In my Heroes of Ruin Hindsight Review I mentioned that it was released as part of a trio of Square-Enix titles to reach the 3DS during the summer of 2012, while its library was still tiny. While Heroes of Ruin was the black sheep of this bunch ; Theatrhythm was, in contrast, an angel delight. Indeed it was my game of 2012!
Created to mark the 25th Anniversary of the Final Fantasy franchise, Theatrhythm is a rhythm game that utilises the music from past Final Fantasy games. Like Dissidea before it, it took the characters and themes from those games and mashed their RPG elements with an unfamiliar genre in a unique way. And, like Dissidea on the PSP before it, the end result was fantastic!
You begin by choosing a team of four from an assortment of Final Fantasy protagonists. For old school Final Fantasy fans such as myself getting acquainted with old friends such as Cecil and Cloud was great in itself, but the fact you can then have them together in a team? Mind-blowing. You can equip your team-members with buffs and spells to help them on the ‘battlefield’, and as they level up your options to this end increase.
The levels see you tapping along to those all-too-familiar beats using the 3DS touchscreen. It’s really enjoyable, until you get to the harder difficulty settings. Which, if you’re crap at games as I am, seem cruel and impossible. I’m aware there are people out there who have crazy quick reaction speed however (such as my buddy Eren Baykal, who currently works out in Germany for a mysterious Japanese company that begins with ‘N’). And I will concede that it’s a good thing these people are catered for.
The music was always going to be incredible. How could a tour through some of legendary maestro Nobuo Uematsu’s best work be anything but? In terms of the game’s absolute musical highlights? Ask ten Theatrhythm players this question and you’ll get eleven different answers (which is something I really like about the Final Fantasy franchise). My personal choices would be the theme from Final Fantasy 4, ‘The Man with the Machine Gun’ and, ofcourse, ‘The Sunleth Waterscape’ (the lyrics of which I totally misinterpreted it seems!)
No effort was spared on the graphics. All the characters have been recreated in an adorable ‘chibi’ style that suits the game really well. Those familiar enemies we all know and love have been the recipients of a similar level of effort. The backdrops range from the luscious 3D-looking landscapes of the field levels to the murky pits of the ‘boss battles’ (which play the same as the regular levels, so don’t worry!). Then you have the text used for the menu graphics, the special effects… I really could go on!
Before I conclude I want to say a few words about longevity. This game kept me entertained for far longer than a rhythm game has any right to, with my 3DS registering 40+ hours of playtime to date. Chasing after those elusive secret characters will keep dedicated players coming back to Theatrhythm long after they’ve finished playing through all the courses (which are collections of tracks pertaining to specific Final Fantasy titles). Add to this testing the DLC tracks (of which I bought all), the collecting cards and the old-fashioned desire to best your highscore and what you have here is a game where you’ll always have something left to achieve.
In conclusion, with the release of its sequel Theatrhythm : Curtain Call just around the corner it felt apt to take a look back at the original Theatrhythm game on the 3DS. And to explain in some depth why it was such a fantastic game. One of the Final Fantasy franchise’s biggest selling points is its music, so it stands to reason that a game which is more or less driven by those wonderful tracks would be amazing. That the game also plays so tightly and has such wonderful visuals leads me to believe this is something of a masterpiece. And don’t even get me started on its deep and most admirable level of fan service….
That said, while I would have indisputably scored Theatrhythm a 10/10 if I’d reviewed in its day, this is a hindsight review. And, as such, I can’t ignore the passage of time. In any case, it would be incorrect of me to give it a score that indicates it can’t be improved upon, when it’s upcoming sequel is looking to blow it out of the water!
In addition, the 3DS games released during 2013 really showed me what the 3DS was capable of. As great as Theatrhythm was in its day, other titles such as Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate and Animal Crossing : New Leaf have replaced it in my heart. So, for this reason I’m giving Theatrhythm an 8.5/10
Final Score : 8.5/10
Official Site : http://www.theatrhythm.com