Theatrhythm Final Fantasy
|Theatrhythm Final Fantasy|
European cover art
|Developer(s)||Square Enix 1st Production Department, indieszero|
JP February 16, 2012
|Distribution||Nintendo 3DS Game Card, digital distribution|
Theatrhythm Final Fantasy (シアトリズム ファイナルファンタジー Shiatorizumu Fainaru Fantajī?, pronounced "theatre-rhythm") is a rhythm video game, developed by indieszero and published by Square Enix for Nintendo 3DS and iOS. Based on the Final Fantasy video game franchise, the game involves using the touch screen in time to various pieces of music from the series. The game was released in Japan on February 16, 2012, in North America on July 3, 2012, in Australia on July 5, 2012 and in Europe on July 6, 2012 for Nintendo 3DS. The iOS version was released on December 13, 2012. A sequel, Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call, was released in 2014.
Theatrhythm Final Fantasy is a rhythm video game. Players take control of four Final Fantasy characters, and select a Final Fantasy game from the first Final Fantasy to Final Fantasy XIII. Each game has three stages: field, battle, and event. Each stage features different game mechanics than the others; once a stage is completed, the characters level up. The difficulty level can be changed in order to make it appealing to "beginners and rhythm masters alike". Throughout the game, players can unlock music and movie scenes. The gameplay requires players to tap on the screen in correct spots to the beat of the music playing. Within the main game section "Series Mode", there are 3 unique stage styles: Field (Overworld) Music, Battle Music, and Event (Dramatic) Music, as well as the option to play through the opening and ending themes.
- The Opening and Ending Theme segments involve simply tapping the screen in time with music notes as they move into the center of a crystal on screen.
- Field music is a side-scrolling rhythm game, as the screen moves from right-to-left, and a player must either tap a note, slide the stylus in a direction, or hold the stylus down while following a waving line on the touch screen. The object is to reach the end of the stage before the music ends, where another character is waiting to give the player an item. Playing well causes the character to speed up, while missing will cause the character to fall down. There is an opportunity to ride a chocobo in each level for a speed boost.
- Battle Music is a mock-battle, with the player tapping notes correctly to do damage to the enemies onscreen. The objective is to kill all the enemies and eventually a boss character during the duration of the song. The notes come in from left-to-right. In this mode, the players must tap a note, swipe the stylus in a direction, or hold the stylus down for a long note. Good timing causes character attacks to be more powerful and can also trigger special abilities. The player has the opportunity to perform one summon attack each battle.
- The Event Music scene includes one or more scenes from the Final Fantasy game you select, and will play the scene onscreen in the background. Controls are similar to the Field sections, albeit players now follow the cursor as it moves around the screen. Clearing gold sections extends the level's song. Characters' stats and abilities other than Hit Points do not affect these stages
There is also a "Challenge Mode" that allows the player to choose the Battle, Overworld, or Dramatic music from a Final Fantasy game that they have cleared the normal difficulty of in Series Mode. The player then plays these one stage at a time, instead of in succession as in Series Mode. If an A rank or better is received on a song, a higher difficulty is unlocked. Unlocking a higher difficulty for all three songs from a Final Fantasy Game will unlock that difficulty in Series Mode. Within Challenge Mode, there is also a "no fail" practice option for each stage.
Lastly for the music section of the game, there is a "Chaos Shrine" mode. There are a total of 99 levels, with two stages per level - a field music followed by a battle music. For each level, there are three possible bosses, with each boss dropping three items for a total of nine potential item drops per level. These items are usually rarer items or crystals needed to unlock additional characters. If one scores high enough in the first field music stage, a sign will appear indicating they will go to "Boss 2 or 3", who will have better item drops. These levels have a difficulty level between the 2nd and 3rd levels from Challenge Mode. Additionally, Chaos Shrine contains songs from Final Fantasy games not featured in other areas of the game (for example, Mambo de Chocobo). The game also features downloadable content, allowing players to purchase new songs and stages from the Nintendo eShop.
The game follows the events of the gods Chaos and Cosmos, a similar plot to Dissidia Final Fantasy for the PlayStation Portable. The space between the two is called Rhythm, which gives birth to a crystal that controls music. Chaos causes the crystal to become disrupted, and the only way to return it to normal is to increase a music wave known as "Rhythmia" (known as "Rhythpo" in the Japanese version). As such, various characters from the Final Fantasy universe are brought together in order to harness the power of Rhythmia.
