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Theatrhythm sequel a beautiful arrangement
Oct 7, 2014
By Daniel Barron - G4 Canada
Anyone can play and enjoy Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call, but the people who will really take something away from it are the ones who are happy paying for entire game soundtracks and listening to them on repeat. It's for gamers who have the tune from stage one of Dr. Wily's Castle in Mega Man 2 memorized, and of course, it's for those who can instantly name their favourite Final Fantasy battle theme.
In an age where video game discussions often get bogged down by talk involving frames-per-second and video resolution, it's easy to forget that music plays a hugely important role in this industry. Curtain Call is a proud reminder of what music can mean to a series.
Heck, I'm listening to Mi'ihen Road from the Final Fantasy X soundtrack as I type this.
Like the original Theatrhythm that was released in 2012, this sequel is quite different from every other Final Fantasy game, and yet is steeped in that series' RPG mechanics.
Theatrhythm is a timing-based music game that features over 200 songs from essentially every game in the Final Fantasy series. Players are tasked with using the stylus or 3DS circle pad and buttons to hit notes at the right moment in order to complete a song.
The sequel gets several new features and modes, and although the gameplay is the exact same regardless of what mode you choose, there's enough extra stuff here to make for a game that rarely feels plodding.
Before starting a single song, players have to create a team of four using Final Fantasy alumni. As you play through songs, your characters will level up, earn items, and learn abilities.
These powerups can then be used to help players complete songs. Each tune has multiple difficulties, and while you may not need to use a single assist on Basic or Expert mode, things can quickly get hairy once you hit the Ultimate difficulty.
Your team shares a hit point bar, and like any RPG, if that bar reaches zero, you fall - or more specifically in this case, you fail the song. Powerups come in several forms, such as ones that heal your team at a certain point, or special abilities that help protect you and your group from certain attacks.
In terms of the game's layout, you can leisurely play one song at a time, or you can take a stab at the new Versus Mode, where you challenge an AI opponent, fight it out in a local battle with another 3DS owner, or go online.
In Versus Mode, both teams attempt to finish the same song, but filling up a special EX meter allows you to send a special attack to your competitor. They range from randomizing the speed of notes, to hiding the next note until the last moment, to swapping both teams' current HP (for better or for worse).
I really like the idea behind Versus Mode, but I'm not a fan of how random the attacks are, and how often they appear. Generally speaking, as soon as one is done, another one gets activated within a few seconds. You can choose to turn off the attacks online, but strangely only on Ultimate difficulty.
Quest Medleys are also new to Curtain Call. These consist of several songs that are placed on a map, with players having to finish all of them to be victorious. The catch is that your hit points carry over from one song to the next, and if you fall during any song, you go back to your last checkpoint.
Once again, you may have no problems finishing the easier quests, but tougher difficulties will require you to think like an RPG player and carefully plan out your group.
Curtain Call does a wonderful job at constantly dangling a proverbial carrot on a stick in front of you. Virtually every song you play results in levelling up, and you're constantly unlocking new characters, songs for the game's jukebox, and more.
CollectaCards in particular are bound to be coveted by fans of the series. CollectaCards are randomly unlocked after songs, and act as a mini-Final Fantasy wiki. Each one shows a character on the front, while giving information on the back, just like a baseball card. For Curtain Call, you can even combine CollectaCards to power up characters, adding yet another RPG layer to the game.
Curtain Call is another love letter to Final Fantasy fans, but the great thing about the title is that those who are neither knowledgeable about the series, nor particularly interested in the RPG elements, can still have a great time.
That said, I dare anyone who isn't already a Final Fantasy fan to walk away from this game without being at least a little curious about the games. I have a feeling that was part of Square Enix's plan all along when creating the Theatrhythm series.
Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call
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