The long, strange name and cutesy graphics might be enough to put players off the Final Fantasy music games on the 3DS, but don’t let them put you off. Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call is a quality game. Building on the original game, this sequel has added a solid multiplayer mode, a lot more songs from a larger variety of Final Fantasy titles and a new Quest Medley mode. Essentially, it’s bigger, better and more worthwhile than its predecessor.
The core gameplay has remained the same however. You tap, hold and flick the touch-screen in time with the on-screen commands in time to the music in Battle, Field and Event stages. As with the first game, Battle stages are set up like a traditional fight in Final Fantasy, with you taking damage for missing a note, and dishing out the pain when hitting a note. The aim is to beat as many enemies as you can in order to unlock items and build your overall Rhythmia score – to unlock new party members, songs and other bonuses. The better you hit a note, the more damage you deal, and if you have magic attacks equipped on any of your four party members, the more successive notes you hit you can deal even more pain.
Battle stages are the best the game has to offer, with often more fast-paced tracks providing more of a fun challenge than the slower paced Field and Event stages. For all types of stages, you want to hit as many notes as you can (naturally), with distance covered paramount for success in Field stages whilst Event stages only offer high-scores but with key scenes from the games playing in the background. Each of the three stage types offer a different play-style, mixing up the formula well. Playing single tracks and attempting to finish Quest Medleys makes up the bulk of the game. You may think that this sounds like the game has a small amount of content. Think again.
Without purchasing any DLC, the game features over two-hundred tracks to complete at three difficulty levels, over 60 characters and a whole host of CollectaCards and other bonuses to unlock. There’s more than enough content here to last you a very long time, then. If you get bored of singleplayer, there’s a nice two-player mode to give a go too either online or off. In Versus Battle Mode, both players play the same song at the same time, filling up an EX Gauge that, when filled, will inflict your competitor with some kind of negative effect (randomised, yo). It’s a fun side dish to the filling main meal of the game.
Quest Medleys are where Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call comes into its own however. This is where your large list of characters, stats and items come into play. Quest Medleys are like little RPGs made out of the core gameplay of the Theatrhythm series. These come in four varieties: Short, Medium, Long and Inherited quests. Inherited quests can be collected via Proficards of those you’ve either passed using Streetpass or fought against online. Medley Quests are randomly generated maps containing plenty of songs spread across multiple paths from a random spread of the game’s tracklist. There are bosses, dungeons, save points, gates, keys (to unlock the gates) and on Medium and Long, Ex Bosses and Airships that require tickets to use (in order to skip some of the map).
In Quest Medleys you have one continuous health bar, that you either refill in songs using equipped magic or by using items on the map-screen. Or you can be a badass and just not miss a single note – hard when on Ultimate difficulty. Your aim in these quests is to beat the boss in the final dungeon before the time limit (twenty tracks, although this can be increased with the correct item), in order to unlock Crystal Shards. You’ll need Crystal Shards to unlock all the characters. There are over sixty characters to unlock, each with their own type of stats and equippable skills, taken from your favourite Final Fantasy titles.
Each character gains experience points upon beating a stage, levelling them up. Levelling them up increases their stats (strength is important for Battle stages, speed for Field; the rest I don’t know) and unlocks new abilities. You’ll need to pay attention to both the harder the Quest Medleys become. Choosing the right characters is your key to success in the stages, then. If your team of four contains a character from the game the track is from, you get a Rhythmia boost, just as you do if your team is all men, or all women. There’s more to Theatrhythm than just playing through your favourite tracks.
Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call is an upgrade over its predecessor, with a lot more content and an increased sense of the RPG in the fantastic Quest Medleys. For fans of Final Fantasy’s incredible soundtracks there isn’t anything better than this.