Review by gabikun
The rhythm of Dragon Quest
Theatrhythm series started to appear as Final Fantasy spin offs with the release of 2 games, Theatrhythm Final Fantasy and Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call. Both games used Final Fantasy Music to create a world in which you must defeat monsters and travel through fields by following the rhythm of the music. They had a relative success, and now Square-Enix has released a third game in the series, focusing on the Dragon Quest world instead.
The game uses the same engine as the previous ones, with some changes here and there, but always keeping the theatrhythm feel. For those that havent played any of the games, you need to follow the rhythm of the song and tap the notes that appear on the screen accordingly. There are three types of notes: the ones that you simply tap the screen or push any of the buttons, the ones that you need to slide or move the gamepad in certain direction, and finally the one that need to tap the screen or a button and hold for a certain time.
Field, Battle and Event Music songs come back, but they have changed slightly to feel more dragon questy.
In Field Music songs you travel from a place to another place. There is only one path in which notes appear from the left to the right. Tapping the notes correctly will make you go faster. The holding notes require you to slide up or down on the touch screen or move the gamepad up and down accordingly to follow the path. They still have a critical zone, but you will always end with the same caravan regardless of how well you perform on that critical zone. Items can be obtained by doing a good, great or critical in special notes in a barrel shape that appear randomly during the song.
In Battle Music Songs, there are more differences. There are still 4 different paths in which notes can appear, but instead of moving from left to right, they move from up to down. Characters are no longer seen on the upper screen, instead you can only see the monsters. Yes, you read right: in theatrhythm dragon quest, there can be up to 5 monsters on screen at once, and every one of them must be defeated to make the next group of monsters appear. On the left side of the upper screen you can see a number. That number refers to the total of monster groups that you need to defeat, the last referring to the stage boss. Defeat the boss and you will trigger the metal slime mode, in which metal slime appears alone or with other monsters. Defeat them to earn more EXP points, but as the main Dragon Quest series, they can escape at any moment. Critical zones can be found in Battle Music Songs, but instead of summoning a beast as in Final Fantasy, a special ability is chosen randomly depending on your characters classes.
Finally, Event Music Songs play like previous games, but there are multiple paths from which notes appear, so they feel more difficult than the Final Fantasy games. Everything else is the same, if you want to play the full song you need to success at the critical zone of the song.
One new feature of the game is the Simple option. If you activate this option, you will disable the directional notes of every song regardless of its difficulty, and on field music songs the path will be straight lined too, meaning that you only need to tap or to tap and hold.
Once you launch the game for the first time, there is only one option available, which is Music Mode. This mode is the basic one that has appeared in all the other games: you can play all the songs directly here, ideal for shorts bursts. However, at first only one song is available for every game (from Dragon Quest I to X, there is no spin off music here). If you want to unlock more songs, you must head to Challenge mode, which is unlocked after a few plays on Music Mode.
Challenge mode offers 52 different tasks to complete, each one tied with a specified song of the series. 10 are available at the start (the ones that are actually playable in music mode), and by completing tasks, you will be unlocking the respective song in Music Mode. Every game has its final boss, which when beaten unlocks an Event Music Song for that respective game (for a total of 10). If you complete all 52 tasks, a new more difficult challenge mode and a daily challenge mode will be unlocked. Finally, when you earn 40.000 rhythpo and every 10.000 rhythpo, you will earn a ticket to enter the Dark Slime realm once, in which you play a battle song and try to defeat as many Dark Slimes as you can.
Finally, the last mode, and the most interesting one, is the Sugoroku mode. This mode consists in a board game in which you have a specific number of dices to reach the final square, in which the last boss awaits. To clear a specific board you need to reach that last square with a perfect dice number. There are lots of squares with different effects: red ones are good and blue bad, and there are special shop and treasure squares that give you items and money. Yes, you can earn gold in this mode, which can be used to buy special dices and even collecta cards in batch of 10 (at different costs depending on their rarity) when you reach a shop square. There are battle and field music songs, that let you take a shortcut of that board when you clear them. When you reach the last square you receive special colored stones that are used to unlock characters, and you are given the option to challenge the boss (in case you refuse you still clear the board).
