth over the years talking about how the music of Final Fantasy is deserving of all the same accolades that people like Hans Zimmer and John Williams get. However, even 25 years of listening to these songs doesn't let you appreciate their depth and genius like being actively forced to participate in their performance. You will find things you never knew were there by playing TheatRhythm, and it will only make you love the series even more.
Start?: It's not a Final Fantasy game, so do not go into the experience expecting anything like that. Instead, it's a companion piece specifically designed to celebrate the history of its music and what each of those songs has meant to your favorite characters. As a brief aside for fans of a rhythmical gaming bent it's the best of all possible worlds. That being said... Square? Any time you want to get around to translating some of the PS1 FFs to the 3DS we're waiting with a big ol' pile of money.