Capsule Review: Theatrhythm Final Fantasy

A rhythm game tribute to the long-running Final Fantasy series. There are songs and characters from every mainline numbered title from the original Final Fantasy to then-recent Final Fantasy XIII. Songs are grouped into a few different kinds of levels depending on the nature of the music - battle music has you fighting a series of monsters, event music plays over cutscenes, and field music has you journeying through the game world. It’s all layered on top of an RPG system where you build a party of four, level them up, and equip items and abilities.

This mostly works well if the nostalgia lands - I personally have only played about half these games, and there was enough for me to enjoy. But the game can’t seem to decide whether it’s a rhythm game with RPG elements or an RPG with rhythm gameplay and doesn’t integrate them well. For example, you collect equipment and abilities but get a massive score bonus for not using any of them, so to get the best scores you have to eschew the RPG systems altogether. The assumption seems to be that you either care about the RPG systems or mastering the pure rhythm gameplay, but not both.

Also, the implementation of the battle songs felt backward to me - rather than playing the battle theme as long as necessary to defeat specific monsters, as happens in the source games, you defeat as many monsters as you can in a certain duration of the battle theme, which means that you always end the battle with a monster still alive. Since the battle theme is designed to loop anyway and doesn’t have a real ending, this is doubly anticlimactic.

The sequel is significantly improved in several ways, to the point of basically obsoleting this installment.

I Stopped Playing When: I played all the songs included in the base game. I didn’t bother with the weird and complicated “Chaos Shrine” that serves as a postgame.

Docprof's Rating:

Two Stars: Meh. The game has some merit - it probably held my attention for at least an hour or I came back to it for more than one play session. But there wasn't enough draw for me to stick with it for the long haul.

You can get it or learn more here.