Theatrhythm – Let me start by saying this: You could slap the name “Final Fantasy” on anything and I’d be inclined to investigate it heavily. That being said, after seeing screen shots and trailers of Theatrhythm, I was unimpressed. I’m not sure if it was the style of the characters, or maybe just the idea of the game all together; either way, it didn’t make it onto my “I MUST PLAY THIS NOW” list. Oh, but I was wrong. So very wrong.
To the naked eye, Theatrhythm looks like a cutesy, gimmicky, Final Fantasy for children and that isn’t an unfair assumption. This game is very casual. If you’re looking for an amazing new story with cut scenes and thrills like never before, you should find a different game. However, if you’ve played any of the main Final Fantasy games to the point where you know the story, and more importantly-the music, then this game is definitely worth a look.
First and foremost, this is a music/rhythm game. I know that seems like an obvious statement, but it needed to be said. Square Enix was catering to a very specific crowd in the making of the game. The crowd being people who love Final Fantasy (specifically the music), or rhythm games as a genre. It’s safe to say that anyone who is dedicated to either would enjoy this game.
Now, let’s get into the details. Theatrhythm is set up in a way that is reminiscent of playing any of the main Final Fantasy titles.
Songs are separated into three different types;
- Field (FMS)
- Battle (BMS)
- Event (EMS)
The main thirteen titles of Final Fantasy are represented by (at least) one song of each type. Each type has a unique setup that involves each character in a specific way. The main characters of each of game are available from the start, with many more to be unlocked along the way, and your party is built from 4 of the characters of your choosing, all with their own special abilities and stat builds, and your party order is crucial to the people who want to play each stage as best as they can.
Field stages (FMS) focus mainly on agility, as it is supposed to be the “overworld” aspect of Final Fantasy, with exploring the map and riding chocobos. So, having a character with high agility or abilities that cater to FMS are ideal.
Battle stages (BMS) are exactly that. All four of your party members will team up and battle a slew of monsters to the upbeat tune of an iconic battle them. Your main goal is to survive, and defeat as many monsters as you can before the song ends. So, naturally, you’ll want a party full of characters with high strength or magic, depending on their predisposition. With every monster you fight through, you not only gain more experience, but you increase your chance of them dropping rare items to help you through later. Luck would also be a desired skill to have in this scenario if you’re treasure hunting.
Event stages (EMS) are arguably the most challenging of the stages, for not only the odd arrangement of the notes on screen, but the fact that behind the usual track of notes you’ll be playing is a compilation of cut scenes and iconic images from whatever game your song is from. It’s challenging in the sense that it’s hard to keep your focus on one or the other, especially since it is usually full of high action and important parts of each games story, and it’s probably the first time you’ve ever seen them this clean or in 3D. Luck is the only important stat in this stage, because there isn’t really a goal besides not losing all your HP. Each game has it’s own set of these three types of song, separating them by game (at first). Eventually you’ll be able to play songs individually, and conquer a different challenge called “Chaos Notes,” which just feature random field and battles stages from each game, usually at a higher difficulty. After a while, you’ll get a feel for the songs, even if you didn’t know them before hand, and you’ll develop the patterns and beats rather routinely.