Theatrhythm Final Fantasy
The Final Fantasy franchise began in 1987 with Hironobu Sakaguchi’s Final Fantasy, originally released on the Nintendo Entertainment System. The franchise has spanned 14 main games, and many spin-off games and feature films. The series found a great re-surgance in 1997 with Final Fantasy VII, especially in the Western gaming world and was available initially on the Sony Playstation.
Square Enix’s Theatrhythm Final Fantasy was originally released on the Nintendo 3DS in 2012 and is a rhythm action game using the music from the Final Fantasy series. Gameplay uses mechanics reminiscent of iNiS’ Elite Beat Agents / Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan and Gitaroo Man, and will have you tapping, holding and flicking the screen. There are 2 main types of level to choose from: Battle Music Stages and Field Music Stages. Battle Music stages are generally faster and have 4 lanes with different symbols. Field Music Stages tend to be a slower tempo, and have one lane, however the lane travels up and down and must be followed. The controls are very responsive, so if there any mistakes you make you know that it is your fault, and with practice you can see your skills improve. Hits are given a rating, ranging from ‘Critical’ to ‘Bad’, or ‘Miss’ if you leave it out altogether. Songs can be attempted individually, or a number of songs can be completed as a quest. If you complete parts of a quest, you can unlock cards to view in the card gallery.
The game features an interactive tutorial, which does well in explaining what the different symbols and modes do. Also available is a shop allowing you to purchase more tracks to play with. This is necessary as the game only comes with 2 tracks to play, FFVII’s One Winged Angel and FFX’s Zanarkand. Unfortunately (and this is the apps biggest problem) the extra songs are fairly expensive, coming in at 69p each (or £1.99 for a bundle of 4 tracks not available separately) as well as £1.49 for extra characters, it will cost a small fortune to unlock everything. Considering these are available on the 3DS for a lot more reasonable price it does seem a big ask to get everything.
Also missing on the app are the event songs, which lets you re-live iconic scenes throughout the series. This is one of the most popular features of the 3DS version and to have it missing is a letdown. Another omission from the 3DS version is the ability to fully customize your characters abilities and items, instead it just leaves a simple levelling up system.
The graphics themselves are very clear and use a cute art style for the characters. As with the music, the characters range from most of the franchise’s games and are represented in this cutesy style, and in high definition. This is one advantage of having the iOS app. Another positive is the ability to only unlock the songs that you are interested in with a preview available for all purchasable songs, so you can hear and choose the ones you would like. Another feature in the app is the ability to compose your own score tracks. This comes with its own tutorial and while fiddly, it has the potential to increase the games length.
Overall the app feels very polished and it is fun to play. The only real problem is the cost of the song list. Fans of the series may have a few highlights and musical scores that they like, and can pick these songs to purchase. A potential downside is that with only a few songs, the game can become very repetitive as songs are repeated. The app is free to download and it is worth downloading it and checking it out, as there is a good game there, you just need to purchase some meat for the bare bones.
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