Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call (3DS) Review
There’s been some murmurings throughout the community and throughout my own circle of friends that Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call should not be a separate release, but rather downloadable content for the base game. It’s an interesting thought, but when you consider the sheer amount of content on offer in Curtain Call, I’m more inclined to say it’s a fairly wrong thing to say. Curtain Call features so much new content, modes and even ways to play that if it were offered as downloadable content, it’d probably be more expensive when considering just the songs that have been added by themselves. But why? What’s so new? Quite a bit, actually.
Theatrhythm wastes no time in attempting to set the scene for the events to come. After briefly recapping the story of the first game, Curtain Call jumps straight into a prologue of sorts that sets the scene for the new game. Ironically enough, it’s almost the same story that’s being told here. The evil force (Chaos) has returns and players must amass “Rhythmia” from some sacred crystals in order to stop it and restore the balance between Chaos and Cosmos. It’s nice that Square Enix put the extra effort in to put a story against their non-canonical spin-offs but yeah, this is truly nothing to be bothered about if you missed the first game. There’s little to no story development here beyond what’s shown to the player at the start.
As you’d have gathered from the title, Theatrhythm is a fairly typical music and rhythm game. You choose from a set list of memorable songs from Final Fantasy games to play. Triggers appear on the screen which require some form of input – be it a tap, a hold or a swipe – as action plays out on the screen. The songs themselves are split into three major categories. Field music is more relaxing music that sees the characters travelling across a field area. Battle music is much more upbeat and faster paced, and plays out over the top of a proper battle. Event music is allegedly “moving” or “touching” music and is usually played out across a famous cutscene where said music is featured.
The style of gameplay varies depending on which mode you’re playing too – for example during Field music your player character will run faster through a themed field whenever notes are successfully cleared. Battles split the music into four tracks, where the accuracy of your notes allows your party to attack enemies and do more damage than usual. Event music is a bit more relaxing with players simply having to time their presses of the notes whenever a cursor hovers over them. They’re all pretty well varied methods of play and they do a good job at keeping things interesting and more than just a glorified Tap Tap game.
Curtain Call does things a little differently from the get-go, however. A welcome addition to the game is the different control options there are for the player to approach the music with. There’s typical stylus control, as with the first game. But now players can play with buttons, with a combination of both stylus and buttons or even using a one handed scheme using just a shoulder button and the circle pad. More options to play means more accessible and in the case of a game like this it makes sense to make this design choice.
Upon finishing the very brief tutorial, the game asks players to pick their party of four. This will be the characters that will be taken into each of the songs and depending on which characters are chosen, only certain songs will be available from the start. But it takes little to no time to unlock them anyway, but it makes sense considering the characters chosen will probably be from the games favoured by the player. One thing Curtain Call does better than the original game is that a lot of the unlockable content isn’t as much of a slog to get through and unlock, provided you’re playing in the free mode.
The newest and most prominent addition is the Quest Medley mode, which is unfortunately much less generous with the unlockables than “Free” mode. Quest Medley mode attempts to add a much stronger Final Fantasy flavour to the proceedings; with a world map to explore, branching paths to choose and boss battles to fight. It’s a simple and yet effective way to make the game feel more like a Final Fantasy game without actually being one. Admittedly, it’s merely packaging content already available in the game together, but it still feels like a better way to do it than the Dark Notes mode in the previous game.
There’s hundreds of different quests to embark upon too, but many of them take a few hours to get to the final difficulty where most of the decent unlockables start getting doled out, which is one of the problems with the mode especially when compared to free mode. Free mode just gives out a lot more in terms of unlockables with half the amount of effort, it’s hard not to be tempted and drop Quest Medley mode all together. It also doesn’t help that more songs appear to show up than other in Quest Medley, making the whole undertaking kind of monotonous.
The other major new addition to Curtain Call is the Versus Mode. As it would imply, Versus Mode allows players to taken on either an AI-controlled player or another player via local or online play in a song. Obviously, both players go at it and see who can get the highest score. To make things interesting, one player getting a successful chain of notes will sabotage the other player’s game – things like making the notes harder to read by spinning them and scrolling faster are just some of the examples. It’s a simple and yet great way to make things more competitive, although it is much more fun against a human opponent than a computer one.
Obviously Curtain Call, much like its predecessor, is a love letter to Final Fantasy, its storied history and it’s memorable score. But Curtain Call truly takes things a step further. Whereas the original game had roughly (or maybe even less than) eighty tracks, Curtain Call boasts over two hundred from all kinds of Final Fantasy games. Sure, you’ve got the mainline Final Fantasy titles, but you’ve even got the most obscure of the lot like Crystal Chronicles, Mystic Quest, Chocobo’s Dungeon and even spanning out to films like Advent Children.
It’s amazing how much content Square Enix have managed to cram into the game – to the point where every aspect of Theatrhythm has been eclipsed by Curtain Call. Most players will get roughly twelve to fifteen hours out of it before boredom, tedium or both begin to kick in. But the pure Final Fantasy enthusiasts – the ones that this game is made for, could easily get a good thirty to forty hours out of the full package much like I did with the first title.
And much like the original game, Curtain Call does a great job at taking all of the Final Fantasy games and adapting their unique art styles into its own. The menus are slick and easy to navigate, the colours are vibrant and bring everything to life, and the characters themselves are drawn with a quirky charm that you won’t find in other games. As with the first game, it runs at a very smooth 60fps with 3D both on and off. As with the original game, there’s little reason to use 3D but some players might find it easier to focus on the notes when playing with it on, as everything pops quite nicely to give depth and layers to the game world completely separate from the notes themselves.
Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy: Curtain Call manages to eclipse and surpass the original game in almost every way. There’s more characters, more music, more games and more modes to play through. Players who couldn’t mesh well with the touch controls will find comfort in the fact that there’s now four different ways to play the game, while those looking to play with a friend (either offline or on) will enjoy the competitive natures of the new Versus mode. But some of these new improvements are questionable – Quest Medley in particular is a great idea but executed pretty poorly to the point where other modes are much more cost effective with your time and effort. But despite this, Curtain Call is a very feature complete package and definitely worth a look if you’re a fan of Final Fantasy, music and rhythm games, the original game or all of the above.