IGN Preview of Theatrhythm Final Fantasy
I am not one to care about rhythm games. If I want to listen to music or tap along to a good beat, I'll fire up my iPod. I do, however, love Final Fantasy music. I've spent quite a penny importing various soundtracks from the series over the years, including assorted piano and deluxe collections. If any franchise could get me to really invest some time in a rhythm game, it'd be Final Fantasy.
Theatrhythm Final Fantasy operates with a very basic premise. You're asked to time three types of touch input to classic music from the franchise's history. The touch screen is used for your stylus-based commands while the top screen displays all relevant information. You tap when prompted by a red icon, swipe a specific direction with yellow and press and hold with green. Three modes will test your skills - Battle Music, Field Music and Event Music. Each Final Fantasy game - ranging from 1 to 13, features each of these modes, and each mode does have three levels of difficulty. In other words, there's plenty to do.
Theatrhythm allows you to select a party of stylish, adorable chibi Final Fantasy characters who will embark on your various "missions." Characters are able to level up too, though I wasn't able to find out through what parameters and how that would effect gameplay. Regardless of what Final Fantasy game you select, your party will take that journey.
Battle Music places your group into a battle against a familiar enemy from that particular Final Fantasy. Anyone remember Ultros, the octopus, from Final Fantasy VI? You'll fight him yet again here. Your red/yellow/green timing cues will pan across the screen in four horizontal rows, somewhat similar to a flipped Guitar Hero. When the icons pass a specific threshold, you need to do whatever it is you need to do. Proper timing will cause your characters to attack within the chibi-size battle. Misses will cause you damage and eventually you'll lose the battle.
Field Music will set one of your characters walking along a 2D setting, which can change depending on the mission, though it doesn't necessarily seem tied to that game's world. (Then again the setting I saw was so generic, and Final Fantasy games are so vast, that it might have been.) The four lines from Battle Music are replaced by one, but the green/hold cues, which were simply on a straight line in Battle Music, can now appear in waves, forcing you to move your stylus to adjust. Perform well and your character will eventually trade off with a friend. Time your stylus taps poorly and your hero will trip and fall often.
The final mode is perhaps the simplest. Event Music basically plays a CG cutscene montage from the Final Fantasy game in question, and your musical commands appear along a line that meanders all across the movie as it plays. The trick is not to focus too much on the cinematic lest you miss a cue. Strong performances here will result in longer cutscenes.
Each round also has a limited bonus section that, if you do well, will reward you with something cool. In the Battle mode, you will typically summon a powerful creature or spirit. In Field, you become a Chocobo and start running faster. Once a mission is over, your skill is measured in points, comprehensive grades, a and some complicated summary chart that has plenty of statistics for you to peruse.
There is definitely a difficulty curve as well - my first attempt at the game punched me in the face. Scaling down the difficulty (which not only varies because you can select it, but varies depending on which Final Fantasy you're playing) definitely helped me learn the ropes.
Theatrhythm is very impressive, and I'm not even a fan of the whole rhythm genre. Really the only bad thing I can say about the game after this early TGS demo is that the name is awkward. If that's as bad as it gets right now... that's pretty good.
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