Review by DARKDEATH98

Reviewed: 01/22/13

I love music games that break the mold. This one does so in every way possible.

To be honest, I'm not a hardcore Final Fantasy fan. Far apart from random, turn-based battles, I just never really got into it that much. Sure, I've played every game up to XIII part 2, but I never replayed any of them. The story is great though, in most of the games. I just found them to be tedious. This game delivers more enjoyment than I could have every thought possible from a Final Fantasy game. Now, let's dive right in.

STORY
Yeah, right. A music game. There is no story really. Well, actually, not entirely. It's basically a retelling of the dissidia storyline in musical form. The world of Final Fantasy dissidia has lost its harmony, and you need to restore it by collecting rythmia (by clearing songs) to restore the music crystal's light, and then defeat chaos, the god of discord, once you have enough light in the crystal. But even after that, the game is VERY far from over.

GAMEPLAY
There are 3 main music play modes. The first is Series Mode. In this mode, you take a party of 4 Final Fantasy heroes from the 13 games that you choose (more are unlocked, more on that later), and you go through 3 songs from the Final Fantasy game you choose. The songs are predetermined and in a specific order, consisting of a field music stage (traveling), a battle music stage (fighting), and an even music stage (basically a cinematic story summary). The touch screen is used for every stage, but in different ways to keep these stages varied. In FMS, you will see lines curving about onscreen, moving from left to right. As the circles get to your trigger, you tap. If there's an arrow on the circle, you flick in the direction indicated. If the circle has a line connected, you hold down the tap. In field music, the line will be curvy, and you need to slide the stylus up and down on the touch screen to move your trigger to match the line on the top screen. During this, you can summon a chocobo to cover more ground and earn bonus points if you do well, as well as meet moogles and Final Fantasy heroes who will give you treasure chests containing items. In BMS, you see 4 lanes, each with a trigger at the end, for the 4 characters you have. Enemies are on the left, and the same triggers will come at you. Regardless of the line the triggers is on, you tap the screen (where you tap doesn't matter). In this stage, there is no sliding (aside from flicks for the arrows), and every time you hit a trigger well, you will damage the enemy. Defeat enemies and you may get a nice item. Finally, in EMS your marker will move, not the triggers. Your marker moves along a predetermined line, while you tap (again, the area you tap doesn't matter), hold and flick the stylus to hit the triggers. During EMS, and nifty video is playing in the background, like a full story summary told through spliced-together gameplay scenes, or a simple video of the most important scene in the game (it depends on the game). Regardless, the games are shown in the japanese versions, so the text that you see is in Japanese. After all, many of these games originally (like Final Fantasy II, III, and V) were never released in America until the GBA and DS versions came out later, so this is understandable. For clearing these 3 types of stages, you will gain rythmia, and for every 500 rythmia you gain, you get a prize (a new option for your profile, a new song to play, a new movie to watch, a new song to listen too, or even a crystal shard).

CONTROL
Pretty much perfect, I can't complain, I never noticed a single problem or glitch at all. Mainly controls well, although some flick triggers can be frustrating until you find the game's sweet spot (which takes about an hour of playing). The menus are easy to navigate, and you will never accidentally pick something incorrect.

GRAPHICS
First off, why does this game need to be on the 3DS?! It's a music game, so 3D is not necessary, if anything, it hurts my eyes to play with 3D on for this game. That aside, the graphics are very well done. The even scenes are nicely animated and the triggers and such are never to small to see, plus the backgrounds are good. After all, a music game doesn't need much finesse with the graphics, but what is done is done nicely. I particularly like the cutesy character models though, and the summon animations are well done too (especially Zantetsuken).

MUSIC
I'll take any excuse to listen to Final Fantasy music, it's some of the best in the history of video games. To be perfectly fair, none of it is remixed, so the awesome, fully orchestrated remix of the original FF I battle theme heard in dissidia isn't here, it's just the 8-bit version, but it doesn't really matter, it adds a great sense of nostalgia. To include the remixes would have been nice though. Ultimately, the music just rocks. Especially One-Winged Angel, that song is F***ing AWESOME.

LIFESPAN
After you clear the basic courses for the entire series (all 13 mainline games), there's always challenge mode, where you can play the songs indivdually, using the basic score, the expert score, or, if you unlock it, the ultimate score. Claeringa whole series's song list in expert or ultimate mode will unlock the corresponding course for series mode, so there's incentive to try and clear every song on every difficulty. After you do that, there's still more to do though, like leveling up, unlocking new stuff, and clearing dark notes in the chaos shrine, so this game has a great mount of longevity for a music game.

UNUSUAL STUFF
I had to spotlight the ways this game breaks the mold, as it really is unlike any music game out there. When I first played Beatmania IIDX 19: Lincle at my local arcade, I loved that fact that they added RPG elements into it. This game does the same, but like in Lincle, they are mainly there for flavoring, although they can be impactful on how you play. When choosing your party of four characters, you will level them up as you clear song and gain experience (which is seperate from rythmia, otherwise your progress would be glacially slow). The higher their level, the better their stats. High agility will be useful in FMS, high strength in BMS, and high luck in EMS. This gives you a reason to grind them. They also learn abilities, which you can equip them with (provided they have enough command points). Each character can be equipped with a variety of abilities, which do things like increase HP, agility and other stats, as well as increase the EXP they receive, refill their health for doing well in a song, or cause extra damage to enemies in BMS. Also, you can equip an item. Items do things like give your leader a new ability, ensure that you will be succesful in summoning or such, or even up your chances of meeting moogles and/or collecting rare items. The other RPG elements come in the form of the chaos shrine. In the chaos shrine, you play courses called Dark Notes. Every dark note has a unique name (silence's wish, byakko's castle, godess's name ect. ect. ect.), and consists of two predetermined songs. You pick a dark note, and use your current party to clear the songs (which are unknown). The number attached to the dark note indicates its difficulty, from 1 to 99 (every 90 or higher has rotating arrow triggers!). Upon clearing a dark note, you will recieve a new one, and items. Most commonly, you recieve crystal shards. There are tons of different shards (red, blue, indigo, crimson, grey, green, yellow, orange, all the way up to rainbow shards!). These shards are collected throughout the game, and getting 8 of one type unlocks a new FF hero to use (rainbow shards will unlock Cosmos though). This is another reason to keep playing. Finally, the final reason to keep playing, is the collectable cards. As you clear stages, you will recieve collectible cards that are stored in your card binder. they are just like trading cards, they have a picture of a character, item, enemie or whatever, the name and game in the series they're from, as well as a short description. Get lucky, and your card will be a holofoil card, changing it's graphic and design. Get super lucky, and it will be a platinum, once again changing it's design and graphic. These cards are like Pokemon, they give you a really good reason to keep on playing, if you like to collect things, collecting them quickly becomes an obsession. Overall, the game has unusual things you will never expect from a music game, and a great lifespan because of that.

BOTTOM LINE
Final Fantasy fans will get a kick out of this, and every 3DS owner should buy this game. After so many years of Square playing it safe with the FF granchise, seeing this is a breath of fresh air, and they must make ore. Please encourage them. Buy this game.

9.5/10

Rating: 9

Product Release: Theatrhythm Final Fantasy (US, 07/03/12)

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