Final Fantasy is a series known for its music tracks as much as its story and gameplay elements. The music of the series, mostly created by renowned composer Nobou Uematsu, has always been the accent on many of the various moments we remember from every Final Fantasy game. Whether it was the moment Tidus and the gang crashed Seymour’s wedding or the climatic final battle with Sephiroth, chances are you were enthralled by the musical track that played each time you set out to save the world. To celebrate the many years of Final Fantasy music, Square Enix created a rhythm based game called Theatrhythm Final Fantasy, which brought together all many of the characters and music from the entire Final Fantasy franchise. Its sequel Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call brings more tracks, characters, and game additions that make for a great encore performance on the Nintendo 3DS.
Music like its predecessor, Curtain Call is all about the music. If you ever found yourself getting the full soundtrack to any, if not all, of the Final Fantasy titles, then this is a game tailored to you. It will definitely be tough for those unfamiliar with the Final Fantasy series to really appreciate the history and detail put into this collection of some of the best tracks to ever be included in the games. And there is plenty of easter eggs and inclusions here that many Final Fantasy fans will be overjoyed to see. Tracks from the classic NES games, the PlayStation trio of titles, and even some of the modern games and spinoff titles are all present and accounted for in this musical cavalcade of fan service.
The gameplay is similar to the first Theatrhythm game, only now things have been tuned to the best possible way. Hitting notes with the touch screen feels smooth and ideal, where making a mistake during songs feels more like your own misstep rather than poor game programming. There are three kinds of ways to play through songs, which nod to different elements of the Final Fantasy series such as Battles, Traveling, and Story Events. All three kinds of tracks involve interacting with the touchpad at the right time as different notes and nodes slide towards you. But rather than coming towards the screen similar to a game like Guitar Hero, you instead have a party of characters that you can choose and customize.
The party creation is not super deep like in a standard RPG, and the abilities you get only mildly affect the nodes during songs. Yet in the same vein of Final Fantasy, you have a wide variety of characters from the entire series to choose from and level up, each complete with their own abilities unique to them. You want to have Squall, Cloud, Auron, and Zidane in the same party? You can make it happen. Your party levels up with XP by completing songs in any of the modes available in the game. Did I mention you can even get items for completing songs to use on your characters or even equip them just like a Final Fantasy game?
Completing songs also allows you to collect Rhythmia, which allows you to unlock more songs to play, videos to watch, and even cards that detail the stories and history of every character in the game. The amount of unlockables in this package is staggering and will keep you busy for a long time trying to collect everything. The best part of this is being able to see all the unlockables you have received in the museum, even being able to listen to every music track in the game’s music player. It doesn’t take long to start opening up all the neat goodies as you play and complete songs. There is a hearty amount of new downloadable songs and characters you can purchase from the eShop, but it is all extra gravy on an already very meaty game.
While much of your time will probably be spent playing through the Song Quest Mode and Single Song mode alone, there are some multiplayer options around to dive into. You can play online and local in Battle tracks that are similar to offline play, the only major difference is that both players are manipulating each other’s track while they compete for the highest score in a song. At first glance the mode seems pretty good, but can easily be a downer with some of the abilities being a bit overused and broken. There will be instances where you can be completing a song incredibly well against the other player, only to be hit with an ability at the very last second of a song that switches up the entire dynamic of the match, allowing your opponent to win automatically. In terms of overall fairness, this is a completely broken game mode.
Despite very few shortcomings, Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call is a fantastic game for fans of the series. The core design of a rhythm game is completely turned on its head with all the nods and themes of the Final Fantasy series, and the results are great. The charm of this title comes in all the fan service and details that come from the core roots of all the Final Fantasy games. If you don’t like or have any basic knowledge of Final Fantasy, you may find it difficult to become attached to this celebration of the series. But if you are someone who appreciates a great compilation of music to listen to, then you’ll have a fun time here. For the best experience, make sure you play this game with a pair of good headphones; your ears will definitely thank you for it.
This review was based on a purchased retail copy of Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call for the Nintendo 3DS.