Theatrhythm Final Fantasy Curtain Call
A huge part of video games' musical landscape is defined by the luminary composer Nobuo Uematsu, his fellow artists at Square, and their numerous scores spanning nearly every console generation. Square Enix capitalized on this treasure trove of excellent music with Theatrythm Final Fantasy, a music game that lets players tap along to the tunes on their 3DS' touchscreen. This new entry, Curtain Call, preserves the essence of the original while injecting new gameplay options and a load of songs with varying quality.
If you played the previous Theatrythm, the core of that game remains intact. Notes scroll along the screen that you must tap in time. The stylus still works well for tapping, holding, and swiping in specific directions, but Curtain Call also introduces conventional button inputs. Being able to tap face buttons and slide the circle pad in time feels more natural to me for the fast-paced battle tunes, while the stylus works better for the tranquil, slower exploration tracks. Being able to switch between these two modes is a welcome addition to the already simple, yet solid, gameplay.
Another improvement is the huge amount of great tracks added to the set list. The classic tunes of the core, numbered Final Fantasy games are joined by the majority of the DLC added to Theatrythm's previous release. It also includes tracks from titles like Final Fantasy Tactics, Mystic Quest, and more. I love being able to play everything from FF VII's Native American-inspired "Cosmo Canyon" to the gentle, contemplative tracks of Tactics. It's a thorough catalogue, but the lack of distillation means you're also more likely to stumble upon tracks you don't care for.
Each of the 200-plus songs can be played a la carte from the start, complete with a new medium difficulty mode that strikes a wonderful balance between the breezy Basic difficulty and brutal Ultimate difficulty. If you'd rather play a shuffled arrangement of random songs, the new Quest Medley mode allows you to progress along a simplified world map and face off with a boss at the end. The presentation is cute, but the leveling system, earned items, and gradually acquired Rythmia currency feel like extraneous, useless trappings.
Players can also compete online or locally in a head-to-head Versus Mode, which is unlocked after trying all the other modes. Two songsters simultaneously battle a variety of monsters, duking it out for the high score to win useless collectable cards. Performing well fires random status effects at your enemies (similar to boss battles in Guitar Hero III), like a faster highway, stricter timing windows, etc. It's a simple, fun way to enjoy the game with your friends, even if the collectable cards aren't the greatest motivator.
For those who already tapped through the 70-plus immortal tunes of the original and felt satisfied, this expanded song selection and the extra modes may not be enough to justify a return visit. However, Curtain Call is a good choice for those diehard Final Fantasy fans that couldn't get enough of the original.