Theatrhythm Final Fantasy Curtain Call
Theatrhythm Final Fantasy Curtain Call comes off the coattails of the first Theatrhythm Final Fantasy which was released in 2012. From my hands on experience with the new installment, it seems to be superior in every way, as a sequel should. But is this sequel to a hybrid rhythm RPG worth your money?
The stage of this game is set in the Theatrhythm Final Fantasy world from the last game. In the middle of the two opposing god forces of the world, Cosmos and Chaos, lies the Music Crystal. Once, Chaos tried to disrupt the harmony of the Crystal, but was stopped by Cosmos’s heroes of light. The game reminds us that time repeats itself, and Chaos is once again threatening the Crystal; he must be stopped! Or, so goes the rather non-existent plot, but that’s okay. At its core, Curtain Call is a rhythm game, and it’s definitely got rhythm.
Any good rhythm game has to have a good set list, and Curtain Call is packing quite a setlist. 221 songs from over 25 titles feature in this game, up from 76 from the first game. I’m no good at maths, but 221 is almost three times more than 76. Curtain Call features all the tracks from the first Theatrhythm, all of its downloadable content songs (bar one), and then some. The tracks at first span Final Fantasy I, II, V and IX, but as soon as you clear a few songs, the rest of the soundtrack will unlock itself. For the most part, that’s how you unlock everything in the game, simply by playing the songs through. And with 221 songs, there’s a lot to play.
Take this, you evil mutant fairy floss!
Once again, songs are split into Battle Music Stages (BMS), Field Music Stages (FMS), and Event Music Stages (EMS). BMS has gamers fighting enemies to music and in FMS, you cross various locations along to the rhythm of songs used in the franchise. In EMS, a montage of cut scenes from various titles play out in front of you, and you play along to the rhythm. In all these different game types, you must hit, hold, or slide Triggers for points. The closer the Trigger to the circle marker, the more points.
Here, have the treasure of four different play styles!
The number of play styles has also changed from the first Theatrhythm game from one way to four. The stylus style of tapping, holding and sliding the touch screen to hit the right Trigger returns, along with the new additions of button, a hybrid, and one-handed styles. Button style sees you using any of the face buttons or triggers and the thumb pad to hit the onscreen triggers, hybrid allows you to tap and hold with the stylus on the touch screen and slide with the thumb pad, and one-handed style uses just the L trigger for taps and holds and the thumb pad for slides. In being wary of ruining my touch screen, I jumped at button style. It works like a dream in BMS, but the hold Triggers in FMS require you to follow them, and sometimes they end in a slide. When you’re using the thumb pad to move and then quickly jerk in a new direction to try and keep your chain going, more often than not it doesn’t work out too well and you might mess up.
Also joining the cast of the mass of songs are the characters. Over 60 characters are available to choose from with six more planned via downloadable content (up from 30 in the previous game), ranging from the main series, their sequels and then the spin-offs. From the start, you can choose from a select cast to start off your party of four, leaving all the other characters as unlockables.
You can almost read the little phrases as a sentence. “That good? I’ve got this victory. Got it.”
The characters in your current party of four are used in the BMS and the FMS. In Final Fantasy fashion, each character can earn experience points to level up and learns various abilities to aid them in their quest to restore balance to the Crystal. Abilities are activated automatically during gameplay, which can give you the edge in a BMS and give you the power to do more damage or to hinder enemies, or give you an extra push in FMS.
Completing any kind of song earns points called Rhythmia, which helps restore the Crystal. When you reach certain Rhythmia amounts, more things are unlocked within the game, like EMS, songs available to be listened to in the song test and changing the chime when you hit Triggers.
Gameplay is split into three main sections: Music Stages, Quest Medleys and the Versus Mode. In Music Stages, you can choose to play any one song from the extensive library, or allow Curtain Call to randomly pick one for you. You can also add songs to a favourites list, and one song can be chosen to be a Quick Play song. If you play through a song and think “This is a really great song! I wish I could have the option to select this song right from the save select screen!” then you’ll be thrilled to hear this is what the Quick Play option does.
I will travel across the land, searching far and wide for Rhythmia!
Quest Medleys come from the iOS version of the first Theatrhythm, and then have been upgraded further. Gamers find Chaos Maps, a succession of FMS and BMS across a field and a dungeon which ends with a Final Boss BMS. The first time through the map, each stage will be presented as an unknown with only the game the song comes from being shown. Some maps have branching paths, so it can take more than one play through to see what songs and prizes are waiting for you. If bosses are vanquished, certain colour shards are won, which, in addition to Rhythmia, allow for additional characters to be unlocked. Chaos maps come in short, medium and long flavours, allowing for playtime ranging from a quick go on the bus to a proper sit down at home. In all, it’s a great mode to present gamers with songs they may not have chosen before.
A great idea, but Versus Mode just clashes with me
Versus mode allows you to go head-to-head against the AI, friends (both off and online, but one game cartridge per player) and random people online, where you duke it out and see who can get the highest score in a BMS. EX Bursts can be found in this mode, where a random effect is sent to your opponent’s game after you accumulate a number of successful Trigger hits and enemy defeats. This can range anywhere from buffing the monster you’re currently fighting, to swapping HP of you and your opponent, to changing the speed of the incoming Triggers or making anything less than a critical register as a bad. With 221 songs, there’s a fair chance that you’ll run into a song you’re rusty on and may not get the timing just right. This’ll be your undoing, and it’s a little unfair. While there’s an option to turn off EX Bursts, it doesn’t feel right; you may as well go and just play offline and try and improve your score. It’s a real shame though; on paper it seems well, but if you don’t hit every single Trigger on time, prepare for a world of pain.
If only I could do this with old Yu-Gi-Oh! cards…
Besides perfecting scores, there’s a lot to do for perfectionists. Collectable “CollectaCards” are found throughout the game, going into a digital folder, each with a description on the back. Each card comes in a normal, rare and platinum variety, so there’s a lot to collect. These cards aren’t just for show too; gamers can equip cards to their party members for an extra boost. In addition, there’s also an extensive trophy list, which may keep dedicated gamers going for hours on end.
StreetPasses see usage here too, with a customisable “ProfiCard” that shows off your stats, a silly title, a little message and your favourite Chaos Map, so passer-bys can follow in your footsteps. Literally, as the path they took and the Final Boss’s prizes they won will be shown.
A leader board would not have gone astray, so there could be a way to judge how well gamers fare against the rest of the world on a specific song. Unfortunately, such leader boards are nowhere to be found. Maybe sometime in the future these feature may become available There is an option to take in-game screenshots of your score screen, so you can have proof of a really good score and post it online on forums and to your friends, but a leader board would have made this easier.
- A LOT OF SONGS
- Most of the song choices are awesome
- The little things
- Lots of DLC to come
- Different play styles
- Versus mode’s EX Bursts
- No leader boards?
- play styles don’t always translate between the different stage types
Summary: Regardless of the somewhat flawed Versus mode, Theatrhythm Final Fantasy Curtain Call is a beautiful rhythm RPG. With at least 221 songs to perfect and over 60 characters to level up, there’ll be many, many, many hours for all kinds of gamers. A must have for Final Fantasy fans, rhythm gamers, or people who want a good game.
Theatrhythm Final Fantasy Curtain Call will be released on the 18th of September exclusively for the Nintendo 3DS.