All the boards are fixed, there are no random boards in this mode.
Sadly, all these modes are 1 player only, there is no multiplayer in this game.
Collecta cards are back, and this time they have another collecta card type: Special. So now there are Normal (N), Rare (R), Premium (P) and Special (S) cards. Special cards are only obtainable by collecting Tiny Medals, which are a rare treasure drop, obtained by doing the daily and dark slime challenges or by other special means.
You can see collecta cards on the respective album in the Museum, as in other games. One change from previous theatrhythm games is that, to obtain a specific monster card, you need to defeat that specific monster to make the monster drop it. On the other hand, character cards are only found on field music and event music stages.
The RPG elements:
Like the Final Fantasy music games, you can select 4 members to be part of your party at the start. To unlock more characters, you need to collect 7 special colored stones with a dragon shape; every time you have one for every color you unlock a new character.
Every character has the following stats: Health Points (HP), Magic Points (MP), Attack, Defence, Magic, Speed and Luck. Those stats are raised when levelling up by playing songs or by using collecta cards like in theatrhythm curtain call.
When a character levels up, he or she can learn skills, which are used automatically in battle (you dont equip them as in final fantasy) and waste MP. You dont control when they perform their skills, but you can select every character behavior from wasting MP carelessly to save MP skills for bosses.
Another addition is the job system. You can change the job of your characters from a series of options that varies from one character to another. There are tons of different classes, from the usual warrior and mage, to others like princess and monster tamer. Every character has access to some jobs and has other locked for him/her, but luckily you have some special items, called knowledges, that unlocks them for that character. You have the princess job locked? Use a princess knowledge with that character to unlock it. Knowledges are obtained by clearing tasks in challenge mode or by earning rhythpo.
The job level is saved, so if you raise a character into the warrior class, and you change to a mage, when you come back to warrior your character will be at the same level as he/she was before. The benefit of leveling up different jobs is that some of the skills carry over with the character, so you will end with a more powerful character the more jobs he/she excels in.
You can equip consumable items that help you raising your stats or healing HP, and there is another slot for accessories which are not used and will always have an effect on the stages, from making gold monsters appear more often to doubling some of your leader stats.
Theatrhythm Dragon Quest follows the same mechanics as its predecessors. That means a solid and addicting gameplay focusing on the dragon quest music. All songs have been composed by Koichi Sugiyama, which means orchestrated themes influenced by classical music for the most part.
It should be noted that there are very few basic songs available when comparing with the last theatrhythm final fantasy: in this game you will find a little more than 60 tracks, when curtain call has over 200 tracks available in the basic package. This can be a problem when playing challenges and sugoroku modes, because there are many times in which you will be thinking this song again?. Moreover, all songs are orchestrated, there is no original music from the NES and SNES era. However, Square-enix promised that all DLC will be free for this game, and right at release date, four new orchestrated tracks were available as DLC, plus a NES version of Finale from the original Dragon Quest.
The designs of your party characters are the same as the final fantasy ones, but dressed as dragon quest characters, so very little of Akira Toriyamas designs are found in them. You will recognize them if you have played dragon quest games, though. On the other hand, monsters are a blend of theatrhythms and Akiras designs. They did a great work with this. One thing that is odd is that there is no 3D option to be found in this game.
The modes are entertaining, with a special mention to sugoroku, that adds more variety to the formula. However, this mode wont appeal to everyone, especially if they dont like the randomness of board games with dices.
There is no multiplayer to be found anywhere, and the only connectivity is through streetpass, which is used to exchange your info and to send and receive puzzle pieces of specific monsters, which need to be completed for some kind of reward. These puzzle pieces are only obtainable this way, which makes gamers from overseas unable to complete them at all.
In general, its a great game, but feels uncompleted. There is fun to be found by the already expected solid gameplay and the different modes, especially if you like board games, but the lack of multiplayer, no 3D option and the few songs available at the start makes this game not as completed as Theatrhythm curtain call.
7,5/10 Rounded down to 7.
Product Release: Theatrhythm Dragon Quest (JP, 03/26/15)
Got Your Own Opinion?
Submit a review and let your voice be heard.