Development and release
Theatrhythm Final Fantasy was proposed by Square Enix's Ichiro Hazama after working in the film Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children. It was originally envisioned for the Nintendo DS but development would face difficulties due to the console's limitations. Upon seeing the Nintendo 3DS, Hazama once again gave his idea to his superior Tetsuya Nomura and the company Indieszero, which resulted in the production for the game on the Nintendo 3DS. For the music selection, the Square Enix staff made a music survey during development of Dissidia Final Fantasy although most of the chosen songs were from Final Fantasy VII. All the songs were included in their original versions with the exception of the "Gurugu Volcano" from the first Final Fantasy which is based on the PlayStation release since the original version was shorter. The idea of using the gods Chaos and Cosmos from Dissidia was proposed by Nomura as both Hazama and him had work in such game and wanted to continue using them.
The trademark "Theatrhythm" was filed near the end of E3 2011 by Square Enix. Theatrhythm Final Fantasy was officially announced for release exclusively on the Nintendo 3DS handheld game console in the Japanese manga anthology Weekly Shōnen Jump. It was originally announced for release only in Japan. Square Enix Japan created an official website to promote the game. Rumours came up that Theatrhythm Final Fantasy would be developed by Jupiter; however, it was later confirmed on the official website that it would be developed by Indieszero. The character and monster designs are designed by MonsterOctopus, who also designed the Kingdom Hearts avatars found in Kingdom Hearts Mobile and Kingdom Hearts Re:Coded.
Since its announcement, Theatrhythm Final Fantasy has received mixed reception. Several writers have questioned the idea of a rhythm game in the Final Fantasy series. Wired's Chris Kohler wrote that it might be a good game, and added that while developing rhythm games may be difficult, he hopes that Square Enix would enlist a developer who could accomplish such a task. He wrote that the 3DS has a meager library and that the high quality of Final Fantasy music could lend itself well to the genre. Nevertheless, he wrote "if it sucks, it’ll really suck." He further criticized Square Enix Japan for rarely making video games outside of its three big brands, which includes Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, and Kingdom Hearts. However, he noted that they are making an attempt to make more video games that aren't role-playing games. MTV Multiplayer's Matt Clark thought that it was a joke when he first heard about it, though he noted that he liked rhythm games. He questioned why the game needed to exist in the first place; nevertheless, he wrote that he would reserve judgment until he can "see the game" for himself. Game Set Watch's Danny Cowan also felt that the name sounded like a joke, and speculated that it could be a prank similar to the April Fool's Day reveal of the hoax game Funky Fantasy, which was also supposed to be a Final Fantasy rhythm game. 1UP.com's Chris Pereira wrote that while Theatrhythm may not be what 3DS owners were expecting, its developer has a quality track record. Shack News' Steve Watts commented that the title, which he calls "insane", "could be part of some internal contest to come up with the strangest name". GameSpot's Jonathan Leo Toyad wrote that the rhythm genre lends itself well due to the high quality of the series' music, and called the art style "colorful". During E3 2012, 1UP awarded it with "Best Acknowledgement of Game History" for how it pays homage to the franchise.
In February 2012, Nobuo Uematsu, longtime Final Fantasy composer, played Theatrhythm Final Fantasy and expressed satisfaction at the game, stating that "As I remembered various things from the past 20 years, I was reduced to tears. FF music fans should definitely play it. Won't you cry with me?".
In the first week of release in Japan, sales of just shy of 70,000 were reported. Within one month, by March 11, 2012, the game had sold 112,344 copies in Japan. As of March 26, 2012, the game has sold 133,245 units in Japan.
IGN gave it an 8.5 out of 10 and an Editor's Choice Award. Praising the soundtrack and cuteness of the game, while still criticizing the game being graphically mixed. Bordersdown graded it 8/10, praising the music selection combined with provision of "enough challenge and reward to keep players coming back for more", whilst mentioning it will appeal more to Final Fantasy fans.
A sequel, Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call, was released for the Nintendo 3DS on April 24, 2014 in Japan, and will be released in North America on September 16, 2014 and Europe on September 19, 2014. The game features 221 songs and a new versus battle mode.
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