E3 2012 Preview: Theatrhythm Final Fantasy

June 12, 2012

Among other games at E3, Square-Enix were showing off their upcoming rhythm game for the Nintendo 3DS, Theatrhythm Final Fantasy. Putting it simply, it’s a Final Fantasy music game, which was developed by indieszero (Retro Game Challenge, Electroplankton). Gameplay is broken up into four different segments, Opening and Ending, Field, Battle, and Event. The bulk of the game is contained within the ‘Series Mode’, where you choose a Final Fantasy game (ranging from the original game, up to Final Fantasy XIII).

The game’s story is similar to that of the Dissidia fighting games for PSP, with the gods of Cosmos and Chaos at war. The heroes from the various Final Fantasy games are called together by Cosmos, and fight to defeat Chaos’ forces. Battle segments feature a side view of your party in formation, with a setup similar to the older Final Fantasy games as you tackle classic enemies, including Ultros from Final Fantasy VI. In order to fight, players need to swipe the touch screen in time with music, as colourful notes slide across the screen. There are four lines of notes, one for each party member. The Field segment features just one line of notes that scroll across the screen, but you’re often required to slide the stylus up and down on the touch screen as your party leader explores the overworld of each FF game. The Opening and Ending segments are the most basic, simply requiring players to tap the screen in time with notes, as the move towards a crystal in the center of the screen.  Event segments feature notes appearing all around the screen, while an FMV from your chosen game plays in the background.

In order to give you some more control over your experience, the game features a few different difficulty modes. These adjust the number of notes that come streaming in, and allow for those who aren’t so good with timing based games to feel more at home. While we couldn’t hear the music too well because of the background noise at the expo, what was evident is that there’s a great selection of tracks from each game’s soundtrack on offer here. Each game’s opening, ending, field and battle music are featured, along with a few event tracks.  In addition to the ‘Series Mode’, there’s also a ‘Challenge Mode’, where you can take on a single song of your choice, at any difficulty level. In addition, there’s a ‘Chaos Tower’ mode, where dark notes make an appearance. They’re an element that is also part of the game’s multiplayer mode, apparently, but we were unable to test this during our session. The ‘Chaos Tower’ features ninety-nine levels, with two stages on each. Bosses are randomly selected from a pool of three different enemies, and will appear at various points. After being defeated, bosses may drop items which can be used to unlock new characters.

Theatrhythm Final Fantasy  is shaping up to be a fun, easy to pick up rhythm game for the 3DS. The game’s cute graphics actually suit it quite well, and with quick gameplay and responsive controls, it’s looking great. The good news is that you won’t have to wait long before you can play it, as the game is set for release in Australia on the 6th of July.