Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call Review

What if you could summon Bahamut in Rock Band?

Posted By | On 11th, Sep. 2014 Under Article, Reviews | Follow This Author @Jechtshot78


I‘ve been playing Final Fantasy games since I was 11 years old. I started with Final Fantasy X on the PS2 when a friend of mine wouldn’t stop raving over how great it was. After a bit of coercion on his part, I caved and took the game home to try out. That game started my extensive love affair with the JRPG genre, but that’s a story for a different day. The point is that the soundtrack of the game stood out to me, and then I was blown away by the rest of the Final Fantasy games I played afterward.

Square-Enix has found a way to leverage the near universal love for these soundtracks with the Theatrhythm series. With a set list that includes everything from popular main series music, to even spin offs and lesser known games, there seems to be something for any fan to like. The music of these games has been the basis of countless tribute bands and CD releases so its no surprise that Square has created a package that turns that aspect itself into a game. Curtain Call is akin to a setlist/feature update that you might find in most other rhythm games. Think Rock Band to Rock Band 2, if you will.

Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call

"With a set list that includes everything from popular main series music, to even spin offs and lesser known games, there seems to be something for any fan to like. "

Theatrhythm has three different types of tracks, each with three difficulty levels. These are: Battle Music Stages (BMS), Field Music Stages (FMS), and Event Music Stages (EMS). BMS tracks are exactly what the name implies, battle music from all of the games. FMS tracks are based on the ambient music that plays along the journeys. And EMS are special tracks with full motion CGI playing in the background, chronicling memorable set piece moments from the corresponding game. The gameplay in each of these is essentially the same requiring players to hit the notes as they come along, but the backgrounds and rewards differ depending on how well you do.

Battle Music Stages are easily the best tracks available. The screen orientation during these stages is the traditional player on the right side, enemy on the left portrayal and the battle plays out while you hit the notes. Getting better timing on each note does more damage to the monster, and when it is killed, another takes its place eventually getting to a final boss character unique to each song. Each enemy you defeat will gain you extra items, experience and rhythmia after the song is over, so it is a nice incentive to do your best each time.

What makes this game stand out among other rhythm games are the light RPG elements scattered throughout. When playing the Quest Medley mode players will collect crystals in order to unlock characters from Final Fantasy games. Each character can be added to a 4 person party who will level up and gain ability modifiers to use in the Music Stages. On the lower difficulties these abilities are mostly superfluous to your success, but on higher difficulties they become absolutely essential so setting the correct line up is very important. Characters in your party can be changed and leveled up at any time and in any mode so getting new level 1 characters up to snuff doesn’t take very long at all.

Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call

" Each enemy you defeat will gain you extra items, experience and rhythmia after the song is over, so it is a nice incentive to do your best each time."

Along with abilities you can use items to supplement your party. Classic Final Fantasy staples such as Potions and Phoenix Downs make their appearance and act accordingly. Items can be used outside of Music Stages, or equipped for battle for a single use. It is important to plan items accordingly before Music Stages as success or failure hinges on the HP gauge that lowers every time you miss a note. Summon gems are also among the game’s items and they can be equipped for use during the summon phase of a BMS for more powerful attacks.

There are numerous ways to play the game, whether you like using the stylus to hit notes, buttons, or need to play one-handed. I personally found the button mode to suit my play style and I never felt like I was hampered in any way. Its all personal though and the game lets you switch your style on the fly depending on what’s most comfortable for you.

Like most rhythm games, additional tracks and unlockables become available based on how skillful you become at the game, and how much time you put in. In Theatrhythm this takes the form of rhythmia, or RM. RM is a score that perpetually increases with each track you complete, the better you do, the higher the increase. As your overall score rises, you will unlock different modes, items, and tracks. Its a good system that encourages trying out new modes, and difficulties to gain a higher score increase.

Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call

" It is important to plan items accordingly before Music Stages as success or failure hinges on the HP gauge that lowers every time you miss a note. "

A new addition to Curtain Call is the versus mode, which can be played Online, Locally, and against the AI in a time attack mode. Essentially you pick a track and see who can get the highest score. Its a rudimentary system could have been better if there was more player to player interaction. The joy of playing rhythm games like Rock Band with another person is that you are often co-dependent in completing the song with a high score. Unfortunately you only get to battle against your friends instead of work together.

The only major gripe I have with this game is the, frankly, terrible art style. Its a matter of taste of course, but it turned me off from playing the first game and I still don’t like it here. It simply doesn’t lend itself well and does a huge disservice to the diverse character designs and art styles of the 27 year series history. It takes interesting and deliberate designs and homogenizes them into dolls complete with out of place blush markers and dead eyes.

For Final Fantasy fans who particularly like the music, Curtain Call is a no brainer. It is a worthy update to the first game in terms of mechanics and tracks. I can only hope that Square Enix continues to leverage this brand in the future and hopefully brings it to consoles at some point in order to take advantage of the larger storage capacity and audio settings.

This game was reviewed on the Nintendo 3DS.

THE GOOD

Wonderful use of storied soundtracks that would be lost to time without this game, A genuinely enjoyable way to relive some of the most iconic music ever created, Interesting use of RPG tropes evokes a feeling of being in one of the games.

THE BAD

Basically just a set list update, Art style is awful and doesn't lend itself to most character and monster designs, Multiplayer feels like an after thought, Menus are slowly unlocked the more you play….including settings, tutorials, and online multiplayer, Low storage space on the 3DS prevents the game from using full tracks at higher bitrates.

Final Verdict

For Final Fantasy fans who particularly like the music, Curtain Call is a no brainer. It is a worthy update to the first game in terms of mechanics and tracks. I can only hope that Square Enix continues to leverage this brand in the future and hopefully brings it to consoles at some point in order to take advantage of the larger storage capacity and audio settings.

A copy of this game was provided by developer/publisher for review purposes. Click here to know more about our Reviews Policy.

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