Game Reviews

Theatrhythm Final Fantasy

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Theatrhythm Final Fantasy

Earlier this summer, Square Enix released Theatrhythm Final Fantasy as an amazing love letter to the powerful music of the Final Fantasy franchise.

Its release was part of the franchise's 25th anniversary celebration, but only 3DS owners were invited to attend. Now, Square Enix has extended the invitation to iOS users with a mobile port of the game.

In doing so, the studio has raised the bar on both delivering a great mobile rhythm game and triggering a record number of spit-takes at its pricing.

In other words: Theatrhythm is excellent, and Theatrhythm is extremely expensive.

You spoony bard

The iOS port of Theatrhythm holds true to the excellent gameplay of its Silver Award-winning 3DS predecessor with a few important changes. For starters, it's done away with the Event Music Scenes and divides the gameplay between Battle Music Scenes and Field Music Scenes.

In Battle songs, you select a party of four characters and triggers slide across the screen at each one. It doesn't matter what character's lane the triggers are in, as you can tap, hold, or swipe anywhere on the screen. The presentation is very much like a turn-based combat screen from earlier Final Fantasy titles.

In Field songs, a single character (your party leader) gambols across a game environment and the triggers appear in a wave. You still need to tap and swipe normally, but for hold triggers you'll slide your finger up and down on the screen so that the held note follows the wave pattern.

Theatrhythm also contains much of the character customisation and RPG elements (like items and job abilities) that were present in the 3DS game, though not all of them. Your characters level-up in this version, but it doesn't do much past changing their hitpoints.

This simplification lends itself well to the more casual world of mobile, but it does remove a lot of what made Theatrhythm sing as a celebration of the Final Fantasy series.

Waltz for the moon

In place of the missing character customisations, Theatrhythm adds buckets of new characters (25 are available for purchase in addition to the main 13) along with a new Quest Medley mode.

In this new survival mode, you play through a randomised selection of five, ten, 20, or an endless loop of songs that you've purchased and you earn points based on how far you progress.

While it's interesting on its own, the problem with this mode is that it requires you to purchase a good number of songs to experience any variety, and here you quickly discover exactly how expensive this game is.

For the download price (free), you only receive two songs: Final Fantasy X’s Zanarkand and Final Fantasy VII’s legendary boss theme One-Winged Angel.

In order to really experience Theatrhythm as it appears on the 3DS, you'll need to meet or exceed the purchase price of the 3DS game itself by buying individual songs and bundles separately to flesh out your music library.

Darkness and Starlight

In its current state, Theatrhythm combines traits from Square Enix’s other mobile rhythm games: it has the excellent controls and polish of Symphonica, but it's as prohibitively expensive as Demons’ Score.

If you know this going in, Theatrhythm will be everything that Square Enix designed it to be: a celebration of the great music of Nobuo Uematsu, Naoshi Mizuta, Masashi Hamauzu, and others. It's a stroll down memory lane, making stops at every Final Fantasy house on the block.

But if you download Theathythm not knowing about its pricing plan, chances are you'll be extremely disappointed at how much money a free game will wind up costing you.

If you have the 3DS version of the game, there’s almost no reason to purchase the iOS port unless you really want to play as a new character like Celes, Tifa, Auron, or Garnet. If you've never played the 3DS version, this mobile port is a great way to have fun while enjoying some of the best video game music ever written.

Just be prepared to part with a considerable sum of money if you plan on experiencing all of what it has to offer.

Note: The images used in the above screenshots were taken on an iPhone 4 and thus have simplified backgrounds. Other iOS devices should have fully rendered backgrounds without the grid pattern.

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Theatrhythm Final Fantasy

A less involved version of the 3DS rhythm game, this iOS venture is suited to those who have a deep love - and deep pockets - for the Final Fantasy franchise
Matthew Diener
Matthew Diener
Representing the former colonies, Matt keeps the Pocket Gamer news feed updated when sleepy Europeans are sleeping. As a frustrated journalist, diehard gamer and recovering MMO addict, this is pretty much his dream job.