Title: Theatrhythm Final Fantasy Curtain Call
Developer: Square Enix
Platform: Nintendo 3DS
Game Type: 3DS
NA Availability: Digital Download | Retail
EU Availability: Digital Download | Retail
One of my favorite games of all time was Dissidia: Final Fantasy and Dissidia 012: Duodecim Final Fantasy. I was in college when the first teaser trailer for Dissidia released and upon seeing Zidane and Kuja duking it out with other Final Fantasy characters, I was beyond thrilled. The idea of a Final Fantasy cross-over game made the FF fan in me go bonkers and I ended up spending thousands of hours in the series. Then the Dissidia series came to an end with no new games having any insight on releasing, until this year’s announcement of an Arcade reboot.
After Dissidia, though, the cross-over universe lived on in the form of Theatrhythm Final Fantasy. This, a cross between the words Theater and Rhythm, was a cross-over music game that incorporated traditional rhythm game mechanics with the RPG and battle mechanics that Final Fantasy is known for. It released on the Nintendo 3DS and was also ported over to iOS in a more DLC-heavy form. With over 70 songs, it was a big deal for fans of Final Fantasy music.
Not too long after, Square Enix decided to make a sequel to the game to include more content. That’s what this Final Fantasy fan is going to talk to you about today. Here is my review of Theatrhythm Final Fantasy Curtain Call!
The story of Curtain Call is very similar to that of the original. The forces of Chaos have once again stolen the power of the Crystals. So, Cosmos goes and summons her own heroes of light to be able to use the power of music to collect crystal shards and restore power to the crystal.
The story practically isn’t even there. You just get a short scene in the intro and that’s all there is to be seen. No cutscenes. No character-character interactions. Just a little synopsis to give you a reason why you do the stuff you do. After Dissidia’s heavy emphasis on story and the fact that even Atlus’ Persona 4 music game had a lengthy story to it, I was a little disappointed in the lack of a storyline in this game.
Curtain Call is a music game with RPG and combat elements thrown into the mix. Each time you play the game, you will be pressing and holding notes as they come across the screen, just like in any rhythm game. While there are RPG elements thrown into the game, the main synopsis is the same as any other music game.
First, let’s talk about what’s different about Curtain Call. The first thing to note is content. The original game had about 70 songs across the main series games. Curtain Call, however, is packed with more than 200 songs. It also dives into not only newer titles like Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, but also in side games like Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles, Tactics, Type 0, and even the Dissidia series. There is a ton of content in the game, even without considering the DLC that’s available for the game.
Other additions are add-ons to the Quest Medley mode, the Versus Battle mode, Daily Tracks, among other things. There’s enough added to warrant this being a sequel.
When you first start the game, you only have access to the initial game mode, which is Music Stages/Song Stages. As you play through the game, however, you gain access to other game modes. The other modes are Medley Quest and Vs Battle. There is also Street Pass, Museum, and Settings, most of which are extra modes for getting bonuses, modifying settings, or viewing music or cinematics outside of playing the game.
Music Stages is where you can just choose a song and play it. Pretty standard for rhythm games. It’s separated by game. However, you only have a certain number of songs available at the start of the game. The same goes for other game modes. Unlocking these game modes is done by playing the game, which I will go into further detail later in this review.
Quest Medley is similar to how it was in the original game. You take your party of characters on quests in the form of point-to-point dungeons, participating in music stages. The biggest depth of this mode are Level Requirements and Items. When going through a quest, you share a single HP bar. It doesn’t refill when you start a new stage, so you have to watch how you’re doing as you go. If needed, you can used a gained item to restore HP.
Level requirements are also a factor. Quests have level requirements. As you play the game, your characters level up and get stronger just like in an RPG. At the end of a Quest, there is a boss that must be defeated. If you’re not leveled up enough, you won’t defeat the boss. Even if you perform outstandingly on the song, not defeating the boss will fail the quest. Quests come in varying lengths and also include Airship Tickets if you want to skip sections to go to the Boss.
