The Final Fantasy series has one of the richest back catalogues for music in all of gaming.
What better way to exploit it than a rhythm game with a built-in RPG system? Well, that's just what Square-Enix did back in 2012, with Theatrhythm Final Fantasy.
This pseudo-sequel, Curtain Call, adds a near-ridiculous amount of content and modes, more than tripling the amount of tracks available (before DLC) up to 221. This includes songs and characters from old and new spin-off titles, including the Advent Children movie and the as-yet unreleased Final Fantasy Type-0.
Those of you after more traditional controls and keeping your lower screen in good nick will be pleased to hear a button input option is available alongside the original's stylus tap, hold, and swipe controls.
The general principle remains remains the same though: hit, hold, and release triggers at the right moments to score points and hold on to your HP.
Once you've assembled your dream party of four characters from the Final Fantasy universe, you'll send them out on one of three adventures: Battle, Field, and Event Music Stages.
Battle Music Stages focus on defeating enemies and bosses, requiring your party of four to attack and eventually cast a summon spell to topple as many foes as possible to gain more experience and spoils.
Field Music Stages continue the tap tradition but focus more on tracing curving hold triggers with the analogue pad or stylus. Your party's agility is tested as you venture across familiar backdrops from the track's game in question before morphing into a chocobo for a final push.
Event Music Stages are few and far between, but when they do pop up they play more like a traditional rhythm game, simply prompting you for button presses and holds while a cutscene plays in the background.
Practice makes perfect
You can score up to 99,999,999 points in each stage if you hit each trigger perfectly. Ranks are awarded from F all the way up to SSS.
It's rare to achieve anything lower than an S for basic and expert score difficulties, but the ultimate score difficulty is truly something else.
After completing each stage all manner of screens are thrown at you. You'll be rewarded with treasures like potions, boosting items, and ability scrolls; Crystal shards to unlock new characters, Rhythmia for new songs and sounds; and CollectaCards for powering up characters' stats.
Your party will level up too, boosting their stats for better performance as well as unlocking new abilities to wreak havoc with.
It's possible to guarantee rare drops and massive damage or mileage if you spend an inordinate amount of time selecting the best characters and abilities for each task.
Alternatively you can spend even more time sticking with your four favourites, and upgrading them via the Collectacard Crystarium until their stats are all maxed out.
Content is king
New modes in Curtain Call include the Versus Mode, where you can face off against the local, online, or CPU opponents for loads of experience, CollectaCards, and rankings to boast about.
This mode uses the new EX Burst Gauge which, once full, throws a hindering EX Burst at your rival. This could be in the shape of triggers approaching at a befuddling pace, overpowered monsters, or the nightmare-inducing HP swap.
The Quest Medley mode puts you on a StreetPass Quest-like Chaos Map, where you'll tackle tons of tracks before going against the final boss, guaranteed to be carrying a fancy reward. Be sure to pack your potions though, as HP is not restored after each stage in this mode.
If you're just looking to muck about with your favourite music, the freeplay Music Stages mode remains the place to go. Expect to play your favourite battle themes over and over here until you hit 99,999,999 points for each.
Get goosebumps when you hear One-Winged Angel? Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call will be unadulterated bliss for you. Infinitely superior to the original rather than a quick and dirty update, with enough content to keep you content for years to come.
Want more? Check out our growing collection of Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call articles!