Theatrhythm Final Fantasy review
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Also during these stages, you'll be able to utilize your character's skills, such as increased strength or a fire spell, that activate automatically throughout each level. You're also able to equip your party with a single item that can be the difference between success and failure. For example, a potion will restore back a portion of your HP gauge if you're about to fail at a song. A Phoenix Down will give you a second chance after your party has been completely defeated. Other items include Giant's Tonic, which increases your party's HP, Miratete's Memoirs, which raises the EXP your party receives, and more.
Aside from the Series mode, you can take part in Challenge mode, which lets you pick any song and set a high score and eventually unlock higher difficulties. Chaos Shrine houses the game's Dark Notes, which are higher difficulty songs sometimes made up of songs that don't appear in the Series mode. Completing these will net you higher rewards, however, and some really rare items. You can even save your favorite Dark Note and share them with fellow Theatrhythm players. The only problem I had with Dark Notes is that since the music attached to them is random, you can get stuck with playing a bunch of repeats. I've had five straight Dark Notes end with the ending theme to Final Fantasy XII. Great song, but come on.
Chaos Shrine also allows for up to four players to take part in playing, although they all share a single HP bar; so if one player messes up, it will bring the entire team down. I wasn't able to get any time with multiplayer however, since there was no one else to try it out with.
Even though the main game will take you about six hours to complete, and by complete I mean seeing the ending credits, there is tons, and I mean tons to unlock. You can keep on playing to raise your Rhythmia and unlock more songs, level up your heroes and raise their stats, collect colored crystal shards which eventually form into a new playable character once you collect eight pieces, unlock the music and cutscenes in the game's music player and theatre respectively, hunt for 81 (or 243 when you count Holofoil and Platinum) CollectaCards which are essentially trading cards with various info on Final Fantasy characters and monsters, gain trophies for various in-game achievements, or gain stars whenever you reach a milestone in the game's record book. Let's just say if you're a completionist, you'll be playing Theatrhythm for a long time.
If you're worried that the game won't include your favorite song, you can rest fairly easy. Square did a pretty good job with picking the right songs to represent each game of the series, though not all of them hit the mark however. There is already a batch of DLC on the way that is sure to please those looking to expand their musical libraries further.
The look of the game itself is brilliant as well. All of the games look vastly different from each other, giving them a unified, almost doll-like feature which is ultimately cute and charming. It's an art style that absolutely works for the type of game that it is. I initially thought the 3D effect would be wasted in a game like this, but as it turns out, it works quite nicely. The background is always made up of your characters on screen or the currently playing cutscene, while the foreground shows the tracks of notes to hit.
There are some minor issues I had with the game, which just could have been way more streamlined. For example, switching your leader character with another character already in your party should have been a simple drag and drop. Instead, you literally have to switch them out manually, as if they weren't in your party to begin with. Secondly, even though the emphasis is on collecting various items to help your party out, you have the option to strip your party of any items or abilities, putting them in Stoic Mode. This allows you to gain an extra 2 million points at the end of the round, allowing you to score an SS rank or higher. Essentially, you have to make the choice of "Do I want to collect better items, or am I going for the top score?"
This 25th Anniversary celebration of Final Fantasy should be treasured amongst fans of the series, but even beyond that. It's a complete package of nostalgia, fun gameplay, charming visuals, and breathtaking compositions that equally make up what Final Fantasy is all about.