Finally, there is Versus Battle. This lets you play a Battle Track competitively against the CPU or against another Nintendo 3DS player across the Nintendo Network. These battles are unique because there are elements that go into effect. The player with the highest score wins, but you have an EX Gauge that fills as you go through the song. When it’s full, a random effect happens. It could be increased speed to the notes flying at you or your opponent, or even a time phase where the notes will slow down, or the directional notes will spin.
Now, how you play the game is that notes will come flying at you. In Battle Stages, they will come towards each character, enabling them to attack the enemy. In Field stages, they come in the center, since only one character is there at a time. Finally, in event stages, they’ll follow a path around the screen as you watch the scene from a selected game. When you hit notes, you’ll proceed and attack enemies. If you miss notes, you’ll fall unconscious in Field stages and an enemy will attack you in Battle stages, chipping away at your HP. If you lose all of your HP, you fail the stage.
Notes come in a few varieties. There are normal hits, where you just tap the screen or the A, B, X, Y, L, or R button to hit. Then there are hold hits, where you have to hold it down for the duration of the note. Finally, there are directional notes, where you have to swipe a direction on the touch screen or use a button and putting the Circle Pad in a specific direction. These are all combined in each stage, regardless of the difficulty. There are also Feature Times, where you can call a Summon in battles or turn into a Chocobo in Fields.
Upon completing the stage, your party members will receive experience points that go towards leveling up. Each time they level up, their Attack, Luck, and other stats increase. They can also learn abilities that activate when set conditions are met that can be equipped to them, much like skills are equipped in the Dissidia games. Finally, you gain Crystal Points which go towards unlocking new content. Every 250 points, you will unlock something, be it crystal shards to add new playable characters, new game modes, new songs, new settings, etc.
As far as time is concerned, it’s up to you. By the time I had unlocked all of the different game modes, I had been playing the game for nearly 6 hours, but that’s only with doing short quests and unlocking a small amount of the playable songs and characters. If you wanted to unlock everything, you’re talking RPG-level lengths.
The control scheme of the game is very flexible, so you don’t need to worry about being forced into touch or motion controls. The touch screen can be used for most functions of the game, but there are also button controls for every part of the game. Each has its own strengths. I find most of the game easier on the buttons, but the directional notes easier with the stylus.
Navigating the menus can be done by tapping options on the touch screen or by using the D-Pad and A/B buttons for various functions. Also, X allows you to go in and change your party members and customize their abilities and items. While in a stage, you can use the touch screen for hitting notes. You can also use the Circle Pad and the A, B, X, Y, L, and R buttons. Unfortunately, this game is not compatible with the new buttons on the New 3DS.
All in all, it’s a very user-friendly control scheme. You can use touch if you want, and you’re free to choose from a wide variety of buttons to use to hit notes.
The visual presentation is the same as the original game. It’s very cute, colorful, and full of chibi Final Fantasy characters. The 3D arenas do have jaggies here and there, but overall, it looks really colorful and cute. There aren’t any major issues with how the game looks.
The 3D feature is used throughout the entire game and works well. I admit that I got a little dizzy using it with concentrating on the screen for play, so if you have problems with 3D in other manners, just keep it in mind. You don’t have to use the 3D for anything. Like others, 3D effects sometimes bother my eyes and the 3DS is no exception. The actual 3D effects look nice, though.
Performance is good and all of the audio transitions very well. The only thing I’ll say is that they didn’t get a few songs quite right. Noticeably in Don’t Be Afraid from Final Fantasy VIII, some sections have notes that do not fit the song like the rest of it does. It’s not frequent, but it’s in enough songs that it can really throw you off as you play the game.
Theatrhythm Final Fantasy Curtain Call is a sequel to a very interesting game that was once considered the spiritual successor of the Dissidia series. On the downside, it has no story to speak of and some songs don’t have accurate note hits built in. If you can look past this, you’ll find a game with a massive amount of content that’ll make any Final Fantasy fan happy even without diving into the game’s DLC.