The music of the “Final Fantasy” games has been a standout feature from the beginning, with certain memorable tunes cropping up over and over again through the years, always accompanied by plenty of fresh themes in each new installment.
For many years it was all the work of one composer, Nobuo Uematsu. He left Square Enix in 2004, and several other composers have taken on his duties in the “Final Fantasy” installments since then.
“Theatrhythm Final Fantasy” pays tribute to them all, gathering tracks from the series 25-year run and building an addictive rhythm game around them — one that will be better enjoyed by longtime fans of the series. The roster covers 13 games in the series, excluding spinoffs such as “Final Fantasy Tactics,” direct sequels like “Final Fantasy X-2,” and the online “Final Fantasy XIV.”
In the game’s Series Mode, you form a party from cute versions of characters from the series’ history, and head into a set of five songs from the game of your choice. The first and last songs in a set are simple exercises in tapping in time; the middle three are more complicated.
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There is a trio of rhythm challenges in the game— Field Music Stage, Battle Music Stage and Event Music Stage. Each has a unique presentation and uses three kinds of rhythm “triggers” —red ones require a tap on the 3DS’s touchscreen, green ones have you hold the stylus on the screen for a set time and let up at the end, and yellow ones have you slide the stylus in the direction of the arrow shown on them. These are simple elements, to be sure, but it’s far from simple to keep up with the flurry of triggers as the difficulty level increases, especially in songs with unusual time signatures.
Playing the game’s songs in Challenge Mode unlocks more difficult versions in Series Mode, and the Chaos Shrine mode presents pairs of FMS and BMS songs with randomized triggers that can offer an unpredictable challenge and provide the means to unlock new characters and equip your part with items that increase their effectiveness. And playing a song in any mode grants Rhythmia points, which unlock new goodies at 500-point milestones.