Review by EnmaDaio2588
This is a very strange game, like many music/rhythm games in that while the songs are relatively short, this game has a tendency of eating time. I mean that in the best possible way though. The core gameplay mechanic of Theatrythem is quite simple and controlling the entire game (this includes menus outside of gameplay) is done through the touch-screen. The game consists of three types of levels, BMS, FMS and, EMS and they all have the same three types of notes which are slide, tap and, hold. The game starts with you choosing a party of four familiar characters from Final Fantasy 1 through to 13. Furthermore, there are 16 characters just waiting to be unlocked by gathering Crystal Shards (done by playing the game's Chaos Shrine mode). As for the differences per level type (BMS, FMS, EMS) their presentation for each of the stages are set up slightly differently from each other.
An EMS is an event stage and there are fewer of those than any other stage, one per Final Fantasy title (13 in total). The EMS takes cinematic scenes from their applicable game and sets it to the games main theme or something similar, like Waltz for the Moon for FFVIII or Suteki da ne for FFX. Once you gain a certain amount of Rythmia (points earned after each and every level) you unlock the EMS videos in a theater mode and the big miss here is how the videos themselves weren't re-made or updated enough to support 3D visuals. You get depth with the 3D on but no actual 3D and, the image sort of has a phantom-shift, after-image thing going on.
FMS features field music and while there's one per final fantasy, there are extra ones available to be unlocked through the Chaos Shrine Mode and, gaining more and more Rythmia (not counting DLC, available now if you have an E-Shop card handy). Other than the thirteen main-game field tunes are an extra five field music scores to be unlocked, the music being varied and lovely and a nostalgia trip for every Final Fantasy fan. In series and challenge mode, you're just playing FMS for progression and, points respectively. In the Chaos Shrine, your running character's agility determines who you fight in the next round; the BMS.
As for BMS, this is where your party-building from earlier really comes into play. You see as you play the game and complete levels (EMS, FMS and, BMS) your party gains experience points and level up, even learning abilities and limit breaks (depending on the characters). BMS takes iconic battle music from the 13 main games (plus seven which can be unlocked through gameplay, not counting DLC) and allows your party to battle iconic enemies and bosses from the thirteen Final Fantasy titles. The more enemies you're able to defeat, the better/rarer the items you can earn after those stages.
As you may have picked up on earlier, there is a lot of stuff to do and, unlock in this game. At time of writing, I've spent over 56 hours on this game and while I've unlocked every non-DLC song and, every character there are still 33 trophies in the game waiting for me to unlock them. There are 43 different songs in total and all of them have 3 difficulties (the two more difficult scores being locked until you play them on challenge mode). There are 13 videos to be unlocked in Theater mode and, 77 songs to be unlocked in the music player. There are also cards to collect after battle scenes, 81 in total representing player characters, summons, enemies, etc. Those 81 cards can be upgraded twice as you collect doubles, triples, etc of those cards. Furthermore there are 64 in-game trophies to be unlocked as well. Add in the fact that every character (all 29 of them) can reach level 99 and you have a game that can get you over a hundred hours of content if you don't mind the repetitive gameplay.
This game is meant for one of two people: unabashed Final Fantasy fans and, unabashed lovers of rhythm games (I suppose it was made specifically for the people who love both equally though upon reflection). All of the music comes from Final Fantasy games and even though there are 43 tracks, you will likely end up playing the same tracks over and over again, especially while trying to unlock your favorite characters. The play-style seems like Guitar Hero or, DJ Hero of all things (although I admittedly never played that game but I've seen footage...honest). While there are background graphics to check out your focus will be on the upcoming notes in relation to the strike-zone (as I like to call it). I suppose a third type of person who this game is for are people who play games for 100% completion and before this game I wasn't one of those people but looking back on the past week-and-a-half or two weeks, I think this game may be turning me into a sort of completionist. If you are a completionist, there is a whole lot to keep you playing this game. This is also one of the first 3DS games to support regular DLC in the form of BMS and FMS tracks. At time of writing, the US has 16 songs available and four more on the way, set for a July 26th release date.
There are a couple of things I haven't brought up yet: multiplayer and 3D. The Chaos Shrine allows for a sort of multiplayer mode wherein you join other players locally to play through Dark Notes. The lack of online in itself is a bit off-putting but the big-problem is the fact that you and your friends will be playing the Dark Notes independently, sharing only an HP bar. Getting through both parts of the Dark Note on multiplayer is supposed to unlock rare items but I haven't been able to try it. Another sort of passive multiplayer is the street pass function which is used to trade your Player Card (which can be upgraded through gameplay) and a dark note of your choice. It's a passive function but it allows you to share your favorite Dark Note and get other people's favorites in return.
As for the 3D, it doesn't add anything. For Theater Mode and EMS it's kind of a waste since, as mentioned before, the footage used from the past games don't seem to have been updated to support 3D visuals. The strange thing however is how when you active 3D, some depth is added to those EMS scenes. What you also get however, is a split image and a transparent sort of phantom-image to (in my case) the right of the main scene which isn't always noticeable but still there. During gameplay, the 3D doesn't really add anything but in my case, threw me off slightly when it came to how close a note came to the strike-zone.
In the end though, this is a good game and definitely worth your attention especially if you used to play Guitar Hero and/or Final Fantasy. The promise of more DLC in addition to all of the unlockables keep the replay value of this title very high. If you were more a fan of Tactics or, Crisis Core then hold out hope for a track or two from those games since there are songs from Type-0 and, Verses 13 available as DLC (though admittedly the Type-0 song is exclusive to the Japanese release with no US release date but hey, we still got the VS 13 track Somnus!). Your own personal mileage may vary but this one is definitely worth a purchase over a rental, even if you chose to wait for a price drop or, used sale; don't let this one pass you by.
Product Release: Theatrhythm Final Fantasy (US, 07/03/12)
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