PAX East – Theatrhythm Final Fantasy Is More Than Just A Rhythm Based Cash In

There’s no need to beat around the bush here: I was ready to dismiss Theatrhythm Final Fantasy as a throwaway game designed for the casual crowd. Even during my initial playthrough, my thoughts and impressions weren’t changing. Then I tried one of the harder modes available and the beat of my tune changed.

Theatrhythm is Square Enix‘s way of celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Final Fantasy franchise by creating a rhythm game with the most memorable songs and scenes throughout the Final Fantasy franchise, specifically the original numbered titles (no spin-offs or sequels). The choice of the Nintendo 3DS as a platform was completely logical: you play each song with your stylus on the touch screen, pressing, swiping, holding when prompted. Those who played older music based games, such as Amplitude will feel right at home, though the gameplay isn’t exactly a carbon copy.

I’ll admit that I did get nostalgic when playing through a “battle,” if you want to even call it that, where the track of choice was the original Final Fantasy fight song. While my knowledge of the franchise isn’t the greatest, it does speak volumes when I’m still able to get nostalgic.

Those of you that will be looking for a deeper challenge are in luck. The Square Enix rep was quite excited when discussing the challenge modes and harder difficulties that will be available, allowing players to replay each songs and scenes for a better score. Speaking of these scenes, you are able to relive the most memorable cutscenes in the franchise as a playthrough, but there’s a twist: the track isn’t your standard left to right music track, but instead twists and turns in unexpected ways that requires you to stay on your toes.

I was able to get my hands on one of the harder difficulties. Sufficed to say, veterans of the rhythm genre will be quite pleased. There was an excellent challenge to be had and while I was passing through the early stages with relative ease, I was tripped up several times on the harder song they had to demo. Thankfully, we will be able to level up our characters, which is game’s “RPG element,” per the Square Enix rep, that will help us tackle the harder song charts.

The game is already localized and English and is extremely well polished. The 3D and visuals won’t test the system’s limits, but then again, that’s not the point of the game. It’s nice to see my favorite cutscenes from older Final Fantasy games stay in their original visual style, i.e. sprites, and helps to further fuel that nostalgia.

Initial reports from Japan, where the game has already launched, are positive, noting the game has hit home with both Final Fantasy fans and followers of the genre. We’ll see what kind of reception we’ll get stateside when the game ships for the 3DS July 3rd.

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