Music and video games have always gone hand-in-hand. The new 3DS title, Theatrhythm Final Fantasy, lets the player listen to classic in-game melodies while engaging in a fast-paced puzzle game that combines the elements of other rhythm-based games such as Guitar Hero or Flash Flash Revolution. You’ll have to focus on the little pop-up bubbles that tell you what you’re supposed to be doing and how to play.
Don’t be fooled by the sheer amount of cuteness to this title. Despite the seemingly childish concept of tapping colorful dots in time to the music while watching a miniature depiction of a Final Fantasy character make their way across the screen in some grand adventure, the puzzle and pace is actually quite difficult to keep up with. In fact, while I was playing the game, I didn’t have time to stop and enjoy the little story that was taking place right under my eyes.
If there was a flaw to be said about this title, it would definitely be that the player doesn’t get a chance to enjoy the world around them. There simply isn’t enough focus to spread around if one is concentrating on the fast moving bubbles. It’s a sad fact that when I actually took the time to watch the animated story below, I quickly ran out of health and promptly died.
If you don’t mind missing out on the graphics, the gameplay is addicting. The music is absolutely wonderful if you’re a fan of the original soundtracks. The particular demo I played was the Final Fantasy theme song. Below the commands were tiny versions of characters, including the most recent heroine Lightning from Final Fantasy XIII. If mistakes were made, she would stumble and sometimes even fall flat on her face. Eventually, the characters would switch to another hero from a different title.
The health bar on the upper right hand side above the characters would tell you how you are doing. Failing too much would decrease the HP until it hit zero. Once empty, the level would end. A letter grade would then pop up, giving you a rating between an A through F. To give a better example of the difficulty, the best score of everyone at E3 who played on that particular unit was only a B.
The game itself reminded me of a simplified version of Rhythm Heaven, focusing less on puzzles and more on your reaction time. There were combinations of holding down to move the stylus in a pattern, taping or releasing at the right times, and directional swiping. Ahead of me were testers who became extremely involved in the game, hunched over the podium while trying to beat their last score over and over again.
It might be sad to admit it, but I believe that this game will have more promise than some other recently released titles from the Final Fantasy family tree. The simple, but cheerful game that combines favorite heroes, great music, and a lot of rapid tapping gained a lot of rightfully deserved attention for the 3DS.